Prison Days and Other Poems
'These poems have appealed to me greatly. They have stuck in my mind . . . And so I commend these poems and perhaps they might move others as they have moved me'
Agyeya was jailed as a revolutionary by the British authorities in the early 1930s-an experience that indelibly shaped his literary output. The verses in this collection vividly conjure the horror and tedium of imprisonment: the sound of iron gates clanging shut and the shadows cast by the bars of a cell. But Agyeya's vision never descends into bleakness. Even quarantined, he is constantly aware of the pulse of life radiating outside the prison walls-the lotuses in bloom, the gushing breeze, the mighty seas-as well as the solidarity and compassion that unites those in captivity.
Written between 1933 and 1938, Prison Days and Other Poems astutely captures the mood before Indian independence, when freedom was still merely a dream.
'The grand old man of Hindi literature . . . [Agyeya's] poetry and fiction were only the logical culmination of a multi-faceted career'
Agyeya(1911-87) was the pen name of S.H. Vatsyayan, regarded as one of the foremost figures of Hindi literature who was instrumental in pioneering modern trends inthe realm of poetry, fiction, criticism and journalism. As a young man, he joinedthe movement for India's independence alongside Bhagat Singh and ChandrashekharAzad, and was even arrested by the British authorities. His monumental novel Shekhar: Ek Jeevani, widely regarded ashis masterpiece, was drawn from his own experiences in prison and has been published in Penguin Classics as Shekhar: A Life. He has also won the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Jnanpith Award for his poetry. Prison Days and Other Poems, a collection of his verses, has also been published in Penguin Classics.
Snehal Shingavi (Translator)
Snehal Shingavi is associate professor of English at the University of Texas, Austin, where he specializes in teaching South Asian literatures in English, Hindi and Urdu. He is the author of The Mahatma Misunderstood, and has translated to wide acclaim the iconic short-story collection Angaaray as well as Bhisham Sahni's memoir Today's Pasts. Most recently, he has co-translated Agyeya's Shekhar: A Life with Vasudha Dalmia.
Vasudha Dalmia (Translator)
Vasudha Dalmia is Professor Emerita of Hindi and Modern South Asian Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. Her monograph, The Nationalization of Hindu Traditions: Bharatendu Harischandra and Nineteenth Century Banaras (1997), studies the life and writings of a major Hindi writer of the nineteenth century as the focal point for an examination of the intricate links between politics, language,culture, religion and nationality. She has edited and co-edited several works. Her book on the Hindi novel, Fiction as History:The Novel and the City in Modern North India, appeared in 2017.