Diasporic Sensibility in Agha Shahid Ali's The Veiled Suite : the anguish of Displacement

Author Name

Dr. Pallavi Srivastava

Author Address

Dept. of English, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Govt. Degree College, A Constituent College of University of Allahabad 182/8H/10, Shivkuti, Allahabad, Pin. 211004. Ph. 8853302020, 9307638385. E-mail: [email protected]


Diaspora, Literarure


Displacement, whether forced or self-imposed, is tormented one. Yet, a peculiar but a potent point is that writers in their displaced existence generally tend to excel in their work, as if changed atmosphere acts as a stimulant for them. There are many poets, who from their nullity found the capacity to create newness. So it seemed for Dante, and so too it seemed for the Kashmiri-American poet Agha ShahidAli, as his collection of poems, The Veiled Suite, demonstrates. The newness that Agha Shahid Ali created emerged from the chaos of Kashmir, the disputed territory straddling India and Pakistan. He preferred the title immigrant , and, in his poems, exile. The Veiled Suite, published in 2009, encompasses the thirty years and six volumes of poems Ali completed in the US, poems that obsessively explore the anguish of displacement through memory, history, symbolism, and a unique blend of European and Urdu poetic traditions. For Ali, exile, loss, and the related yearning for home remained the primary concern. In these poems, a veil is the curtain between life and death, between this world and what is hoped for in the next.  Moreover, the veil represents the gauze through which Ali views the past and through which he yearns for his lost homeland. Ali admits the difference between what he yearns for and what actually exists. His diasporic sensibility for a lost homeland provides the thematic skeleton for his entire oeuvre. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, by combining European form with content that typically refers to his Kashmiri and Indian background, Ali’s poetry itself becomes a metaphor for the cultural amalgamation of the immigrant. There is a perfect amalgamation of European and Islamic prosodic devices including quotations and allusions from both cultures. The Veiled Suite, published in 2009, is a record of his emotionally felt experiences of thirty years and six volumes of poems Ali spent in the U.S. These poems explore the anguish of displacement through the means of memory, history, symbolism and a unique blend of European and Urdu poetic traditions. 


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