Ad Policy

Agha Shahid Ali

Agha Shahid Ali was born in New Delhi on February 4, 1949. He grew up Muslim in Kashmir, and was later educated at the University of Kashmir, Srinagar, and the University of Delhi. He earned a PhD in English from Pennsylvania State University in 1984, and an MFA from the University of Arizona in 1985. His volumes of poetry include Rooms Are Never Finished (W.W. Norton & Co., 2001), The Country Without a Post Office (1997), The Beloved Witness: Selected Poems (1992), A Nostalgist’s Map of America (1991), A Walk Through the Yellow Pages (1987), The Half-Inch Himalayas (1987), In Memory of Begum Akhtar and Other Poems (1979), and Bone Sculpture (1972). He is also the author of T.S. Eliot as Editor (1986), translator of The Rebel’s Silhouette: Selected Poems, by Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1992), and editor of Ravishing Disunities: Real Ghazals in English (2000).

  • PoetryJanuary 10, 2002

    Not All, Only a Few Return

    (after Ghalib)

    Just a few return from dust, disguised as roses.
    What hopes the earth forever covers, what faces?

    I too could recall moonlit roofs, those nights of wine--
    But Time has shelved them now in Memory's dimmed places.

    She has left forever, let blood flow from my eyes
    till my eyes are lamps lit for love's darkest places.

    All is his--Sleep, Peace, Night--when on his arm your hair
    shines to make him the god whom nothing effaces.

    With wine, the palm's lines, believe me, rush to Life's stream--
    Look, here's my hand, and here the red glass it raises.

    See me! Beaten by sorrow, man is numbed to pain.
    Grief has become the pain only pain erases.

    World, should Ghalib keep weeping you will see a flood
    drown your terraced cities, your marble palaces.

    Agha Shahid Ali