book excerptise:   a book unexamined is wasting trees

Indian love poems

Meena Alexander (ed.)

Alexander, Meena (ed.);

Indian love poems

Alfred A. Knopf (Everyman's library pocket poets), 2005, 250 pages

ISBN 1400042259, 9781400042258

topics: |  poetry | anthology | india | romance | erotica

an excellent anthology. the random poem (by the where-the-page-falls-open test) is of high quality, notable... this can be said for few poetry anthologies.

organized into three sections (waiting, meeting, parting), poems from the third century rub shoulders with amrita pritam and nabaneeta debsen, and don't seem non-contemporary.

but then, ancient poetry often feels right when the the translations are modern; a translation is a shift in both time and space.

anyhow, the translations seem far more readable than the much-cited oxford anthology of modern indian poetry ed. vinay dharwadker and a.k. ramanujan. this may be simply because poems about love are more visceral and has a stronger emotional suggestion (what vAmana may have called rasadhvani. but another reason may be because the selection does not feel constrained to be balanced across the indian languages/ cultures, so that there is no need to accept poems due to reasons extraneous to quality. but on the whole i just think it is a better selection of poems that work in the English language.

the small footprint (pocket poets series), layout and printing is very well done. i only wish there was an author index.


Anthologies of Indian love poetry

Indian love poetry seems to have attracted the attention of a lot of
anthologists.  These differ in the mood, period, and cultural landscape
they cover.

Here is a fairly comprehensive list ...

* Tambimuttu's Indian love poems (1967) restricts itself to
	the ancient and medieval, vestiges of the colonial orientalist.

* Subhash Saha's Anthology of Indian love poetry (1976) is focused on
	modern English poetry.  Clearly an intense selection, which is quite
	good but suffers from production problems (Writer's Workshop).

 		When you undress, I sit seeing the colours
 		of the clothes you slip over your head ...
 		I watch you darkly growing towards me,
 		the last glinting of arms and the cupped tense belly.
				 (by Ashoke Mammen)

* Meena Alexander's Indian love poems (2005) covers the
	gamut from ancient sanskrit to modern vernacular. Undoubtedly the
	finest both in terms of selection and the small, pocket-worthy getup.

* Jerry Pinto and Arundhathi Subramaniam's Confronting love (2005).
	only modern English poets, focusing on relatively less well-known
	pieces.  Even for the known poets, the poems chosen, (Kolatkar's
	Lice, Ramanujan's Love 10) are among the lesser known.  A great
	volume to discover new work, but for the same reason, it has an edgy
	feel about it.

Meera Ahluwalia's Writing Love (2010)
	a very modern selection. somewhat patchy.

		Tonight, I recall a lust that stormed
		as comets crashing clouds, as the helplessness
		of ripping mouths, sweat tangling us in running light.
				-  Priya Sarukkai Chabria

Ancient and regional love poetry:

* Arvind Mehrotra translates from Sanskrit: The absent traveller (2008).
	Prakrit love poetry from the gAthAsaptashati compiled by sAtavAhana
	hala.  The pieces works very well as English poetry.
		   The lovers feign sleep:
			Let's see who
		   Holds out longer.

* Andrew Schelling's Erotic Love Poems from India
	selects from the Amarushataka by the legendary Amaru.
	but the translations are non-uniform.

		her eyes droop as astride her
		    companion she finishes.

* Jayaprabha's Unforeseen affection and other love poems
	translated from the Telugu by none other than india's ex-prime
	minister P.V. Narasimha Rao (2005)

		and enter the womb.
		It's there that floral perfumes reside,
		Unborn poems subsist...

Excerpts : The poems

My Love: from Subhashitavali p.21

     (compiled Vallabhadeva 10th c., tr. John Brough)

Although I conquer all the earth,
Yet for me there is only one city.
In that city there is for me only one house;
And in that house, one room only;
And in that room a bed.
And one woman sleeps there,
The shining joy and jewel of all my kingdom.

Four embraces : Vatsyayana 22

	(from Kamasutra, 3d c. BC)
... As a vine twines around a great dammar tree, so she twines around him
and bends his face down to her to kiss him. Or, raising it up again, she
pants gently, rests on him, and gazes at him with love for a while.  This
is the 'twining vine'.  She steps on his foot with her foot, places her
other foot on his thigh or wraps her leg around him, with one arm gripping
his back and the other bending down his shoulder, and panting gently,
moaning a little, she tries to cliomb him to kiss him.  This is called
'climbing the tree'.  These two embraces are done standing.  Lying on a
bed, their thighs entangled and arms entangled, they embrace so tightly
that they seem to be wrestling against one another.  This is 'rice and
sesame'.  Blind with passion, oblivious to pain or injury, they embrace as
if they would enter one another she may be on his lap, seated facing him,
or on a bed.  This is called 'milk-and-water'.  Those are the ways of
embracing closely, according to the followers of Babhravya.
		[Book two, chapter 2: Ways of embracing]
		tr. Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakar (from Sanskrit)

Like madness in an elephant: Milaipperunkantan 23

   	Milaipperunkantan, 1st - 3d c. AD; from Kuruntokai

Love, love,
they say.  Yet love
is no new grief
nor sudden disease; nor something
that rages and cools.
       Like madness in an elephant,
       coming up when he eats
       certain leaves,

       love waits
       for you to find
       someone to look at.

		tr. AK Ramanujan (from Tamil)

What he said (gently moving bamboo) 25

Her arms have the beauty
of a gently moving bamboo.
Her eyes are full of peace.
She is faraway,
her place not easy to reach.

My heart is frantic
with haste,
	a plowman with a single ox
	on land all wet
	and ready for seed.

	Oreruravanar (c. 1st-3d c. AD),
	tr. AK Ramanujan (from Tamil)

Anonymous : A Small Request 29

  	    [original Kannada: jonna cenu kada]

Yesterday I saw that lovely woman
in the field of maize.
Since then — no sleep.
Please, Lord of Springtime,
bring her and me together.
I'll bring you flowers.

			tr. Velcheru Narayana Rao and David Shulman (from Kannada)

Srinatha : Love Letter 30

Dear X,
    Your tiny waist (almost not there),
    your grace, the gentle
    way you walk —
    I bless all these, for they
    are yours.
    Hoping you're well.
    I'm well enough.
    Please send me news,
    good news,
    since every moment
    I want you more.
         Sincerely yours,

			(Srinatha, c. 1365-1441)
			tr. Velcheru Narayana Rao and David Shulman (from Telugu)

I have blackened my golden skin : Chandidas (c. 14th-15th c.) 32

I have blackened my golden skin
Longing for him,
Though he was not my husband.
I belonged to a respectable home.
As the fire encircled me,
My life began to wilt.
And my heart,
Brooding eternally,
Parched for my dark darling,
My Krishna ...

   	   tr. by Deben Bhattacharya (from med. Bengali)

Balamaniamma : Gift of Love p.50

I am stitching a handkerchief
In noonday heat birds sleep
At dusk i'm still at it,
dazzled by shiny threads
stitching and unstitching
to make it just right
I'm scared my fingers
will spoil the whiteness,
this needle blunt yet drive by love
It makes a home for my heart
Loose threads turn into rock faults
the needle dreams through them,
webs of color, wild trees, rosebushes
I want to be so very close
I want to breathe in each breath you lose
How shall i give you this gift of love?
Will it please you?...

