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Picture 10637965, photograph by Brian Daglish, 1970s, image copyright Mary Evans / Medici  

by Shanta Acharya


In the shadow of tall, sky-gazing trees

a convent of reclusive snowdrops

face the earth, bent in meditation.


Possessed in the white heat of passion

the gravity of their thoughts weigh them down,

their porcelain faces averted from our direction.


In translucent stems of jade and petals of pearl,

they arrive bearing the gift of life – nuns of peace,

breaking out of barren winter’s embrace.


Messengers of hope, figurines of faith and charity,

fragile creations exuding dignity –

they give according to their measure,

demanding nothing in return, their miniature

stature lacking fragrance, not colour.


They bow, emptying themselves of all desire,

make peace with themselves without walking on fire.



© Shanta Acharya, from Imagine: New and Selected Poems

Picture 10637965, photograph by Brian Daglish, 1970s, image copyright Mary Evans / Medici



Shanta Acharya, DPhil (Oxon), was born and educated in Cuttack, Odisha. She won a scholarship to Oxford, where she was among the first batch of women admitted to Worcester College. After completing her doctoral degree, she was appointed a Visiting Scholar in the Department of English and American Literature and Languages at Harvard University. Since 1985, she has lived and worked in London. The author of twelve books, her most recent publications include What Survives Is The Singing (Indigo Dreams Publishing, UK, 2020) and Imagine: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, India, 2017). Her poems, articles and reviews have appeared in major international publications. As director and founder of ‘Poetry in the House’, she hosted monthly poetry readings at Lauderdale House, London, from 1996 to 2015. In addition to her philanthropic activities, she served twice on the board of trustees of the Poetry Society in the UK.


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