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Psalm 150 - Jericho Brown

It has been 4 days since Delhi has been burning in the flames of an anti-Muslim pogrom. The seeds of hatred have been germinating for much longer, of course. I have been unable to bring myself to share poems with you, to give solace, or meaning. I wanted to write, express anguish, find strength, but I could not find words in the face of the surreal onslaught that has been unleashed in the streets of the capital. Listening to feverish SOS’s, and frenzied updates of mayhem, I found myself paralysed with fear and despair.


In the face of a hatred I cannot understand, a carnival of bloodlust that my imagination cannot encircle with its feeble fingers, I found myself turning to faith; to some other kind of power that could make sense of it all. A particular feeling that kept coming back to me was the perception of a kind of immaturity, an anti-humanity that was playing the armed young bloodthirsty men like marionettes. It felt alien, strange, unreal.


I do not know, even today, if these words will suffice, if they carry comfort, but I want to try, still. There are people among us who are heroes who have embodied love and resilience and put the safety of others before their own - civil society activists, ordinary people, reporters on the ground, doctors and leaders. I hope that I can some day learn courage from them.


The psalm I share with you today addresses, somewhat, the strange juxtapositions we are witnessing. Our Hindutva leaders pretend like everything is normal, and give blessing to the predatory instincts of the mob with the assurance of impunity. But memory will be less tolerant - “Only memory makes us kneel, silent and still.”


The last line of this poem gives me strength, and conjures up sublime affirmation, an insistent and relentless humanity. I hope it does the same for you.


“Something keeps trying, but I’m not killed yet.”



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