Learning Urdu Poem by Agha Shahid Ali

Learning Urdu

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.

Jagdish Singh Ramána 17 January 2020

Nostalgic poem. I read in 10th standered in one of the chapters of my book of English. The Ghat of the Only World by Amitav Gosh. Very emotional poem. Agha Ji popularised Ghazal in English poetry. Great!

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Sweety 06 November 2019

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Bikash 11 July 2022

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