October 31, 2011

Some favorite poems by Indians

1. The Moment by R. De L. Furtado

They woke up in the attic
And saw the hesitating drop
On the tip of the icicle
Hanging from the eave.
'It's four O'clock' , she said
And withdrew her out flung arm.
Under the moon the stillness
Covered the slender cherry tree ,
Oblivious and alone,
Beyond that stalactite of glass.
A world of bloodless phantoms
Touched with silver and snow !
" I shall make some coffee", she said
And threw away the blanket
And tip toed into the dark.
Then: "Drink and don't say thanks".
They looked at the icicle again
But the drop was not there.
How pale the substance of memory:
The drop, the warmth, the cherry tree,
The slow beating of their hearts -
It all ended like bits of glass.

2. Travelers by Deb Kumar Das

We flew the wide-upon plains; the night before us
Flying on a broomstick
With twinkling stardust shaken from the brush.

Les cremona; memory
Of quiet mirrored evening
With faces lit by slow candles of autumn

And we remembered too
Lazy walks down crisscrossing shadowed piazzas
And quick fingers quivering on a zither.

We flew again into quiet country
Where leaves flirted with the frowning twilight
And rivers gurgled in the arms of quiet hillsides.

It was again
A remembering and a forgetting:

Old little whispers             New little words

Old little laughters             New little birds

Old whereafters                New fires to set alight.........

And into the night , the night.
3. Because Her Speech is Excellent by P.Lal

Because her speech is excellent
Give songs; but if you wish,
White roses.
White is her element.

Roses have prices when not on trees,
And white are scarce; instead,
She took love.
She said the summer would never cease.

The poignance of her eyes, her words!
Sun grappling with blue skies,
Apples, birds,
Apples and birds, apples, birds.

4. Another View of Grace by A.K.Ramanujan

I burned and burned.But one day I turned
and caught that thought
by the screams of her hair and said ' Beware .
Do not follow a gentleman's morals

with that absurd determined air.
Find a priest.Find any beast in the wind
for a husband.He will give you a houseful
of legitimate sons.It is too late for sin,

even for treason.And I have no reason to know your kind
Bred Brahmin among singers of shivering hymns
I shudder to the bone at hungers that roam the streets
Beyond the constable's beat.'But there She stood

upon that dusty road on a night lit April mind
and gave me a look.Commandments crumbled
in my father's past.Her tumbled hair suddenly known
as silk in my hand, I shook a little
and took her behind the laws of my land.

5.Enterprise by Nissim Ezekiel

It started as a pilgrimage.
Exalting minds and making all
The burdens light.The second stage
Explored but did not test the call.
The sun beat down to meet our rage.

We  stood it very well, I thought,
Observed and put down copious notes
On things the peasants sold and bought.
The way of serpents and of goats,
Three cities where a age had taught.

But then the differences arose
On how to  cross a desert patch,
We lost a friend whose stylish prose
Was quite the best of all our batch.
A shadow falls on us - and grows.

Another phase was reached when we
Were twice attacked, and lost our way.
A section claimed its liberty
To leave the group. I tried to pray.
Our leader said he smelt the sea.

We noticed nothing as we went,
A straggling crowd of little hope,
Ignoring what the thunder meant,
Deprived of common needs like soap.
Some were broken, some merely bent.

When, finally , we reached the place
We hardly knew why we were there,
The trip had darkened every face,
Our deeds were neither great nor rare.
Home is the place we have to gather grace.

6.An Introduction by Kamala Das

I don’t know politics but I know the names
Of those in power, and can repeat them like
Days of week, or names of months, beginning with Nehru.
I am Indian, very brown, born in Malabar,
I speak three languages, write in
Two, dream in one.
Don’t write in English, they said, English is
Not your mother-tongue. Why not leave
Me alone, critics, friends, visiting cousins,
Every one of you? Why not let me speak in
Any language I like? The language I speak,
Becomes mine, its distortions, its queernesses
All mine, mine alone.
It is half English, half Indian, funny perhaps, but it is honest,
It is as human as I am human, don’t
You see? It voices my joys, my longings, my
Hopes, and it is useful to me as cawing
Is to crows or roaring to the lions, it
Is human speech, the speech of the mind that is
Here and not there, a mind that sees and hears and
Is aware. Not the deaf, blind speech
Of trees in storm or of monsoon clouds or of rain or the
Incoherent mutterings of the blazing
Funeral pyre. I was child, and later they
Told me I grew, for I became tall, my limbs
Swelled and one or two places sprouted hair.
When I asked for love, not knowing what else to ask
For, he drew a youth of sixteen into the
Bedroom and closed the door, He did not beat me
But my sad woman-body felt so beaten.
The weight of my breasts and womb crushed me.
I shrank pitifully.
Then … I wore a shirt and my
Brother’s trousers, cut my hair short and ignored
My womanliness. Dress in sarees, be girl
Be wife, they said. Be embroiderer, be cook,
Be a quarreller with servants. Fit in. Oh,
Belong, cried the categorizers. Don’t sit
On walls or peep in through our lace-draped windows.
Be Amy, or be Kamala. Or, better
Still, be Madhavikutty. It is time to
Choose a name, a role. Don’t play pretending games.
Don’t play at schizophrenia or be a
Nympho. Don’t cry embarrassingly loud when
Jilted in love … I met a man, loved him. Call
Him not by any name, he is every man
Who wants. a woman, just as I am every
Woman who seeks love. In him . . . the hungry haste
Of rivers, in me . . . the oceans’ tireless
Waiting. Who are you, I ask each and everyone,
The answer is, it is I. Anywhere and,
Everywhere, I see the one who calls himself I.
In this world, he is tightly packed like the
Sword in its sheath. It is I who drink lonely
Drinks at twelve, midnight, in hotels of strange towns,
It is I who laugh, it is I who make love
And then, feel shame, it is I who lie dying
With a rattle in my throat. I am sinner,
I am saint. I am the beloved and the
Betrayed. I have no joys that are not yours, no
Aches which are not yours. I too call myself I.

(All poems taken from The Golden Treasury of Indo Anglian Poetry Published by Sahitya Akademi)