She stood under a drizzle of copper leaves mouth opened in a hymn of praiseVoice tacet Only the chirping of sparrowsheard on the terrace above the sleeping townBe opaque her sisters had saidbecause this crust is what will get you throughStanding above the chasm opened in the eastern rock she thoughtWhat if there was no border between flesh and lightWhat if I had no skinOf what am I the barometer?
“Tacet” from Icelight © 2023 by Ranjit Hoskote.
Published by Wesleyan University Press.
Used by permission.
Ranjit Hoskote is a poet, cultural theorist, and curator. This year he was honored with the 7th Mahakavi Kanhaiyalal Sethia Poetry Award by the Jaipur Literature Festival. His seven collections of poetry include, Vanishing Acts: New and Selected Poems, Central Time and Jonahwhale (published by Arc in the UK as The Atlas of Lost Beliefs,) which won a Poetry Book Society Summer Recommendation in 2020 and, most recently, Hunchprose. His poems have been translated into German, Hindi, Bengali, Irish Gaelic, Marathi, Swedish, Spanish, and Arabic.
"Because Ranjit Hoskote lives a double life as art critic and poet, we might expect him to be drawn to art history and ekphrasis. But in fact, almost all the poems in Icelight are concerned with shifts in perspective that function not merely as aesthetic tropes, but as a philosophical insistence on the simultaneity of different viewpoints, of cultural differences, and of those multiplicities that compose any self—what Hoskote calls 'the prism of this moment.' His poems derive their thrilling energy from the way Hoskote toggles between precise description and conceptual reflection, modulations that charge these poems with muscular tension."
—Forrest Gander, author of Be With
"At the heart of this utterly beautiful, resonant, and moving collection is a profound sense of South Asia's role in world history, and the title poem's image of an Ice Age artist. The beginning of human attention to animal, nature and the earth, but also the beginning of what human does to earth, 'maimed and gloried' through art."
—Ruth Padel, author of Beethoven Variations
"For poems probing deep ontological and existential concerns, these are remarkably free of lecture or cant. Sophisticated readers will grab especially, but this work is accessible to all."