Friday, August 31, 2018

Of Light

Agha Shahid Ali

At dawn you leave. The river wears its skin of light.
And I traced love’s loss to the origin of light.

“I swallow down the goodbyes I won’t get to use.”
At grief’s speed she waves from a palanquin of light.

My book’s been burned? Send me the ashes, so I can say:
I’ve been sent the phoenix in a coffin of light.

From History tears learn a slanted understanding
of the human face torn by blood’s bulletin of light.

It was a temporal thought. Well, it has vanished.
Will Prometheus commit the mortal sin of light?

She said, “My name is icicles coming down from it…”
Did I leave it, somewhere, in a margin of light?

When I go off alone, as if listening for God,
there’s absolutely nothing I can win of light.

Now everything’s left to the imagination -
a djinn has deprived even Aladdin of light.

We’ll see Manhattan, a bride in diamonds, one day
abashed to remind her sweet man, Brooklyn, of light.

“A cheekbone, / A curved piece of brow, / A pale eyelid…”
And the dark eye I make out with all within of light.

Stranger, when the river leans toward the emptiness,
abandon, for my darkness, the thick and thin of light.

Note:  Agha Shahid Ali is the author of many collections of poetry.  To read his poems is to become immersed in the tradition of "the beloved" wandering the world, as well as verse deeply grounded in the cultural and social realities of the day.  Born in India and raised in Kashmir, he immigrated to the United States in the 1980s.  "Of Light" appears in The Veiled Suite, The Collected Poems, Agha Shahid Ali.


  1. This is really a perfect poem which is written perfectly.This is a serious talent here.

  2. Yeah, he was great. I can't recommend his beautiful poetry enough.


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