Shakunt Mathur : A New Way of Waiting 51

		tr. Aruna Sitesh and Arlene Zide

the old servant
for his usual slowness.
For his mischief
gave a good slap
to my darling son.

To my daughter who'd been playing
gave a dozen hankies to hem.
the oldest
to drink more milk.
all the dirty clothes.
Flipped through a few magazines.
Darned some torn clothes.
Sewed on some new buttons.
Cleaned the machine and oiled it.
Put the cover back on with care.
Took out the half-finished sewing
and repacked it in a different way.
Wiped the cupboards in the kitchen.
Cleaned the spice jars.

And still
hasn't come home from the office.

Ghalib : Desires Come by the Thousands (hAzAron khvAhishen aisi) 52

			tr. Robert Bly and Sunil Dutta

Each desire eats up a whole life; desires come by the thousands.
I've received what i wanted many times, but still it was not enough.

The one who killed me should not accept blame for my death.
My life has been pouring out through my eyes for years. 96


For devoted lovers, living and dying are about the same.
My life is sustained by looking at her but it also takes my life away.

The mullah and the tavern door seem to be two separate things, Ghalib,
But I did notice that he was entering yesterday as I was leaving.

hazāroñ ḳhvāhisheñ aisī kih har ḳhvāhish par dam nikle
bahut nikle mere armān lekin phir bhī kam nikle

ḍare kyūñ merā qātil kyā rahegā us kī gardan par
vuh ḳhūñ jo chashm-e tar se 'umr bhar yūñ dam bah dam nikle

muḥabbat meñ nahīñ hai farq jīne aur marne kāa
usī ko dekh kar jīte haiñ jis kā fir par dam nikle

kahāñ mai-ḳhāne kā darvāzah ġhālib aur kahāñ vā'iz̤
par itnā jānte haiñ kal vuh jātā thā kih ham nikle
			[Diwan 219]

commentary by frances pritchett

Here's one of the brilliant and famous verses of the divan, the kind that is
known by anybody who knows any Ghalib at all.

The verse plays lavishly and enjoyably with the common verb निकलना , 'to come
out, to emerge'. In the first line, the usage is relatively straightforward:
the breath would 'emerge' from the body, in death. The speaker's longings are
such that he would die for every one of them, or die over them, or die at the
very thought of them, or die to have them fulfilled, or die in the process of
their fulfillment-- but in any case, he'd die.

The use of हज़ारों emphasizes the inclusiveness: not just 'thousands of
longings', but 'all the thousands of longings', every longing he's got. It's
the same difference as between 'two' [दो] and 'two out of two', or 'both'
[दोनों], and 'all three' [तीनों], so on. The longings may be all those
thousands, but the breath is one, so निकले is clearly a singular subjunctive.

When we come to the second line, however, the seemingly repeated निकले is
cleverly, and enjoyably, different, for it has now morphed into a masculine
plural perfect form: many of my longings 'emerged' (or the longings 'emerged'
as many), but nevertheless few of them 'emerged' (or they 'emerged' as
few). And here, the many idiomatic senses of the remarkably fertile and
colloquially productive निकलना come into play; see the definition above for
the full range of possibilities. For longings to 'emerge' can mean, among
other, things:

=to appear, to be produced (to 'emerge' from nonexistence into existence) =to
be expressed or uttered (to 'emerge' from silence into speech) =to be
accomplished or effected (to 'emerge' from hope into fulfillment); see {6,4})
=to go away, to depart (to 'emerge' from their previous dwelling and move on)
=to turn out to be, to be discovered or revealed as (to 'emerge' from
unclearness into full comprehensibility)

Isn't this mind-boggling? Really, what else could happen to a longing (or
regret), other than to appear, and/or to be expressed, and/or to be
accomplished, and/or to disappear? It might of course also be thwarted or
denied-- which can be conveyed in the idea that the above-mentioned things
happened to only 'a few' of the longings. Or perhaps the longings don't act
at all, but are acted upon, as in (2c)-- they are discovered (by someone) to
be something, they 'turn out' (a parallel usage in English) to be something.

Moreover, these are all real, solid, genuine meanings of निकलना , not
far-fetched or archaic ones. I don't know how in the world anybody could
conceive of translating the second line of this verse. Would you choose one
of the five possibilities and stick with it both times, or would you mix and
match, thus finding something like twenty permutations? Whatever you did
would have to be arbitrary in the extreme, and you'd have a crowd of other
equally plausible choices always tugging at your sleeve and demanding their
own day in the sun.

Because of the complexity and enjoyableness of the refrain निकले , in this
ghazal I've tried to keep it visible at the end of every line in my

Nirala : Love Song 62

I'm a brahman's son
In love with that girl.
A potter's daughter
We've hired to fetch water,
Who comes every morning at the crack of dawn,
    She's the one I'm after.

Black as a koel,
No curves to her figure,
She's of marriageable age
And yet not married.
She makes me sigh

Her knock on the door
Wakes up the household.
No one else knows what's going on.
She takes the water-pot,
THe big one, and goes out again,
My eyes following her.
    I bide my time.

Vatsyayana from Kamasutra : ‘Whatever wound a man inflicts on a woman’

						p. 76

Whatever wound a man inflicts on a woman...
the response to a 'dot' is a 'garland',
and to a 'garland', a 'scattered cloud'.
Pretending to be angry,
this is how a woman picks a quarrel
She grabs him by the hair
and bends down his face and drinks from his mouth;
she pounces on him and bites him
here and there, crazed with passion.
Resting on the chest of the man she loves,
she raises his head and bites him on the neck
with the 'garland of jewels'
or any other bite
she knows.

When she sees the man, even in the daytime,
in the midst of a group of people, displaying the mark
that she herself made on him, she laughs
unnoticed by others.
Then, pretending to wrinkle her face,
and pretending to rebuke the man,
as if in jealousy, she displays
the marks made on her own body.

When two people behave in this way
with modesty and concern for one another's feelings,
their love will never wane,
not even in a hundred years.

		tr. Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakar (from Sanskrit)

Anuradha Mahapatra (b. 1957) : God 33

I have never seen God.  When I see temples I think
Of Hiranyakashipu the demon king,
		and when I see an image worshipped
I think about the daughter of the house
being sold for cash. Offering one faded life to another.
To see blood coughed from the mouths of the bloodless
is the final joke.

   Still, when I saw that fellow
	    in the grimy blue-black tee shirt on the tram,
straight as cast-iron cannon, I wished he were God!
Then at least I'd have gotten a proper place to hide,
or I could have pushed him
and even if I'd killed him
		it would have been love.

