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THE GARDEN - DOM MORAES

It was Dom Moraes’s birthday on July 20th. He was often cited as a child prodigy -

“He began writing at the age of 10, and published his first book three years later” “…who by 14 was reading essays by Eliot and at 19 won the Hawthornden Prize” . He took a stand against policies of the government that he saw as fascist or anti-democratic-

“His insistence on doing it his way was part of a nature with an implacable streak. It had him holding to his own views even when - as often happened - they led him into controversy, when his critical irony was taken by chauvinists as "anti-Indian". It also drew him into dangerous areas.

When the Gujarat riots erupted in 2002, with their heavy toll of Muslim dead, Moraes left for Ahmedabad the minute the news came through, claiming that since he was a Catholic, Muslims would not see him as an enemy. Even though he was physically in considerable pain by then, he was one of the first on the scene - a move that his upright father, would have applauded.” - Naseem Khan in an obituary for Dom Moraes in The Guardian. He was a definitive figure, writing in the early stages of Indian English poetry. and I have revelled in his experiments with form - a characteristic of the “Bombay poets”, a group of artists who saw themselves at the threshold of a new movement in Indian writing in English. “The Garden” is a beautiful little poem that lilts and rhymes like a little song, with the lightness of stray musings, and the abandon of young love. The last four lines are priceless, reminding me of passionate, free, joyful romances, or how the Sufi mystic Mansur felt after he discovered god.


“And I by shyness am undone And can't go out for fear I meet My poems dancing down the street Telling your name to everyone.”



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