U Atreya Sarma (Voices Within)

U Atreya Sarma is a published poet, reviewer and translator (Telugu/English) besides being a freelance editor with 23 years of experience. He is Chief Editor of Muse India, a literary e-journal set up in 2005. He had earlier edited Bharatiya Pragna monthly and Cyberhood weekly, both from Hyderabad. Also as the Contributing Editor of Muse India for Telugu Literature, he has so far presented four exhaustive features on the subject. His collection of English poems, Sunny Rain-n-Snow made it to the final three shortlisted for the Cochin Litfest Poetry Prize 2019. In all, he has edited, translated or collaborated on 16 books. And he guest edited a feature “India @ 70” for the Pittsburgh-based online journal Setu (Aug 2017). Atreya Sarma had maintained a poetry column ‘Wordsmith’ in The Hans India, a Hyderabad based English daily (Jun 2013 to Jul 2018). He is a recipient of two awards — ‘Setu Award for Excellence 2017’ and ‘Shambhabi Samman 2019’ for “outstanding contribution to literature.”

A cosmic seesaw

Our steady hearts know their magical spell better
Far better than our hazy and wavering minds.

Our hearts whisper out their intimate arcana
Aloud from atop the highest elevation
Of our growing and converging relationship
In a silent spring of bracing words gushing out
From the artesian well of their deep recesses
Audible and lucid only to each other.

Let’s do make our steady hearts ready
For a unity they’ve been craving
For how many ages we lost count.

“Fortune favours only the brave, now be brave,”
Let’s obey the voice of the oracle.

Time to make true the cryptical dreams
Let not the rendezvous worry us
Anywhere could be the meeting ground.

Out of the maze of cobwebs let’s break;
Sprigs of our wishes a nest would make
A downy one on a mountain bough.

Let our winging hearts their seesaw play
Enjoying the cosmic concaveness
Between the empyrean ceiling
And the sublunary esplanades.

Labouring under child labour

A child is born out of labour.
A child is sent to school
And made to recognise things
Read, recite, and write
Draw, count, and play.
The child undergoes labour
In all these movements
Of mind and limb
Whether he likes it or not.

If a child learns too fast
And sets a precocious record
In his studies or GK
Or in singing or dancing
Or in acting or in a sport
We laud him as a prodigy.

A school child is made
To work or wait for hours
Under the scorching sun
For a political or governmental event
(And with no snacks or water)
Whether he likes it or not.
It’s civic training,
A practical exercise,
Shrama daan (labour of love)
Of the citizen tomorrow’s.
So catch them young!

If a child wants to be free in this free country
From loads of books and exams of rote
And play in the lap of nature, like a fawn or a cub
And begin to study life in the open school
And learn the letters of the art of living
And helps himself and his parents too
By willingly working as a help
And earns a few dimes
To drive the wolf away from the door
And survive in the rat race of this world –
No, he isn’t allowed
For it’s child’s labour
A cognisable offence!

The child with a silver spoon in his mouth
If labours with his mind
Is hailed with accolades
And promoted by sponsors
And reaps golden harvests.

The child with a pewter spoon in his mouth
Who labours with his hands
Is dubbed child labour
And rudely snapped from his patrons
Who are raided, reviled, and punished.

And the tear-dried starveling
Is left in the lachrymose lurch and
Heartlessly denied his only honest means
Of keeping body and soul together.

Human orbits

Stars stay in their place;
Planets move within their orbits;
Seas sway over their assigned vastnesses;
Rivers flow through between their banks.

If they go astray
            It wreaks havoc.         

Let’s too the humans
Well be within our bounds,
Honouring space in between.

Voices Within-2020 :: Setu, February 2020


  1. 'Labouring under child labour' is a poem of many layers and hues.It is touching and crafted with ease and warmth for our tiny family members.

  2. Atreya Sarma Uppaluri is a name in Indo-Anglian literature!He is a poet of higher order!I was mesmerised by his turns of phrases, his telling images!May he compose many such poems in the coming days!


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