Monday, January 09, 2006

Kunwar Narain, Hindi Poet

From Poetry International,

Born in 1927, Kunwar Narain has been a stalwart presence in the field of Hindi poetry for five decades. Since his first book, Chakravyooh, in 1956, this Delhi-based poet has published five books of poetry, one collection of short fiction, a long narrative poem, three works of literary criticism and several translations of the poetry of writers such as Cavafy, Borges, Mallarme, Walcott, among others.

I just discovered this fine poet, who unfortunately does not have a Wikipedia entry yet.

A few samples:

Description of the Missing One
Wheat-coloured, a peasant’s ways,
scarred brow,
height not under five feet,
talks like he’s never known grief.

if you ask his age, he’ll tell you –
several thousand years, give or take a few . . .
seems crazy, but isn’t.
Has fallen off high places more than once,
and got all broken up, so

looks glued together,
like the map of India.

Another poem will suffice to demonstrate his fine work (all poems from, and copyright the poet, Trans from Hindi)

A Shop That Sells Peace

He sells peace in the neighbourhood.
His shop
of loudspeakers
is right next to my house.

I pay him a hundred rupees a month
for not playing the loudspeaker
two hours before sunrise.

He knows that I am
one of those unfortunate people
who cannot live
without peace!

He knows
that in the days to come
peace will be even scarcer
than clean water and clean air.

He knows that
the age of revolutions is over
and in order to fill his stomach
he must sell

I am grateful to him.
In a country like India
where prices have skyrocketed
a hundred rupees a month
for two hours of peace
is not expensive.


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