• Gems of Indian Poetry translated into English


  • Timeless Indian Poems now available in English language


Break, Break, Break

Alfred Tennyson

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

Translated by

Question

Pratishtha Pandya

what is the speed at which sorrow travels?
what is the velocity of a sigh?
if i were to shed a tear
for you this morning
will it reach you by tonight?
Would you be able to spot it
in your night sky
burning up as it enters
leaving a dust trail of emotions
Will it be moist to your touch
hide a scent of my sorrow
the shade of my memories
the incandescent pain
for your loss
the agony of lives
lived far apart?


પ્રશ્ન

શું હશે ઉદ્વેગની ગતિ?
કેટલા વેગે આગળ વધતો હશે નિસાસો?
ધાર કે હું એક આંસુ સારું
આજ સવારે તારા સાટું
તો શું મળશે તને રાત સુધીમાં?
જોઈ શકીશ તું નરી આંખે ઉલ્કાઓને
જ્વાળાઓમાં ઘેરાતી પ્રવેશતી
તારી રાતના આકાશમાં
લઈ આંદોલનોના  તેજ લિસોટા
અનુભવી શકીશ તું એના ભીના સ્પર્શને
એમાં સંતાયેલા મારા દર્દની સુવાસને
મારી યાદોની ઝાંયને
તેં જે ખોયું એ માટેની
મારી પ્રજ્વલિત વેદનાને
ખોવાઈ ગયેલી
વહેરાઈ ગયેલી
જિંદગીઓની
અસહ્ય પીડને?
--પ્રતિષ્ઠા પંડ્યા

Translated by the Poet from Gujarati
The Bulbul and the Pond
A Splinter
Shakuntala

Stepping Beyond Fifty-two*

Saroop Dhruv

What if hair have turned gray
and I have entered vanapravesh**.
still frisky is the insider
the child it is forever.

One changes at prodding one’s tongue, hair and dress
yet someone within may say fearfully: change is ruinous!
(But….you know, how it is with me….?)

Soon as eyes opened the yard was pearly wet
to- day I vowed that the past gone by…. was void.

It is not as if so far
all said – seen was void
but today the wish arose
to understand the folk.

Mapped a path, took to it, from the land veered
left behind the shade, burnt the noon overhead.

Took the path of poetry, this lonely poetess did
was welcomed warmly but then later on expelled.
Noted daily life’s shows so many with a lonesome pen
to find how to overcome the search in earnest began.

Took off alone to battle
but felt so incapable.
Yet could take on the world
when language became my arsenal.
Took up cudgel, found a companion
stepped off together to take on mankind.

Carried in scabbards diction
and wore the shields of song
the hue kasumbal*** ran down the mien
such was the battlefield passion.

Entered the root fray, and saw people fight
stalwart spoke up, and some even perished.
So many of the devoted have cautioned me and beckoned
showed the path and departed, domain is now so illumined.

To those who had given
for half a century light
the only wish I have now is
lovingly to recompense.

The frog-princess named Aspiration, in pride so bloated
let her fret in desperation, I have ordered her deported.

On entering public life
matter criticism and omen?
The mind sprinting shouts
“Stop me if you can!”

There it is going, beyond fifty-two’s domain it goes,
aim now at fifty-three, burn I now all disguise.

* Age; and the number of cards in a pack
**Age (50) at which Hindus are supposed to withdraw from the householder
world.
***Saffron colour derived from a plant, significator of the passion to fight.

Translated by Pradip Khandwalla from Gujarati

A SONG

Ramesh Parekh

The tree askes its leaf 'Why?'
Why did you doubt that you are not mine?'

The leaf asks back
'When my name is leaf
Why is your name tree?
Why is there this barrier
Of branches between you and me?’

The tree said
‘I am sheltering your tender greenness
And that is all I know’
The leaf said
‘I want to reach the sky
And why are you fettering me?’
The tree said
'It is the love of earth
That binds us with all,
And not even a hint of separation
Should affect you, snap you
That is what I call my love for you'


Translated by Dileep Jhaveri from Gujarati

Who Sent Dotage

Narsinh Mehta

Whoever sent this dotage?
Youth was forever I had thought.

Threshold has turned into a hill
and outskirts are now like abroad.
Body’s hair have turned white
distant Ganga now is the water pot.

How came this infirmity uninvited?
Never for it had I waited.
Respect at home I have lost:
“Push his cot into a corner”, they talk.

In childhood loved laddus*
savouries I relish in old age
daily desire rabadi**
wretched this craving of dotage.

Come every morning
I am famished.
“He isn’t perishing”, cry kin
“Can’t you just sit still?”

Sons have gone their way
daughters-in-law revile and rage
daughters with their men are away
what further agonies of old age?

The body’s nine arteries beat awry;
the hour indeed has come.
Womenfolk and children cry fie;
heaps calumny even an urchin.

Sons have gathered at the gate
the god of death has arrived
the breath is parting from the rib-cage
carries it away this time.

Shameless is this infirmity
so shed all conceit.
By imbibing the verities of faith
has Narsinh redeemed his fate.


ઘડપણ કોણે મોકલ્યું જાણ્યું જોબન રહે સૌ કાળ - ઘડપણ. - ટેક.

ઉંબરા તો ડુંગરા થયા રે, પાદર થયાં રે પરદેશ,
ગોળી તો ગંગા થઈ રે, અંગે ઊજળા થયા છે કેશ. -- ઘડપણ

નહોતું જોઈતું તે શીદ આવિયું રે, નહોતી જોઈ તારી વાટ,
ઘરમાંથી હળવા થયા રે, કહે ખૂણે ઢાળો એની ખાટ. -- ઘડપણ

નાનપણે ભાવે લાડવા રે, ઘડપણે ભાવે સેવ,
રોજ ને રોજ જોઈએ રાબડી રે, એવી બળી રે ઘડપણની ટેવ. -- ઘડપણ

પ્રાતકાળે પ્રાણ માહરા રે, અન્ન વિના અકળાય,
ઘરના કહે મરતો નથી રે, તેને બેસી રહેતા શું થાય. -- ઘડપણ

દીકરા તો જૂજવા થયા રે, વહૂઅરો દે છે ગાળ,
દીકરીઓને જમાઈ લઈ ગયા રે, હવે ઘડપણના શા હાલ. -- ઘડપણ

નવ નાડીઓ જૂજવી પડી રે, આવી પહોંચ્યો કાળ,
બૈરાંછોકરાં ફટ ફટ કરે રે, નાનાં મોટા મળી દે છે ગાળ.-- ઘડપણ

આવી વેળા અંતકાળની રે, દીકરા પધાર્યા દ્વાર,
પાંસળીએથી છોડી વાંસળી રે, લઈ લીધી તેણી વાર. -- ઘડપણ

એવું જાણી સૌ હરી ભજો રે, સાંભળજો સૌ સાથ,
પરઉપકાર કરી પામશો રે, જે કંઈ કીધું હશે જમણે હાથ. -- ઘડપણ

એવું નફટ છે આ વૃદ્ધપણું રે, મૂકી દો સૌ અહંકાર,
ધરમના સત્ય વચન થકી રે મહેતો નરસૈંયો ઊતર્યો ભવપાર. -- ઘડપણ

-નરસિંહ મહેતા


*a sweet made of flour, relished especially by Brahmins

** a viscous eatable made of gruel, meant mostly for the elderly and the sick

Translated by Dileep Jhaveri from Gujarati

A GAZAL - Miskin

Rajesh Vyas

If you have just nothing, forsake it, and come over
If you have everything, renounce it and reveal

Where the rooms are illuminated by your name
I am that house, even if you do not come

You are my garb and you are my quilt
You are my every word and you are my sign

Like sugar I will dissolve
But first, send you overflowing bowl

Miskin, you will reach him beyond the seven seas
But, if in your palm there is no travel line, get it grooved

તારું કશું ન હોય તો છોડીને આવ તું,
તારું જ બધું હોય તો છોડી બતાવ તું.

અજવાળું જેના ઓરડે તારાં જ નામનું,
હું એ જ ઘર છું, એ જ ભલે ને ન આવ તું.

પહેર્યું છે એ ય તું જ છે, ઓઢ્યું છે એ ય તું,
મારો દરેક શબ્દ તું, મારો સ્વભાવ તું.

સાકરની જેમ ઓગળી જઈશ હું ય પણ,
છલકાતો કટોરો ભલેને મોકલાવ તું.

‘મિસ્કીન’ સાત દરિયા કરી પાર એ મળે,
એ રેખા હથેળીમાં નથી તો પડાવ તું.

