In honour of Samhain – or Halloween, whichever you prefer – I offer up an incantation, my imaginary friend. This marvelous poem, written by Alexander Hutchison, is indeed called Incantation, and is best spoken aloud, at midnight or whenever you prefer – perhaps as a kind of primal scream of beautiful language to banish trolls and goblins and other such wicked manifestations. Hutchison said “while wishful thinking doesn’t do it, a proper determination can make the cosmos perk up and take a bit of notice.” Here is my determination…
I have a charm for the bruising
a charm for the blackening
a charm for cheats and impostors.
I summon from the cold clear air
from the bare branches of the trees
from worms coiling under the ground —
charm against cruel intent
charm for neglect
charm against wicked indifference:
may it lie on the white backs of the breakers of the sea may it lie on the furthest reaches of the wind.
A salve for those who would grudge against the poor a salve for those who would harry the innocent a salve for those who would murder children:
may it lie in the stoniest stretches of the hills may it lie in the darkest shelving along the shore.
A salve for those that would cram
whatever life they have with possession — for the rage of owning without entitlement for the desperate murderous possession of things:
may it lie on the cloud-banks that range across the sky may it lie on the face of Rannoch Moor in its remoteness.
A charm against mystification by doctors a charm against deception by the self-appointed a charm against horrific insistence:
from the breeze that stirs the last of the yellowing leaves from the slanting of the sun as it falls through the window.
a salve against grasping
a salve against preaching
a salve against promises exacted by threat.
Grace of form
grace of voice
grace of virtue
grace of sea
grace of land and air
grace of music
grace of dancing.
A salve against the uselessness of envy
a salve against denial of our own best nature a salve against bitter enmity and silence.
Grace of beauty
grace of spirit
grace of laughter
grace of the fullness of life itself.
A salve to bind us
a salve to strengthen heart and happiness:
may it lie in the star-blanket there to spread over us may it lie in the first light at the waking of day.