Freeing Up Our Poetic Imaginations


The Ghost of Birds has many intriguing pieces;  I want to focus simply on one.  And on the riches of the last three paragraphs on the final two  pages of his essay,  “American Indias.” 

Paragraph 1—Weinberger mentions works  that we English-readers would do well to read to begin to overcome of our ignorance of the worlds of classical Indian poetry.  Here are works he cites since the 1960s—

Denise Levertov and E.C. Dimock, In Praise of Krishna
Robert Bly, The Kabir Book
W.S. Merwin and J. Masson, Sanskrit Love Poetry
A K.Ramanujan, The Interior Landscape
A. K. Ramanujan, Speaking of Śiva
Barbara Stoler Miller, Bhartrihari: Poems
Daniel H. H. Ingalls,  Anthology of Sanskrit Court Poetry

Paragraph 2—He mentions these more recent translators and poets for our consideration—

Aga Shahid Ali 
Robert Bly
Dilip Chitre
Jane Hirshfield
Arun Kolatkar
Arvind Krishna Mehrotra 
Andrew Schelling 
David Shulman

Paragraph 3—He makes this call to  poets, translators, and readers—

“Classical Indian poetry, with its millennia of texts, its many languages, its oceanic vastness, remains the largest blank of the Western map of world literature. But beyond literary history, beyond the many pleasures of the individual poems, it could serve the function of translation at its best–that is, as inspiration. Here are ways of writing poetry that do not exist in our language, but, transformed, could.” 

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