Tuesday 21 August 2007

Nissim Ezekiel (1924-2004), an Indian poet

There is a way
Emerging from the heart of things,
A man may follow it
Through works to poetry,
From works to poetry
Or from poetry to something else.
The end does not matter,
The way is everything,
And guidance comes.

In Something to Pursue
Nissim Ezekiel, poet and scholar (1924-2004), belonged to the Mumbai Bene Israel Jewish community.

On his death, Lawrence Joffe, in The Guardian, paid tribute to the poet:

"Ezekiel's poetry described love, loneliness, lust, creativity and political pomposity, human foibles and the "kindred clamour" of urban dissonance. He echoed England's postwar Movement (Philip Larkin, DJ Enright and Ted Hughes) but honed a distinct, ironic voice, moving from strict metre to free verse.

Over the course of his career, his attitude changed, too. The young man, "who shopped around for dreams", demanded truth and lambasted corruption. By the 1970s, he accepted "the ordinariness of most events"; laughed at "lofty expectations totally deflated"; and acknowledged that "The darkness has its secrets/ Which light does not know.""

"He acted as a mentor to younger poets, such as Dom Moraes, Adil Jussawalla and Gieve Patel. Many of his poems, such as The Night Of The Scorpion, and that supreme antidote to jingoism, The Patriot, are set-works in Indian and British schools."

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