You, stranger, who only see us happy and free of care,
If you knew the horrors we often have to live through
you would understand our love of eating and singing and dancing.
There is not one among us
who hasn’t lived through a winter of bad hunting
when many people starved to death.
We are never surprised to hear
that someone has died of starvation – we are used to it.
And they are not to blame: Sickness comes,
or bad weather ruins hunting,
as when a blizzard of snow hides the breathing holes.
I once saw a wise old man hang himself
because he was starving to death
and preferred to die in his own way.
But before he died he filled his mouth with seal bones,
for that way he was sure to get plenty of meat
in the land of the dead.
Once during the winter famine
a woman gave birth to a child
while people lay round about her dying of hunger.
What could the baby want with life here on earth?
And how could it live when its mother herself
was dried up with starvation?
So she strangled it and let it freeze.
And later on ate it to keep alive—
Then a seal was caught and the famine was over,
so the mother survived.
But from that time on she was paralyzed
because she had eaten part of herself.
This is what can happen to people.
We have gone through it ourselves
And know what one may come to, so we do not judge them.
And how would anyone who has eaten his fill and is well
be able to understand the madness of hunger?