How do you

By Kabir 1440–1518 Kabir

Translated from the Hindi by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra Read the translator's notes

How do you,
Asks the chief of police,
Patrol a city
Where the butcher shops
Are guarded by vultures;
Where bulls get pregnant,
Cows are barren,
And calves give milk
Three times a day;
Where mice are boatmen
And tomcats the boats
They row;
Where frogs keep snakes
As watchdogs,
And jackals
Go after lions?

Does anyone know
What I’m talking about?
Says Kabir.

Source: Poetry (March 2011).

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This poem originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2011

Biography

 
Though little is known of the life of the Indian mystic and poet Kabir, it is believed he was born in or near Benares. He grew up in a family of Muslim weavers before becoming a disciple of the Hindu ascetic Ramananda. Kabir is considered both a Sufi and Brahmin saint.
 
Kabir’s poetry draws on both Hinduism and Islam, though he was critical of certain aspects of both faiths. Some of his verses are included in the compilation . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION Asia, South

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem


Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.