Grave in the Park by Taufiq Rafat – Summary & Analysis


Grave in the Park by Taufiq Rafat is a poem about the poet’s childhood memories. In this poem, Rafat tells us about a grave in the park where he used to play cricket with his fellows. This simple nostalgic poem is rich with symbolism. Like his other poems, Grave in the Park by Taufiq Rafat proves him an accomplished storyteller in verse. He narrates the events of his past and shares how his psyche developed through his various experiences. Rafat’s command of description makes this poem worth-reading. The poem under discussion has become a part of the syllabi of various universities that teach Pakistani poetry in English. However, there is very little material available to help students prepare for examinations. This article contains a summary and analysis of this poem. It will prove beneficial for the teachers and students of Pakistani poetry in English.

A Brief Biography of Taufiq Rafat

For a brief biography of Taufiq Rafat, visit Wedding in the Flood by Taufiq Rafat – Summary & Analysis on this website.

Text of the Poem Grave in the Park by Taufiq Rafat

Lines 1 to 8

There was a grave

in the middle of the park,

its brown rectangle

marking it off

from the expanse of ground

surrounding it.

The nearest tree

was a sixer away

Lines 9 to 16

This was the grave

of a holy man

whom nobody remembered.

Yet somebody cared

enough to light

a clay-lamp every night

in the lamp-niche

black with use.

Lines 17 to 24

A lot of banners

festooned the shrubbery.

Its sides were brick,

but the top was soft

and covered with grass.

It reminded me

of lemon-tart.

I shivered with irreverence.

Lines 25 to 32

Its sides were brick,

weathered and broken

and unfashionably slim.

On it were drawn

and freshened every day

with charcoal or chalk

the sets of stumps

at which we bowled.

Lines 33 to 40

The saint, I was sure,

was a giant

who swallowed children.

Certainly, his grave

Was the biggest

I had seen. To look

at the top

I had to jump madly.

Lines 41 to 48

Standing as it was

in a large bare patch

it dominated the landscape.

Its sides permitted

four matches at once.

Winter afternoons

we played there

till light lasted.

Lines 49 to 56

In the dark

I was scared of it.

Sometimes when I forgot

a bat or a ball

and went back to fetch it,

I would not go alone,

but take a friend,

or preferably two.

Line 57 to 64

We all pretended

as loudly as we could

it was for company.

It was then we noticed

the oil-lamp burning.

Surely, some djinn

had come in our absence,

lit it, and vanished.

Lines 65 to 72

Coming back home

through the fourteen fields,

a shortcut,

we had to pass

through a Hindu graveyard

or burning ghat,

or whatever it was,

abandoned by its look.

Lines 73 to 87

As good Muslims

it was a matter of honour

we should piss on the mounds

so unbuttoning our flies

with quicksilver fingers

we pissed a few drops

for the sake of honour

and left whistling

in our shorts. Then

the family moved

to another town,

and that town was ours

for seventeen years.

In its excitements

I forgot the grave.

Lines 88 to 95

Till the breakup

of a continent

brought me back

to my own hometown.

I was surprised to

find it unchanged.

As soon as I could

I went to the park.

Lines 96 to 111

There was grass on the fields,

and a lot more trees;

the playing area

had been shifted north.

At first, I could not

locate the grave.

Levelled, I thought;

but it was there all right,


of embraceable width,

and three strides long.

Lichen had covered

the stump markings.

Its single devotee

had long ago died

for the niche was cold.

Lines 112 to 127

The trees that were tall then,

are mere so,

and uncles have dwindled

to an amiable height,

and some have vanished.

We look eagerly

for similar signs,

are disappointed

and mock ourselves

for being sentimental.

This was expected.

But who can foretell

at which childhood site

that final illusion,

our particular mammoth,

will be laid to rest?

Summary of the Poem Grave in the Park by Taufiq Rafat


Grave in the Park by Taufiq Rafat revolves around the childhood activities of the poet. The poet recalls a grave in the park where he would play cricket with his fellows. Rafat describes the structure of the grave. He further describes how they used the structure of the grave to their advantage while playing cricket. Rafat also tells his readers what thoughts the grave would arouse in his innocent mind. He shares his apprehensions about the grave. Furthermore, he describes different beliefs he inherited from clueless social practices.

The Position and the Structure of the Grave

Grave in the Park by Taufiq Rafat begins with the poet’s description of the grave. A grave was present in the middle of the park where the children played cricket. Its rectangular structure and brown colour made it prominent. There was a lamp-niche in which some unknown person would light a lamp every night. This lamp-niche had turned black because of the soot of the earthen lamp. The sides of the grave were high. The poet had to jump frantically to see its top. Its walls were of old-fashioned slim bricks. They exhibited the wear and tear caused by the time and weather. There were banners and festoons laid by devotees on the shrubs around the grave. On its walls, children would draw wickets with chalk or charcoal. They used its four sides for four cricket matches at a time.