Translated by Dileep Jhaveri from Gujarati

*HOME*

Yagnesh Dave

1.
In the home
Aroma of frying curry
Colour spray of swerving sarees
The child's giggling was afloat
Curtains were fluttering
Folded clothes
Dried utensils
Arrayed books
Fresh potted plants
Not a sign of dust
I recollect every detail speck by speck

2.
I roamed
Jaipur, Delhi, Shimla
Wandered in buses, trains
Over the road, in the mountains along footpaths
In hotels
The home remained where it was –
At home
Of course
What came along everywhere I went
Was only the home

3.
I am nowhere else
Either I am out of home
Or returning home
Only that

4.
I was all alone at home
At late night
A cat arrived
She was self willed
Felicia
Came
Came and took a round
Honestly, if felt very good

5.
You are so much absentminded
When you go –
Would that you carry everything with you!
A week ago
In the bathroom
Near the mirror
Was your lipstick
Today
Under the pillow
Your hair-pin
It is not good to forget like this
From now onwards
Carry away everything remembering

Translated by Dileep Jhaveri from Gujarati

FEAR

Dileep Jhaveri

From Khandit Kaand Poems:

Fear grips me
And then
My tongue gets tied throat turns dry
A stone swings over the heart and sweat breaks out from armpits.
Eyes screw shut and piss and shit turn loose

Cattle bellow in fear
Centipedes coil up porcupines spread their quills
Feathers of birds get stuck
Aquatic animals shove to cling to each other

When the land gets scared
there is earthquake
What if an ant is afraid ?
When a mountain panics where does it hide?
On the spot it spews lava

Sensing danger the sand pulls storm over it
Shedding leaves in the wind the tree bares its frame
Then what would the forest do?

When pursued by randy floods rushing to rape
the jittery river runs wild
and like a child seeking shelter of mother's bosom
merges in the sea

Occasionally even the language is terrified
Then the grammar like a gown is ripped from her tattered blouse
and the spellings are yanked above the knees
Underneath them
the honour of
life force – love – humanity – universal consciousness
is mangled, rent and violated
Afterwards
to cast out the evil eye
by flinging out
some sinister malevolent ill omened object from the house
the language, swaying like one possessed,
would throw
Poetry out
And then
fear grips me

Translated by the Poet from Gujarati
Launderer

THE MATTER OF THE BIRD

Harish Meenashru

1.
A tree with thousands of leaves
Thousands of flowers
Thousands of fruits
Stands
With a bird
In one of its palms
A tree so much alive
That it is stock-still
As if dead

One could ask the bird
The question regarding its flights and fights
Quite legitimately

But the teacher asks the archer instead
What do you see, my son
A tree, a branch, a leaf, a flower, a fruit or a flower?

The bowstrings taut
Everyone will resolutely aim at the target

Everyone knows :
He who sees the bird fully
Along with the entire tree
Will be a hunter

He who sees the bird fully
Along with each and every leaf
Will be a merchant

He who sees the bird fully
With each and every ripe fruit
Will be a house holder

He who sees the bird fully
With the entire flower
Will be a lover

He who sees only the bird
Will be a loner

He who sees on the eye of the bird
Will be a Yogi.

But the bird alone knows
That he who sees his reflection in its eye
Will be the Archer

He who is himself pierced
Will alone succeed
In hitting the target

At this decisive juncture
On the palms of the thousand handed tree
With thousand intrepid postures
The bird is present

2.
The bird is building a nest
In a cranny of the wishing-tree.
The bird is without an adjective,
Then how to call it one or solitary
With certainty?

Formidable skies are rent apart.
And suddenly blazing lightening mends them.
And the pounding of the bird’s heart eases
But by saying such things
At the most
Uncertain images of simple suffering and happiness
Can be constructed.
But to what purpose?
 
This is not a homely tale
Of stringing the pearls.
Here at any time with a flash of lightening
A danger of minor fire is there.
And after everything turns to ash
Who is going to honour the legend
That from the heap a new bird will again flutter
Its pristine wings?

It is customary among the bird community of forests.
That is why it builds.
The nest.

In the cranny of the wishing- tree.
Without choice.
Otherwise in this saga
Ah, none has conviction
That it will lay eggs, hatch them
And take care of the household.
Making an excuse of the night
The cold sky squeezes
The speech mingled with darkness.
The bird cry tries to pierce its blind darkness.
No one halts in the forest
To name that sound

An ardour or appeal
Hankering or hope
No rhyme is available
For the sound struggling to reach the birds.
Till now.

Night long the defeated wishing tree keeps shedding
its tremblingly falling leaves in the bird. Throughout
the night. And the unquestioning bird keeps flying in
the darkness of the stem. Throughout the night.
Flutter flutter.
Fumbling for a way, throughout the night.
Smoothly and unswervingly keeps flying, throughout the night.
And in the end, pat, it pecks at a tiny seed
And dawn breaks.

After the language is erased
Let alone the paper even and inkling of paper also
Is not left.
I have no courage to call this void nothingness.

Translated by Dileep Jhaveri from Gujarati

WHEN IT COMES

Nitin Mehta


Solitude
has unobtrusively entered
the written word

In this final move
Let no one accompany
Only I have to walk

I know that you are restive
and will not leave me soon
Still you will make me walk some more
prod me some more
exhaust me some more
torture me over and over
But I shall continue walking wheezing
tired tortured
Yet I will not surrender

Every illness keeps erasing me
little by little
And your image
keeps turning clearer
Still you will not be able to change me

Okay, enough now
Let me first reach the realm beyond language
You will still have some time left to know what you are
Bye then
Follow me

Translated by Dileep Jhaveri from Gujarati

Launderer

Dileep Jhaveri

FROM KHANDIT KAAND POEMS:
Written after demolition of Babri Masjid 1992
And Gujarat riots 2002.

Someone, go fetch a launderer
There are stains all over
We gathered waters from every eye
But fell short
We thought that
Dipping all in a single colour
One can dye everything red
In the end the blood was not enough
Again, please, someone go find a launderer launderer launderer
In the crowds there are
Carpenters without hands
Potters without thumbs
Blacksmiths with broken arms
Porters with wrenched necks
Legless farmers
Wood cutters are there but no axe
Masons are there but no bricks
Painters are there but no walls
From the fields one cannot pick even a fistful of seeds to swear
From the sky let alone a mizzle even lightening does not fall
Parched palms are uprooted, no palm beer to drown the base hunger.
Only a leafless berry tree stands alone on the desolate periphery
For covering its nakedness there are no thorns even.

Still to clear the soiled air
To wash it clean
Somebody, go, fetch a launderer

Translated by the Poet from Gujarati
FEAR

HOW NACHIKETA CAME TO KNOW

Sitanshu Yashaschandra

The earth,
an African water buffalo,
young and fearless,
pokes her horn of hammered bronze playfully into the full flank
of the mahisha, the mount
from whose broad back Yama, death-god, has not yet quite got
down.
“Nachiketa must be waiting for me,” He mutters to himself
and quickly goes up the flight of steps to his palace,
tossing his dreaded lasso across his shoulder like the sacred thread.

Above,
a black night, comforted by the might of muscular body of a dark
sky,
gets excited and welcomes in her valleys the moonlight-juice,
bright like sperm.
Darkness-Man rubs his lips, beard and mustachio
in the salty sweat-drops, the stars, blazing on the slopes of her
breasts.
Shapeless souls
Gratefully receive their gifts of hard-to-get life-forms
inside the bodies of yellow lionesses, red she-scorpions
and female elephants black and wet like heaps of soft mud.

She-birds, singing and bold, drink up
from quickly woven leaf-bowls, sparkling drinks of angry sperms
of sages fallen from their tapas.

Nachiketa,
Who was not noticed by the hesitant gaze of an embarrassed
death-god,
sits enthralled on the broad steps of Yama’s palace.
He gives up his old thoughts about his father’s sickly cows;
And finds for himself an answer to his original question.

Without asking for any other boon from the god,
Quite tired and thirsty from his long journey, Nachiketa
returns the same night to his home-place, sits near
the steps of the village well, full with water,
and awaits her
who would come with a new earthen pot

નચિકેતાનું વરદાન
પૃથ્વી
જવાન આફ્રિકન ભેંશનું રૂપ ધરીને
પોતાનું ટીપેલા તાંબાનું બનેલું શીંગડું, સહેજે ડર્યા વિના, રમતિયાળપણે,
હજી તો જેની પીઠ પરથી યમરાજા પૂરા ઊતર્યાયે નથી એવા માતેલા
પાડાના પડખામાં અથડાવે છે.

‘નચિકેતા આવી ગયો હશે’ એવું ઝડપથી બોલતા ધર્મદેવ
પોતાના પાશને જનોઈ જેમ ખભે નાખી
મહેલનાં પગથિયાં સડસડાટ ચઢી જાય છે.

