Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Tuesday Platform: The Dance!

Blooming Amaltas: Summer in Delhi (2) by Animesh Roy

The Dance of the Eunuchs

It was hot, so hot, before the eunuchs came 
To dance, wide skirts going round and round, cymbals 
Richly clashing, and anklets jingling, jingling 
Jingling... Beneath the fiery gulmohur, with 
Long braids flying, dark eyes flashing, they danced and 
They dance, oh, they danced till they bled... There were green 
Tattoos on their cheeks, jasmines in their hair, some 
Were dark and some were almost fair. Their voices 
Were harsh, their songs melancholy; they sang of 
Lovers dying and or children left unborn.... 
Some beat their drums; others beat their sorry breasts 
And wailed, and writhed in vacant ecstasy. They 
Were thin in limbs and dry; like half-burnt logs from 
Funeral pyres, a drought and a rottenness 
Were in each of them. Even the crows were so 
Silent on trees, and the children wide-eyed, still; 
All were watching these poor creatures' convulsions 
The sky crackled then, thunder came, and lightning 
And rain, a meagre rain that smelt of dust in 
Attics and the urine of lizards and mice....

Kamalā Sur̲ayya, 1934-2009. Summer In Calcutta : Fifty Poems. New Delhi :R. Paul for Kamala Das, 1965.

The summers are brutal here with tormenting heatwave conditions gripping many states and regions of the country. The Meteorological Department has issued a red warning in the National Capital with temperatures rising to 46C. My hometown is the hottest place in the country where the mercury has risen to about 50C. As we tackle such extreme weather conditions (which are all the more prevalent across the world with our continued exploitation of the environment and lack of serious consideration towards climate change/crisis), I realize how the weather conditions can be synonymous with the conditions prevailing within and how that can be explored in poetry. Kamala Das could portray her psyche, exploring themes of her love and sexuality, like no one else in her rich confessional verses. In the above poem, the sterility of the environment, as well as the performers, mirror the "fractured personality" of the poet herself. For a more cultural context, read about the third gender communities in South Asia and their ostracization even today as well as a recent report by BBC on how the colonial empire "tried to 'erase' India's third gender".

This is Anmol (alias HA) and I welcome you all to another week full of poetics here at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. For The Tuesday Platform, add a link to any poem, old or new, in the widget down below. It is an open-link platform and therefore, you don't have to write about or follow a particular theme or subject matter. Once you have added your link, do not forget to visit others and share your words/comments with them.

I look forward to reading your linked verses. And I wish you all a wonderful week ahead.


Brendan said...

Heard about the incredible heat in India right now -- 50C is 122 Farenheit, a temp rarely recorded in America except in Death Valley, until recently .. Summer ins Phoenix now hit that mark (though its dry heat), and on some days jets aren't allowed to fly out of the airport because their tires melt ... Humanity lives on precarious ledge of the Earth's biosphere, like so much of life -- it doesn't take a lot of variance to see extremes wiping the living slate clean. And we're only at 1C warming ... by century's end, it will be triple that ... Anyway, hard not to despair and focus on the dancing. I know I've worn out my welcome with all the hot noise. Thanks for the reminder.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Hi Anmol! Sharing a sevenling poem I wrote a few weeks ago. It is the crazy mid-year exam season, so I regret being somewhat absent of late.

Marian said...

Anmol, thank you so much for sharing a poem from Kamala Das, I'm so glad to learn about her.
I'm sharing the poem I wrote late for Margaret's prompt.
Stay cool and hope you are having a good week!

Margaret said...

Good Tuesday morning. I have two today... but they are short. I hope you enjoy.

colleen said...

Talk is cheap but poetry earns its keep!

Lori said...

Excellent prompt. I really like the poem you've selected to highlight.

robkistner said...

Hello Anmol. :-) Wanted: righteous dragon slayers - NOW!

Anmol (HA) said...

Hello, everyone! It's been a delight as always reading all your linked verses. I am traveling later today — so, I will be visiting everyone by the end of the week. Hope you all have a great one ahead. And for those who are celebrating, Eid Mubarak. :-)

Margaret said...

I know to usually post one poem, but these are short and I thought some of you might be interested in following my daughter, Chelsea, as she travels England over the next few months - and perhaps Paris...

Jim said...

Thank you Anmol for sharing Kamala's words with us. Hers and your revelations of the 'third gender' enlightened me, I had not heard the term. Most common and politically correct, my opinion, here in the States is LGBTQ now. Our population of 'eunuchs" is scarce unless it technically includes formerly male transgenders. I first met the 'eunuchs' in the Bible, Book of Acts, when Peter encountered one in the desert.

Linda Lee Lyberg said...

Hello All- adding one I wrote earlier this week.