Eng Lit MOOC unit 2: Poetics

So here’s the thing: I do not and have never written poetry and I only read it a little.

But the first part of Saylor Foundation’s Eng Lit MOOC on poetry, from the Open University, is perhaps just a little too encouraging. They get you writing your own poems in the first couple of hours.

So here’s what I’ve done (it’s one of three, but the other two are worse).

It’s the story of Kali before she became such a badass. Kali’s – at present – my favourite god, being the sort of old-testament style god of destruction everyone wants on their side. I’m pretty certain stories of young Hindu gods exist, just as we have tales of the young Mary and saints in The Golden Legend.

As with The Gruffalo, you can easily spot the areas I struggled to achieve a decent rhyme.

It does, of course, violate several principles of good poetry set out in Fleur Adcock’s very funny poem included in this course – I’ve inverted phrases to make them rhyme; there’s some dodgy archaisms thrown in, and what the hell, I’d happily put it on pink paper and append a photo of the author/ her pets. I’m not hoping to win prizes, just to get to grips with how poetry works.

Timid Kali

When I was born, my mother cried- it’s strange
she knew that I would be Black, Time, Death, Change
Annihilator of the Dawn, and more
Shiva’s grave consort, fighting evil for
redemption of the Universe, the great
revered Mother Goddess, fierce potentate.

But timid child, I was afraid of this.
So snot-nosed Kali, gentle, crying miss
clung to my mother’s skirts, and shameful hid
from village boys and girls, who teasing bid
me fill pots with water or gather wood
or wash their coarse-wove clothes, in river’s flood
or pick fleas from their hair;

but when the fire
consumed our fated village, only I would live.

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