Poem of the Week

Of Gardens and GravesDuring National Poetry Month, we are offering a poem each Monday. In celebration of Earth Day, today’s poem describes the beauty of the earth and questions the reasons people do not learn from the nature blossoming and roaming in peace around them. This poem is from Suvir Kaul’s Of Gardens and Graves: Kashmir, Poetry, Politics. David Ludden, Professor of History, New York University, says “Reading Of Gardens and Graves is a treat beyond description. I have visited Kashmir several times during the period this book covers, and while reading it I felt magically transported into the invisible heart and soul of a world where much of what Suvir Kaul described had been only vaguely visible to me before. The work he has done here is brave and powerful.”

 

Moti Lal “Saqi”
Question

He too is a man
You too are a man
I too am a man

No one sprung up from rock, no one dropped from the sky
No one climbed up from the underworld either
All are as clay, are born to mothers
Then who amongst us is separate, who torn apart by distance
Let’s then think consciously all of us—

I seem to have burst the kernels of my thought
Flowers many-colored, the garden bloomed Velvet, blue, red, golden
No one needed to slit the poppy

The rose did not become arrogant about its perfume
The pomegranate did not shame the marigold
The pussy willow did not boast though it blossomed first
The narcissus comes, who will drag it down
The iris has no fear of walking alone
The saffron flower never spoke its value
The violet knows no enemy in the lily
The shy thaniwal grew, back-tracked, and eased away
How sweet their little world
Peaceful world, there is no quarrel

Flocks of sheep run up the hillside
Crystal-colored how many, how many cream
How many white, blackish how many
Wandering in valleys, bounding about

All together they go out to graze
All together they slake their thirst
No harm comes to the underfed ram
The creamy one will not squeeze the black’s neck
The crystal does not frighten the mottled one

Then just ask a question of yourselves
Why do we humans have bad thoughts?

Suvir Kaul is A. M. Rosenthal Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and the author, most recently, of Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Postcolonial Studies.
Our other highlighted poems can be read here.

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