His death in Benares

By Kabir 1440–1518 Kabir

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

For Geoff Dyer

his front yard
is the true Benares
      — Devara Dasimayya,
          tr. A.K. Ramanujan

His death in Benares
Won’t save the assassin
From certain hell,

Any more than a dip
In the Ganges will send
Frogs—or you—to paradise.

My home, says Kabir,
Is where there’s no day, no night,
And no holy book in sight

To squat on our lives.

Source: Poetry (March 2011).

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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 Living, Death, Sorrow & Grieving, Religion, Faith & Doubt, Other Religions, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION Asia, South

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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