Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Book Coolie, Hobson-Jobson, and Daljit Nagra

A friend of mine (a virtual friend, I guess) from England has recently started his own blog, which he's calling Book Coolie.

It's kind of odd that the Indian book blog world is so densely populated with "Babus," "Sepoys," and "Coolies"! I am seriously considering starting an anonymous blog with a similar title to keep up with the exploding Hobson-Jobson blog scene. Maybe "The Madd Hatterr"? (A reference to the late, great G.V. Desani... This site has some quotes from Desani's All About H. Hatterr).

I haven't read all of Book Coolie's posts yet, but I wanted to pass along one of his links, about the Brit-Asian poet Daljit Nagra, whose "Look We Have Coming to Dover" alludes to Matthew Arnold's famous poem Dover Beach. Nagra's "Dover" recently won a British poetry award for best single poem.

The climax of Arnold's poem is:

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

In Nagra's hands, it is:

Imagine my love and I,
and our sundry others, blared in the cash
of our beeswax'd cars, our crash clothes,
free, as we sip from an unparasol'd table
babbling our lingoes, flecked by the chalk of Britannia.

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