Nissim Ezekiel


The Patriot

I am standing for peace and non-violence.
Why world is fighting fighting
Why all people of world
Are not following Mahatma Gandhi,
I am simply not understanding.

Nissim EzekielNissim Ezekiel (16 December 1924 – 9 January 2004) was born in Bombay in an Indian jewish family. His father, Moses Ezekiel, was a professor of botany at Wilson College, and his mother was principal of her own school. He was a Jewish poet, actor, playwright, editor and art-critic. Nissim Ezekiel was a foundational figure in postcolonial India’s literary history, specifically for Indian writing in English.

In 1947, Ezekiel earned a BA in Literature from Wilson College, Mumbai, University of Mumbai. In 1947-48, he taught English literature and published literary articles. After dabbling in radical politics for a while, he sailed to England in November 1948. He studied philosophy at Birkbeck College.

Ezekiel is universally recognized and appreciated as being one of the most notable and accomplished Indian English language poets of the 20th century, applauded for his subtle, restrained and well crafted diction, dealing with common and mundane themes in a manner that manifests both cognitive profundity, as well as an unsentimental, realistic sensibility, that has been influential on the course of succeeding Indian English poetry.

Ezekiel’s first book, The Bad Day, appeared in 1952. He published another volume of poems, The Deadly Man in 1960. After working as an advertising copywriter and general manager of a picture frame company (1954–59), he co-founded the literary monthly Jumpo, in 1961. He became art critic of The Names of India (1964–66) and edited Poetry India (1966–67). From 1961 to 1972, he headed the English department of Mithibai College, Bombay. The Exact Name, his fifth book of poetry was published in 1965. During this period he held short-term tenure as visiting professor at University of Leeds (1964) and University of Pondicherry (1967). In 1967, while in America, he experimented with LSD. In 1969, Writers Workshop, Kozhikode published his The Damn Plays. A year later, he presented an art series of ten programmes for Indian television. In 1976, he translated Jawarharlal Nehru poetry from Marathi, in collaboration with Vrinda Nabar, and co-edited a fiction and poetry anthology. His poem The Night Of The Scorpion is used as study material in Indian and Columbian schools. Ezekiel also penned poems in ‘Indian English’ like the one based on instruction boards in his favourite Irani café. His poems are used in NCERT English textbooks.

He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1983 for his Poetry collection, “Latter-Day Psalms”, by the Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters.

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