Nissim Ezekiel

(16 December 1924 - 9 January 2004 / Mumbai / India)

Island Poem by Nissim Ezekiel


Unsuitable for song as well as sense
the island flowers into slums
and skyscrapers, reflecting
precisely the growth of my mind.
I am here to find my way in it.
Sometimes I cry for help
But mostly keep my own counsel.
I hear distorted echoes
Of my own ambigious voice
and of dragons claiming to be human.
Bright and tempting breezes
Flow across the island,
Separating past from the future;
Then the air is still again
As I sleep the fragrance of ignorance.
How delight the soul with absolute
sense of salvation, how
hold to a single willed direction?
I cannot leave the island,
I was born here and belong.
Even now a host of miracles
hurries me a daily business,
minding the ways of the island
as a good native should,
taking calm and clamour in my stride.

Submitted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Edited: Wednesday, March 28, 2012

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