The Failed Mantra
Oh Kamala, whose mouth is like a freshly cracked fig,
How did you woo the mighty Siddhartha
whose austerities tamed all temptations?
I conjure thee, lovely Kamala, out of Hesse’s book
to bring your courtesan skills and jaguar physique
to unlock secrets beyond my tapas’ reach.
Oh thee of tender, supple hands and
celebratory lips for schooling in the cult of lust,
become more than fiction.
As I utter this sacred mantra, appear here today.
Cry not for your rare singing bird
but release him from his golden cage.
Om Hrim Hum, leap from your pages to me:
But wait, what is this golden cage?
Why do I sing like a bird?
Oh Kamala, I now live in your world, and you in mine
I, alone in a cage of uncompromising gold
And you, a teacher without a pupil.
by Sabio Lantz, 12/2014
Claudia, at d’Verse Poets, challenges us to “write a poem where…
- something or someone that/who is not real suddenly comes alive
- a character from a book shows up in your poem
- someone suddenly disappears and finds themselves in a whole new place….”
For my poem, I have chosen the book “Siddhartha” (1922) by Herman Hesse. I apologize that without knowing the story, and a bit about India, the poem is bit abstruse.
The descriptions of Kamala are taken right from Hesse’s book. The bird is a key symbol in Hesse’s story. Here is a quote from the last paragraph in the chapter called “Samsara”:
When she [Kamala] received the first news of Siddhartha’s disappearance, she went to the window, where she held a rare singing bird captive in a golden cage. She opened the door of the cage, took the bird out and let it fly. For a long time, she gazed after it, the flying bird.
The picture (credit) is of Simi Garawal who starred as Kamala in the movie rendition of Hesse’s book. I loved the book back in the 70s when I first read it, and again now this month as I read it again with different eyes.