[pullquote][AWD_comments] [/pullquote]The intention is to represent Bangla poems in English but this is very partial; the translator has chosen the poets and poems, we just pick the living poets up. Therefore, these poems are not the sole representation of Bangla poetry, but obviously are few examples. The thing is not that to be translated in another language, poems have to be very important in the original language; the idea of the importance as well as the purpose of the translation can vary widely; but above all, we can’t deny that the selection itself imposes some sort of importance on the text. By publishing these translations of Bangla poems we just desire to spread the possibility to influence the poetry of other languages.
Ashim Kumar Das
On the Mississippi’s distant bank,
May Lethe waters cleanse
Your baffled retina
With astral time.
Oneday all this Keya flowers
Wings-of-ducks like mirages
In the Saharan deserts,
Will become sand in that vast solitude
Void of light of life.
Do you not know the storm
Will die down one day
After a long spell of rain?
In dawn’s sun-drenched core
When the skies are in full bloom,
They will hardly remember
Those century-old loves and follies,
Those blindening nights
And those death-stricken torments in the woods.
You sleep the Pethidine-sleep
On the alighted wings of birds in flight,
In your slumbering eyes, indomitable veins
May the vanquished darkness become
Foam on the tides of light.
Somewhere Out There
Somewhere out there, there is one such place—
Where there are arrays of steel-glinting trees, of dawn;
Countless benzene scented leaves
And alpha-driven vines of light
With tips alighted like the Polaris;
The rivers are multi-layered flows of glass;
On the branches of the trees, bunches of gleaming rainbows—
And those fruits—made of crystal—
And bird-poop—glowing like gems…
From the vacillating, beauty-emanating bodies of a prickle of porcupines
(The rivers being a multi-layered flow of glass) are discharged
Silky rays of fifty-four-faced diamonds.
And alpha-driven vines of light
With tips alighted like the Polaris.
And the bride of light’s journey home on a high-speed train.
And the Kimpurusha’s* journey home on a high-speed train.
This is that fruit
Hanging like an emblem over many a shadowy land.
It looks a bit like a green-coloured grenade
Or, at times, like a heart too—
Its interior is filled up with the tantalizing smell of gunpowder,
And its taste—inexplicable!
Where we used to live in childhood, there was a deserted house nearby, full of ancient trees and creepers and moss. One evening, waking up from his siesta with a start and in the manner of a detective-story hero, my grandfather took me with him to that house. A forlorn place swaying in the breeze. From among a cluster of trees he pointed to me one. It was an ordinary looking tree with a few fruits hanging from it, which looked like grenades to me. It was the mewa fruit. Custard-apple mewa. My grandfather said—These are fruits of paradise. The only heavenly fruit to have been allowed to be exhibited on earth. Look at them closely and keep it quiet. No sooner had he said this than our bodies shuddered like fire-crackers.
Engulfing me along with my thrills, my grandfather’s pox-blemished fair body and dusk-coloured long beard blew in the incessant draughts of wind.
The sun is setting on the other bank of the clear-streamed Harabati.
On that horizon, a distant banana plantation starts to appear.
A guerrilla boy emerges from the plants and wanders all alone as if in a fairytale—
Without his co-fighters, cut off from his clan forever,
Whirling about and always getting lost,
A guerrilla boy all by himself—
A custard apple in his right hand, a grenade in his left,
On the left ear a little ring, a Kalashnikov hanging from the shoulder,
Wearing a steel-coloured jacket, a bullet necklace on the neck
With his heart in the middle—all kept in place with a lot of pins.
In the distant, sunset-smeared banana plantation, an outlandish guerrilla boy.
Talks nimbly—in precise terrorist terms.
There is neither other language nor idiom among the vegetation than his—
And against terror—frequent, wonderful little terrors…
Having accomplished each one of them, cupping his hands he drinks water
And whirling about and getting continuously lost
This guerrilla boy becomes
A solitary terror artist.
And this is that fruit
Hanging like an emblem in many a shadowy land
The sunset-smeared, dismal grenade fruit
With the tantalizing smell of gunpowder inside,
And a taste—inexplicable!
The grenade, on the other hand, is a wonderful earthly fruit,
A bit too tangy, but still a delicious earthly fruit,
Hanging like an emblem in many a sunny land,
Full of the addictive smell of an exotic fruit inside.
