The Soucouyen of Sodor [Poem]



Oh, the Soucouyen of Sodor, it was an evil Sprite;
It slept away the blessed day, it wrought ill all the night.
A ball of flame, along it came, flying without a wind;
And when it burst, that thing accurst, it smote the steersman blind.
Oh, the Soucouyen of Sodor was the terror of the coast!

The "Jesus-Maria-Jose," she hailed from Pampatar;
It sent her on the cruel rocks, away by Balatá
The "San Pedro" of Carúpano, the "Santa Fe" of Sais
And many more it drove on shore and perished in like wise.
Oh, the Soucouyen of Sodor, it was a gruesome ghost!

There was a lown in Sodor town, this fiend inhabited.
He slept away the blessed day, at night he lay for dead;
Now they have taken that lifeless lown, and put fire to his toes;
A burning match they made him clutch; and sore they wrung his nose.
Oh, Soucouyen of Sodor, 'tis time to be at home!

They racked him here, they racked him there, his blood was all a-froth...
A ball of flame a-flying came, and flew in at his mouth.
Then sore, then sore that lown 'gan roar, for mercy sore he cried;
But they have taken the miscreant and drowned him in the tide.
And the Soucouyen of Sodor since then has ceased to roam!


p. 49


This is a "Henry." Has the reader forgotten the dusky,
one-eyed compounder of intoxicants?  (See Legend III).
The Count had vouched for him as an authority on Soucouyens.
No doubt he was one. Scribbler, however, seems to me to have
jumped the track, in part at least.

A pious lady, who shall be nameless, used to go to four
o'clock Mass. Pallid, clad in black, she glided along the street.
Two negroes, watching, concluded the worst. Next morning
they lay in wait, and, with the best intentions, beat the old
lady nearly to death.

That was their conception of a soucouyen. It is, we believe,
the common one - a miscreant who takes somebody else's skin
and goes about in it to do mischief.

Scribbler's Soucouyen, like Scribbler himself, must be
original. He is above borrowing anyone's skin. He disguises
himself as a ball of fire, which strikes men blind...

True, the question would seem to arise: What does the
orthodox Soucouyen do with his own skin while masquerading
in somebody else's? Presumably he leaves it at home. On
the body it belongs to. If so much be conceded. Scribbler's
conception may hold water. Inanimate, like a dead thing, the
deserted body feels no pain; only when the spirit returns,
and flies in at the mouth, consciousness is restored, and there
is a piteous appeal for mercy.

Sodor, i.e. Saute d'Eau, water-fall. A place on the coast,
north of Maracas Village.

Balatá, Carúpano; Spanish words ending in a vowel or s
generally have the accent on the penult; but exceptions are
numerous in native place-names, e.g. Balatá, Potosí, Caroní,
Boyacá, Cumaná, Pária, Carúpano.


p. 50

SOURCE: Legends of the Bocas, Trinidad. By A.D. Russell, London: Cecil Palmer, 1922. pp. 49-50

"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!