Indian Poems

Indian poets have an important tradition that spans millennia, imbued with the philosophical wisdom of the East. Often, these poems are filled with the colors of the subcontinent and the passionate emotions of its people.

They compose poems in multiple languages, from ancient Sanskrit to regional dialects and English. The themes range from spiritual introspection in works of Tagore and Kabir to postcolonial identity in poems by Ramanujan and Meena Alexander.

Their work often reflects the socio-cultural dynamics, diversity, and complexity of India.

Indian Weavers

by Sarojini Naidu

‘Indian Weavers’ explores the inevitability of death while celebrating the cycles of human existence and experience.

The poem is principally concerned with India, with few poets better placed to write about it than the iconic 'Nightingale of India' herself.

Weavers, weaving at break of day,

Why do you weave a garment so gay? . . .

Blue as the wing of a halcyon wild,

We weave the robes of a new-born child.

Go to Ahmedabad

by Sujata Bhatt

‘Go to Ahmedabad’ shows the psychological struggle of an immigrant dealing with disturbing past events and contemporary issues with newly developed views.

Bhatt is an Indian poet who lives in America. 'Go to Ahmedabad' is a good Indian poem as it presents the emotions of the Indian diaspora while also presenting a balanced picture of the Indian state of Ahmedabad.

Go walk the streets of Baroda,

go to Ahmedabad

and step around the cow dung

but don’t forget to look at the sky.


by Shankha Ghosh

‘Rehabilitation’ explores the pain of the refugees after the Partition of Bengal. With stark imagery, it delves into the lasting impact of this tragic event.

This poem is a notable example of modern Indian poetry for its engagement with historical events and its innovative use of language and other poetic devices. The poem reflects on the impact of the Partition of Bengal in 1947, highlighting the social cost of political unrest. Ghosh's skillful and precise language creates vivid visuals, showcasing his mastery of poetic techniques. The poem's introspective and subjective nature, delving into the speaker's emotions and personal experiences, aligns with the individualistic tendencies seen in modern Indian poetry. Through its thematic depth and artistic craftsmanship, 'Rehabilitation' represents the rich and diverse landscape of modern Indian poetic expression.

Whatever I had around me

Grass and pebbles


Broken temples

After Death: Twenty Years

by Birendra Chattopadhyay

‘After Death: Twenty Years’ reflects on a country’s stormy history and current despair, contrasting it with Tagore’s unwavering dreams of humanity.

This poem is definitely one of the better contributions to Indian poetry due to its poignant exploration of historical events, introspection, and societal disillusionment. It encapsulates the Indian experience during a turbulent period, reflecting the poet's deep understanding of the country's struggles and aspirations. The poem's language, imagery, and powerful emotions resonate with readers, capturing the complexities of Indian identity and the human condition.

All the terrible catastrophes

Escaped your eyes

You did not burn in the tortuous fire of '46

The famine and the epidemic


O friends, (translated by Jane Hirshfield)

by Mirabai

‘O friends,’ by Mirabai is a deeply poignant poem that wrestles exhaustingly with a yearning heartache.

Mirabai was an important Hindu mystic poet and devotee to the Hindu deity known as Krishna. Her poetry was quite influential, as many of her compositions still survive and are sung in modern India both in Hindi and English as was the nature of devotional poems like this one, Kirshna is often depicted as both a yogi and lover.

O friends, I am mad

with love, and no one sees.

3 November 1984

by Sujata Bhatt

In ‘3 November 1984,’ Indian-English poet Sujata Bhatt shows how history plays a vital role in the process of writing poetry, and their interconnectedness.

I won’t buy

The New York Times today.

I can’t. I’m sorry.

But when I walk into the bookstore

Explore more Indian poems

A Pastoral

by Agha Shahid Ali

‘A Pastoral’ by Agha Shahid Ali is a moving poem. In it, the poet reflects his love for Kashmir and his affection for his motherland.

A River

by A. K. Ramanujan

‘A River’ by A.K. Ramanujan focuses on the Madurai River, how it has been depicted by poets throughout time, and brings the suffering that exists along its banks to the reader’s attention.

Advice to Women

by Eunice de Souza

‘Advice to Women’ by Eunice de Souza is a clever poem that suggests women should own a cat in order to understand relationships. 

An Introduction

by Kamala Das

You hear it all the time now, “Down with the patriarchy!” But, what does it really mean and who does it apply to? Well, in Kamala Das’ poem, you may be able to find some answers.


by Agha Shahid Ali

‘Backdrop’ by Agha Shahid Ali is a thoughtful poem that speaks about the Arabic language. It also reflects on the speaker’s connection to his ancestors.

Don’t Despise Me

by Akka Mahadevi

‘Don’t Despise Me’ by Akka Mahadevi is a plea to the listener. It showcases the poet’s devotion and adherence to her faith.

Father Returning Home

by Dilip Chitre

‘Father Returning Home’ by Dilip Chitre expresses the generational separation between a “father” and “children” through vivid visuals.

Flower On the Road

by Chitra Padmanabhan

‘Flower On the Road’ by Chitra Padmanabhan is a sweet and simple children’s poem that emphasizes everyone’s ability to bring joy to the world, no matter their size.

For Nanabhai Bhatt

by Sujata Bhatt

‘For Nanabhai Bhatt’ is about the poet Sujata Bhatt’s grandfather, Nanabhai Bhatt, who was an educationist and activist active during the Indian independence movement.

In this dream my grandfather

comes to comfort me.

He stands apart



by Rabindranath Tagore

‘Freedom’ by Rabindranath Tagore is a powerful and effective poem about freedom. The speaker spends the seventeen lines of the poem describing the kind of freedom he hopes his country will find.

Humayun to Zobeida

by Sarojini Naidu

‘Humayun to Zobeida’ by Sarojini Naidu depicts a man who is upset with a woman who will not allow him to further their relationship.

I Have Fallen in Love

by Akka Mahadevi

‘I Have Fallen in Love’ by Akka Mahadevi expresses the poet’s faith with incredible honesty. She uses powerful images and metaphors to speak of religion and love.


by Abhimanyu Kumar

‘Identity’ by Abhimanyu Kumar is a relatable poem that explores themes of memory, identity, and personal history while inspiring readers to take control of their lives.


by Sujata Bhatt

‘Iris’ by Sujata Bhatt is a narrative poem with lyric qualities. It depicts an artist’s wait for the sun to come out and bring out the colors in a single iris.

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