Journal of South Asian Literature. v 11, V. 11 ( 1976) p. 85.


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POEMS WRITTEN AND/OR PUBLISHED DURING 1965-1974

BACKGROUND, CASUALLY*

A poet-rascal-clown was born,

The frightened child who would not eat

Or sleep, a boy of meagre bone.

He never learnt to fly a kite,

His borrowed top refused to spin.

I went to Roman Catholic school, A mugging Jew among the wolves. They told me I had killed the Christ, That year I won the scripture prize. A Muslim sportsman boxed my ears.

I grew in terror of the strong But undernourished Hindu lads, Their prepositions always wrong, Repelled me by passivity. One noisy day I used a knife.

At home on Friday nights, the prayers Were said. My morals had declined. I heard of Yoga and of Zen. Could I, perhaps, be rabbi-saint? The more I searched, the less I found.

Twenty-two: time to go abroad. First, the decision, then a friend To pay the farec Philosophy, Poverty and Poetry, three Companions shared my basement room,

The London seasons passed me by, I lay in bed two years alone, And then a Woman came to tell My wilting ears I was the Son Of Man. I knew that I had failed

*From Verse and Voice (1965), Indian Poetry in English: 1947-1972^ edited by Pritish Nandy (1972), and Contemporary Indian Poetry in English^ edited by Saleem Peeradina (1972). Reprinted by permission of the author and the editors.



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