ઉપર
અંધારાના ભરપૂર શરીરની વિશ્વાસ જગાડતી ભીંસમાં
અમાસની રાત ઉત્તેજિત થઈ જાય છે ને પોતાની ફળદ્રુપ કંદરામાં
વીર્ય જેવા સફેદ ચંદ્રરસને આવકારે છે.
એનાં ભર્યાંભર્યાં સ્તનોના ગોળાવ પર પરસેવે ઊપસી આવેલા
ઝગમગતા તારાઓનાં ખારાં ખારાં ટીપાંથી
અંધકારપુરુષ પોતાનાં હોઠ, મૂછ અને દાઢી ભીનાં ભીનાં કરી લે છે.

પિંગળી સિંહણો, રાતી વીંછણો
અને માટીની કરાડો જેવી કાળી હાથણોનાં શરીરોની દુનિયામાં
આત્માને દુર્લભ આકારો મળે છે.

તપોભ્રષ્ટ ઋષિનું કોપેલું વીર્ય, પડિયો ભરીને પી જાય છે કલબલતી
નિર્ભય પંખિણીઓ.
ભોંઠપ અનુભવતા યમરાજની ઝંખવાયેલી નજર જેના પર પડી નહિ
એવો નચિકેતા
યમસદનનાં પહોળાં પગથિયાં પર બેઠો બેઠો
માંદલી ગાયો વિશેના વિચારો છોડી દે છે
ને પોતાના મૂળ પ્રશ્નનો જવાબ પામી જાય છે.

બીજું કોઈ વરદાન માગ્યા વિના
લાંબી મુસાફરીથી તરસ્યો ને રજોટાયેલો
એ રાતોરાત પોતાના ગામના કૂવાકાંઠે પાછો આવે છે
ને માટીનો નવો ઘડો લઈ ત્યાં આવનારીની
વાટ જુએ છે.

- સિતાંશુ યશશ્ચંદ્ર

Translated by the Poet from Gujarati
YUSUF MAHER ALI, EXCUSE ME . . .

YUSUF MAHER ALI, EXCUSE ME . . .

Sitanshu Yashaschandra

1.
I would like to talk to you, if you are free.
Do you remember Mr. Broker? Gulabdas? He was a with you
at the Lahore Congress? He was your neighbor

at the camp Kher presided over. Broker, Gujarati writer, yes. I am
a reader of his books.
You would not know me.
Books are like that. The authorized memoires. One way streets.

But if you come now to my poem, we can talk
to each other.
Here, though, things are in free verse.
Like Hindostan after Mughlai broke down.
And like India before British ruled.
A Society without a State? You might perhaps like it that way!
Would you come?

2.
These days an invite like this is not without its risks.
Risky for whom?
For both of us, Janaab!
For me, because I invite you to my poem.
For you, because you agree to come.
The times being what they are today, some risks have to be taken.
And poetry surely is a dangerous place, always – like Satyagraha.
You are used to it? Good!
I am used to it, too. – Welcome, Yusuf.

3.
Do you like the place?
Mahatmaji might not quite approve of it, though.
Some farmhands might find a few things confusing here.
Some other farmhands, though, might find this exiting.

You too had your differences with the Mahtma?
And loved him yet? – Alabatt!

That was why I wanted to meet you.
And I am left hardly with any other place but my poems
where one could talk freely about differences
And about sharing.
Come, let us sit here in our place without prosody,
Where you could be aaraamse alert,
And be alert while stretching out at ease
-- Biraajiye.

4.
Issues I have many,
Maher Ali, but,
Let me bring this one up to start with.
The issue that you had raised
on the banks of Ravi, in the Lahore camp, in presence of Kher
saheb.
Yes,
About Gandhi. About the resolution he wanted so much to
move. Remember?

5.
No, no, Yusufbhai, not that. Not the one on Mukammil Azadi.
That, yes, for sure: Purna Swaraj, the Jawahar-resolution, sar-matthe-par.
To tell the truth, it still sits on our heads, today,
Purna Swaraj – does not step in; but let us not discuss that now.
It is a long tale and I wish to keep my poems short.
Why? Because it is difficult to get paper
for poetry, it is all used up for newsprint.

I want to talk to you, Maher Ali, about the resolution that Gandhi
had wished to move himself at the Lahore Congress of 1929 and
had to struggle so hard to do that.
Now you remember? Yes. That resolution.
Dr. Alam had so lightly ridiculed it from the podium and it was
barely passed, and that only at Gandhi’s personal requests, and
because you still had a sense of shame to meet the Mahatma’s
eyes– yes, that resolution:
Regarding Bomb Blast.

6.
You were young then, Yusuf? “With a tall and slim body, flashing
teeth, bright face, eyes that could talk, a smile on the lips, hair
parted in the middle, black and curly and spread out thick on
both sides; a man who would fascinate you at the first sight”:
Was that you?
How history changes us all, Yusuf Maher Ali!

7.
Yes, that resolution: An Indian revolutionary had thrown a bomb
on the railway train the Viceroy was travelling on, just a few days
back;

and now Gandhi had drafted a resolution:

A resolution disapproving that bomb blast.

The Viceroy was, of course, not harmed; but the resolution was
nearly blown off, was it not, and blasted by sharp comments by
young delegates, Maher Ali?

What did Dr Alam say? From the public platform in the pandaul?
And the previous evening in the privacy of camp, the Kher-camp,
Alam, Broker and you sipping Lahori tea, gazing at the flow of
Ravi?

What had you all said, angry but honest young men?

I ask, I had to get you here and ask, Maher Ali, because Broker’s
book has a note on it but not the details. Some other book might
have them, but incomplete, because history moves on more
swiftly than the river Ravi and merges into the brackish and dark
waters of mere past, stagnant, without waves.
And I want to hear today
all the tales,
Gandhi’s and yours.

8.
Today, again, Biradar, I have asked you urgently to come
Because a storm is building up in those brackish waters, such
That they have forced themselves into the opened mouths of
Ravi, Kaveri and Gangasagar,
Dark waters of the past, and blast
Occurs in every train, from Ravi to Iravati, Viceroys are safe even
today,
But the blasts do not stop, from train to train, derailing
our thoughts.

9.
Noisy waters of lightless past force their way into the rivers
of history, with their dikes and gates now broken, and histories
now
Make senseless sounds, like murderous seas. They flood the
fertile slopes
of poetry, break down the compound walls of our homes and
inundate
our kitchens and rooms where we store our drinking water.
In day time, such histories flood our sitting rooms, at night our
beds.

Prosody breaks down in our poems, and genres, forms, rhymes;
drenched, the few sheets of paper saved to write poetry upon,
are turned to pulp;
Salty, vengeful, dark waters,
Blind, have come up and in, all the way up to here, Yusuf
Maher Ali, excuse me,

This place is safe no longer, for you,
Forgive me, go now from here,
without answering my questions, go back
quick, to your history.

10.
Because histories now give no answers, histories
Rob us of our questions.

Now, Maher Ali, I have to draft a resolution, anew,
I have to ridicule it, anew, and I have
to check again
if there is any
sense of shame left
in our eyes,
sightless, staring,
billions of our eyes,
from Ravi to Iravati.
Translated by the Poet

“Farmhands” (section 3):A reference to Gandhi’s call to Gujarati authors to write in a simple style accessible to labor (koshio) hired to pull water from wells in farms.

Translated by the Poet from Gujarati
HOW NACHIKETA CAME TO KNOW

NON-FABLE POEM

Chandrakant Topiwala

The sage had well nigh saved me
From the beak of a crow
Afterwards I was afraid of the pussy cat
The sage said, 'Go son, be a Tomcat'
I became a Tomcat
Then I was scared of the dog
The sage said, 'Go son, be a hound'
I became a hound
Then I was scared of the tiger
The sage said 'Go son, be a tiger'
I became a tiger
Then I got scared that the sage may not again change me
To a rat
Since then I am on flight as a fugitive tiger

Translated by Dileep Jhaveri from Gujarati
MEMORIAL CHURCH

MEMORIAL CHURCH

Chandrakant Topiwala

The church is standing blind.
It sees
Bombardments, bunkers, battalions
Blaze, collapsing buildings,
Scattered arms and legs,
Trunks, necks in pieces.

The Church is standing deaf.
It hears
Explosive devastation, scorched desolation,
Smashing, smoke, sighings,
Silent scream of split eye balls.

The church stands crippled.
Left over are
Its stuttering shutters,
Toothless windows,
Blistered walls,
Splintered tower

The church stands alone.
Around it revolve
Flamboyant avenues, majestic manors,
Dazzling vehicles,
Radiant people,

The Church stands timid.

