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This Number Does Not Exist

This Number Does Not Exist

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This Number Does Not Exist

205 pages
49 minutes
Jun 20, 2016


  • This is a Bilingual English/Hindi edition.

  • This Number Does Not Exist is the first English translation and U.S. publication of Mangalesh Dabral. He has been translated widely in other languages, including all major Indian languages and Russian, German, Dutch, Spanish, French, Polish, and Bulgarian.

  • Dabral is well-known abroad: he has given readings in such countries as the U.S. (International Writing Program, University of Iowa), Russia, Bulgaria, Nepal, Mauritius, and Japan, and many of his poems in translation have found their way into various foreign anthologies.

  • Mangalesh Dabral is not only a poet, but has also been a journalist and editor for several decades. He has also translated such writers as Bertolt Brecht, Pablo Neruda, Yannis Ritsos, and Herman Hesse from English into Hindi.

  • According to Poetry International, "the foothills of the Himalayas formed the backdrop of Dabral's youth. In many of his poems you can still feel the fresh Himalayan breeze and see the observing consciousness of the boy who has come from the village to the big city. Although now a praised and acknowledged poet, Mangalesh’s tone is still unassuming. Although critical as well: Is the world good enough for our children? Is human contact becoming reduced to impersonal communications via cell phones?"
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    Jun 20, 2016

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    This Number Does Not Exist - Mangalesh Dabral

    This Number Does Not Exist

    Hindi text copyright © 2016 by Mangalesh Dabral

    English language copyright © 2016 by the respective translators

    All rights reserved

    Manufactured in the United States of America

    First Edition

    16 17 18 19 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

    For information about permission to reuse any material from this book, please contact The Permissions Company at www.permissionscompany.com or e-mail permdude@eclipse.net.

    Publications by BOA Editions, Ltd.—a not-for-profit corporation under section 501 (c) (3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code—are made possible with funds from a variety of sources, including public funds from the Literature Program of the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency; and the County of Monroe, NY. Private funding sources include the Lannan Foundation for support of the Lannan Translations Selection Series; the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation; the Mary S. Mulligan Charitable Trust; the Rochester Area Community Foundation; the Steeple-Jack Fund; the Ames-Amzalak Memorial Trust in memory of Henry Ames, Semon Amzalak, and Dan Amzalak; and contributions from many individuals nationwide.

    Cover Design: Sandy Knight

    Cover Art: Cover 3 by Patricia Buckley

    Interior Design and Composition: Richard Foerster

    Manufacturing: Versa Press, Inc.

    BOA Logo: Mirko

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Names: Dabral, Mangalesh, 1948– author.

    Title: This number does not exist : poems / by Mangalesh Dabral.

    Description: First edition. | Rochester, NY : BOA Editions Ltd., 2016. | Series: Lannan Translations Selection Series

    Identifiers: LCCN 2016002301 (print) | LCCN 2016008556 (ebook) | ISBN 9781942683124 (paperback) | ISBN 9781942683131 (E-book)

    Subjects: | BISAC: POETRY / Asian. | FOREIGN LANGUAGE STUDY / Hindi. | SOCIAL SCIENCE / Social Classes. | SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries.

    Classification: LCC PK2098.19.A25 A2 2016 (print) | LCC PK2098.19.A25 (ebook)

      | DDC 891.4/317—dc23

    LC record available at http://lccn.loc.gov/2016002301

    BOA Editions, Ltd.

    250 North Goodman Street, Suite 306

    Rochester, NY 14607


    A. Poulin, Jr., Founder (1938–1996)

    for dearest daughter Alma



    Title Page



    Author’s Note

    Good for a Lifetime

    The Quiet House

    The Death of Leaves


    Woman in Love


    Grandfather’s Photograph

    Letter to Children

    Poem of Dreams

    Poem of Paper

    The Sounds

    In Passing


    The Other Hand

    Daily Grind


    Delhi: 2

    Lantern on Mountain


    A Child

    Final Incident


    The Seven-Day Journey

    A Poem on Childhood

    This Is Where the River Was

    Inside You



    The Room


    These Times

    Delhi: 1

    The Places That Are Left

    I Wish


    New Orleans Jazz

    The Accompanist

    A Picture of Father

    A Picture of Mother

    A Picture of Myself

    Gunanand Pathik

    Tale of Two Poets

    The Way Home

    Before Going to Sleep


    This Number Does Not Exist

    The Missing

    Song of the Dislocated

    This Winter

    Old Photographs

    My Way


    A Dream

    An Act

    My Face


    A Picture

    Asking for Favors

    The City, Again

    Enemy in the New Era

    The New Bank

    One of Gujarat’s Dead Speaks

    Reality These Days


    About the Author

    About the Translators

    Author’s Note

    Making a selection from one’s own poems is a perplexing task. One of the reasons for this is that if a poem is good or pertinent then it parts company with its creator and starts living a life of its own no matter how long or short it may be. As for bad poems, they are as good as ash. In my language there are poems that are so independent in disposition that we can treasure them even without bringing their authors to mind. For instance, Saroj-smriti (Saroj: In Memoriam) and Wah Todati Patthar (A Woman Breaking Stones) are the great poet Nirala’s compositions, but they lead an independent cultural and readerly life after breaking free from the poet’s titular rights. Not all poems are fortunate enough to attain such significance, but what holds true for all poems is that, with the passage of time, the poet cannot have such authority on them as he or she had at the time of writing them, and the attempt to make them the poet’s private property again seems like a trespass.

    About forty-five years ago, when I came to Delhi with a few poems, mine was a migration from a serene, hemmed-in place endowed by nature to a sprawling and predatory world abuzz with

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