Prof. Kedarnath Singh is an eminent Hindi poet and critic. Has been awarded many prestigious awards and honours which include Kumaran Asan Award, Sahitya Akademi Award, Nirala Puraskar, Vyasa Samman and Shalaka Samman of Hindi Academy, Delhi. Kedarnath Singh has published a number of collections of his poems, including Akaal Mein Saras and Bagh.

Cranes in the Drought


At three in the afternoon
They arrived
And when they did
None ever imagined
Cranes could come like that
One after the other
They came gradually
Flight after flight
They spread slowly
Over the entire sky
By degrees the whole city
Filled with their cracklesThey hovered over the city
For long over the roofs
Over the porches
From their wings there
Kept falling the smell
Of dry paddy leavesSuddenly
An old woman noticed them
Certainly they have come
In search of water
She felt

She went to the kitchen
Brought a bowl of water
And kept in the courtyard

But the cranes
Kept hovering over the city
They saw not the woman
Nor the bowl of water

Cranes had no idea
Down below people live
And they call them cranes
They had come from distant
Lands, searching for water

They were bound to distant
Lands, searching for water

So they raised their necks
For once they looked back
There is no telling
What there was in the look
Pity or enmity
But , while departing
They did give a look
Turning their necks towards the city

Then, beating their wings
In the air, they were
Lost in the distances.

- translated from Hindi by E.V. Ramakrishnan