   Nowadays when I step onto the running board of a bus
I think of God.

	tr. Paramita Banerjee and Jyotirmay Datta (from Bengali)

Tevakulattar (1st-3d c.) : What She Said p. 37

Bigger than earth, certainly,
higher than the sky,
more unfathomable than the waters
is this love for this man
			of the mountain slopes
			where bees make rich honey
			from the flowers of the kuriqci
			that has such black stalks.

				Tevakulattar (1st-3d c.) Kuruntokai 3
				tr. AK Ramanujan (from Tamil)
				at ASIAN 226: Poetries of Asia (Peter Hook) (24 sangam poems)

Kalidasa: Craving sweet 78

Craving sweet
new nectar
you kissed
a mango bud once-
how could you
forget her, bee,
to bury your joy
in a lotus?

   (from Sakuntala, tr. Barbara Stoler-Miller)

from Amarusataka ‘Held her’ 80

Held her
right to me
breasts pressed flat
all her skin
and with wanting alone
her clothes by themselves fell down
her legs No
don't oh
god don't
too much oh
she was saying I
could hardly hear her
after that did seh
fall asleep did she die
did she vanish into me
did she totally dissolve
into me

	  tr. W. S. Merwin and J. Mousaieff Masson (from Sanskrit)

Kumaradasa (6th c.) from Janakiharana : ‘In their quarrel’ 81

In their quarrel she
pretended to be
asleep until he
shaking with passion
started to take off her dress
thief she said laughing and
boldly she bit
his lower lip.

  tr. W. S. Merwin and J. Mousaieff Masson (from Sanskrit)

Candraka (c. 13th c.) from Sarngadharapaddhati : ‘A long time back’ 82

A long time back

A long time back when we were first in love
Our bodies were always as one
Later you became my dearest
And I became your dearest alas
And now my beloved lord
And now you are my husband
I am your wife
Our hearts must be hard as the middle of thunder
Now what have I to live for?
	   tr. W. S. Merwin and J. Mousaieff Masson (from Sanskrit)

Fahmidah Riaz: Deep Kiss

Deep myrrh-scented kiss
deep with the tongue, suffused
with the musky perfume
of the winde of love: I'm reeling
with intoxication, languid
to the point of numbness
Yet with a mind so roused
and eye flies open
in every cell

And you! Sucking my breath,
my life, from its deepest,
most ancient abode

Wet, warm, dark
Pitch black!
Like a moonless night,
when rain comes flooding in

A glint of runaway time
fleeing in the wilderness of my sould
seems to be drawing closer
I sway across a shadowy bridge
I think,
somewhere ahead,
there is light

Caress: Sudeep Sen p.86

the Zen poet wrote:

Without the brush,
The willow paints the wind.

And I replied:
`Without the brush,

my breath paints
her bare skin.'

The Kama Sutra Retold : Sujata Bhatt 91

         Then Roman Svirsky said,
         ‘It is illegal in Russia to write
         about sex
         so it is important
         for Vasily Aksyonov
         to write about it -’

You laugh,
but I want to know
how would we break the long silence
if we had the same rules?

It's not enough to say
         she kissed his balls,
      licked his cock long
         how her tongue could not stop.

For he thinks of the first day:
she turns her head away
as she takes off her T-shirt
blue jeans, underwear, bra.
She doesn’t even look at him
until she's in the lake,
the clear water up to her neck
yet unable to hide her skin.

They swim out
    to the islands
but he doesn’t remember swimming;
just brushing against her leg
      once, then diving down
beneath her thighs    staying underwater
    long enough for a good look,
coming up for air      and watching
  her black hair streaming back straight,
then watching her
      step over
          the stones, out of the water.

She doesn’t know what to say.
He wishes they were swans.
      Yeats's swans
    would not need to speak
but could always glide across
      other worlds;
magical, yet rustling with real reeds.

The sun in her eyes
so they move closer to the pine trees.
When he touches her nipples
he doesn’t know
who is more surprised
(years later he remembers that look,
the way her eyes open wider).
He's surprised
she wants him
to kiss her nipples again and again
because she's only 17 he's surprised
her breasts are so full.
She's surprised
      it feels so good
because he's only 17 she's surprised
he can be so gentle
      yet so hard inside her,
the way pine needles
      can soften the ground.
Where does the ground end
   and she begin?
She must have swallowed the sky
  the lake, and all the woods
            veined with amber brown pathways;

for now great white wings
are swooping through
her thighs, beating stronger
      up her chest,
the beak stroking her spine
feathers tingling her skin,
the blood inside
      her groin swells

while wings are rushing to get out,

Recollection: Vikatanitamba 97

			(9th c. AD, Sanskrit)
At the side of the bed
the knot came undone by itself,
and barely held by the sash
the robe slipped to my waist.
My friend, it's all I know: I was in his arms
and I can’t remember who was who
or what we did or how
		tr. Octavio Paz

Bhavabhuti: : ‘Deep in love’ 99

		from Uttara Rama Charita
Deep in love
cheek leaning on cheek we talked
of whatever came to our minds
just as it came
slowly oh
with our arms twined
tightly around us
and the houses passed and we
did not know it
still talking when
the night was gone

Rabindranath Tagore : One Day 103

I recall that afternoon: the rain every now and then tiring itself out, and
then being whipped up again into a frrenzy by the wind.

It was dark in the room, and I did not feel like working.  I took my
instrument and wove the raga Malhar into a song of rain.

She came once from the next room to the door, and then turned back again.
Again she came and stood outside the room, then slowly came in and sat down.
She had some needlework in her hand, and began to work upon it with lowered
head.  Then she stopped her work, and began to stare through the window at
the hazy outlines of the trees.

The rain finally stopped.  I ended my song.  She got up and went to braid her

That was all.  Nothing more.  Just an afternoon enwrapped in the rain, and my
song, and my reluctance to work, and the darkness.

The lives of great monarchs, their wars and conflicts, become the cheap stuff
of history and lie scattered everywhere.  But the story of that afternoon
lies hidden like a precious jewel in the casket of time: only two people know
		tr. Sunetra Gupta (from Bengali)

this is a beautiful piece, elegantly translated. here's the
original, from লিপিকা.

original: একটি দিন

	মনে পড়ছে সেই দুপুরবেলাটি। ক্ষণে ক্ষণে বৃষ্টিধারা ক্লান্ত হয়ে আসে, আবার দমকা
	হাওয়া তাকে মাতিয়ে তোলে।

	ঘরে অন্ধকার, কাজে মন যায় না। যন্ত্রটা হাতে নিয়ে বর্ষার গানে মল্লারের সুর

	পাশের ঘর থেকে একবার সে কেবল দুয়ার পর্যন্ত এল। আবার ফিরে গেল। আবার একবার
	বাইরে এসে দাঁড়াল। তার পরে ধীরে ধীরে ভিতরে এসে বসল। হাতে তার সেলাইয়ের
	কাজ ছিল, মাথা নিচু করে সেলাই করতে লাগল। তার পরে সেলাই বন্ধ ক'রে জানলার
	বাইরে ঝাপসা গাছগুলোর দিকে চেয়ে রইল।

