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V. Kashmiri Region: The Vakh

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry

Indian Poetry

Regional Verse Forms


V. Kashmiri poetry from the northwest, bordering Pakistan, is said to be influenced by its setting. Kashmir is a valley framed by the Himalaya Mountains which reflects grandeur, serenity and vivid color. It is the jeweled crown on the head of India. The language is descendant of Sanskrit and influenced by Urdu.


Vakh (Sanskrit - "speech" interpreted by some as "verse teaching") is a 14th century stanzaic form, originated by a woman poet, Lalla-Devi or Lallashwari, a Kashmiri Shaivite mystic and Sufi saint. 258 poems by Lalla were preserved in this form ranging from songs, proverbs and prayers. This form is found among the earliest Kashmiri literature and records when the Kashmiri language emerged from a descendant of Sanskrit.

Lallashwari, 14th Century mystic poet from the Kashmiri region and creator of the Vakh wrote:

yi yi karu'm suy artsun

yi rasini vichoarum thi mantar

yihay lagamo dhahas partsun

suy Parasivun tanthar

Whatever work I did became worship of the Lord;

Whatever word I uttered became a prayer;

Whatever this body of mine experienced became

the sadhana of Saiva Tantra illumining my path to Parmasiva.

The Vakh is:

  • a tetrastich, a poem in 4 lines although it has occasionally been found in a couple of stanzas of 4 lines.
  • syllabic, lines of 7 syllables each, with 4 stresses per line.
  • occasionally rhymed with true or near rhyme.


    Echo at Dawn by Judi Van Gorder


    Spoken with an echoed crack,

    widow maker falls at dawn.

    Sounds of giant redwoods lure,

    mountain forest whispers pure.

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