Translated by Dileep Jhaveri from Gujarati
NON-FABLE POEM

The Bulbul and the Pond

Pratishtha Pandya

There once was a bulbul
that knew of a pond
Bulbul used to dive
and splash about
in the pond
It would fly
here and there
but every now and then
It returned for a splash,
a dip
Even inside the waters
flapping its wings
it loved to turn
wavelets into skies
A few deep breaths
each tiny little dive
Gauged the insides of the pond.
Along with the water
like water that flows
the bulbul came and went
The pond had neither the hands
nor strength
to hold the bulbul close.
Out of the pond
it flicks its feathers
shakes off all droplets of water,
the moist feelings and all.
It flies towards a crispy sky
far off lands
with foreign ways
unfamiliar to the pond
and would be.
But for a long time
after it has gone
the pond will see
a bulbul
in the waters still!
Let him shake off his feathers
Let him fly away to distant lands
There will be a tiny droplet
at the tip of its tiny feather
that will hold a whole pond
for him to see
It will not let him forget
but tell him stories of water
and stories of love so deep.


બુલબુલ અને સરોવર
-- પ્રતિષ્ઠા પંડ્યા
એક હતું બુલબુલ અને એક હતું સરોવર
બુલબુલને સરોવરમાં છબછબવાની ટેવ
આમતેમ ઉડે એ આખો દિવસ
ને વચ્ચે વચ્ચે સરવરમાં આવીને મારે ડૂબકી
પાણીની અંદર પણ પાંખો ફેલાવીને
લહેરોને કરવી આકાશ એને ગમતી
ઊંડા ઊંડા કંઈ શ્વાસ
લે સરવરના તળિયાનો તાગ
એની એકેએક નાનીશી ડૂબકી
પાણીની ભેગું
પાણીની જેમ સરતું
આ બુલબુલ તો આવે ને જાય
સરવરની પાસે તો મળે નહિ
બુલબુલને ઝાલે એવા હાથ
ના એવી તાકાત
આવીને બહાર એ ખંખેરે પાંખો
ઝાટકીને ટીપા સહુ સારી ભીનાશ
એ કડકડતા આકાશે ઉડે
દૂરના એ દેશ
એના જૂદા કંઈ વેશ
સરવરે ના જોયા ના જોશે
બુલબુલના ગયા પછી
ક્યાંય લગી સરવર
પાણીમાં બુલબુલને જોશે
ને પાંખ ભલે ખંખેરે
ભરે છોને એ લાંબી ઉડાન
એના પીંછામાં વળગેલાં
નાના પાણીનાં ટીપામાં
એ ભર્યાં આખાયે સરવરને જોશે
એ એને કેમ કરી ભૂલવા ના દેશે
એ એને પાણીની
પ્રેમની વાર્તાઓ કહેશે
એને પાણીની વાર્તાઓ કહેશે


Translated by the Poet from Gujarati
Question
A Splinter
Shakuntala

If

Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Translated by

The Horses of Achilles

C P Cavafy

When they saw him laid low, Patroklos,
who was so young for one so famed for valiant deeds,
they began to cry, Achilles’ steeds,
with their immortal nature contradicting
the specter of Death that they were witnessing.
With raging heads shaking and shining manes streaming
and hooves pounding loudly, they were grieving
Patroklos who lay there silently – annihilated –
a flesh forsaken – a spirit desolated –
sucked dry and stripped naked by the hand of strife –
translated to the silent Void from vivacious life.

Zeus of the Eternals saw the tears
of the horses and sadly said, “At Peleus’ wedding
I should not foolishly have done this thing.” He, regretting,
added, “It was better had we not given him my steeds.
Unhappy horses! Why are you trapped there in the hapless deeds
of wretched folk on fields where games of fate are played.
You whom neither death nor old age plagues
are tyrannized by temporary pains. To transient strife and stress
your people have you chained.” But hot tears nevertheless
for the permanently dead
the two noble animals achingly shed.

(Translated from Greek)

અકિલિસના અશ્વો

પેટ્રોક્લિસને નિષ્પ્રાણ નિહાળી
- કેવો યુવાન હતો એ! બળકટ ને બહાદુર! -
અકિલિસના અશ્વોએ અશ્રુ સાર્યા
તેમનું અમરત્વ ઘા ખાઈ ગયું
ભાળીને મૃત્યુની મહાનતા
ઉલાળ્યાં મસ્તક તેમણે, કંપાવી કેશવાળી
પછાડી ખરીઓ પૃથ્વી પર
સંતાપ કર્યો પેટ્રોક્લિસનો
સુપ્ત, લુપ્ત, અરક્ષિત, સુધબુધ વિનાનો સાવ, શૂન્ય
લોચો હાડચામનો હવે, હડસેલાયેલો જીવનથી

અમર અશ્વોને આંસુ સારતા જોઈ
ઝ્યુસ દુખાયા
"મારી જ તો ભૂલ. રે તુરગો!
શું કામ આપ્યા તમને ઉપહારમાં
પેલિઅસના લગ્ન પ્રસંગે?
ક્યાં તમે - ન જરા, ન મૃત્યુ
અને ક્યાં દુઃખિયારી માનવજાત
નિયતિ નચાવે જેમ નાચે તે
અરેરે અટવાઈ પડ્યા તમે પારકી પીડામાં"
પરંતુ ઉદાત્ત અશ્વો તો આંસુ સારતા રહ્યા, નિહાળી
મૃત્યુની શાશ્વત શોકાંતિકા

(ગ્રીકના અંગ્રેજી અનુ. પરથી અનુવાદ: ઉદયન)

Translated by Udayan Thakker from English
Ithaka

Ithaka

C P Cavafy

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.


ઇથાકા

તમે ઇથાકા તરફ પ્રયાણ કરો
ત્યારે પ્રાર્થના કરજો
કે પ્રવાસ સુદીર્ઘ હોય
શોધ અને સાહસોથી સમૃદ્ધ
ન ડરજો દૈત્યોથી, રાક્ષસોથી કે સમુદ્રદેવના કોપથી
જો તમારા વિચાર ઉદાત્ત હોય
ઉરમાં ઉત્તેજના હોય
તો કાંઈ અડચણ નહિ આવે
માર્ગમાં નહિ મળે દૈત્યો, રાક્ષસો કે વિકરાળ સમુદ્રદેવ
સિવાય કે તમે એમને સાથે લઈને નીકળ્યા હો
તમારા મનમાં
પ્રાર્થના કરો કે પ્રવાસ સુદીર્ઘ હોય
વસંતનું વહાણું વાયું હોય
આનંદે ભર્યા ભર્યા તમે સરતા આવો સરસરાટ
અજાણ્યા બંદરબારે
કાફલો લાંગર્યો હોય ફિનિસિયનોના બજારમાં
તમે ખરીદતા હો પરવાળાં, અબનૂસ, સાચાં મોતી
કિસમ કિસમનાં અત્તર
પછી હંકારો મિસરના નગર ભણી
વિદ્વાનો પાસે બે વાત શીખવા
તમારું લક્ષ્ય છે ઇથાકા
પરંતુ ઉતાવળ કશી યે નથી
ભલે ઇથાકા સુધી પહોંચતામાં તમે થાઓ વૃદ્ધ
પ્રવાસની પ્રાપ્તિઓથી સમૃદ્ધ
તમારે કશી સંપત્તિ નથી જોઇતી ઇથાકા પાસેથી
એણે તમને અદ્ભુત પ્રવાસ આપ્યો-
શું એ પૂરતું નથી?
ઇથાકા ન હોત તો તમે સમંદરમાં ઝુકાવ્યું જ ન હોત.

(અંગ્રેજીમાંથી ટૂંકાવીને અનુ. ઉદયન)

Translated by Udayan Thakker from English
The Horses of Achilles

No Man Is an Island

John Donne

No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friend’s
or of thine own were.

Any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know
for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.


કોઈ મનુષ્ય ટાપુ નથી
એકલોઅટૂલો
પ્રત્યેક મનુષ્ય હિસ્સો છે
મહાખંડનો,
અંશ છે સમગ્રનો

એક ઢેફું તણાઈ જાય સમુદ્રમાં
તો યુરોપને ઘસારો પહોંચે છે
ભૂશિર તણાઈ જાય તો પણ:
તમારી કે તમારા મિત્રની
હવેલી તણાઈ જાય તો પણ

કોઈ પણ મનુષ્યના મૃત્યુથી મારામાં ઘટાડો થાય છે
કારણ કે હું મનુષ્યજાતિ સાથે સંકળાયેલો છું
પુછાવશો નહિ કે ઘંટારવ કોને માટે થાય છે
એ તમારે માટે જ થાય છે

જ્હોન ડન
(અંગ્રેજીમાંથી અનુ. ઉદયન)

Translated by

5:46, Andheri Local

Arundhathi Subramaniam

In the women's compartment
of a Bombay local
we seek
no personal epiphanies.
Like metal licked by relentless acetylene
we are welded—
dreams, disasters,
germs, destinies,
flesh and organza,
odours and ovaries
A thousand-limbed
million-tongued, multi spoused
Kali on wheels.

