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The Mystic and the Lyric

Nominated | Book Awards 2020 | Translated into English

The Mystic and the Lyric ()

Full Title: The Mystic and the Lyric: Four Women Poets from Kashmir 

Author: Lal Ded, Habba Khatun, Rupa Bhavani, Arnimal:
Publisher: Zubaan
Translator: Neerja Mattoo
Original Language: Urdu

Award Category: Translated into English
About the Book: 

My body in bliss, a river of wine
My eyes are open, saqi, come fill these cups
Hu hu ha!
I cry, madness in my heart.

Lal Ded, Habba Khatun, Rupa Bhavani, Arnimal: these four women poets, dating from different periods in the history of Kashmir, are household names in the valley and are claimed by all, no matter what religious, ethnic or other group they belong to.

In this beautiful volume, Neerja Mattoo brings their work together for the first time, placing it in two traditions, the mystic and the lyric. Fine and nuanced translations of their poems are accompanied by brief introductions to their work that place the women in a historical context and deal with both the facts and the beliefs about their work.

About the Author: 

Neerja Mattoo taught English at Government College for Women in Srinagar. She is Chief Editor of the quarterly Kashmiri journal, Miraas.


Neerja Mattoo’s ‘The Mystic and the Lyric’ captures the unique contributions of Lal Ded, Habba Khatoon, Rupa Bhawani and Arnimal, poets par excellence… Is it a coincidence that all four women found no happiness in marriage or domesticity but only in writing, or is it the other way around? Whatever it was, we are the richer for the single minded devotion of the four to their craft and consciousness. The questions they tackle and agonise over, being human, universal and perpetual, ensure their relevance in the coming years.
– The Wire

Here is a splendid book, The Mystic and the Lyric, on four women poets of Kashmir, viz Lalded, Habba Khatoon, Rupa Bhavani and Arnimal, from the noted author and translator Neerja Mattoo, whose contribution to the Kashmiri culture is immense and commendable. The detailed write-ups on these four women poets of Kashmir have emerged from Mattoo’s soul. The book is her tour de force, and reflects her critical sense, incisive judgement and analytical understanding of these four outstanding poets.


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