Category Archives: musings

World Poetry Day

In 1999,  UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) designated March 21 is as World Poetry Day to celebrate ” linguistic diversity through poetic expression” and to increase “the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard.”

I take this opportunity to share beloved poems from the four languages, Sanskrit (Kalidasa), Hindi (Subhadra Kumari Chauhan), Marathi (Bahinabai Chaudhari), and Of course, English (Emily Dickinson). Except for the Sanskrit poet Kalidasa, I consider the other three poets as my foremothers in the sense that I love them, admire them, and draw inspiration from them.

  1. संस्क्रुत (Sanskrit)
    A verse from Meghdut (Cloud Messenger) by Kalidasa.

आषाढस्य प्रथमदिवसे मेघमाश्लिष्टसानुं।
वप्रक्रीडापरिणतगजप्रेक्षणीयं ददर्श।।

Loosely translated:
On the very first day of Aashadh, the cloud leans over
the cliff as if an elephant about to engage in amorous games

Aashads is the first month of Monsoon according to the Hindu Calendar.

  1. हिंदी (Hindi)

झाँसी की रानी (Queen of Jhansi) by सुभद्रा कुमारी चौहान (Subhadra Kumari Chauhan)

About The Queen of Jhansi.

A very good English Translation can be found here.

  1. मराठी (Marathi)

मन वढाय वढाय by बहिणाबाई चौधरी

मन वढाय वढाय, उभ्या पीकातलं ढोर ।
किती हाकला हाकला, फिरी येतं पिकांवर ।।

मन मोकाट मोकाट, त्याले ठायी ठायी वाटा ।
जशा वार्‍यानं चालल्या, पानावर्हल्यारे लाटा ।।

मन लहरी लहरी, त्याले हाती धरे कोन? ।
उंडारलं उंडारलं जसं वारा वाहादन ।।

मन जह्यरी जह्यरी, याचं न्यारं रे तंतर आरे ।
इचू साप बरा, त्याले उतारे मंतर ।।

मन पाखरू पाखरू, त्याची काय सांगू मात?।
आता व्हतं भुईवर, गेलं गेलं आभायात ।।

मन चप्पय चप्पय, त्याले नही जरा धीर ।
तठे व्हयीसनी ईज, आलं आलं धर्तीवर ।।

मन एवढं एवढं, जसा खाकसचा दाना ।
मन केवढं केवढं? आभायात बी मायेना ॥

देवा, कसं देलं मन आसं नही दुनियात ।
आसा कसा रे तू योगी काय तुझी करामत ॥

देवा, आसं कसं मन? आसं कसं रे घडलं ।
कुठे जागेपनी तूले असं सपनं पडलं ॥

Loose English Translation

The mind is a truant by Bahinabai Chaudhari

The mind is a truant like cattle in a field
You can drive it away, but it will always return

The mind is a stray; it wanders in all around
As the waves spiraling away in a breeze

The mind is temperamental; who can rein it in?
It’s as wild as the blowing wind

The mind is toxic; its ways are strange
A scorpion or snake is preferable; at least there are antidotes

The mind is a bird; how many of its exploits should I name?
One moment it’s on the ground; next, it has soared to the sky

The mind is too quick and so impatient
It’s lightning that strikes in a flash

The mind is small as a poppy seed
And how big is it? Even the sky can’t hold it

God, what is this unique mind you granted us?
What kind of Yogi are you? What is this marvel you created?

God, what is this mind? How did it arise?
What is this vision you saw while fully awake?

A Wounded Deer – Leaps Highest or as I like to say, “don’t let them see the blood.”

A Wounded Deer – Leaps Highest
By Emily Dickinson

A wounded deer – leaps highest
I’ve heard the hunter tell;
‘Tis but the ecstasy of death,
And then the brake is still.

The smitten rock that gushes,
The trampled steel that springs:
A cheek is always redder
Just where the hectic stings!

Mirth is mail of anguish,
In which its cautious arm
Lest anybody spy the blood
And, “you’re hurt” exclaim



It’s the Spring Equinox today. Not only that, it happens to be World Sparrow Day.  It caught my attention because I have grown up with sparrows around me, listened to the nursery rhymes about sparrows, read children’s stories about sparrows. In Bombay (Mumbai now) sparrows were the only birds around, at least the ones I noticed. So I was disheartened to read that the sparrows are becoming extinct in Mumbai and the pigeons are taking over.  Nothing against pigeons, but sad about sparrows. Here are a few of my sparrow poems to amuse you.

The House Sparrow

Sparrow pauses on my window sill,
chirps a quick note, looks left, looks right, and
flies away leaving behind a half-eaten seed,
like an unfulfilled desire.

I see her every day bathing in dirt,
small brown wings flick around dust.
Just a small bird flying under clouds,
livening up my solitary afternoon.