When I descend
I could choose
to dice carrots
or a lover

I postpone the latter.

૫.૪૬,અંધેરી લોકલ

મુંબઈની લોકલના
સ્ત્રીઓના ડબ્બામાં
અમે શોધતાં નથી
કોઈ અંગત સાક્ષાત્કારને.
ગેસના લબકારે
સંધાતી ધાતુની જેમ
અમે જોડાઈએ છીએ-
શમણાં,હોનારત,
કીટાણુ,કિસ્મત,
ગંધ,માંસ,
ઓર્ગાન્ઝા,અંડાશય.
સહસ્ર હસ્તચરણવાળી
લક્ષ જિહ્વાવાળી, અનેક પતિવાળી
ચક્ર પર ચાલતી કાળકા

હું ઊતરું ત્યારે
ચીરીને ચોસલા કરી શકું
ગાજરના
કે પ્રેમીના
બીજા ક્રમાંકની શક્યતાને હું મુલતવી રાખું છું.

-અરુંધતી સુબ્રમણ્યમ્

Translated by

Solitude

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

Translated by

Invictus

William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.[1]


અપરાજિત

એક ધ્રુવથી બીજા ધ્રુવ સુધી ફેલાયેલી
આ કાળીડિબાંગ રાત્રિમાં
હું આભારી છું,જે કોઈ દેવતાઓ હોય તેમનો
મારા અજેય આત્મા બદલ

સંજોગોની સાણસીમાં સપડાયા છતાં
હું નથી કણસ્યો કે રોયો
ભાગ્યના ગદાપ્રહારે
મારું મસ્તક લોહિયાળ, પણ અણનમ

ક્રોધ અને અશ્રુના સ્થળની પેલે પાર
તોળાય છે કમકમાટીભર્યું નર્કાગાર
બિહામણાં વર્ષો જોશે કે
હું નિર્ભય છું અને નિર્ભય રહીશ

ભલે સ્વર્ગની શેરી હો સાંકડી
ભલે હિસાબમાં લખી હો સજાઓ
હું મારા ભાગ્યનો વિધાતા છું
હું મારા આત્માનો સુકાની છું

Translated by Udayan Thakker from English

Knotted Inside Me

Rochelle Potkar

At the time of my birth, my small town Kalyan, did not have a library.

It had no road rage, few beggars, one defunct traffic signal at Murbad Road,
and fewer cars.

Horizontal buildings silhouetting the sun in shanties, chawls and cottages
Its outline gianted and dwarfed
with self-sustaining jobs of: kiranawalas, primary school teachers, factory workers, dentists, general practitioners, cycle repair shops,
and a small bank (let's not forget) on Rambaugh lane.

It was tone deaf to career ladders, six sigma, hierarchies,
MNCs, pecking orders.

Filled with pavwallas, mohmeddans, hindus, bavas,
north Indians, south Indians, non-catholics,
non-hindus, non-muslims, non-dalits, and non-brahmins.

The ice-factory owner, the mayor, a smuggler, a customs officer
were The Rich -
their bungalow gardens, terraces, compound walls
sprinted over by well-fed dogs

pressing against our imagination (mostly) during new year resolutions.

The Sindhis lived in a neighbour town
with plenty of gold and goods.

In the year of my sister's birth
some of their buildings collapsed
like crumbling cake in blood and crust.

There was one gang-war in Kalyan
one Anglo-Indian killed,
by a Goan goon, on a night road
a gunshot running through his race, history, legacy.

And a schoolboy murdered
in cold gang-boy rage.

I, with the other girls were bottom-felt,
walking through the college corridors.

That was all we had,
before I left for the City.

But the town I had left behind -
like shoes outside a temple -
multiplied around me a thousand times.


મારામાં ગંઠાયેલું કશુંક

હું જન્મી ત્યારે મારા નાનકડા નગર કલ્યાણમાં પુસ્તકાલય નહોતું.

ધૂંધવાયેલો ટ્રાફિક નહોતો, નહોતા ઝાઝા ભિખારી, એક સિગ્નલ હતું, મુરબાદ રોડ પર, બગડેલું, થોડી ગાડીઓ હતી.


બેઠા ઘાટવાળાં મકાનો સૂર્યની સામે ઝૂંપડીઓ અને ચાલીઓનું છાયાચિત્ર રચતાં હતાં.

નગરની રેખાઓને વિસ્તારતા અને સંકોચતા હતા કિરાણાવાળાઓ, પ્રાથમિક શાળાના શિક્ષકો, કારખાનાના કામદારો, દાંતના ડોક્ટરો, ફેમિલી ડોક્ટરો, સાઈકલનું સમારકામ કરનારા, એક નાની બેંક પણ હતી (રખે ભુલાઈ જાય) રામબાગ શેરીમાં.

મારું નગર બહેરું હતું કારકીર્દિની નિસરણીઓ બાબતે, સિક્સ સિગ્મા બાબતે, પદાનુક્રમ બાબતે, બહુરાષ્ટ્રીય કંપનીઓ બાબતે, ઉચ્ચાવચતા બાબતે.

તે ઉભરાતું હતું પાવવાળાઓથી, મુસલમાનોથી, હિંદુઓથી, પારસીઓથી, ઉત્તર ભારતીયોથી, દક્ષિણ ભારતીયોથી, બિનકેથોલિકથી, બિનહિંદુઓથી, બિનમુસલમાનોથી, બિનદલિતોથી, બિનબ્રાહ્મણોથી.

બરફના કારખાનાનો માલિક,નગરાધ્યક્ષ, દાણચોર, કસ્ટમ્સ અધિકારી- આટલા ધનિકો હતા-
તેમની હવેલીનાં બગીચા અને અગાસી અને આંગણામાં દોડાદોડ કરતા હતા હ્રુષ્ટપુષ્ટ કૂતરા

જે અમારી કલ્પનાને ઉત્તેજિત કરતા (ખાસ કરીને) નૂતન વર્ષના સંકલ્પોમાં.

સિંધીઓ તેમની ખાસી એવી માલમત્તા અને સોના સાથે રહેતા હતા પડોશના નગરમાં.

મારી બહેન જન્મી તે વર્ષે
તેમનાં કેટલાંક મકાન ભર ભર ભૂકો થઈ ગયાં હતાં
ફીણિયા લાડુની જેમ

કલ્યાણમાં ગુંડાઓ વચ્ચે એક લડાઈ થઈ હતી
એક એંગ્લો-ઇંડિયન માર્યો ગયો હતો
ગોવાના ગુંડાને હાથે,રાતને રસ્તે
કારતૂસ નીકળી ગઈ હતી તેનાં જાતિ, ઇતિહાસ અને વારસા સોંસરવી

શાળાના એક વિદ્યાર્થીની હત્યા કરાઈ હતી
છોકરાઓના શીતયુદ્ધમાં

કોલેજની પરસાળમાં ચાલતી
મારી અને બીજી છોકરીઓની સાથળને સ્પર્શી લેવાયું હતું

અમારી પાસે કેવળ આટલું હતું
તે પછી હું મહાનગરમાં આવી

પણ મંદિર બહાર ઉતારેલાં પગરખાંની જેમ
મેં મૂકી દીધેલી તે નાની નગરી
મારી આસપાસ સહસ્રગણું વિકસી

Translated by Udayan Thakker from English

A Splinter

Pratishtha Pandya

As if experimenting
With different methods
To remove it
I kept trying out
Lovers.
Some tried
To pull it out
With sticky duct tapes
Of desire
Roughly.
Others were at it
With their words
Like tweezers
Persistent
Till my skin was sore.
Few more came
With needles
Puncturing my
Self-esteem
Gentle and slow,
Matching sharpness
With sharpness.
Someone even soaked me
In Lavender oil and honey
Sweet-smeeling
And smooth.
None relieved the pain
That went deep
And deeper.
Each love
Leaving me
Lonlier.
Lonely
Like a splinter
Gone deep
And deeper
Firmly embeded
Into my skin.


