2011 Student Research Conference:
24th Annual Student Research Conference

"The Looms of Bengal Silenced": History and Memory in Agha Shahid Ali's "The Dacca Gauzes"
Daniel R. Philbin
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

The reference to the exquisite fabric, the refined Bengali muslin, in Agha Shahid Ali's poem, "The Dacca Gauzes," serves as a metaphor of loss of history and memory. Describing his grandmothers nostalgia for this beautiful muslin and its splendor in the lines no one now knows, my grandmother says, what it was like to wear that cloth, the speaker addresses the glory of this art. The juxtaposition of the grandmothers nostalgic memory, in the following imagery, the air/ was dew-starched: she pulled/ it absently through her ring, reflecting the ephemerality of the cloth, now lost to history, with the speakers historical knowledge of the intricate Dhaka muslins in the following lines, In history we learned: the hands/ of weavers were amputated,/ the looms of Bengal silenced, shows how the phrases and imagery in the poem reflect its themes of nostalgia and loss.

Keywords: Dacca Gauzes, imagery, Agha Shahid Ali, nostalgia, loss, art, Bengal, memory

Topic(s):English
Asian Studies
Art History

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 2-4
Location: VH 1236
Time: 8:45

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