portrait of the poet


Remember, one day,
While sitting at my table
You sketched on a cigarette box
A tiny plant

Come and see,
That plant has bloomed!

— Gulzar, tr. Pavan K. Varma

the box stayed closed as if
hiding a lost thought
from another time, when
your words would settle
like sediment
at the bottom
of my breath,

as i read you out loud,
flicking ash from one wrist,
upending the goblet in
from another.

you draw words
like those vessels
bursting forth in the kitchen,
strung to a high note
of despair & hope,

your love speaks to me,
even though i have barely scratched
the skin of that mischievous marauder,
and yet i feel i know, as if
from another life, another rhyme.

you free my closed thoughts,
and water seeds of my silence
as i sing you and praise you
to myself.

© Anmol Arora

For A Tribute to Poets of Our Time at WTR. I am paying my tribute to one of my favourite poets and lyricists, Gulzar. Gulzar is 84 now. So, whenever I talk about him and his sprawling work with anyone, I only hope that we wring it out of him — his poetic brilliance, his sensibility, his love, and all he has offered to us for decades — in this lifetime.

16 thoughts on “portrait of the poet

  1. Your wishes have come true. I love how your poem swims into the quote without making any unwanted ripples. And the last stanza, what a delight. It makes me want to read more of the works that inspire such fervor.

    At first, I was going to say that his portrait reminded me of my Gabriel García Márquez. After reading the last stanza, I must say that the words birthed out of you by your Gulzar speak of the same feelings my Márquez pulls out of me.

    I shall search for his work.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. sanaarizvi says:

    Oh my GOD 😍 This is so beautiful!! I love how you touch upon the fine thread that lies between and connects despair and hope. We need be careful not to slip into the former 😊 and gosh this:
    “you free my closed thoughts, and water seeds of my silence as i sing you and praise you to myself,”

    took my breath away!! ❤ Such a lovely tribute poem to poet and lyricist Gulzar! 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kerry says:

    Ah, how lovely is the poem you have quoted? It has made my day to be introduced to such a stellar voice. It reminds me how much I still have to learn about poets and their works..

    Your own poem is the perfect compliment. Such a beautifully paced evocation of that so hard to describe quality of human emotion.. the last stanza literally has brought tears to my eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Susie Clevenger says:

    Thanks for the introduction to a poet I was unfamiliar with and thank you for adding your unique voice to honor him.” your words would settle like sediment at the bottom of my breath,” Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. CS Lewis said we read to know we are not alone… I now can add the freeing of closed thoughts to that primary purpose. The trick with closed minds is that none of us thinks we have one, we are so mired in the walls of our perspective we are not aware of our blindness. But Your contemplation on your dance with the poet builds so organically connected to the anchors of our lives – with sediment and breath, time and kitchens- that you hardly know the box of is opening until the thoughts are free fluttering off into their freedom. Thank you for this Anmol.


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