Today’s craft resource is an oldie – Percy Bysshe Shelley’s essay A Defence of Poetry. Shelley basically thought poetry was magic and poets were wizards. While the language of the essay is a bit antiquated, it’s hard not to be infected by Shelley’s ecstatic enthusiasm about all things poetic.
The prompt for today is to take a leaf from Shelley’s book, and write poems in which mysterious and magical things occur. Your poem could take the form of a spell, for example, or simply describe an event that can’t be understood literally. Feel free to incorporate crystal balls, fauns, lightning storms, or whatever seems fierce and free and strange. Poetry is like that (at least when you’ve been reading Shelley!) If you’re in search of inspiration, maybe you’ll find it in this poem by Louis Untermeyer, or this one by Kathleen Graber.
For Day 8 of the challenge, I’ve written a poem based on a ritual that takes place in the South of India, in Mangalore, Karnataka. Having witnessed the ritual during my college years, it’s stuck with me because of the magic and the mystery it entailed. Thanks to a friend who recently wrote an article of a similar ritual that takes place in Kerala, this experience came back to me. Today’s challenge required me to study the truth behind what I had witnessed 2 decades ago.
Dusk gives way to night
Darkness shattered, a yellow street light
Beating of drums
Shaking of cymbals
Blowing of trumpets
Temple courtyard, village folk throng
Recitation of chants, a crescendo reached, the Spirit song
Flames rising, people gathering
Serpent crown, yellow painted face
Stomping, leaping, quickening of pace
Torch lit in hand, moving in a trance
The annual ritual dance
Wear the anklets
Dance some more
Controlled, the Spirit’s entered
It’s the hour of revelation
Questions answered, Judgments’ taken
All must follow, all must listen
Tread carefully the age-old path
Or dare to face the fiery wrath
Destruction, Sorrow, Havoc
All shall strike if you dare provoke
Make the offerings, He’s the village guardian
Coconuts, bananas, chicken, make sure to drain the blood as per the tradition
The Spirit rejoices , dances some more,
Walking on fire, the last ritual in store
Appeased, the Generous Spirit shall leave
The village blessed, there is no need to grieve
Dusk gives way to dawn.
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