This biography of Agha Shahid Ali reads his life and his poetry together to join the dots

Manan Kapoor in

In Delhi, Shahid also became aware of the city’s Mughal and colonial history, and was impressed by its architecture. In the early ’60s, the Mexican poet Octavio Paz had visited New Delhi and had been charmed by its architecture. He wrote numerous poems about the city and about all that he had witnessed here. He found Delhi’s “aesthetic equivalent” in “novels, not in architecture”, and to him, wandering the city was “like passing through the pages of Victor Hugo, Walter Scott, or Alexandre Dumas”.

Paz’s gaze, wherever he went, was directed inwards. For him, all the experiences, including the splendour of the Mughal architecture that attracted him, were revelatory and enlightening in one way or the other. In his book In Light of India, he called Delhi’s architecture “an assemblage of images more than buildings”. It was quite the same for Shahid who, after nineteen years, had returned to the city of his birth.

More here.