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Krishna the Divine Dancer

by michwo 

Posted: 17 September 2016
Word Count: 124
Summary: This is from a sonnet sequence I did once based on the avatars of Vishnu entitled "Incarnations". It's now only one of three still extant as I managed to lose all the others. Out of those three it's my personal favourite.

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                                                        Krishna the Divine Dancer

                                    That Krishna had all the luck.  Was it his blue throat
                                    That made the milkmaids swoon to give themselves to him?
                                    His prowess in subduing demons?  The high note
                                    Only he could reach on his silver flute?  His slim
                                    Build?  Krishna liked best to dance in the rassalia
                                    With the gopis (‘rassalia’ means ‘many dances’) –
                                    Cavalier, peacock-like a passacaglia
                                    Captures Radha while a minuet entrances
                                    Rukmini and Kubja... (Sixteen thousand five score
                                    Wives and eight constitute the contents of the god’s
                                    Harem.)... Well, really!  Shouldn’t there have been a law
                                    Against that kind of thing in ancient Hindu times?
                                    (Krishna being superhuman, it makes no odds,
                                    Does it?  And he did cure a hunchback and stop crimes.)

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 20:02 on 19 September 2016  Report this post
It’s clear on first reading that this sonnet is very skilfully crafted. The rhyming is just about perfect, and in places has a striking humorous effect – the clever rhyme of rassalia/passacaglia and also the rhyme of times/crimes. (At first I thought there was a blemish, no rhyme for score. But then I remembered I speak with a Scottish accent and pronounce ‘score’ with a long ‘o’ plus a clearly articulated ‘r’. In standard English ‘score’ rhymes perfectly with ‘law’. No problem!)

The metre is somewhat irregular, but accords well with the poem’s informal, mocking tone. The language is close to conversational, even colloquial (‘had all the luck’, ‘it makes no odds’) in places, and the rhythm is therefore closer to that of speech. I can’t find fault with the technical aspects of the poem – with the possible exception of the parentheses. The first, with the explanation of ‘rassalia’, is fine, but do the lines in the second half really need to be in parentheses? They seem to me to be main statements, with no sense of ‘by the way’. Besides, ‘Well really! Shouldn’t there have been a law…’ etc is a continuation of, a response to, what was said about the harem, so strictly should be in parentheses too, which would mean everything from ‘Sixteen thousand’ to the end being in parentheses.  Better to omit the brackets.

For me it’s the tone that distinguishes the poem. It’s a modern voice, contemplating the god Krishna and bringing him down to earth. He had sixteen thousand-plus wives, how did he get away with it? Maybe I read too much into it, but several clues – e.g. ‘many dances’ (one to seduce each wife); ‘Krishna being superhuman’ - suggest he got round them all in due course. The mockery isn’t at all harsh or contemptuous; if anything it’s rather admiring. Besides, there’s enough detail of Krishna’s many talents, such as his ability to subdue demons and stop crimes, to remind us of why he is so revered in the Hindu tradition. Even if he is a figment of the collective imagination, as some say all gods are, he is an impressive one.

I have enjoyed this poem very much, and wish it had remained longer in the group so that other members could have responded to it.


Cliff Hanger at 21:29 on 19 September 2016  Report this post
I really enjoyed this too. What I admire about it is the voice and its tone. It is a sonnet but modern and relevant in style. I know very little about Krishna but you've told me all I need to know to get the picture. I like the humerous sarcastic tone which brings a deity down to earth throughout. Especially the last part

And he did cure a hunchback and stop crimes

It's really good to see your own work on here. Very interesting and unusual subject matter tackled in a unique way.

It was a pleasure to read.


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