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....

[From Summer in Calcutta]

by Kamala Das

Comments (1)

It is interesting to read your poem, Stephen. I have often wondered about what sensations happen to people who like listening to loud music. My husband, when he was much younger like you, used to like his music played loudly, but now I have acute hearing and his is poor. I used to disappear when the noise erupted.I like your descriptions of scenery and your daughter's antics. This is a happy poem and because it places you in a special time and place, you will be able to refer back to it with pleasure. Well done, Stephen.