Agha Shahid Ali

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Does Ali's poem “Postcard from Kashmir” represent Kashmir fully?

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The poem “Postcard from Kashmir” by Agha Shahid Ali does not fully represent Kashmir. The postcard described only shows a small picture of the area, and this picture is not completely accurate, for it only focuses on the best and bright parts of the speaker's home. The speaker's memory also does not fully represent Kashmir, for his images of his home are becoming faded over time.

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Agha Shahid Ali's poem “Postcard from Kashmir” does not represent Kashmir fully but rather through the double lens of a postcard and the speaker's memory.

The speaker receives a postcard with an image of Kashmir on it. He comments that his home has shrunk and now fits into his mailbox. It is a “neat four by six inches,” and the Himalayas are merely a half-inch tall. He can hold the whole thing in his hand. This is as close as he will ever be to his home again, he remarks. And it is certainly not the same. The colors of this postcard are brilliant, and the waters seem so bright and clear. Yet this is only a glimpse of Kashmir and perhaps not a completely accurate one at that. It only shows a little bit and only the best parts. The speaker knows and remembers much more than this little picture reveals.

Yet the speaker's memory of his home is also fading. It is, he says, “a little / out of focus,” and parts of it have become like a “giant negative,” undeveloped and only in black and white. The longer he is away, the more shadowy and vague his memory becomes. It, too, does not represent Kashmir fully, for the images he holds in his head are becoming indistinct over time.

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