How might one analyze the poem "Postcard from Kashmir," by Agha Shahid Ali?

Expert Answers info

Verdie Cremin eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write2,994 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

In Agha Shahid Ali’s poem titled “Postcard from Kashmir,” the speaker describes receiving a postcard from his native land, “Kashmir,” a region of the Indian subcontinent. Parts of Kashmir are controlled by India, Pakistan, and China, and in fact disputes between India and Pakistan about the territory are long-standing and have often led to armed conflict.

In the opening two lines of the poem, the speaker indicates that the postcard contains a photograph of (part of) Kashmir, a place the speaker still considers his “home” (2). Apparently he is very geographically distant from Kashmir, a fact that makes his use of the word “home” ironic. He may have been born in Kashmir and may have lived there for much of his life, but now he is apparently living somewhere else, perhaps even in some Western country such as the United Kingdom or the United States.

In any case, the speaker next mentions that he “always loved neatness” – a trait that emphasizes the irony that he can now hold “the half-inch Himalayas in my hand” (4). The massive mountain range has been reduced to a small, tidy picture, which is surely not the kind of neatness the speaker truly desires. One of the most impressive aspects of his homeland has thus been shrunken and made to seem far less impressive and significant. Although the speaker holds the postcard, he has in more literal ways lost touch with the land he loves.

Perhaps the most intriguing and puzzling lines of the poem are these:

This is home. And this the closest
I'll ever be to home. . . . (5-6)

Does the speaker mean that Kashmir is...

(The entire section contains 550 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial