Let the arctic birds,friendly with polar winds,have an easy time of it, Lord,for the next hundred years.I don’t even knowif there are any arctic birds.I am as ignorantabout bird-life near the Polesas birds are about good and evil.I wish my ignorance could also beequated with innocence.
But my prayers are not hookedto some mariner’s compass;and when I start walking downwith my back to the Pole Star,I lead my prayers by the hand.And here in warm-rain countrylet the rhinocerostrundle through mireand the next millenniumand the next.May the beaver and the porcupineburrow their wayto their underground havenand may the elephant shed his tusksso that we don’t shed his blood.
And a small skylight prayer, Lord:may the sparrow know glassfrom the crisp air outside.
by Keki N. Daruwalla
© Keki N. Daruwalla, 2008
Keki N. Daruwalla is one of India's leading
English-language writers. Born in 1937 in Lahore, Daruwalla has
published nine volumes of poetry. 'Century-end Prayer' comes from The Glass-Blower: Selected Poems,
a book published by Arc in 2008 and which collects poems from all of
the poet's previous collections. Keki Daruwalla has won the Sahitya
Akademi Award and the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Asia. His Collected Poems: 1970-2005
appeared from Penguin India in 2006. He is also the author of three
volumes of short stories, a novella, two collections of poetry for
children and, more recently, the travelogue Riding the Himalayas (2006).
Daruwalla is also well-known as a writer on international affairs,
having served in both the Indian Police Service and in a number of
positions within the civil service, including Special Assistant to the
Prime Minister. He was part of the Commonwealth Observer Group for the
Zimbabwe elections in 1980, and at the time of his retirement was
Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee in India. For more
information about Daruwalla, click here or here. You can listen to him reading his work here.
Arc Publications publishes contemporary poetry from
new and established writers from the UK and abroad, specialising in the
work of international poets writing in English, and the work of overseas
poets in translation. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the
publication of books about music and musicians. To learn more about Arc
and to see its range of titles, click here.
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