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 A ghazal for all Kashmiris and
In Memoriam Agha Shahid Ali

 

 

Soldiers have died in vain and will again.

Lovers have kissed in rain and will again.

 

Neighbors dispute, tragically lose all calm.

Nations have split in twain and will again.

 

Beauty gives power to hurt or heal with balm.

Passion brings exquisite pain and will again.

 

Sunshine may bless or curse; it all depends.

Fires have scorched green plain and will again.

 

Heaven has ended drought with drenching winds.

Farmers have prayed for rain and will again.

 

Women create and care for life on Earth.

Mothers have suffered pain and will again.

 

Men have to hunt for food to prove their worth.

Fathers have died from strain and will again.

 

Words, puffs of air, strokes of pen, yet are strong.

Writers have made truth plain and will again.

 

Music embodies love in dance and song.

Poets shout joy, cry pain, and will again.

 

Ágha Sháhid Áli knew many homes,

Srínagar the main.  May it be again.

 

Lovers of God heed different holy tomes.

Many, though, merely feign and will again.

Money, great idol of men, leads astray.

Rich men have hoarded grain and will again.

 

Lucre and violence rule us today.

Villains have got ill gain and will again.

 

Islam and Hindu Dharm believe in peace.

Actually, though, they’ve slain and may again.

 

Muslims and Hindus covenanted to cease

Mutual,historic pain and will again.

 

God’s cosmos, work of Love ineffable

With marvels filled my brain and will again.

 

With rhyme, refrain—words chiming, equable,

Ben Adhem made this train and will again.

 

Born in 1940 and raised in rural South Dakota, USA, Bob Cable graduated from Harvard College in 1962, then declined a U.S. Air Force commission to teach for two years instead as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru. For 20 years he continued teaching English in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; in Isfahan, Iran; and in four regions of the USA (Minnnesota, Texas, Washington DC, and Massachusetts), followed by a decade of work as a medical transcriptionist / secretary in the Boston, Massachusetts area, where he currently lives. Concomitantly, Bob did direct care work in Human Services for 30 years. He has three children with his first, Palestinian wife and enjoys three cats with his current life partner, Lorraine. Bob has always loved poetry and, since retirement in 2015, has written about 300 poems. Email: robert.n.cable@hotmail.com

© Robert Cable, 2018


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2 Comments

  1. Bob Cable’s tribute to Agha Shahid Ali brought back old memories. When Agha was in his late twenties, he spent some time in Hyderabad in 1974/75, when I was also staying there, and we (despite our age gap) used to spend evenings sharing our common interest in Begum Akhtar’s ghazals . He was yet to become a famous poet, but his poetic talent was already there – coming out in occasional outbursts of Urdu couplets composed on the spot. I lost touch with him after he left India and settled in the US. But I had occasions to meet his father (in Srinagar and Delhi) – known as the veteran Agha Sahb among Kashmiri intellectuals. In one of his poems, Agha Shahid Ali asks the readers not to tell his father that he has died. He was too young to die.

    Sumanta Banerjee

  2. abubenadhem says:

    Glad to hear that you met Agha Shahid Ali, Ms. Banerjee (as I did not, except on the written page). Certainly, he was “too young to die.” On the other hand, in the words of poet Edwin Arlington Robinson, he was “saved from the evil to come.” May your own life (and that of everyone) be longer, more peaceful and healthier that his–may he rest in peace.