	বৃষ্টি ধরে এল, আমার গান থামল। সে উঠে চুল বাঁধতে গেল।

	এইটুকু ছাড়া আর কিছুই না। বৃষ্টিতে গানেতে অকাজে আঁধারে জড়ানো কেবল সেই
	একটি দুপুরবেলা।

	ইতিহাসে রাজাবাদশার কথা, যুদ্ধবিগ্রহের কাহিনী, সস্তা হয়ে ছড়াছড়ি যায়। কিন্তু,
	একটি দুপুরবেলার ছোটো একটু কথার টুকরো দুর্লভ রত্নের মতো কালের
	কৌটোর মধ্যে লুকোনো রইল, দুটি লোক তার খবর জানে।

Ismail : You 106

You're mine
only when you take off all your clothes
for me

When you're dressed
you belong to the world

I'm going to shred this world
into pieces
one day

Mahadeviyakka : ‘Like a silkworm weaving’ : 111

Like a silkworm weaving
her house with love
from her marrow,
             and dying
in her body's threads
winding tight, round
and round,
                  I burn
desiring what the heart desires.

Cut through, O lord,
my heart's greed,
and show me
your way out,

O lord white as jasmine.

Mahadeviyakka : ‘When I didn’t know myself ’ : 112

When I didn't know myself
where were you?

Like the colour in the gold,
you were in me.

I saw in you,
lord white as jasmine,
the paradox of your being
in me
without showing a limb.

Cempulappeyanirar: : What He Said (red earth and pouring rain) 116

  		    Kurunthokai 40

What could my mother be
to yours?  What kin is my father
to yours anyway?  And how
did you and I meet ever?
		But in love our hearts are as red
earth and pouring rain:
beyond parting.

	Cempulappeyanirar also transcribed as Sembula Peyaneerar (1st-3d c.)
	tr. AK Ramanujan (from Tamil)

--- original:
	குறிஞ்சி - தலைவன் கூற்று
	யாயும் ஞாயும் யாரா கியரோ,
	எந்தையும் நுந்தையும் எம்முறைக் கேளிர்,
	யானும் நீயும் எவ்வழி யறிதும்,
	செம்புலப் பெயனீர் போல,
	அன்புடை நெஞ்சம் தாங்கலந் தனவே.

		-செம்புலப் பெயனீரார்.

---  Alternate translation, George L. Hart:

My mother and yours,
what were they to each other?
My father and yours,
how were they kin?
I and you,
how do we know each other?
and yet
like water that has rained on red fields,
our hearts in their love
have mixed together.

note: The poet's name, Sembula Peyaneerar, also written
	Cempulappeyanirar means "he of water that has rained on red
	fields.", and is clearly a post-construction from the poem itself,
	and we do not really have the poets real name.
	      (see Ramanujan's Interior landscape p. 99, or

Amrita Pritam : Talk 129

Come, love, we must talk today.

The feelings that grew
In your heart's ground
You plucked like tea leaves,
Keeping them to yourself
Like green leaves
That you wanted to dry.

In this earthen oven
The sunken fire will revive,
Blow once or twice
And the half-burnt log
Will burn up again
And in the oven
Again the flame of love will rise
And in my body's flask
The water will boil.

Bring the tea leaves.

Like dry tea leaves
The same old feelings
The same old longings.
Put them in the water
And it will change colour,
Take a few hot sips yourself
And let me take a few hot sips

In the spring of life we could manage without it
But not in the winter.

Come, love, we must talk today.

      (tr. Charles Brasch with the poet, 1967, from Punjabi)

Umashankar Joshi (1911-1988) : Before I met you 132

      [while the poem is well crafted, at least in this translation, the
	 lines seems a bit stale - before i met you "i waited for you in
	 dreams" and "now the whole  world lives in you"  - maybe they were
	 fresher in the original?]

Before I met you, did I search for you?
I wandered through the woods, on the banks of the ringing brook
I strolled on mountain lanes
Looked for nests of birds on every branch.

Before I met you eyes wide open in the day,
I waited for you in dreams,
I was so drunk with the fragrance
Of what it would be like to meet.

Then I found you
And my dreams were swept away.
You anchored my tossing boat.
I touched nectar, sweeter than honey.

Before I met you
I kept on searching, waiting,
On water and on dry land.
Now the whole world lives in you.

	tr. Svati Joshi (from Gujarati)
	also at web, with the
	possibly more poignant title  "did I search for you?"

Sunanda Tripathy (b. 1964) : Tryst 134

When the whole city is asleep
I take of my anklets
and come into your room
with soft, stolen steps.

You lie there, unmoving
on the disordered bed,
books strewn all around.
In their midst, alone, you lie asleep,
the smile of some strange contentment
on your face.
I sit quietly by the bed,
smooth your dishevelled hair,
then bend down and with my sharp nails
tear open your chest,
and with both my hands scoop out
a fistful of pulsating soft pink flesh.

I'm spellbound by the odour of the flesh,
I hold it to my breast.
For a moment
word and silence become one -
then sky and earth
become one.

Before you come awake
I put the flesh back in its place,
caress your open chest.
The wound fills up in a moment
as if nothing had happened.

As before you go on sleeping,
and I walk quietly from your room

    tr JP Das and Arlene Zide (from Oriya)

Nabaneeta Dev Sen: Fig tree (ডুমুর) p.136

		tr. Carolyne Wright

original: (from নবনীতা দেবসেনের শ্র্রেষ্ট কবিতা p.35)
      আবার যদি ফিরতে চাই এই দরদালান
      এই বাগানকুঠি ছেড়ে তোমার ঐ ডুমুর গাছের
      ছায়ায়, বন্ধু, তুমি কি আমাকে জায়গা ছেড়ে
           পথের শেষ নেই, এই দরদালান অনন্ত, এই
      বাগান সীমাহীন, এতগুলো থাম তুমি জন্মেও
      দেখোনি, এত শিউলি, এত যুঁই, এত আম,
      জামরুল, এত আমি -- এ তোমার সবগুলি
      চোখ একসঙ্গে মেলে দিলেও ধরা পড়বে না,
      এত পায়রা আসে এ-বাড়ির ছাদে, এত
      খরগোশ এ বাগানের গর্তে-গর্তে, বন্ধু, তোমার
      ডুমুর গাছের ছাউনি থেকে তুমি এর কথাটুকুও
      জানতে পারবে না -- এত বুড়ো বুড়ো কালবোস
      এদের কালো দিঘিতে
           সব কিছু ছেড়ে দিয়ে, দিনরাত পথ চ'লে,
      দিনরাত দিনরাত সব পথ একা চ'লে-চ'লে
      যদি আমি ফের ফিরতে চাই, বন্ধু, তোমার
      ডুমুর গাছটি কি আমাকে ছায়া দেবে?