This evening the mingled smells of custard apples and grenades are driving alien forests insane.
An outlandish guerrilla boy
With a custard apple in his right hand, a grenade in his left,
And his heart in the middle. Thus balancing the fruits
He staggers across that perilous bridge on the road to heaven,
Knocks at heaven’s gate
With news of a yet more exotic, symbolic, earthly fruit…
A long way behind him, the queued up pilgrims of virtue wait for their turn,
They are an alarmingly long way behind…
This is that fruit
Hanging in many a sunny land of the earth like an emblem.
A Madrigal (Pronoy-Gan)
In my dark remorse a bit of your matter-of-course
Pardon creates a hide-out
My bones and flesh and weeds and my sorry deeds
Forgotten all about
And I see, undoubted, on my nape has sprouted
A breast-like, sweaty cloud
This is an evergreen— shadowless, but not unseen
You have bound in a frame
Within it, inwardly, the train halts out of pity
At the lonely platform
And allow me this summer a little melodrama
On my post mortem
Fourteen Lines for Myself
There is little I have to say in my defence
Because I would not want crocodile tears to mar me
If there’s a provision for music and dance
Amir Khusro or Mallarmé
Then have them pickle my fickle heart
If that self-contradictory rose is real
Let its thorn ruthlessly hurt
My inside— I would not want revealed
Any more secrets to me— I have been and will be forever
A wayfarer— O don’t call me innocent
Moreover, I keep faith in lasting warfare
Beat it now, Buddha, unduly sacrosanct
Only Time will tell who a Yaksha is or who a hermit
Dancing on the clouds— infra-red alphabet
(For Tapan Barua)
In flower-gardens he builds others abodes,
His own on the roads
Half the moon in his hand and half his dreadlocks hide
On a moonless night
The perfect teacher he is mine, my death’s twin brother –
I have none other
Himself blind, he leads me through the lane
That’s closed to all men
Raising a fire as high as the stars,
That he enters
He bids streams take such an uncanny course
As if to make them return to their source
In his footprints, when he walks his way,
Thirsting flames sway
If he blows, water turns into honey in glasses,
Trees pop up in sand where he passes
He – my blood-begetter – recalls my erstwhile dreams,
I’ve built in him
My nest. But as soon as the teacher dies
Countless pretexts arise
Dense night – and a relentless wingless flight
Subrata Augustine Gomes
Some clothes conceal
I am your Dibbuk
Or I am the pure you
I have digested you in my love
And have become your you
Nowhere do I exist now
Except in your ens and thus
The container and the content have become one
You and I us
Or we are only me
Or you my misnomer
By me so thoroughly
Conquered you are
Sanity?—not my cup of tea.
A sane heart is as plain as it is white,
As if two mirrors set up vis-à-vis,
Too cold—too quiet—
My poems—hyenas in the dark.
Silence is my interpreter.
Rumbling, this polyglot would translate
Light into Darkness
In a most orthodox fashion.
If for once I fumbled
Or in doubt wavered,
Forthwith― a blast of laughter
Would frighten me,
And throughout my microcosm flash
My heart is distressed by separation
My heart is throbbing wrong
I’ll be loitering and loitering alone
Singing a Tagore song.
And it’s exactly such a day
When she can be told my intimate words
Which I couldn’t tell her so long
Firstly for absence of rain.
And this music crept by me upon the waters.
Today it’s more justified forsaking all the maidens
Who are blooming but averse to the rains.
“It’s a quasi-monsoon
And it’s playing hell with me.”
This is a song of my great-grandfather
Let it be started singing.
Lunar Eclipse: A Cosmic Comedy
12 at night, some medical rep
from North Bengal Pharmaceuticals wakes me up.
He drags me to the terrace and
tells me in medical parlance:
Lo! how the moon’s getting effaced
by 16 May!…Of course, of course!
You’ve had me stand in front of the sun
and cast my shadow on the moon!
You have truly dumbfounded me, Mr Medicine Company!
You have uncovered to me a great sight!
There – I can trace my fair shadow on the lunar surface,
my lean legs, my gender throbbing thereabouts –
All as clear as day!
It’s a most fascinating game indeed!