Poem – My Mother – Ann Taylor

Who sat and watched my infant head When sleeping on my cradle bed, 

And tears of sweet affection shed? 

My Mother. 

When pain and sickness made me cry, 

Who gazed upon my heavy eye, 

And wept for fear that I should die? 

My Mother. 
Who taught my infant lips to pray 

And love God’s holy book and day, 

And walk in wisdom’s pleasant way? 

My Mother. 
And can I ever cease to be 

Affectionate and kind to thee, 

Who wast so very kind to me, 

My Mother? 
Ah, no! the thought I cannot bear, 

And if God please my life to spare 

I hope I shall reward they care, 

My Mother. 
When thou art feeble, old and grey, 

My healthy arm shall be thy stay, 

And I will soothe thy pains away, 

My Mother.

Poem – The Cow – Ann Taylor

Thank you, pretty cow,

 that made Pleasant milk to soak my bread, 

Every day and every night, 

Warm, and fresh, and sweet, and white. 
Do not chew the hemlock rank, 

Growing on the weedy bank; 

But the yellow cowslips eat; 

They perhaps will make it sweet. 
Where the purple violet grows, 

Where the bubbling water flows, 

Where the grass is fresh and fine, 

Pretty cow, go there to dine.

Poem – India – Taslima Nasrin

(to Sumit Chakrabarty) India is not just India, even from before I was born, 

India has been my history. 

My history, carved into two by daggers of animosity and hatred, running breathlessly towards uncertain possibilities, 

with the terrible crack at the core, 

History bloodstained, history turned death. 

It is this India that has given me language, 

Has enriched me with culture 

And powerful dreams. 

This India can, if it so desires, snatch 

My history away from my life, 

My homeland from my dream. 

But why should I let it drain me dry only because it so desires? 

Hasn’t India brought forth those noble souls, 

Who place their hands today on my tired shoulders, 

On the abandoned shoulders of this helpless, orphaned soul? 

These hands, longer than the land, stretched beyond space and time, 

Gives me warmly cherished security against all worldly cruelties. 

Madanjeet Singh, Mahasweta Devi, Muchukund Dube—they are my homeland today, 

Their hearts my true country. 
[This poem was written while Taslima was forced to live in confinement in an undisclosed location in Delhi from 22 November 2007 to 19 March 2008. Samik Bandapadahya translated this poem from her book PRISONERS POEMS]

Poem – India – Taslima Nasrin

(to Sumit Chakrabarty) India is not just India, even from before I was born, 

India has been my history. 

My history, carved into two by daggers of animosity and hatred, running breathlessly towards uncertain possibilities, 

with the terrible crack at the core, 

History bloodstained, history turned death. 

It is this India that has given me language, 

Has enriched me with culture 

And powerful dreams. 

This India can, if it so desires, snatch 

My history away from my life, 

My homeland from my dream. 

But why should I let it drain me dry only because it so desires? 

Hasn’t India brought forth those noble souls, 

Who place their hands today on my tired shoulders, 

On the abandoned shoulders of this helpless, orphaned soul? 

These hands, longer than the land, stretched beyond space and time, 

Gives me warmly cherished security against all worldly cruelties. 

Madanjeet Singh, Mahasweta Devi, Muchukund Dube—they are my homeland today, 

Their hearts my true country. 
[This poem was written while Taslima was forced to live in confinement in an undisclosed location in Delhi from 22 November 2007 to 19 March 2008. Samik Bandapadahya translated this poem from her book PRISONERS POEMS]

Poem – Mosque, Temple – Taslima Nasrin

Let the pavilions of religion be ground to bits, 

let the bricks of temples, mosques, guruduaras, churches 

be burned in blind fire, 

and upon those heaps of destruction 

let lovely flower gardens grow, spreading their fragrance. 

let children’s schools and study halls grow. 
For the welfare of humanity, now let prayer halls 

be turned into hospitals, orphanages, universities, 

Now let prayer halls become academies of art, fine art centers, 

scientific research institutes. 

Now let prayer halls be turned to golden rice fields 

in the radiant dawn, 

Open fields, rivers, restless seas. 
From now on, let religion’s other name be humanity.

Poem – Now The Hungry Lion Roars – William Shakespeare

From “A Midsummer-Night’s Dream,” Act V. Scene 2 
PUCK sings: 

NOW the hungry lion roars, 

And the wolf behowls the moon; 

Whilst the heavy ploughman snores, 

All with weary task fordone. 

Now the wasted brands do glow, 

Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud, 

Puts the wretch that lies in woe 

In remembrance of a shroud. 

Now it is the time of night, 

That the graves, all gaping wide, 

Every one lets forth his sprite, 

In the churchway paths to glide: 

And we fairies, that do run 

By the triple Hecate’s team, 

From the presence of the sun, 

Following darkness like a dream, 

Now are frolic; not a mouse 

Shall disturb this hallowed house: 

I am sent with broom before 

To sweep the dust behind the door.

Poem – The Room In Which I Am Forced . . . – Taslima Nasrin 

The room in which I now live has a closed window, 

A window that I cannot open at will. 

The window’s covered with a heavy curtain that I cannot move at will. 

I live in a room now, 

Where I cannot open the door at will, cannot cross the threshold. 

I live in a room, where the only other living inhabitants are 

Two sickly lizards on the wall. No man or any creature resembling a man is allowed here. 

I live in a room where I find it a great strain to breathe. 

There’s no sound around, but for banging your head against the wall. 

Nobody else in the world watches, expect the couple of lizards. 

They watch with eyes wide open, who knows if they feel the pain—Maybe they feel it. 

Do they too cry, when I cry? 

I live in a room where I don’t want to live, 

A room where I am forced to live, 

A room where democracy forces me to live for days unending, 

In a room in the dark, in incertitude, with a threat hanging, 

In pain, breathing with difficulty, democracy forces me to live, 

In a room where secularism drains me away of life, dropp by drop. 

In a room my dear India forces me . . . 

I do not know if all those over busy men or creatures that look like men will have a couple of seconds to spare to turn to 

The lifeless lump that comes out of the room some day,

A rotten, greasy lump, a lump of bones. 

Will death be release? It’s death perhaps that sets one free, 

Free at last to cross the threshold. 

The lizards will stare away the whole day, 

Maybe they too will feel sad. 

Someone will bury me, maybe a government man, 

Wrapped in the flag of democracy, in the soil of my dear India . 

I’ll find a home there at last, with no threshold to cross, 

I’ll find a home there where breathing will be easy. 
[This poem was written while Taslima was forced to live in confinement in an undisclosed location in Delhi from 22 November 2007 to 19 March 2008. Samik Bandapadahya translated this poem from her book PRISONERS POEMS]