The Invisible Men
An Inuit poem by Nakasuk
There is a tribe of invisible men
who move around us like shadows--have you felt them?
The have bodies like ours and live just like us,
using the same knid of weapons and tools.
You can see their tracks in the snow sometimes
and even their igloos
but never the invisible men themselves.
They cannot be seen except when they die
for then they become visible
It once happened that a human woman
married one of the invisible men.
He was a good husband in every way:
He went out hunting and brought her food,
and they could talk together like any other couple.
But the wife could not bear the thought
that she did not know what the man she married looked like.
One day when they were both at home
she was so overcome with curiosity to see him
that she stabbed with a knife where she knew he was sitting.
And her desire was fulfilled:
Before her eyes a handsome young man fell to the floor.
But he was cold and dead, and too late
she realized what she had done,
and sobbed her heart out.
When the invisible men heard about this murder
they came out of their igloos to take revenge.
Their bows were seen moving through the air
and the bow strings stretching as they aimed their arrows.
The humans stood there helplessly
for they had no idea what to do or how to fight
because they could not see their assailants.
But the invisible men had a code of honor
that forbade them to attack opponents
who could not defend themselves,
so they did not let their arrows fly,
and nothing happened; there was no battle after all
and everyone went back to their ordinary lives.
English version by Edward Field, after Knud Rasmussen
This was a poem I had to read in my High School Junior
year English course
. I found it when I was looking through my old papers
. From what I can remember
, this is the stupidist poem ever
. It starts out introducing a tribe
that no one can see. Then a woman
marries one of them and kill
s him to see what he looks like. The entire tribe of invisible men
gets really pissed off
, heads over to the human
's tribe, gets ready to fire a barrage of missiles
, then they remember their honor code
and go home. Nothing happens. The woman who sobs her heart
out after killing her husband isn't even mentioned. The poem
has absolutely no point
, save for this lesson I've learned from it: Don't kill your invisible husband to see what he looks like or you'll sob your heart out. But don't worry about the millions of invisible men coming to attack your village because they won't kill you if you don't know how to fight them.