If I want to return again to the shade of your fig tree, my friend, leaving
behind these corridors, this country house, will you make room for me?

There's no end to this road, these corridors are infinite, this garden
boundless, you haven't seen so many columns in your life, so many
siuli-flowers, so many jasmines, mangoes, so much jamrul-fruit, so much
of me-- even if you open all your eyes at once you won't be able to take
them in, so many pigeons roosting on the roof of this house, so many
rabbits burrowing in this garden, my friend; from under your fig tree's
canopy, you won't get even the smallest particle of all this -- so many
ancient carp in their dark pond!

Leaving everything behind, walking day and night, day and night, day and
night, walking all the way alone, if I want once more to return, my friend,
will your fig tree give me shade?

Hira Bansode : Woman

(Marathi; tr. Vinay Dharwadker)

She, the river,
said to him, the sea:
All my life
I've been dissolving myself
and flowing towards you
for your sake
in the end it was I
who turned into the sea
a woman's gift
is always like the sky
but you went on
worshipping yourself
you never thought
of becoming a river
and merging
with me

Antara (অন্তরা ৪) p. 137

Nabaneeta Dev Sen, tr. Carolyne Wright

original: (from নবনীতা দেবসেনের শ্র্রেষ্ট কবিতা p.50)
       ছোট্ট একটা ছবি সেঁটে রেখেছি
      আমার রান্নাঘরের দেওয়ালে ।
      নীল আকাশে কচি-কচি তারের ডালপালা
      তাতে চিকন চারটি তারের পাখি দিয়ে
      একটা যন্ত্র তৈরি করে, তার গায়ে
      মস্ত এক হাতল লাগিয়েছেন শ্রী পোল ক্লে
      যেন ঘোরানো মাত্রই
      এই লম্বা-লম্বা তারের জিহ্বা খেলিয়ে
      কলকল করে উঠবে তাঁর পাখির যন্তর।
      নাম রেখেছেন: কাকলিযন্ত্র, The twittering machine!

      ছবিটা দেখলেই আমার তোর কথা মনে পড়ে
      কচি-কচি চারটে তারের পাখি ব'সে আছে
      তোর মধ্যে, আর হাতলটা তোর দশ আঙুলে
      বন্দী। আধো বুলি ফুটতে না ফুটতেই
      খই ফুটিয়ে ব'সে আছিস
      আমাদের তৈরি-করা কাকলিযন্ত্র,
      নীল আকাশ ব্যেপে ।

I've tacked up a small picture
on my kitchen wall.
In the blue sky, branches made of fresh young wire with four delicate wire birds in them
making a machine, onto which
a big lever has been attached by Mr. Paul Klee.
As if, as soon as it's turned,
wagging these long tongues of wire
his bird machine would break into excited chatter.
He's given it a name: Kakaliyantra, the Twittering Machine!

Whenever I see the picture I think of you.
Four young wire birds sitting
inside you, and the lever imprisoned
in your ten fingers. As soon as words
         were half-bloomed in your mouth
they burst out of you like popcorn.
The twittering machine we've made,
you -
spanning the blue sky.

Muddupalani: Radha instructs Ila, Krsna's new bride, in the arts of love 140

 		[Radha has dressed up the young bride, while Krsna waits in
		the bedroom.]

	"How will the lips of this young girl
	suffer his bites? He is the killer of the demon Kaitabha.
	How will her breasts bear his clawing? He's a lion of a cowherd.
	Can her tender thighs take his vigor? He wrestled CānŪra to the death.
	Will her smooth body survive? He's an elephant-killer."
	All the women were joking like this, and Ila bowed her head
	in shyness, her face all red. Rādhika drew close to her
	and offered comfort:
	"When your husband holds you,
	push him gently with your breasts.
	If he kisses your cheek, touch his lips with yours.
	When he gets on top of you, move against him from below.
	If he gets tired while making love, quickly take over
	and get on top. He's the best lover, a real connoisseur,
	extremely delicate. Love him skillfully,
	and make him love you. That's my advice.
	But you know best.
	Loving has its own laws." And she taught her.
	Then she said, "Go quickly. The good hour
	is passing. Meet your lover. Don't delay."
	And she led her gently to Krsna, and said to him:
	"Her breasts are tender as young buds. Unlike mine,
	they won't hold up if you claw at them.
	Her lips are like leaves. Mine are full-blown coral.
	Don't bite too hard.
	My thighs are used to wrestling with you,
	but hers are soft as bananas.
	Her whole body is a fragile vine. Mine is tough
	as gold. In a word, she's not me.
	Not equal to you in love.
	Innocent. New to the art.
	You have to know how to handle her.
	Do you need me to tell you?
	You're good with women.
	Just touch her lips with the tip of your tongue.
	Don't squeeze.
	Kiss her cheeks lightly.
	Don't scratch.
	Caress her nipples with your fingertips.
	Don't crush.
	Make love very, very gently.
	Don't be wild.
	I must be crazy to talk like this.
	When you and she are deeply in it,
	wrestling with each other,
	these rules of mine won't hold."

	Then she handed Ila over to Krsna.
	But really she wanted to come too,
	and held on to Ila's sari. Ila loosened her fingers:
	"I'll be back soon," she said.
	And Rādha went, her mind a jumble
	of misery and joy.
	Lying on her bed, alone, she thought to herself:
	"You can give money.
	You can give away your own family.
	You can give your very life, that isn't easy to give up.
	But to give your own husband
	to another woman — what woman can do that?
	By now I'm sure she's sucking at his delicious lips.
	Or already pounding his naked chest with her breasts.
	Probably moaning like doves.
	He's on top of her, and she's pressing against him.
	She's quite skilled to begin with. Maybe a bit shy,
	but by now he's won her over, freed her
	from any reticence. He's brought her close,
	touched her everywhere. Taught her everything."
	She kept thinking. Tortured by love,
	she couldn't close her eyes.
	Inside her, she was burning.
	As for Krsna, he was busy
	with the girl.

		tr. Velcheru Narayana Rao and David Shulman (from Telugu)

She touches him : GAGAN GILL

      wah use chhutI hai, 1989

very early one morning she touches him
on an unknown planet
in the seventh heaven of the senses
in the strange light of desire.

she touches him
like a heavy cloud
like the stalled wind
like holy fire

she touches him as though
he is god on the sixth day of creation
who must pass through her
and destroy her
to recreate her.

very early one morning she touches
the mayAvi, the elusive one
like magical waters
and chooses for herself
the death

of a fish.

	tr. Mrinal Pande and Arlene Zide 1992
	[decapitalized for devanagari]

THE INDIAN WAY : Jayanta Mahapatra 158

	The long, dying silence of the rain
	over the hills
	opens one's touch,
	a feeling for the soul's substance,
	as for the opal neck
	spiralling the inside of a shell.

	We keep calm; the voices move.
	I buy you the morning's lotus.

	we would return again and again
	to the movement
	that is neither forward nor backward,
	making us
	stop moving, without regret.

	You know:
	I will not touch you, like that
	until our wedding night.

