#AtoZChallenge Letter D

The theme of my challenge is poetry and books inspired by art and/or art inspired by literature.

D     is for DECOMPOSITION by Zulfikar Ghose.

There is no picture which you will understand when you read the poem.


I have a picture I took in Bombay

of a beggar asleep on the pavement:

grey-haired, wearing shorts and a dirty shirt,

his shadow thrown aside like a blanket.


His arms and legs could be cracks in the stone;

routes for the ants’ journeys, the flies’ descents.

brain-washed by the sun into exhaustion,

he lies veined into stone, a fossil man.


Behind him, there is a crowd passingly

bemused by a pavement trickster and quite

indifferent to this very common sight

of an old man asleep on the pavement.


I thought it then a good composition

and glibly called it The Man in the Street,

remarking how typical it was of

India that the man in the street lived there.


His head in the posture of one weeping

into a pillow chides me now for my

presumption at attempting to compose

art out of his hunger and solitude.

Zulfikar Ghose


Zulfikar Ghose, born in Sialkot, India [now Pakistan]), in 1935 is a Pakistani-American author of novels, poetry, and criticism about cultural alienation.

Ghose grew up in Sialkot and Mumbai and then moved with his family to England. He graduated from Keele (England) University in 1959 and married Helena de la Fontaine, an artist from Brazil (a country he later used as the setting for six of his novels). In 1969 he moved to the United States to teach at the University of Texas.

His first novel, The Contradictions (1966), explores differences between Western and Eastern attitudes and ways of life. In The Murder of Aziz Khan (1967) a small farmer tries to save his traditional land from greedy developers. Ghose’s trilogy The Incredible Brazilian, comprising The Native (1972), The Beautiful Empire (1975), and A Different World (1978), presents the adventures of a man who goes through several reincarnations.  His poems, from those in The Loss of India (1964) to the Selected Poems (1991), are often about the travels and memories of a self-aware alien. He also wrote an early autobiography, Confessions of a Native-Alien (1965).

Link to the list of other A to Z Challengers


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