03 August, 2021

A Hindu, On the Hindoos

Brooding and innocent wordplay, pregnant with presentiments

A Hindu, On the Hindoos

AT the time of his death in 1993, A.K. Ramanujan left behind 148 poems on three computer disks. Many of these were finished poems, some were fragments, exercises. According to his daughter Krittika, the earliest were written in 1989, in Michigan, and the latest in March or April 1993, just weeks before his death. This by any standards is a lot of poetry over a relatively short period. ‘Birth takes a long time’, Ramanujan says in one of these late poems, ‘though death can be sudden,/and multiple, like pregnant deer/shot on the run.’ Ramanujan’s death was sudden, multiple. He was, among other things, putting the finishing touches to a new collection of poems when it happened. This new collection, The Black Hen, was never published as an independent volume but appeared as part of Collected Poems in 1995. There are 60 poems in The Black Hen and the selection was made by an eight-member committee, two of whom are the editors of the present volume. Uncollected Poems and Prose adds a further 32 poems to the corpus.


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