5 Female Indian Poets You'll fall in Love with's image
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5 Female Indian Poets You'll fall in Love with


1. SAROJINI NAIDU


Indian poets: Sarojini Naidu


Sarojini Chattopadhyay was born in 1879 to a progressive academic father and a mother who was a poet herself. She began writing poetry at the age of 12, and her first collection of poems, The Golden Threshold, was published in 1905. She won a scholarship to study in England, first in King’s College London, and then at Cambridge. She was a part of India’s freedom struggle and a leading figure in the Quit India Movement. She was a passionate feminist who travelled widely around India before independence, lecturing on social welfare and women’s empowerment. She played a leading role in the Civil Disobedience Movement and was arrested several times with other leading figures of Indian independence, including Mahatma Gandhi.


Sarojini Naidu was known as the “nightingale of India.”


Indian Love-Song

What are the sins of my race, Beloved,

what are my people to thee?

And what are thy shrines, and kine and kindred,

what are thy gods to me?

Love recks not of feuds and bitter follies,

of stranger, comrade or kin,

Alike in his ear sound the temple bells

and the cry of the muezzin.

For Love shall cancel the ancient wrong

and conquer the ancient rage,

Redeem with his tears the memoried sorrow

that sullied a bygone age.



2. ZEB-UN-NISA


Indian poets: Zeb-un-Nisa


Princess Zeb-un-Nisa (“Ornament of Womankind”) was born in 1638; she was a Mughal princess, and the eldest child of Emperor Aurangzeb and Princess Dilras Banu Begum. She received the finest education available and was possessed of a keen intellect and a thirst for literary knowledge. She studied the Quran, which she memorized in three years, and also studied philosophy, literature, mathematics and astronomy. Besides this she was also multilingual, and was a gifted calligrapher. She was musically inclined and was a fine singer. Besides all of this, she was a keen horse-rider, and was trained in the use of arms and armaments; she is said to have fought in battle several times.


She began narrating poetry at the age of 14, but because her father frowned on poetry and did not encourage it, she began writing poetry in secret, choosing as her pen name Makhfi, or The Hidden One. 


She wrote a collection of poetry called Diwan which contains 5,000 verses, and also wrote three other books of poetry, totalling 15,000 verses. She spent the last 20 years of her life imprisoned by her father at Salimgarh Fort, Delhi; the explanations vary, but we do know that she was miserable during that time, and her poetry became very bitter and lonely. She felt that she had literally become her pen name, Makhfi, The Hidden One. Zeb-un-Nisa died in 1701, and her tomb still stands in Agra.


I have no peace, the quarry I, a Hunter chases me.

It is Thy memory;

I turn to flee, but fall; for over me he casts his snare,

Thy perfumed hair.

Who can escape thy prison? No mortal heart is free

From dreams of Thee.


3. TORU DUTT


Indian poets -- toru dutt


Toru Dutt was born in 1856, and is often referred to as the Keats of Indo-English literature. She was the first Indian woman to write poems in English, although she was multilingual and apparently able to master languages with ease. She died of tuberculosis at the tender age of 21, but she leaves behind an impressive collection of prose and poetry, including Le Journal de Mademoiselle d’Arvers, the first novel to be written in French by an Indian writer, and another novel, Bianca, that remains unfinished. Her poetry collection A Sheaf Gleaned in French Fields was published in 1876, and Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan was published posthumously in 1882.

It is hard not to think of all that she might have accomplished if she had lived. Her grave is located in Maniktala Christian Cemetery, in Kolkata.


Our Casuarina Tree

When first my casement is wide open thrown

At dawn, my eyes delighted on it rest;

Sometimes, and most in winter, — on its crest

A gray baboon sits statue-like alone

Watching the sunrise; while on lower boughs

His puny offspring leap about and play;

And far and near kokilas hail the day;

And to their pastures wend our sleepy cows;

And in the shadow, on the broad tank cast

By that hoar tree, so beautiful and vast,

The water-lilies spring, like snow enmassed.

But not because of its magnificence

Dear is the Casuarina to my soul:

Beneath it we have played; though years may roll,

O sweet companions, loved with love intense,

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