Three Poems: Spring in Beijing's business district, Mosque (c. 700), Xian and Monsoon Nocturn

01 September 2013

ABOUT THE POEMS One of the more restless and wide-ranging sensibilities in contemporary Indian poetry appears on these pages this month in two incarnations. The first is the traveller, leaving verse footprints upon secular and sacred landscapes in China. The second, in 'monsoon nocturn', is the singer of the dirge that mourns and memorialises the passing away of a loved one, in this case the poet’s mother. Showing us this figure more voice than body, meditating upon “the squirming/shimmer of creation” and leaving behind an argument reverberating in the world, the poet manages to interweave cosmic time with generational time, the mysterious luck and patterning not just of life but of lineage. In Sarukkai Chabria’s vision the unusual verb “grains”, flitting like a weaver’s shuttle between rain, light, and time, suggests both the interplay of the world’s elements and dimensions with one another and the marks of human presence rippling across other bodies, other minds.

Spring in Beijing’s business district

Acres of glittering glass

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    Priya Sarukkai Chabria is a poet, writer and translator. She has written four books, the latest being Bombay/Mumbai: Immersions (2013). She is currently translating the ninth-century Tamil mystic Aandaal’s songs with poet Ravi Shankar, and is at

    Keywords: china Indian English writing Travel memory mosque modern Indian poetry