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Bird of Four Tongues.



 For Abdur Rahim Khan e Khana’n.1

YOUR MANY TONGUES encircle your tomb
Like birds, chirping differently. Their colours
Make the blue burst into wings. You
Wrote for all the gods you knew. In poetry,
You built a neighbourhood of faith.

Who else but you, who went to war, and wove
The threads of love, could tell
What a needle can do, a sword cannot.
Your grave cannot hold
Time as securely as your words. Schoolchildren
Memorise your couplets, and here,
Sandstone and marble fall off your grave. It does
Not bother the parrots. Those nameless
Residents that scale the tomb
With the audacity of a joy that is denied us.

The wazir’s son who stole the hard-drawn flowers
From your grave was such a fool. He had
No idea, your splendor breathes elsewhere. That your
Poems offer visions. Power is always blind.
It learns nothing of poetry.

I visited your tomb, the day Rilke was born.
I wondered what secret
One poet shares with another. The sun sank lower
Behind the trees, and I almost heard,
Go, “Joyfully add yourself, and cancel the count”.

Manash Firaq Bhattacharjee‘s poems have appeared in World Literature Today, Rattle, The London Magazine, New Welsh Review, Mudlark, Acumen, The Fortnightly Review, Hobart, Glass: A Review of Poetry, and other publications. His first collection of poetry, Ghalib’s Tomb and Other Poems (2013), was published by The London Magazine. He is the author of Looking for the Nation: Towards Another Idea of India, (Speaking Tiger Books, 2018).


  1. Abdur Rahim Khan e Khana’n (1556-1627) wrote in Persian, Sanskrit, Braj and Arabic.

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