This new collection of verse by one of India’s most talented poets is exceptional for its haunting lyrical quality as well as for its engagement with mythic and historical forms from the Indian subcontinent, a territory most poets writing in English do not venture into.

Not Springtime Yet continues Priya’s quest for the perfect pitch, the idea just beyond grasp, the thought buried in the debris of love and death. She reimagines for us old tales of valour and love (Rustom and Sohrab; Kalidasa) with the same ease and restless energy with which she trawls through contemporary images of war and loneliness. The result is a series of recognitions and revivals – of form, tone and linguistic play.

Not Springtime Yet Poems by Priya Sarukkai Chabria, HarperCollins Publishers India, a joint venture with The India Today Group, New Delhi, 2008, ISBN 978 81 7223 771 4

The following poems were first published in Norton Anthology of Contemporary Voices from the East: Selection from Songs from Babylon and Persia P.E.N: Blue Vase Between Sisters


The sky is yellow, the earth is green. The minstrel stands in the air, and sings. A tree lizard hops from twig to twig, gulping air with each effort in self-appraisal. A late jogger does his rounds and disappears, an hour each day for his heart’s well being. The roofs of buses pass beyond the shrubs, like silver rulers gliding past. And that old cliche, the newspaper leaf, turns and tumbles on the ground.

The earth is silver, the stars are out. The minstrel lies on sheets of moonlight and sings. Two fiery red stars blink in the sky — the TV tower’s warning to the plane’s tail light curving along to some far-off place. A policeman beats his lathi on park rails, beating out couples from love’s ambush. A scorpion edges up the leg of an iron bench. And that old cliche, the newspaper leaf, slithers and rustles on the ground.

Lightning flashes, lighting the noon. The minstrel swims through the rain and sings. Above the trees in the storm, dish antennas turn like hibiscus, tracking signal beyond the clouds. Earthworms crawl out into the lawns while a bird ruffles its feathers on a branch. A smoker shakes the rain from his hair and lights up, his sight raining towards the empty roads. And that old cliche, the newspaper leaf, turns soggy and sticks to the earth.

Sun in the east, moon in the west, the high sky shades from gold to green. The minstrel dances in a waterfall of mist and sings. A cow strays near the wrought-iron gate, its hide glistening, its cud dripping foamy white. Torches bob like giant fireflies beyond the shrubs. Acid bottles sparkle and burst in the sky. The mob sets alight the mist with its screams, bombs smoke the air. And that old cliche, the newspaper leaf, shreds beneath running feet.

The minstrel spins in the mist and sings … sings on … sings louder to catch the notes submerged in the mist of fleeing forms.

Poems from Not Springtime Yet


War Poems from Babylon and Persia

Ordering Information
Not Springtime Yet
Indian Academy of Literature Golden Jubilee Imprint, 2005,
HarperCollins Publishers India, 2008
ISBN: 978 81 7223 771 4