Agha Shahid Ali
From a district near Jammu,
(Dogri stumbling through his Urdu)
he comes, the victim of a continent broken
in two in nineteen forty-seven.
He mentions the minced air he ate
while men dissolved in alphabets
of blood, in syllables of death, of hate.
'I only remember half the word
that was my village. The rest I forget.
My memory belongs to the line of blood
across which my friends dissolved
into bitter stanzas of some dead poet.'
He wanted me to sympathize. I couldn't,
I was only interested in the bitter couplets
which I wanted him to explain. He continued,
'And I who knew Mir backwards, every
couplet from the Diwan-e-Ghalib saw poetry
dissolve into letters of blood.' He
Now remembers nothing while I find Ghalib
at the crossroads of language, refusing
to move to any side, masquerading
as a beggar to see my theatre of kindness.
Agha Shahid Ali's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (Learning Urdu by Agha Shahid Ali )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990)
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