My friends say, the male sparrow feeds the nestlings.
but, I see her at dusk, baby sparrows by her side,
pecking feverishly.
Mouth of the nestling, open, eager, waiting.
She holds a seed in her beak and drops it in.
A motherly act, if you ask me.

Kitty purrs behind me.
I pick her up and carry her away.

(First appeared in Mused – BellaOnline Literary Review, Fall 2014)

The Art of Mothering

Sparrow like a seamstress
Pleats feather upon feather
Shielding the nestlings
From the perils of cosmos
Not one of them will
Perish of nature’s vagaries
Before she can train them
The intricacies of flight
Nourish & coddle them only
Until their instincts stir
Until they soar to the sky
A Simple miracle
Letting go
The concept so elusive
To humans

(First appeared in Entropy, July 2020)

Low-Flying Bird

upon being shoved aside, the shock
doesn’t distress her, only the flock
she wants to belong, those who fly high
the wings untouched by human hands

being accustomed to the margins
she cozies up with the flowering hedge
to escape the constant jet engine whir
maybe a nosedive in lightning & thunder

flying solo isn’t a choice but a necessity
for the fallen bird, forsaken from the nest,
who never learns the secret of soaring
uncertain wings in the air flapping furiously

(First appeared in Entropy, July 2020)

Burning Woman

I set fire to the memories every summer
all through the fall and winter, word by word
I string the song of a savannah sparrow
staying close to the ground
foraging the buried syllables
seeping through the snow
and thaw them over my warm breath
those little things weigh heavy on my tongue
I am so tired of the harshness
grating on my ear
year after year,
I return to the ground and
polish the rough edges of words
the fierce polishing—the fleeting gleam
sometimes the sparks fly
singe my lashes, hair on fire
this merciless struggle
yet this sweet song of the sparrow

(First appeared in Entropy, July 2020)

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Black History Month Day 2.

Bury Me in a Free Land
By Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Make me a grave where’er you will,
In a lowly plain, or a lofty hill;
Make it among earth’s humblest graves,
But not in a land where men are slaves.

I could not rest if around my grave
I heard the steps of a trembling slave;
His shadow above my silent tomb
Would make it a place of fearful gloom.

I could not rest if I heard the tread
Of a coffle gang to the shambles led,
And the mother’s shriek of wild despair
Rise like a curse on the trembling air.

I could not sleep if I saw the lash
Drinking her blood at each fearful gash,
And I saw her babes torn from her breast,
Like trembling doves from their parent nest.

I’d shudder and start if I heard the bay
Of bloodhounds seizing their human prey,
And I heard the captive plead in vain
As they bound afresh his galling chain.

If I saw young girls from their mother’s arms
Bartered and sold for their youthful charms,
My eye would flash with a mournful flame,
My death-paled cheek grow red with shame.

I would sleep, dear friends, where bloated might
Can rob no man of his dearest right;
My rest shall be calm in any grave
Where none can call his brother a slave.

I ask no monument, proud and high,
To arrest the gaze of the passers-by;
All that my yearning spirit craves,
Is bury me not in a land of slaves.

This poem is in Public Domain.

Phillis Wheatley

Black History Month Day 1.

On Being Brought from Africa to America
By Phillis Wheatley

‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
“Their colour is a diabolic die.”
Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.


This poem is in Public Domain.

An Ode to Hillary

An Ode to Hillary

The village you needed to care for the child
That you were once was full of idiot bullies
Eager to crush the bold dreams of a young girl
Too stupid to think that a girl can be a president
You always persisted, never tasting the sweet
Nectar of victory, yet a naive belief in the power
Of your own strength, toil, and compassion
That you spread for the children of the world
Too hostile to see the kind heart buried under
The tough exoskeleton that you had to create
To survive the animosity surrounding the spirit
Of a woman striving to become larger than her
Assigned station in life, a woman independent
Yet a foot soldier to the ambitions of a man even
As the sphere around your crumbled, mocking
Your deepest core, launching it in the tailspin
The only way to find your fulcrum was to stand tall
Pivot, forge a road ahead for your dormant self
A soldier that you are, you marched on to duties
Larger and larger, reaching for the sun that
Was ready to shine on the perfected facets
Of your diamond that had sustained centuries
Of heat and pressure to emerge with the purity
Only the world had not run out of the bullies
And today here you are, radiant in your purple
Hue cheering on your younger sister, victorious
paying homage to your fearless foremothers
When you become the valiant foremother
to the budding young girls in this dawn
of the world with open doors to let the light in

— Pratibha

Editor’s Note:

The journal has been in existence for the last six years, yet I never published my own poem. I am making an exception this one time. Watching Hillary Clinton’s gracious presence during the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris inspired this poem. Hillary Clinton was ahead of her time and belongs to a generation when women worldwide had received mixed messages. On the one hand, they were encouraged to become independent and enlightened, and on the other hand, they were expected to carry out the traditional roles of wife and mother. The conflicts left women in limbo and often left them questioning their choices. As history turns another page and we celebrate and welcome women in power, we need to celebrate the women who paved the way and created the cracks in the ceilings that are being shattered now.




