Liz Garton Scanlon (liz_scanlon) wrote,
Liz Garton Scanlon

Poetry Friday -- Day of the Dead

Much of what we did at our house this week will be familiar to you.

A run to the thrift store, some facepaint and homespun alterations, a coupla good hats and -- voila -- we sent a very funky witch and a very happy Willie Wonka off to school today. And they'll devote tonight to collecting their body weight in chocolate. 

But in Texas, Halloween gets the extra-special spin of Mexico's Dia de los Muertos, aka Day of the Dead. This is a vivid, flower- and food-filled celebration in honor of loved ones who have died and who come back for a visit this time of year.

Altars are erected, candles lit, sugar skulls decorated.

(Art by Randi Marx at The Arcane Harvest)

"Death," my small one tells me, "is not scary."

She and her sister have studied Dia de los Muertos at school, written tributes to their great-grandparents, and generally absorbed the rules of the ritual (from catrinas to marigolds). They have learned that we should celebrate those who've come before us with great gusto. We should tell stories. We should laugh. We should remember their lives with utter and effervescent pleasure. Because, really, since death is inevitable and all, why not?

In this vein is a poem by Frances Chesterton (wife of G.K.).
It's actually rather somber but if you can conjure up some paper flowers, music and a little tequila, it'll liven it up a bit...



The day of the dead, the day of the dead,
Down on your knees and pray,
For the souls of the living, the souls of the dying,
The souls that have passed away.

And the great bell tolls
For the treasure of souls
Delivered into his hand,
Gabriel, Michael, Uriel, reap
Souls as a measure of sand,
Souls from the restless deep,
Souls from the blood-red land.

The day of the dead, the day of the dead,
Down on your knees and pray,
For the souls of the outcast, despised and rejected,
The heroes and victors to-day.

(Read the rest here...)

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