On Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali

July 18, 2007 at 11:55 am 1 comment

Agha Shahid Ali


Durga dies in the rains,
her tongue bitter with stolen
fruit. Beyond the field, trains
escape a boy’s dreams, run

into the air. A necklace chains
him to the water’s bones, turns
his reflection sour. Wherever
Apu goes, to the temple or the river,

he carries Durga’s smile to the depths of the air.

Another favorite director, another great film, and another spectacular poet.  Shahid gets it exactly right, as always, his short simple phrases reflecting perfectly the black and white starkness of Ray’s film, a lyrical sparseness that gives it an indefinable and austere beauty, like a smile carried “to the depths of the air”.

To see how well this poem works, just watch this clip, and then come back and read the lines “Beyond the field, trains / escape a boy’s dreams, run into the air.”



Entry filed under: Agha Shahid Ali, English, Falstaff, Poems about Movies.

Pierrot Le Fou Cameo Appearance

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Luís Miguel  |  December 7, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Dear falstaff,

    Could you please send me me a mail adress where I can reach you?. I’m Portuguese and I would like very much to contact you about a project I have. My mails are “lmqueiros@publico.pt” or “lmq1962@gmail.com”. Are you interested in portuguese poems about movies (I can send you some in English translations)?. Thank you. Kind regards.
    Luís Miguel Queirós


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