1 min read

Translated from the Hindi by Addhaya Anil

I Believe this Earth Will Remain

I believe

this earth will remain

if nowhere else, then within my bones

it will remain like the termites

residing in tree trunks,

like weevil in grain

it will remain within me even after the apocalypse,

if nowhere else, then in my tongue

and in my impermanence,

it will remain.

And one morning I will rise,

I will rise along with the earth,

with the water and tortoises I will rise.

I’ll rise and set out to meet

the one I’ve promised

I shall meet.


In this city, spring arrives unexpectedly
and when it does, I’ve seen
a whirlwind of dust rising
from Lahartara or Maduadih,
and the ancient tongue of this great old city
starts to crackle.

What is, starts to stir,
What isn’t, sprouts.
One goes to Dashashwamedha
and finds the last stone of the ghat
has rounded out a bit more,
a peculiar dampness can be seen
in the eyes of the monkeys perched on the stairs
and an odd shimmer fills
the barren emptiness of beggars’ bowls.

Have you ever seen
the descending of spring into empty bowls?
This is how the city unfolds,
this is how it fills
and empties,
this is how every day
the shoulders carry one endless corpse
from the dark lane
towards the gleaming Ganges.

In this city, the dust
rises gradually,
people move gradually,
they ring the bells gradually,
evening gradually sets in.

This gradual unfolding,
the collective rhythm of gradual unfolding
binds the entire city firmly,
such that nothing falls,
nothing trembles,
such that what was there
remains there.
That is where Tulsidas’ clogs have remained
for hundreds of years.

Someday, during the dusk, without any prior cue,
step into this city,
some time in the radiance
of an aarti
you should spy it out of the blue
and marvel at its magnificent make.

It’s half in water,
half in incantation,
half in bloom,
half in death,
half in sleep,
half in conch.
If observed closely,
it's half there,
and half not.

What is, stands,
without any pillar,
what isn’t, is held
by high pillars of ash and light,
of fire and water,
of smoke and fragrance,
of man’s lifted hands
offering an unseen sun
in the waters of the Ganges.
This city has stood for centuries
on its one leg
unperturbed by the other.

Kedarnath Singh (1934 – 2018) was an Indian poet who wrote in Hindi. He was also an eminent critic and essayist. He was awarded the Jnanpith Award (2013), Sahitya Akademi Award (1989) in Hindi for his poetry collection, Akaal Mein Saras (Cranes in Drought).

Addhaya Anil (they/them) is a queer feminist artist from Bihar. They are said to be “driven and guided by love,” and love to spend their leisure time in varied creative pursuits.

* The email will not be published on the website.