ફાંસ

એને કાઢવાની અલગ અલગ રીતો અજમાવતી હોઉં
તેમ મેં અજમાવ્યા અલગ અલગ પ્રેમીઓ
કેટલાંકે ઈચ્છાઓની ગુંદરટેપમાં લપેટીને
બરછટ રીતે ખેંચી તાણવાનો પ્રયત્ન કર્યો
તો બીજાઓ એકધારા પાછળ પડી ગયા
લઈ શબ્દોના ચિપીયા નાના
મારી ચામડી આળી થઈ ગઈને ત્યાં સુધી
તો વળી થોડાક આવ્યા લઈને સોયો
મારા આત્મવિશ્વાસને ખોતરતા
કરતા કાણાં
ઝીણાં હળવેકથી ધીમેથી
તો કોઈકે તો વળી મને
ડુબાડી આખેઆખી
મોગરાના તેલમાં મધમાં
મહેકતા મીઠા
લીસ્સા
પણ દુઃખ
ઓછું થવાને બદલે ઊંડું ને ઊંડું ઊતરતું ગયું
જેણે જેણે મને ચાહી
એણે મને વધુ એકલી કરી મૂકી
ઊંડી ઊંડી પેસીને ચામડીમાં જડાઈ ગયેલી
ફાંસ જેવી

Translated by the Poet from Gujarati
Question
The Bulbul and the Pond
Shakuntala

"Hope" is the thing with feathers

Emily Dickinson

"Hope" is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all

And sweetest in the Gale is heard
And sore must be the storm —
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm —

I've heard it in the chillest land —
And on the strangest Sea —
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb — of Me.


આશા એક પીંછેદાર વસ્તુ છે
જે ઝૂલે છે આત્માની ડાળે
ગાય છે નિશબ્દ ગીતો
વણથંભ

વંટોળિયે સંભળાય છે તેનું મીઠુંમધ ગાણું
એવું વાવાઝોડું તો વિરલ જ
જે આ પંખીડાને
પાડે ભોંઠું

મેં સાંભળ્યું છે એને,ટાઢે ઠૂઠવતી ભોમકાઓમાં
અગોચર અખાતોમાં
ગમે તેવા કપરા સંજોગોમાં એણે
મારી પાસેથી દાણો પણ નથી માગ્યો

Translated by Udayan Thakker from English

Yet...

Yogesh Joshi

When I was a kid
I felt embarrassed
To carry a tiffin box to school
So I would come home during recess
Have a bite
And scamper back to school
Barely in time.
Dashing back to school
I would see students cycling back
And think-
If ever I had a bicycle
I would offer a lift
To a kid galloping to school...

When I stood in que waiting
For a public bus
Some scooter would slow down
Take an acquaintance on the rear seat
And speed away
I would say to myself:
If only I had a scooter
I would also offer a lift
To somebody from the crowd
At the bus stop...

Now I have a car
But it does not slow down
Approaching any bus stop
Just speeds past...
It is not as if
I do not remember the past
Yet...


પણ…..
-યોગેશ જોષી

નાનો હતો ત્યારે
સ્કૂલમાં નાસ્તાનો ડબો લઈને જતાં
શરમ આવતી
તે રિસેસમાં ઘેર આવતો
ને નાસ્તો કરીને
ભાગમભાગ, દોડમદોડ પાછા જવું પડતું
તોય
ક્યારેક બેલ પડી જતો.
દોડમદોડ પાછા જતાં
રસ્તામાં
સાઈકલ પર સ્કૂલ તરફ જતા
વિદ્યાર્થીઓને જોઈને થતું –
મારી કને જો સાઈકલ હોય તો હું
દોડમદોડ જતા કોઈક ટેણકાને
મારી સાઈકલ પાછળ બેસાડું…..

લાલ બસની રાહ જોતો
ભીડમાં ઊભો રહેતો ત્યારે
કોક સ્કૂટર બસ-સ્ટેન્ડ નજીક
ધીમું પડતું
ને કોક ઓળખીતાને
પાછલી સીટ પર બેસાડીને
સડસડાટ દોડી જતું
એ જોઈને થતું –
મારી પાસે જો સ્કૂટર હોય તો હું
બસ-સ્ટેન્ડ પરની ભીડમાંથી એકાદને
મારી પાછળ બેસાડું….
અત્યારે

મારી પાસે કાર છે
પણ
લાલ બસના
એકેય સ્ટૅન્ડ પાસે
મારી કાર
ધીમીય પડતી નથી
દોડી જ જાય છે સડસડાટ…..
જૂની વાતો મને
સાંભરતી જ નથી એવું નથી
પણ……

Translated by Udayan Thakker

Ghazal

Harsh Brahmabhatt

If one runs out of tears,it is a cause for concern
If this fact is not understood,it is a cause for concern

Why did he laugh after saying 'May you prosper'?
If indeed I prosper,it is a cause for concern!

God is safe till he is unseen
If he is spotted,it is a cause for concern

You have filled me to the brim
If you add even a drop more,it is a cause for concern

If relationships are entangled, they survive
If they are not tangled up, it is a cause for concern


જો આંસુ ખૂટી જાય તો ચિંતાનો વિષય છે,
આ વાત ન સમજાય તો ચિંતાનો વિષય છે.

“જા, તારું ભલું થાય” કહી કેમ હસ્યા એ ?
સાચે જ ભલું થાય તો ચિંતાનો વિષય છે.

દેખાય નહીં ત્યાં સુધી ઈશ્વર છે સલામત,
ક્યારેક જો દેખાય તો ચિંતાનો વિષય છે.

તારાથી છલોછલ છું હું ઢોળાઈ ન જાઉં,
છાંટોય ઉમેરાય તો ચિંતાનો વિષય છે.

જો ગૂંચમાં સંબંધ પડે છે તો ટકે છે,
જો ગૂંચ ન સર્જાય તો ચિંતાનો વિષય છે

Translated by Udayan Thakker

Shakuntala

Pratishtha Pandya

Let the rings
Slide off your fingers
Let them melt away
Inside the dark abyss
Of a fish's belly
Let Shakuntala
Forget Dushyaant
Let her desert
Kalidas all together
Let her run away
From the story line
Of Adiparva
Let the family of Shakunta birds
(black kites)
Raise her
On top of tall
green trees
Let her wheatgold back
Grow wings
Giant, Smooth, Black
Wings
Not to be captured
Within the wiry confines
Of Dushyant's morals
Wings
Not to burnt to ahses
In the firey flames
Of Durvasa' anger
Wings
Let her carry
Under her wings
All of the sylvan forests
As she fly
In the fluttering sky
Let Shakuntals fly.

શકુંતલા

સરી જવા દે વીંટીઓને આંગળીઓથી બધી
ઓગળી જવા દે વીંટીઓને માછલીઓના અંધારા પેટમાં
છો ભૂલી જતી શકુંતલા દુષ્યંતને
છો દોડી જતી છોડીને કાલિદાસને
છોડીને આદિપર્વની વાર્તાનો તંત
ઉછરવા દે શકુંતલાઓને શકુંત પક્ષીઓના ઝુંડ મહીં
ઊંચા,લીલા ઝાડની ટોચ પર
ખીલવા દે એની ઘઉંવર્ણી પીઠ પર
બે સુંવાળી,વિશાળ કાળી પાંખો
મર્યાદાઓના તારમાં દુષ્યંત બાંધી શકે નહિ એવી પાંખો
દુર્વાસાના ક્રોધની જ્વાળાઓ એને જલાવી શકે નહિ એવી પાંખો
ને પાંખમાં ભરીને લીલાં વન આખેઆખાં
પછી ઊડવા દે
ફડફડતા આકાશમાં
શકુંતલાઓ

પ્રતિષ્ઠા પંડ્યા

Translated by the Poet
Question
The Bulbul and the Pond
A Splinter

Rustic Vignettes

A J Thomas

The wind is the same
As ever, over the centuries
Blowing in stiff, straight draughts
Keeping the tree-leaves akimbo
And the black-tipped clouds in great, straight streams
The sky looks clean-washed and dipped in indigo
Hung out to dry
The sunshine seems to shimmer more
As if it has a life all its own
The rural spirit
Superimposed with
The aspirations of a fast-globalising world . . .
Young women flash away on Kinetic Hondas
Older women on mopeds slug away
With funny caps on their heads!



ગ્રામ્યચિત્રો

વાયરો તો જે હતો તે જ છે
સૈકાઓથી
સીધા સુસવાટે વાતો
વૃક્ષોનાં પર્ણોને સખળડખળ કરતો

સીધા વહેણે વહેતાં કાળી કિનારીવાળાં વાદળાં
ધોઈ કરી, ગળીમાં ઝબકોળી
સૂકવવા ટાંગ્યું હોય તેવું આકાશ
સૂર્યપ્રકાશ ઝળહળતો, જીવતો જાગતો
ગ્રામ્યચેતના ઉપર ચોંટાડેલી
વેગીલા વૈશ્વીકરણની આકાંક્ષાઓ:
કાઇનેટિક હોંડા પર સડસડાટ જતી યુવતીઓ
મોપેડને હળવે હાંકતી પ્રૌઢાઓ
માથે કોમિક ટોપીઓ પહેરેલી!

