2011 Student Research Conference:
24th Annual Student Research Conference

Exile, Loss, and Longing in Agha Shahid Ali's The Half-Inch Himalayas
Megan A. Kabler
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

The imagery in Agha Shahid Ali's two poems, "Postcard from Kashmir" and "The Dacca Gauzes" emphasizes the themes of displacement, longing, and loss. In "Postcard from Kashmir" the following lines embody a loss of home: "Kashmir shrinks into my mailbox, / my home a neat four by six inches. / I always loved neatness. Now I hold / the half-inch Himalayas in my hand." Later, the lines "This is home. And this the closest / I'll ever be to home" further convey that longing for home in terms of distance, in both space and time. In "The Dacca Gauzes" the speaker describes his grandmother's nostalgic memory of the Dacca muslins, a handwoven fabric: "in autumn, should one wake up / at dawn to pray, can one / feel that same texture again." The recurring themes of displacement, longing and loss found in these two poems form a connection between the memory of history, and the memory of home.

Keywords: Half Inch Himalayas, exile, Agha Shahid Ali, The Dacca Gauzes, loss, displacement, longing

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 16-5
Location: VH 1324
Time: 10:30

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