Mad Girl’s Love Song By Sylvia Plath – A Villanelle

The Literary Nest is now a poetry journal. To mark the new year and new beginnings, I am holding a Villanelle contest.

A villanelle is a form closer to my heart because of the song-like quality and repetition that resounds, emphasizing the claim that the poet wants to make. I’ve been partial to lyrical poetry since it allows the mind to roam free and still be rooted in reality. In many cases, a villanelle can tell a story like narrative poetry does. Take, for example, Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art.” True, that the reader has to imagine and fill in the details, but the story builds up to the graceful climax at the end. Similarly, “The House on the Hill” by Edwin Arlington Robinson tells a stark story that a reader can imagine. The tone and the carefully chosen refrains “They are all gone away.” and “There is nothing more to say.”  guide the reader to build a story. The graceful closing leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind about the gradual destruction of the people, the decay of the community, who lived there.

So, what story Plath’s “Mad Girl’s Love Song” tell? With its surreal, dreamlike tone and imagery of heaven and hell, the narrative is far from linear.  There is a story, however.  It’s the story of struggle in the narrator’s mind and the back and forth arguments that lead to the final resolution. During the internal discussion, the story of love and loss unfolds. It turns out that the narrator isn’t a ‘mad girl’ after all. It’s an often-repeated story of the betrayal of the narrator, presumably a young woman, by a deceitful lover. The narrator is left to wonder her sanity, hence the title. Through the waltz-like movements of the thoughts and the poetic lines, the dance of the internal struggle goes on.

The darkness descends when the narrator closes her eyes. The real world comes roaring back when she opens her eyes. The stars waltz in and out of her dreams. She dreams about the lover’s passionate wooing, and she equates it with God’s grace falling over her. As like every other love story, the lover goes away and has no intention of ever returning. “I grow old and forget your name.” She wonders if it was all in her mind. Did she make it all up? In some ways, she did make him up, made up all his desirable qualities because love is born and exists in one’s mind. The physical manifestation of love is not possible without the brain making up the narrative of love. In that realization, one thing is sure: the narrator is not a mad girl, but one who narrates an astute observation about the nature of love.

I hope, readers, that some of you are inspired to narrate your story through the villanelle form and submit. Who knows, you could possibly win. If you don’t remember Annie (as if that’s possible), read her poetry, her poetry textbooks, and join her online poetry groups to exchange information about form and meter. All that information can be found on her website.

Thanksgiving 2016


One day is there of the series

by Emily Dickinson

One day is there of the series
Termed “Thanksgiving Day”
Celebrated part at table
Part in memory –
Neither Ancestor nor Urchin
I review the Play –
Seems it to my Hooded thinking
Reflex Holiday
Had There been no sharp subtraction
From the early Sum –
Not an acre or a Caption
Where was once a Room
Not a mention whose small Pebble
Wrinkled any Sea,
Unto such, were such Assembly,
‘Twere “Thanksgiving day” –


In the times of turmoil, I always turn to Emily for comfort and wisdom. No matter what part of the world you live, these are the times of upheaval. It’s that annual day of giving thanks in the United States.  I, for one, am thankful for poetry in my life, so I am sharing this poem here today.

The poet says it’s  a “series/Termed “Thanksgiving Day.””
Perhaps, she means to say that we should be grateful for our blessings, whatever they may be, every day, in a series of days, and not just for one day of the year.

The holiday is  “Celebrated part at table” and “Part in memory -” because perhaps, not every loved one is sitting at the table to celebrate.

She refers to the day as a “Reflex Holiday,” a celebration carried out without much introspection. She feels that the holiday would not have held a deeper significance had there been no loss. “Had There been no sharp subtraction/From the early Sum -” Because life is full of losses, the celebration of the bounty is more meaningful.
This theme of some loss making the joys of life sweeter appears on several of her poems. The Elsewhere she says, “To comprehend a nectar/Requires sorest need.”

We certainly have the sorest need for the nectar right about now.

May you have a joyous day today and every day of the year give you satisfaction.
Happy Thanksgiving.

“Glee! The Great Storm Is Over!”

Dear Readers,

For some reason, these words seem apt for this winter, and I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.  It can hold any meaning that suits the season in your heart.

“Glee! The Great Storm Is Over!”

By Emily Dickinson

Glee! The great storm is over!
Four have recovered the land;
Forty gone down together
Into the boiling sand.

Ring, for the scant salvation!
Toll, for the bonnie souls, —
Neighbor and friend and bridegroom,
Spinning upon the shoals!

How they will tell the shipwreck
When winter shakes the door,
Till the children ask, “But the forty?
Did they come back no more?”

Then a silence suffuses the story,
And a softness the teller’s eye;
And the children no further question,
And only the waves reply.