Vikram Seth : Unclaimed 159

To make love with a stranger is the best.
There is no riddle and there is no test. --

To lie and love, not aching to make sense
Of this night in the mesh of reference.

To touch, unclaimed by fear of imminent day,
And understand, as only strangers may.

To feel the beat of foreign heart to heart
Preferring neither to prolong nor part.

To rest within the unknown arms and know
That this is all there is; that this is so.
            also at poemhunter

from Amarustaka_ : ‘To go’ 177

To go, if you have really decided
Then you will go
Why hurry two or three oh little while stay
While I look at your face
Living we are water running from a bucket
Who knows whether I will see you
And you will see me again.

  tr. W. S. Merwin and J. Mousaieff Masson (from Sanskrit)

Mamalatan : What She Said (house sparrows) 185

Don't they really have
in the land where he has gone
such things
as house sparrows

dense-feathered, the color of fading water lilies,
pecking at grain drying on yards,
playing with the scatter of the fine dust
of the street's manure
and living with their nestlings
in the angles of the penthouse

and miserable evenings,

and loneliness?
				Kuruntokai 46
				tr. AK Ramanujan (from Tamil)
				from ASIAN 226: Poetries of Asia|24 sangam poems Peter Hook

I know I shook like a vine 192

		from Subhashitavali of Srivara / Vallabhadeva
I know
I shook like a vine
he kissed me
touched my two breasts as he pleased
pushed the necklace aside
I remember that much
but what next
the letting go
the body turning to water
I keep trying to remember
and I cannot.

	   from Subhashitavali of Vallabhadeva, compiled Sridhara 15th c.
  	   tr. W S Merwin and J Moussaieff Masson

Faiz Ahmed Faiz : Any Lover to Any Beloved 196

		[yAd ki rAhguzar, jis par usi surat se (Az Zindan Nama, 1956)]

The road of memory you have walked so long
will end a few steps further on
where it turns on the way to oblivion.
Neither you nor I exist there

My eyes can't bear it:
They don't know if you might return,
step into thin air and disappear
or look back over your shoulder.

But these eyes are experienced
in illusion. If they embrace you again
elsewhere, another road like this one
will spring into being, where, in the same way,
the shadow of your hair, your arms swinging,
			will journey forth

The other possibility is equally false:
there is no turning, nothing
to hide you from me.

		So, let the same road
go on as it does, with you on it,
and if you never look back
			it doesn't matter


Today, if the breath of breeze
wants to scatter petals in the garden of memory,
why shouldn't it?

		If a forgotten pain
in some corner of the past
wants to burst into flame again, let it happen.
Though you act like a stranger now —
come — be close to me for a few minutes.
Though after this meeting
		we will know even better what we have lost.
and the gauze of words left unspoken
hangs bettween one line and another
neither of us will mention our promises.
Nothing will be said of loyalty or faithfulness.

If my eyelashes want to tell you something
about wiping out the lines
left by the dust of time on your face,
you can listen or not, just as you like.
And what your eyes fail to hide from me —
	if you care to, of course you may say it,
	or not, as the case may be.

		tr. Naomi Lazard

Distance destroys love : 198

 	     from the Gathasaptasati anthology, collated by hAla, c.1st c. AD

	Distance destroys love,
	So does the lack of it.

	Gossip destroys love,
	And sometimes

	It takes nothing
	To destroy love.

		- tr. Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, from The absent traveller

Comings and Goings : Rabindranath Tagore 201

	Love came
		Upon such silent feet,
	    She seemed a dream.
 	I offered her no seat.
   But when she stirred
   		To part the door and leave, I heard
	And ran to call her back.
   By then she was and incorporeal dream
		Lost in the night; the gleam
	Of her lamp-flame, on the road far ahead
	     A mirage blood-red.

	       (tr. Sukanta Chaudhuri)

-- [original song: prem esechhila niHshabda charaNe]

	        প্রেম এসেছিল নিঃশব্দচরণে।
	তাই    স্বপ্ন মনে হল তারে--
	        দিই নি তাহারে আসন।
	বিদায় নিল যবে, শব্দ পেয়ে      গেনু ধেয়ে।
	        সে তখন স্বপ্ন কায়াবিহীন
	            নিশীথতিমিরে বিলীন--
	দূরপথে দীপশিখা        রক্তিম মরীচিকা॥

			[ প্রেম ও প্রকৃতি ৯৫ ]

Amrita Pritam: Tale of Fire 220

 	[An amazingly powerful, bitter poem.  Works much better
	 than the tea analogy in "Talk"]

This is the tale of fire
-- the tale you told me.
My life was like a cigarette
and it was I you lit.

Look at this account from Time's pen -
it's been fourteen minutes
it's been fourteen years.

In this my body, your breath moved.
The soil bore witness to the rising coils of smoke.

Life, like a cigarette has burned down
the fragrance of my love -
one part mingled in your breath,
the other drifts away into the air ...

See, this is the last butt.
So the fire of my love may not scorch them,
let it drop from your fingertips.

Forget about my life
just be wary of that fire.
Save your hand,

Light a new cigarette.

	(tr. from Punjabi Arlene Zide and poet)

also appears at

The last door's name is sorrow: Kabita Sinha 225

    With whom are you talking?  I left a long time back!
    The woman who answers moves her lips
    		only out of habit.
    She laughs, and makes herself laugh;
    she squeezes tears from her eyes; that, too,
    	you know, is habit.

    With whom are you talking?  I left a long time back!
    Still, you toss your words carelessly at the empty stage!
    alluring scraps of sound
    		smeared with flesh and blood;
    your habits, yellow and black, the way a tigress looks.

    With whom are you talking?  I left a long time back!
    The wheels rolled off long ago, the carriage
        		of brightly coloured glass,
    the sounds, the wheel marks still there.  Even
    		now, your weather
    sends back an echo, the scent of a woman
    		in the air of your room;
    or do you breathe in the wrong smell from old habit?

    With whom are you talking?  I left a long time back!
    Just as women pass soundlessly away, breaking
         		through the multi-colored backdrop,
    casting off their jingling anklets, the sounds' allure
    withdraws, stripping off the bindi dot's red
    		from the exit door between their brows;
    	just as women pass from this strange indignity to chastity.

    Friendless, alone, in the place where I began,
    I sift my own soil to reconstruct myself.

Jayanta Mahapatra: Poem for Angela Elston 227

You said: hold me just this once, tonight,
before you leave this land.
But then, these were words again,
pieces of silence people merely tell
one another, clashes of thunder
that one would cut his hand on
the edges of their lightning...
There was snow on the cracked oaks
by the frozen river, and pain
which was all that we ever want to make,
was a small wet wind that came down
from the bald starlit ridge.
It was cold now, and stiffly silent;
a silence that has been kept away
too long from words. Here, I thought:
this is how it is before the soft rain
-comes, before a certain memory
streams into our eyes, or death.
Did you sense falseness as you
crossed the orderly seconds of our time
All the words unuttered
leave us on the outside,
because the silence we try not to taste;
because you must enter my life
with a word,
which fills your mouth only like the wind.