-એ જે થોમસ
(અંગ્રેજીમાંથી અનુવાદ: ઉદયન ઠક્કર)

Translated by Udayan Thakker from English
Fading

Fading

A J Thomas

My mother’s leathery face and
Caved in lips, sans teeth or denture
The broken arm in plaster rubbing
The side of the left breast once fed me
But now turned septic. Her three months
In the hospital had got her life back
To be snatched away anytime;
Death was on the prowl we knew.
She who was so full of life and hope
Suddenly turned to me one day and said:
‘Why should I live on? My time is gone.
Let me go now. Don’t worry about me.’
There was a blank listlessness about her
Eyes and lips.
In her last stint in the hospital
When she went in and out of
Cubicles of consciousness
Her roving eyes could not see
The reassurance her son sought
To bring, the security of wellbeing—
Only blankness, blankness.

Translated by
Rustic Vignettes

The Ladies compartment

Akila G

We are a motley crowd
with handbags, laptops and lunch bags,
sporting IDs of rings and toe rings,
buffering dark circles
for un-waxed conversations of etcetera
in food, fabric, finance, family.

We manicure safety and freedom
in lip-glossed songs, henna cones and
social network pages on the phone.

Nasal calls of peanut and samosa vendors
are flipped by in bookmarked pages
hoping that one day,
a rainbow would find the puffed eyes
gazing vacant at the window.

Our laughter
indulges in anonymous company
of dry sweat, an aura of our anatomy.

We waltz
with our Body Mass Index,
pH of pimples, dimples, wrinkles and
uneven tones of our skin
on pedicured sandals, cracked slippers,
stiff joints and a numb lower back.
.
The overhead bar syncs our pursuits.

We are one in many;
many in one.

Soon we would slumber to cricket songs
leaving the lady in the welcome poster near the door
to rattle alone with empty shadows.

Tomorrow will be a new dawn,
sun- screened with another ticket
for this daily soap in the ladies compartment.

Translated by

Dogs, Mobs and Rock Concerts

SAMPURNA CHATTARJI

At 7 am today,
a pack of mad dogs rushed into a building and castrated a man.
It happened too fast for the police to be called
or the BSPCA van to rush in and take the raving canines away.
Five dogs came.
Six left.

At 12 noon today,
a herd of hired goons drove up in a truck and threw flowers at a mob.
The mob, which had assembled silently all morning,
pulled the stalks out with their teeth and exploded
in a fury of pamphlets. The pamphlets read
Stay Out Outsiders and then sang themselves into a stupor.
The hired goons were fired
for failing to disburse the crowd.

At 7 pm today,
a stadium flung open its gates to the sky.
The earth rocked and the people stoned.
Enormous rubber lips turned electric blue with the sound.
On the ground, crushed between a dressed-down executive
and a made-up mother of two, an ageing Indian singer
shook his locks. In the champagne seats,
the liquor baron bubbled
tidily out of his tux.

At 7.10, 12.22 and midnight,
the city felt a tremor of longing.
Strange things had happened and passed it by.
Tomorrow all that would mark the hours would be the trains,
the 7.10, the 12.22, the midnight,
each rattling its chains,
returning thousands to their cages,
till dawn.


Translated by

Water-Tank

Udayan Thakker

Had it been bigger, the shark would have glided
Had it been smaller
I would have put it to my lips

On that side
is heard
the cooing of doves getting wet in water’s shadow
On this side
is the popping of bubbles
the breathing of moss
the flowing laughter of water

During the monsoon
how can it enjoy standing
dressed in a thin wrap
between water and water?

Had it been a cloud,
it would have rained with
a peacock’s flared feathers
instead from a faucet

A sparrow dips its beak in the water-tank

A crystalline lake oscillates
The cedars sway
The wind plays flute
A squirrel offers a shelled peanut
to another
The shadow of the cloud shifts
The chariot of Indra descends
indolently from the Mountain of Gold

ટાંકી

સહેજ મોટી હોતે તો સેલ્લારા લેતે મગરમચ્છ
સહેજ નાની હોતે
તો મોઢે માંડત
*
સંભળાય
પેલી તરફ
પાણીને પડછાયે પલળતાં પારેવાંનું ગુટર્ગું
આ તરફ
પરપોટાની બુડ બુડ
શેવાળનો શ્વાસોચ્છ્વાસ
જળનું હાસ્ય ખળખળાટ
*
આષાઢમાં
પાણી અને પાણી વચ્ચે
પાતળું પડ પહેરીને ઊભા રહેવું
કેમ ગમતું હશે આને?
*
આ વાદળી હોતે
તો નળની નહિ
મોરલાની ચાંપે વરસતી હોતે
*
ચકલી ચાંચ ઝબકોળે ટાંકીમાં...

આંદોલાય અચ્છોદ સરોવર
ડોલે દેવદાર
વાયુ વાંસળી વજાડે
ખિસકોલો શીંગ ધરે ફોલીને
ખિસકોલીને
વાદળની છાયા સરે
હેમકૂટ પર્વત પર હળવેકથી
ઇન્દ્રનો રથ ઊતરે

-ઉદયન ઠક્કર

Translated by Dileep Jhaveri

INSOMNIA

Ashwinee Bapat

The province of my
Insomnia
Is like the expanse of
An arid river
Quite often
I come here
barefooted
Accepting its call
I walk through
And collide with
The brambles of
Old dreams
And unsolved truths
The entire stretch is
Full of prolific roots
Impossible to
Pull out
And the sun, the moon and the stars
Appear together in the sky
Of this province.
A little further at the bank
Where i live,
There are green glistening woods
Of events cultivated
With artificial light,
People are fast asleep
After cleaning
Crimson bloodstained floor.
Most often
I sleep too
The same way
After the daily work
Under artificial light
Of the office and markets
While playing the stress buster Candy Crush
I too fall asleep.
I figure out here
That kind of sleep
That it is here,
That the province of real sleep exists
So what if it is dry here now
But there,
There is neither sleep nor wakefulness
There,
There is no Vikram
Neither the hanging corpses
Nor any inquests
I find here
Turtles living since
Thousand years
Waiting for me to speak.
The moment
My speech uncoils,
The streamlet of
Real sleep will spring out



અનિદ્રા

સુકાયેલી નદીના
પથારા જેવો આ
આ અનિદ્રા પ્રદેશ
અહીં
અવારનવાર
અડવા પગે જ
નીકળી આવતી હોઉં છું
એનું આહ્વાન ઝીલી લઈને
ચાલું
કે અડફેટે ચડે
ઝાંખરાં સ્વપ્નોનાં
વણઉકલ્યાં સત્યોનાં
ઊખડ્યાં ન ઊખડે
તેવાં મૂળ
આ સમસ્ત પથારામાં
ને અહીંના આકાશમાં
સૂર્ય ચંદ્ર તારા
એકી સાથે નજરે પડે
જરા છેટે કિનારે
જ્યાં મારો વસવાટ છે
ત્યાં
લીલાંલીસ્સાં વન છે
પ્રકાશ પાઈને
ઊછેરેલી ઘટનાઓનાં
લાલ લોહિયાળ જમીન ધોઈને
નિરાંતે સૂતાં હોય સહુ
હું પણ
એમ જ અનેક વાર
સૂતી હોઉં છું
દિવસના
ઓફિસ-બજારોના
નકલી પ્રકાશમાં
કામ કરીને
સ્ટ્રેસ બસ્ટર કેન્ડી ક્રશ
રમતાં રમતાં
સૂઈ જતી હોઉં છું
આમ જ અનેક વાર
એવું સૂઈ જવું
તે સમજાય છે મને અહીં
કે રહ્યો ખરો તો
નિદ્રાનો દેશ
ભલે હમણે સુકાયેલો
પણ ત્યાં
નથી નીંદર કે નથી જાગૃતિ
ત્યાં નથી નીકળતો કોઈ વિક્રમ
ને
નથી લટકતાં કોઈ પ્રેત
ને
નથી કોઈ પ્રશ્ન
અહીં
મળે છે મને
હજારો વર્ષથી
જીવી રહેલા કાચબા
મારી વાચા ફૂટે
તેની રાહ જોતા
મારી વાચા ફૂટશે
કે ફૂટશે
અહીં
પાતાળઝરણ
નીંદરનું

Translated by the Poet from Gujarati

Meaning-making

Shelly Bhoil

it was about then when we didn’t understand what it is
and set out into meaning-making exercises

                                  i gently stole a strand of hair from my class-
                                  mate’s blazer and pulled one mine to juxtapose
                                  the two in sunshine. a few more strands got
                                  pulled and stolen. then my head scratched to not
                                  understand how some hair could be ‘thin’ and
                                  some not!

my talkative twin chased words that danced on elders’
lips and struggled to speak every split second their lips
sealed that she should be speaking now because she has
understood a ‘conversation’ (at the end of which she was
allowed to speak) means a word.

    the father’s face became red while the mother tapped her forehead!

we traced the patterns of O and C in the moon, Y the trees
we climbed, V W and M in valleys and mountains we saw,
hanging from the trees, upside down. the mountains, a few
walks away on our last birthday, appeared distant now. the
grandfather explained the phenomenon to our growing tall.

