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  • Dr.Pragya Suman

Editor’s Note/ Dr. Pragya Suman

this week #poemoftheweek is Snowmen by Indian poet Agha Shahid Ali.

At first I came to know about Agha Shahid Ali after going through the magnificent essay The Ghat of the Only World by an Indian author, Amitabh Gosh. Shadid migrated to the USA, but he never left his Kashmiri heritage and culture, which remained stuck in his soul. In his book The Half-Inch Himalayas he re- lived his ancestors, cultures and emphasized upon the transiency of moments. Snowmen is included in this collection. In Snowmen the melting shoulder goes on the fag end of existence, the ancestors are makeshift residing in the link of limiltess chain. Agha Shahid has written it in a simple lucid narrative tone, poetic energy is flowing flawlessly as not any hindrance of poetic traffic is here. Some metaphors are starkly contrasted like stony water, whale bones after sea funerals.


My ancestor, a man

of Himalayan snow,

came to Kashmir from Samarkand,

carrying a bag

of whale bones:

heirlooms from sea funerals.

His skeleton

carved from glaciers, his breath


he froze women in his embrace.

His wife thawed into stony water,

her old age a clear


This heirloom,

his skeleton under my skin, passed

from son to grandson,

generations of snowmen on my back.

They tap every year on my window,

their voices hushed to ice.

No, they won’t let me out of winter,

and I’ve promised myself,

even if I’m the last snowman,

that I’ll ride into spring

on their melting shoulders.

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