'The fish gasps and pants' : Three animal poems by ‘Agyeya’

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'The fish gasps and pants' : Three animal poems by ‘Agyeya’

Translated from Hindi by Somrita Urni Ganguly.

Three poems on animals by Sachchidananda Vatsyayan ‘Agyeya’. Translated from Hindi by Somrita Urni Ganguly.


You are not a creature of modern civilization
Nor have you learnt to live
In cities, yet.

Could I ask you something? (Will you answer me?)
How have you learnt to sting and bite then?

Where does this venom come from?


The Story of a Bird

She flew away, the bird
trembled, shivered,
went still –

a leaf.



And while we stare longingly at it
The fish gasps and pants
Behind the hard glass

Longing to live
Behind the hard glass


Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayan (7 March 1911 – 4 April 1987), popularly known by his pen-name, Agyeya (lit. Unknowable), was an Indian writer, poet, novelist, literary critic, journalist, translator and revolutionary in Hindi language. He is regarded as the pioneer of the Nayi Kavita (New Poetry) and Prayogavaad (Experimentalism) movements in modern Hindi literature.

Somrita Urni Ganguly is a professor, poet, and literary translator, soon to complete her PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She was affiliated with Brown University, Rhode Island, as a Fulbright Doctoral Research Fellow. She is the editor of Quesadilla and Other Adventures: Food Poems (Hawakal Publishers, 2019) and the translator of Dinesh Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Firesongs (BEE Books, 2019), Ashutosh Nadkar’s Shakuni: Master of the Game (Juggernaut Books, 2019), and Shankarlal Sengupta’s The Midnight Sun (2019).

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