Nissim Ezekiel : Description 231

I will begin - but how should I begin? -
with hair, your hair,
remembered hair,
touched, smelt, lying silent there
upon your head, beneath your arms,
and then between your thighs a wonder
of hair, secret
in light and in darkness
bare, suffering with joy
kisses light as air.

And I will close - but is this fair? -
with dawn and you
binding up your hair.

Closing the Kamasutra: Meena Alexander 234

In another country at the river's edge
We lay down in whispering dirt,
Then tried to fix a house with hot hope.
If we live together much longer
I’ll become a cloud in my own soul.
Sweet jasmine floats in a bowl,
A keyboard harbours insects
(Mites in secret laying white eggs).
I must light frankincense to smoke them out
Else the alphabets will fail.
It is written in the Kamasutra --
They embraced not caring about pain or injury,
All they wanted was to enter each other.
This is known as milk-and-water.

Agreement: Kishwar Naheed 236

[one of my more powerful poems in the book.  i hadn't heard of the
Pakistani feminist poet kishwar Naheed, but after discovering her here,
I went to Mahmood Jamal's Modern Urdu Poetry
(from which this poem is taken) and read some of her other writings.

	He says
	that I am like a rock
	in my coldheartedness.
	I think to myself:
	How can anyone call this desire
	and secrecy cold?
	Yes, I have put stones
	in my throat.
	My sighs hit these stones,
	sink back in my body
	and erupt in my nerves;
	anxiety is burning me.
	I never let these flames reach
	my eyes or lips;
	the stones in my throat
	are a wall against my feelings.
	On the radar of your mind
	you cannot hear the bleeps
	of these intruders.
		(tr. Mahmood Jamal)


Do not ask of me, my love : Faiz Ahmed Faiz 237

Do not ask of me, my love,
that love I once had for you.
There was a time when
life was bright and young and blooming,
and your sorrow was much more than
any other pain.
Your beauty gave the spring everlasting youth:
your eyes, yes your eyes were everything,
all else was vain.
While you were mine, I thought, the world was mine.
Though now I know that it was not reality,
that's the way I imagined it to be;
for there are other sorrows in the world than love,
and other pleasures, too.
Woven in silk and satin and brocade,
those dark and brutal curses of countless centuries:
bodies bathed in blood, smeared with dust,
sold from market-place to market-place,
bodies risen from the cauldron of disease,
pus dripping from their festering sores—
my eyes must also turn to these.
You’re beautiful still, my love,
but I am helpless too;
for there are other sorrows in the world than love,
and other pleasures too.
Do not ask of me, my love,
that love I once had for you!

    [I am surprised that Alexander chose this version over Agha's by then
     decade-old rendering.  I find Jamal more formal in his tone - e.g.
              There was a time when
              life was bright and young and blooming,
      compare Agha:
              The world then was gold, burnished with light --
              and only because of you.
      Indeed, Agha may also be closer to the original - line 2 of
      Faiz goes:
            mai ne samjha tha ke tu hai to darakh'shan hai hayat
      and Jamal glosses over the "ke tu hai" - "because you are there" bit.
      also "samjha tha" in faiz becomes "That's what I had believed" in
      Agha, but comes later and is less effective in Jamal.  Agha makes
      this into a refrain, taking some freedom on a later verse, but with
              All this I'd thought, all this I'd believed
      works beautifully in Agha, whereas
              While you were mine, I thought, the world was mine.
              Though now I know that it was not reality,
      seems downright pale.

     Read Agha Shahid Ali's translation here in The rebel's silhouette

meena alexander (image from


Foreword 13
     There is a love in union, sambhoga, and love in separation,
     vipralambha.  In between [lies] implicit the realm of waiting, when
     the lover is filled with longing...  Based on this, the book is
     divided into three sections: Waiting, Meeting, and Parting.
     At one point, assumes that Anuradha Mahapatra writes in Oriya (p.16),
     though the text correctly identifies her as a Bengali poet


From Subhashitavali of Vallabhadeva : My Love                 21
VATSYAYANA From Kamasutra : Four Embraces                     22
MILAIPPERUNKANTAN From Kuruntokai : What He Said (Like madness in an elephant) 23
ALLUR NANMULLAI From Kuruntokai : What She Said                 24
ORERURAVANAR From Kuruntokai : What He Said                           25
KALIDASA From Meghadutam : The Loom of Time                     26
ANONYMOUS : A Small Request                                     29
SRINATHA : Love Letter                                       30
JAGANATHA From Bhamini Vilasa : A Word of Warning               31
CHANDIDAS : ‘I have blackened my golden skin’                 32
ANURADHA MAHAPATRA : God                                        33
MAMULANAR From Kuruntokai : What She Said                       34
CHANDIDAS : ‘I throw ashes at all laws’                         35
KAPILAR From Ainkurunuru : What Her Friend Said                 36
TEVAKULATTAR From Kuruntokai : What She Said (Bigger than earth)       37
From Gathasaptasati : ‘Even in a reeling world’                 38
      ‘How can you describe her?’                               38
From Amarusataka : ‘All I have to do’                           39
      ‘She's in the house’                                      40
VARATUNKARAMAPANTIYAN's WIFE : Space to Space                   41
KABIR : ‘Like a sharp arrow’                                    42
JAYANTA MAHAPATRA : A Day of Rain                               43
MANORAMA MAHAPATRA : My Whole Life for Him                      44
AMRITA PRITAM : Early Spring                                    46
K. SATCHIDANANDAN : Loving a Woman                              48
BALAMANIAMMA : Gift of Love                                     50
SHAKUNT MATHUR : A New Way of Waiting                           51
GHALIB  : Desires Come by the Thousands                         52
      Behind the Curtain                                        54
NISSIM EZEKIEL : Poet, Lover, Birdwatcher                       56
MIRAJI : Love Song of the Clerk                                 57
SURESH JOSHI : Darkness                                         60
SITANSHU YASHASHCHANDRA : Solar                                 51
NIRALA : Love Song                                             62
A. K. RAMANUJAN : Looking for a Cousin on a Swing               63
MEENA ALEXANDER  : Indian Sandstone                             64
FAHMIDAH RIAZ  : Tongue of Stone                                66
PRATIBHA SATPATHY  : Dew Drop                                   67
SAROOP DHRUV : Beyond the Flapdoor                              70
KEKI N. DARUWALLA From Night River : ‘Dream and reality’        71


