Coldstream Review

Postcard from Kashmir

Agha Shahid Ali receives a neat postcard from Kashmir at his home in America and while holding the four-by-six-inch card in his hand he gazes at the half-inch Himalayas. He has a premonition that perhaps this is the closest he can now get to his ancestral home in Srinagar, and the waters of the River Jhelum won’t be ultramarine by the time he returns to Kashmir. But he doesn’t mind if the idea he has of his birthplace is out of date because he knows that he can develop it into a fine portrait, like developing the negative of a photograph. How wonderful to see Agha Shahid Ali’s poem, Postcard from Kashmir, translated into French – the language of Baudelaire and Proust – many thanks to Rosine-Alice Vuille!

Carte postale du Cachemire 

Le Cachemire rétrécit dans ma boîte aux lettres, 

mon pays un concis format A6. 

J’ai toujours aimé la concision. Voici que je tiens 

l’Himalaya de cinquante millimètres en main. 

C’est mon pays. Et jamais je ne serai 

plus près de mon pays. Lorsque je reviendrai, 

les couleurs ne seront pas si éclatantes, 

ni les eaux du Jhelum si limpides, 

si ultramarines. Mon amour 

si surexposé. 

Et mon souvenir sera quelque peu 

flou, en lui 

un négatif géant, noir 

et blanc, encore à développer.