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Swimming in the "Cold Ashtray": Reading Tales of Migration to "the city of Nepal"


"Those who come
come with hearts full of fire,
with flames on their lips, but those who live here
live with hands full of ash
and eyes full of smoke.
Those who leave take with them
a bundle of extinguished beliefs,
the stub-ends of their dreams.
Such is this Valley of Four Passes
it’s a cold ashtray,
this Valley of Four Passes.

Nepali literature is relatively more recent than other literatures of the regions of Nepal, for instance Newari literature which is not less than five hundred years old. The oldest specimen of written Nepali is generally traced back to the thirteenth century royal edicts of western Nepal.These along with royal biographies and translations from Sanskrit into Nepali are regarded as early written documents in the Nepali language. Though these documents possess a historical value, their literary merit is very little. The most notable poet of Nepali literature, Bhanubhakta Acharya (1814-1868) is regarded as the founder-poet(’adi-kavi’) of Nepali literature. As the first poet to shake off the influence of sophisticated Indian literatures, Bhanubhakta’s Ramayana was shorn of heavily sanskritised language. However, the credit for the popularity of Bhanubhakta’s Ramayana goes to another great writer of
Nepali literature, Motiram Bhatta (1866-1896).

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