VATSYAYANA From Kamasutra
   ‘When men ask about all the ways of embracing’               75
   ‘Whatever wound a man inflicts on a woman’                   76
KALIDASA From Sakuntala : ‘Craving sweet’                       78
    ‘Seeing rare beauty’                                        78
ANONYMOUS : Kamasutra                                           79
From Amarusataka ‘Held her’  :                                  80
KUMARADASA From Janakiharana : ‘In their quarrel’               81
CANDRAKA From Sarngadharapaddhati : ‘A long time back’          82
FAIZ AHMED FAIZ : ‘Before you came’                             83
FAHMIDAH RIAZ : Deep Kiss                                       84
SUDEEP SEN : Desire                                             85
      Caress                                          86
MIRABAI : ‘Here she comes’                                      87
      ‘Hari is a dhobi’                                         88
      ‘On a sudden’                                             89
CHANDIDAS : ‘I have hardened my mind’                           90
SUJATA BHATT : The Kamasutra Retold                             91
KABIR : ‘To say that the love’                                  94
      ‘Lying beside you’                                        95
VIDYA : Love in the Countryside                                 96
VIKATANITAMBA : Recollection                                    97
VALLANA : ‘When he had taken off my clothes’
BHAVABHUTI from Uttara Rama Charita : ‘Deep in love’            99
CHAVALI BANGARAMMA : My Brother                                 100
RABINDRANATH TAGORE : Black Blossom                             101
      One Day                                                   103
AKHTAR-UL-IMAN : Compromise                                     105
ISMAIL : You                                                    106
BASAVANNA : ‘Look here, dear fellow’                            107
ILANKO ATIKAL From The Cilappatikaram :
      From The Round Dance of the Herdswomen                    108
MAHADEVIYANKKA : ‘Like a silkworm weaving’                      111
      ‘When I didn’t know myself ’                              112
D. VINAYACHANDRAN From Hell Writes a Love Poem :
      ‘When the gigantic bulls with broken horns’               113
      ‘For love’                                                113
      ‘It is heaven and hell’                                   113
      ‘Standing naked before the mirror’                        114
From Amarusataka : ‘When my face turned toward his’             115
CEMPULAPPEYANIRAR : What He Said (red earth and pouring rain)   116
From Amarusataka : ‘My girl’                                    117
      ‘Tender-limbed girl’                                      118
DOM MORAES : Container                                          119
      What I Meant                                              120
A. S. MUKTHAYAKKA : Little Poems                                121
AYYAPPA PANIKER : The Prison                                    123
O. V. USHA : Doubt
KEDARNATH SINGH : On Reading a Love Poem                        125
JYOTSNA MILAN : Woman, 2                                        128
AMRITA PRITAM : Talk                                            129
      Daily Wages                                               131
UMASHANKAR JOSHI : ‘Before I met you’                           132
      An Apology
SUNANDA TRIPATHY : #tryst|Tryst]                                        134
NABANEETA DEV SEN : Fig Tree                             136
      Antara                                          137
HIRA BANSODE : Woman                                            138
ANONYMOUS : Drowning
MUDDUPALANI : Radha Instructs Ila,
      Krsna's New Bride, in the Arts of Love                    140
NANDURI SUBBARAO : Blow Out the Lamp                            143
NABANEETA DEV SEN  : Beginning and End                          144
ANURADHA MAHAPATRA : Guiltful                                   145
TEJI GROVER : Jealousy 1                                        146
BHASWATI ROY CHAUDHURI : Side by Side                           147
GAGAN GILL : She Touches Him                                    148
RAJANI PARULEKAR : The Snake Couple                             149
AYYAPPA PANIKER : ‘To me your body’                             151
FAHMIDAH RIAZ : ‘Come, give me your hand’                       152
A. K. RAMANUJAN : Love Poem for a Wife, 2                       154
JAYANTA MAHAPATRA : The Indian Way                              158
VIKRAM SETH : Unclaimed                                         159
KAMALA DAS (KAMALA SURAYYA) : The Old Playhouse                 160
KEKI N. DARUWALLA : To My Daughter Rookzain                     162
SUJATA BHATT : Sherdi                                           164
ARUN KOLATKAR : Chaitanya                                       166
VIKRAM SETH : From The Golden Gate                              167
JAYADEVA From Gitagovinda : Joyful Krishna                      168
      Ecstatic Krishna                                          172


From Amarustaka : ‘To go’                                       177
MUTTA : ‘So free am I, so gloriously free’                      178
SUMANGALAMATA : ‘A woman well set free!’                        179
MIRABAI : ‘He's left me’                                        189
JAYADEVA From Gitagovinda : Careless Krishna                    181
MAMALATAN From Kuruntokai : What She Said (house sparrows)       185
KACCIPETTU NANNAKAIYAR From Kuruntokai : What She Said          186
KAPILAR From Kuruntokai : What She Said                         187
From Gathasaptasati  : ‘Separation's fire’                      188
      ‘Aunt’                                                    188
From Gahakoso ‘Scornfully’                                      189
KAPILAR From Ainkurunuru : What Her Friend Said                 190
	whenever those blue hills
	fall from sight
	each evening,
	    her long flower-like eyes
	    fill with tears
CANDRAKA From Sarngadharapaddhati : ‘At day's end’              191
SRIVARA From Subhashitavali of Vallabhadeva :  I know           192
GHALIB : Near the Zam Zam Well                                  193
      Some Exaggerations                                        194
     	    The desert covers its head with sand
		when I appear with my troubles
     	    The river rubs its forehead in the mud
		when it sees me
FAIZ AHMED FAIZ : Any Lover to Any Beloved                      196
From Gathasaptasati : ‘They whisper the cruel one’              198
     		      [... Grow, night, / and blot out tomorrow]
      ‘Unable to count’                                         198
      ‘Distance destroys love’                                  198
      ‘His form’                                                199
RABINDRANATH TAGORE : ‘He never came to me’                     200
      Comings and Goings                                        201
      From I Won’t Let You Go                                   202
DILIP CHITRE : From Travelling in a Cage                        205
CHINU MODI : Elegy                                              208
KAIFI AZMI : Humiliation                                        210
AYYAPPA PANIKER : How Well Have I Forgotten!                    211
AMRITA PRITAM : The Sigh That Breathes Fire                     215
FAHMIDAH RIAZ : Stoning                                         217
AGHA SHAHDID ALI  : A Rehearsal of Loss                         218
NIRENDRANATH CHAKRAVARTY : The Bloodstained Trophies            219
AMRITA PRITAM  : The Tale of Fire                               220
SUGATHA KUMARI  : Night Rain                                    221
P. BHASKARAN  : Sometimes, Remember Me                          224
KABITA SINHA  : The Last Door's Name is Sorrow                  225
JAYANATA MAHAPATRA  : Poem for Angela Elston                    227
AGHA SHAHID ALI : From A Nostalgist's Map of America            228
VIKRAM SETH From The Golden Gate :                              229
NISSIM EZEKIEL Description  :                                   231
AGHA SHAHID ALI Film Bhajan Found on a 78 RPM  :                232
MEENA ALEXANDER Closing the Kamasutra  :                        234
KISHWAR NAHEED  : A Story Among Many                            235
      History Does Not Repeat Itself                            235
      Agreement                                                 236
FAIZ AHMED FAIZ  : ‘Do not ask of me, my love’                  237

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This review by Amit Mukerjee was last updated on : 2015 Aug 25