A Tale for the Time Being

Two veteran poets, born the same year as free India, write new poems as birthday letters to India

Freedom Song

Hoshang Merchant

Politics without poetry is dry
Poetry without politics is effete
A Korean pianist plays
Chopin, Revolutionary Etude
On video
The video shows
A frozen river
Freeing itself in spring
The piano sets up a storm
Who will clean up the mess?
The old have departed
The young are left.
By writing this
I, the poet
Have become responsible.

(Hoshang Merchant, 74, is a poet and writer)

Change of Location

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

A change of location
from veranda to terrace,
a tumbler or two of water,
and the curled leaf
of the potted lime opens.
His face obscured by
pellet marks, the Srinagar
schoolboy opened his eyes.
“The light hurts,” he said.
“Turn it off.”

(Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, 74, is a poet, literary critic and translator)

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