Seven Poems by Priya Sarukkai Chabria



Rain has held
back in my heart   Horizon
is naked

Send storm   dark
with death   with lashes
of lightning

But call back
this silent heat burning
the heart with despair

Cloud of grace
bend low
from above



the sky



to end


My lover hides
in shadows   I wait   I spread

my offerings    Passers-by take
my flowers   My basket is empty.

Morning is past  and noon.   Like
a beggar I sit  drawing my skirt over my face.

I dream of sudden splendour   Lights blaze    Raise
me  a beggar girl  like a creeper in a summer breeze.

Time glides on with shouts and
glamour   You stand silent behind

them all.
I wait




from the dust


We sail on our pilgrimage
to no country
to no end

In that shoreless ocean
my songs swell
free as waves  free

In fading light
seabirds fly
to their nests




the boat

(last glimmer

of sunset)


into the night?


Enter my heart unbidden
even unknown to me

The steps I heard
in my room are

the same that echo
from star to star


the day

i did not

keep myself

in readiness

for you…


Delight: to watch
shadows chase light and

Tidings from unknown
skies speed along the road
The breeze is sweet

I know a sudden
happy moment
will arrive

Meanwhile I sing alone
Meanwhile the air fills
with perfume


my heart

is glad


Have you heard his silent step
He comes  comes  comes

Every moment  every age
every day  every night

he comes  comes  comes

In fragrant days
he comes  comes  comes

In rainy gloom
he comes  comes  comes.

In sorrow after sorrow
his steps press on my heart

The touch of his feet
makes my joy




comes  comes  comes

through the forest

on thundering clouds —



From what distant time
do you come to meet me

Today stirs joy
through my heart

The time has come
I feel a faint smell

of sweet presence




have been heard

i feel


About the Author

Priya Sarukkai Chabria is an award-winning poet, writer, translator and curator Her books include four poetry collections of which Sing of Life Revisioning Tagore’s Gitajali is the most recent; the speculative fiction novels Clone and Generation 14 and numerous anthologised stories; literary non-fiction Bombay/Mumbai: Immersions, a novel, and translation from Classical Tamil Andal The Autobiography of a Goddess which won the Muse India Translation Prize, 2017. Her story Slo-Glo won the Kitaab Experimental Story Award, Best Reads by Feminist Press and was recognised for her Outstanding Contribution to Literature by the Government of India. She has presents her extensively anthologized work worldwide; her work is also widely translated. Her study of the Sanskrit rasa theory of aesthetics and Tamil Sangam (2-4BCE) poetics channel into her work. She’s the Founding Editor of Poetry at Sangam. /

Note on Piece

Rabindranath Tagore’s profound meditations on life, nature, grace and brokenness in the Gitanjali won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Sing of Life is a revisioning of this world classic; which rings true to his search for spiritual splendour, and Priya Sarukkai Chabria’s own questing. This contemplative book questions and celebrates varied approaches to translation and the idea of the palimpsest and collage. In her Introduction, Chabria writes, “I believe a great poem is one that often serves as a raft for someone else’s poem, or that’s how it should be: A spark or shift in another’s consciousness.” In this linguistic experiment she seek to capture that spark and give it new life by chiselling Tagore’s prose-poems into intense poems that invite the reader to re-engage with the Gitanjali.


Excerpt from Sing of Life Revisioning Tagore’s Gitanjali is published with permission from Context, an imprint of Westland Publications Private Limited, 2021.

Frontpage Image

Claude-Joseph Vernet, A Storm on a Mediterranean Coast, 1767 (detail)

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