NaPoWriMo 2018: Day 8- Invoking the Spirits

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

Winter gloom

Trees loom

Beating of drums

Shaking of cymbals

Blowing of trumpets

Temple courtyard, village folk throng

Recitation of chants, a crescendo reached, the Spirit song

Fire burning

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

Frenzy, Hysteria

Ecstasy, Euphoria

Hypnotized

Wear the anklets

Dance some more

Possessed

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.

P.C. Net

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