Poem introduction

'A Different History' - in this poem I mention the Hindu goddess, Sarasvati - she is the goddess of knowledge. She presides over all the fine arts and in India she is frequently worshipped in libraries.

A Different History

Great Pan is not dead;
he simply emigrated
to India.
Here, the gods roam freely,
disguised as snakes or monkeys;
every tree is sacred
and it is a sin
to be rude to a book.
It is a sin to shove a book aside
with your foot,
a sin to slam books down
hard on a table,
a sin to toss one carelessly
across a room.
You must learn how to turn the pages gently
without disturbing Sarasvati,
without offending the tree
from whose wood the paper was made.

Which language
has not been the oppressor's tongue?
Which language
truly meant to murder someone?
And how does it happen
that after the torture,
after the soul has been cropped
with a long scythe swooping out
of the conqueror's face -
the unborn grandchildren
grow to love that strange language.

from Brunizem (Carcanet, 1988) copyright © Sujata Bhatt 1988, used by permission of the author and the publisher.


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1A Different History

2What Is Worth Knowing?

3Search For My Tongue

4The Stare

5Nanabhai Bhatt in Prison

6Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge, July 1990

7The Need to Recall the Journey

8The One Who Goes Away

9How Far East is it Still East?

10Cow's Skull - Red, White and Blue


12The Stinking Rose

13If You Named Your Daughter Garlic Instead of Lily or Rose

14The Voices

15Point No Point

16The Snake Catcher Speaks

17The Fox and the Angel

18The Circle

19The Multicultural Poem

20Self-Portrait with Coppery Red Hair

21No Road Leads to This

22In Her Green Dress, She is

23A Colour for Solitude

24Self-Portrait with Yellowish Green

25Two Girls: Nude, One Standing, the Other Kneeling in Front of Red Poppies

26Self-Portrait with a Sprig of Camellia Leaves

27And What Will Death Do?

Books by Sujata Bhatt