Grave in the Park by Taufiq Rafat
A child playing cricket.

Whose Grave was it??

Grave in the Park by Taufiq Rafat highlights how faith develops through paradigmatic practices. The poet inherited the knowledge that it was the grave of a holy man. However, it’s an irony that no one knew who the holy person was. This fact did not diminish the sense of sanctity people attached to this grave. The poet’s shivering at the thought of the grave as lemon tart shows the fear of desecration that accompanies spiritual affinities.

The Poet’s Fears

The grave in the park was the biggest grave the poet had ever seen. From its gigantic structure, the poet deduced that it was the grave of a giant who ate children alive. It was strange that the same grave around which they played till sunset made them afraid as the darkness approached. If the poet forgot his bat or ball in the park, he dared not go back alone to fetch it. He always sought the company of his friends for this adventure. At such times, the burning lamp seemed sinister. The children thought that some djinn had lit this lamp. As soon as they picked up what they came to pick up, they rushed home.

Pissing in the Hindu Ghat

Having collected the ball or bat, when children rushed home, they passed through a Hindu burning ghat. While passing through this ghat, they pissed on the mounds. They considered it an honour as Muslims to thus desecrate a place that had religious importance for Hindus.

The Migration and Return of the Poet

The poet’s family moved to another city for seventeen years. They returned to their native place after the partition of the Subcontinent. The poet was astonished to find that very little had changed in his hometown. On his return, the poet recalled the grave in the park where he and his mates would play in their childhood. He went to visit that place or the grave in the park. Though little had changed in the town, the landscape around the grave in the park had changed a good deal.

The Changes Around the Grave in the Park

The poet notices that a lot of grass had sprung around the place. The number of trees had also increased. The playing area had been shifted to the northern side of the park. All these changes made it difficult for the poet to locate the grave. When he finally located it, he found it navel high. It was not as big as it used to seem when he was a kid. Its walls where they drew stumps were covered with lichen. The lamp niche was cold which indicated that the devotee who lit the lamp must have passed away. The trees that had been very tall in the past were not so high. Some of the old trees that the poet remembered had vanished.


Grave in the Park by Taufiq Rafat ends with the poet commenting on his state of mind. Like any other person visiting a place attached to the memories, the poet looked for the signs of the past. To the poet, it was too sentimental to be looking for such signs. He was disappointed to find that many things that used to be there were not there anymore.

Analysis of the Poem Grave in the Park by Taufiq Rafat


On the surface level, Grave in the Park by Taufiq Rafat is a description of a memory from the past. However, the use of symbolic imagery makes this poem more meaningful and appealing. The thematic fabric of the poem also depends on Rafat’s use of symbols.

Symbolism in the poem Grave in the Park by Taufiq Rafat

The grave in the park is the symbol of life and death going side by side. The grave is a reminder of the end of life which is an inevitable fact. At the same time, the activity going around the grave symbolizes the pattern of life. Despite the knowledge of death, life goes on. The earthen lamp and the banners and the festoons symbolize the development of the faith of the people. Although no one knows the person whose grave it is, people attach their hopes and expectations to his grave. They resort to this grave for the fulfillment of their prayers. It is reflective of the religious pattern of life especially in rural Punjab of Pakistan. In these areas, people have unusual regard for saints.

The Fear of the Unknown

The poet describes the awe and fears that the grave in the park arouses. What apparently seems to be the religious sanctity is in fact the fear of the unknown. That’s why the children playing around the grave would rush home as soon as the sun sets. Rafat believed that the holy man whose grave it was would eat children. He describes how he would come to collect his bat or ball if he forgot it in the park. The unprecedented length of the grave also creates fright in the hearts of the children. The children have never seen the person who lights the lamp in the niche. Therefore, when they come to collect their bat or ball, they feel awe to see the lamp burning there.

Religious Differences

Grave in the Park by Taufiq Rafat also comments on the religious differences between Muslims and Hindus. The two religious communities had been living together for centuries. Still, they lacked respect for each other’s religious identity and symbols. The poet highlights this aspect in his description of their pissing in the Hindu ghat as a matter of honour.

Love of the Past

Grave in the Park by Taufiq Rafat also shows the poet’s love for the past. He recalls his childhood activity and presents it in a detailed manner. His love of his childhood activity also reflects in his description of his return to his hometown after the partition of the Subcontinent. On his return, he visits the same park and the grave and realizes the changes that have taken place.


The poet discusses the theme of change when he describes his return to his hometown. He tells us that his family had to move to another city. In the busy routine of life there, he forgot the park and the grave. However, after the partition of the Subcontinent, he returned to his hometown after an absence of seventeen years. He noticed how things in the park and around the grave had changed. This change is inevitable as it is the only constant in the world.


This poem is a long narrative based on memory. Taufiq Rafat maintains his style of being a successful storyteller in this poem. The diction he employs is simple and comprehensible. His description is lucid. Overall, the poem attracts readers who have similar childhood memories.

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