                          we settled down to writing when my twin rhymed
           flower with shower. I wrote ‘a smiling flower in the
                          rain shower.’ we tried to bring in even ‘power.’ Then
           we discovered the dictionary and began replacing
                         ‘condition’ with ‘predicament’

the rhyming became inexpedient as meanings socialized

those un-publishable poems and experiential meanings had a joy lost to us like those years in the years we have grown up to understand what it is
                   and that my twin never was nor will be

Translated by
Blood-soaked

Kailasha

Gurpreet Anandi

Beyond
Desires....
Passions....
Illusions...
Starts the journey
of Internal Kailasha

Crossing....
Highest peaks
Deepest troughs
of Conscience....
Mind sheds everything
on the way
and then ....
descends....
The Mansarovar of
Eternal bliss.....

Beyond
Desires....
Passions ......
Illusion....
Starts the journey
of Internal Kailasha

Translated by the Poet from Punjabi

Water Song – 5

N Gopi

The one there, the one there, he is the sun.
He’s the emperor of heat and light.
As he pervades the universe
he’s the resplendent starry universe
that physical eyes can’t capture

He makes the planets
go around him like prisoners.
Falling from the eyes of these prisoners
how many oceans have evaporated into the infinite!
How many rivers have
shrunk and left their traces on their cheeks!

Man
Can’t interfere with the sun,
but continues to caress
other planets with telescope eyes
for the fingerprints of water.
Budha is close to the sun.²
He is a workman who wakes up earlier than the sun
and toils hard.
What use!
If you kiss a ball of fire
will water fall?
Shukra knew no happiness.
Adorning the name of goddess Venus, the epitome of love
he wears a cloud veil.
Though he knew the art of restoring life
he could not pour life into water.

Kuja is the deep, round, red stone
that rolls with the snowy crowns.
What is the point of adorning clouds
When there is no water?
Poor Guru!
In a way he’s a second sun.
What if he’s this or that
when there is not even an iota of compassion?³
The eyes searching for the entire universe
have focussed on the earth.
There, there is mother earth!
The one with resplendent atmosphere
The one covered by pure white clouds.
The one enveloped by deep blue sea.
The one inlaid with the wealth of snowy gems.

However great he may be
the theatre for sun’s existence
is the earth
Earth is the curtain
for his infinite beauty
Earth is the merciful one
that wets his blazing, fiery lips.
Man
who files the cosmic ways
bows his head and salutes the earth.

Translated from Telugu into English by M. Sridhar and Alladi Uma

જળગીત-૫

હા, એ જ ,એ જ છે સૂર્ય
ઉષ્ણતા અને ઉજાસનો ભૂપ .
એ જ પોતે છે આખું વિશ્વ .
ચર્મચક્ષુની મર્યાદાથી દૂર દૂર
એ ઝગમગ તારામંડળ .
ફેરવે બધા ગ્રહોને આસપાસ
જાણે હો કેદી.
આ બંદીવાનોની આંખોથી ઝરમરતા
કેટકેટલા સાગર
બાષ્પ બની ઓગળતા !
કેટકેટલી નદીઓ
એના ગાળો પર સુકાઈ ગઈ
રેખાઓ મૂકી !

માણસ-
છેડછાડ ક્યાં કરી શકે છે સૂરજ સાથે
અને છતાં પણ
ટેલિસ્કોપ લઈ શોધે છે
જળની આંગળીઓનાં ચિહ્નો-
અન્ય ગ્રહો પર .
બુધનો ગ્રહ શું મિત્ર સૂર્યનો ?
કે એનાથી પહેલાં જાગી
સેવા કરતો કામદાર એ ?
શું મતલબ છે જરા કહો તો ?
કદી આગના ગોળાને ચુંબન કરવાથી
પાણીના બુંદો ઝરમરશે ?
મહાઋષિનું હોય કોઈ સંતાન
એટલાથી શું થાતું ?
જુઓ,શુક્રનો ગ્રહ સુખને શું જાણે ?
રતિ પ્રેમની દેવી ,એનું નામ રટીને
વાદળની ઝીણી ચાદર ઓઢી લેતો .
સંજીવન કરવાની વિદ્યા જાણે તો પણ
પાણીમાં એ પ્રાણ ક્યાં સમર્થ છે ?
હિમ- મુકુટ ધરી ગોળ ગબડતો
મંગળ તો છે લાલ-પિંડ પથ્થરનો કેવળ .
હોય નહીં મહામૂલું જળ તો
વાદળના શણગાર બધા શા ખપના ?

બિચારો ગુરુ !
બળે કહેવાતો બીજો સૂર્ય
હોય ગમે તેટલો મહાન
જરા જેટલી ભીનાશ તો છે નહિ એનામાં !
અખિલ વિશ્વને શોધી રહી જે આંખ
છેવટે અવની પર જઈ ઠરી
જુઓ ! એ ભૂ-માતા છે .
ઝળહળતા વાયુમંડળથી આચ્છાદિત એ
શુભ્ર-શ્વેત વાદળ
ને ભૂરા સાગરથી ઘેરાયેલી
હિમ-રત્ન જડિત સંપદની ધાત્રી
માત્ર ધરિત્રી .

સૂરજ હોય ભલે ને મહાન
એના હોવાનો આધાર
રંગભૂમિ પૃથ્વીની .
પૃથ્વી તે જવનિકા
એના અનંત સૌંદર્યોની
એના દઝાડતા જ્વાલામય હોઠોને –
ભીના કરનારી
કરુણામય માતા છે પૃથ્વી .
વિશ્વ-ગગનમાં ઘૂમનારો માણસ
ધરતીના ચરણે આવીને
શીશ ટેકવે .

Translated by Ramnik Someshwar from English into Gujarati

Windows

Ramanik Agrawat

Without windows
We would have never heard
Birds flying like prayers.

Without windows
Calls of our pals would have grown old
Reaching up to us.

Without windows
The oxygen between my wall and yours
Would have utterly stunk.

Without windows
The pleasing, pretty scenes on the road
Would have got butchered unprotected.

Without windows
The unused stoppers getting shut
On our relations would have forgotten to open.

Without windows
You and I would still rot,
Walled within our separate exiles.

Without windows
Our homes would be narrower
and the earth staler.

બારીઓ

બારીઓ ન હોત તો
પ્રાર્થનાની જેમ ઊડતાં પંખીઓ
આપણને કદી ન સંભળાત.

બારીઓ ન હોત તો
ભેરુઓની બૂમ આપણા લગી આવતાં આવતાંમાં
વૃદ્ધ થઈ જાત.

બારીઓ ન હોત તો
મારી ને તમારી દીવાલ વચ્ચેનો પ્રાણવાયુ
થૂ થૂ ગંધાઈ ઊઠત.

બારીઓ ન હોત તો
રસ્તા પરનાં નમણાં દૃશ્યો
નધણિયાતાં રહેંસાઈ જાત.

બારીઓ ન હોત તો
આપણા સંબંધોમાં વસાઈ જતી હવડ ઈસ્ટાપડીઓ
ખૂલવાનું ભૂલી જાત.

બારીઓ ન હોત તો
હું ને તમે પોતપોતાના દીવાલવટામાં
હજીયે સબડતા હોત.

બારીઓ ન હોત તો
ઘર થોડાં વધુ સાંકડાં થઈ જાત
પૃથ્વી થોડી વધુ વાસી.

Translated by Dilleepsinh Chauhan, Lalubha and Nandita

Blood-soaked

Shelly Bhoil

That's right, I carry
between my legs
a bag with a napkin
soaked in blood.

Wait, haven't I been carrying
in me a fountain
of blood since the first mother
ever came on earth?

Indeed, I am, oh goodness,
an enduring river of blood
flowing in your veins
from my uterus urn!

And you! Where do you drain off
your mothers' blood each time
you carry your bloodless body
to the exclusive shrine of your mind?

Translated by
Meaning-making

Here you will find English translations of poems written in Gujarati –poems that will compare well with some of the best in the world.

Gujarat is a state in India, and its language, Gujarati, is spoken by about 50 million people world-wide. Gujarati has a poetic tradition of seven centuries. The subjects of Medieval Gujarati poetry were largely religion and mysticism. Social reform and national awakening were themes for the nineteenth century. If compassion for the downtrodden was reflected in the early twentieth century, in later years poetry strived for beauty for beauty's sake. The Modern poet was disillusioned with city life if not distraught.

Gujarati Poetry is rich in variety - the long narrative poem, the devotional song, the lovey-dovey ghazal, sonnets and haikus, couplets, the prose poem ...

Read on. Allow us to amaze you.