• Gems of Indian Poetry translated into English


  • Timeless Indian Poems now available in English language


In Memoriam

Prabodh Parikh

Do we remember
You and I, the troglodyte,
The children of forest under azure sky,
In Nairobi or Sangali, outside Brabourne Stadium,
Like asterisms playing Seven Claps in the ring of fire,
We’d started a game?

Of clinging to the warm breast of earth,
Eyes closed, as our hearts throbbed,
Painting frescos, crossing thresholds,
Blowing through plains
Flowing rivers in our tiny hands?

Do you remember,
All of us together,
Flapping our wings between the known and unknown, the ephemeral and eternal,
Clutching the fingers of doors and windows post-haste,
Had set out on foot with captain Nemo, our sleeves flashing the submarine badge,
To take a plunge from mountain tops in the lap of the bottomless sea?

Remember that sport?
Of flipping through the pages of books, home to our forefathers,
And attending summer camps with them?
Think of that game we enjoyed so much
Of pinning the lengthening shadows of eventide
Of pinching the peals in the womb of our cavernous faces in mirrors
Of patting the backs of our new bonds, surging with sap,
At a time when all forms of life,
Keen on being born, their stories still forlorn
Hovered over the nursing homes, on full alert.

Does it still haunt you, that warm touch?
Its thrill coursing through every single vein in frenzied waves
The nightlong chats, words that kept you awake
The countless stars under whose gaze
I’d put my friendly arm around your shoulders.

In the company of chillies that set tongues on fire
And glasses, bitter and bland, from which we spilt over
To join the rushing traveller down the slippery slope
And flying on the roter wings of Ramlila
Or sneaking into the backpacks of wandering tramps
How we’d gorged after lasting games of satiyo and tri-cards?

Choosing to take birth, we’d observed fasts and abstinences,
All the way from St. Pauls’ to Jama mosque,
Held nightlong vigils in the Narayan temple.
Mounting the shoulders of father, the lap of mother
On the swings of neighbours or that bench outside museum
We’d taken a joyride to this universe.
Holed up in the bookracks of libraries, we’d found blood relations
In the prisoners of conscience dumped in Siberia.

You remember, don’t you?
But I don’t hear any rustle, not even a slight throb in head.
That which comes and sits close by
Shakes you, mocks you, tires you out
Stops you, wakes you up with a sweet caress
Packs you a gush of anguish and verdant meadows,
Wafting on surging heart,
As you get ready to embark
On your pet voyage.
Recall that we were born?
You and I,
All of us.

No? You don’t? The doors and windows,
Flight of stairs and the cradle,
A for Adil, B for Beckett, K for kite and P for poetry?

All I remember is
The unfinished game of coming here, and there
Where fresh sheets were spread on beds
Where the utter green flag of autumn fluttered
Where the squirrel scurried in semi-final of sun and shade
Where the dawn flew away as I blew mouthful of sky
Where the roads set out with personal chairs for evening strolls
I remember registering my name,
Waving flags from the backseat of bicycles
Loving the disquiet, making that corner its home,
Handful of rules sealing that half-played game
Bunch of shlokas and rhymes falling in place
And other ten blokes who were not others.

Do we remember
You and I, that we took birth?

યાદ છે, તમને, કે આપણને, કે મને
કે ગુફાવાસીઓને, કે વનવાસીઓને
ખુલ્લા અવકાશ નીચે, નાયરોબીમાં કે સાંગલીમાં
બ્રેબોન સ્ટેડિયમ બહાર, અગ્નિનાં કુંડાળામાં સાતતાળી રમતા નક્ષત્રોમાં ફેરાફેરી
એક રમત માંડી હતી?



શ્વાસનાં ધબકારે. પૃથ્વીની હુંફાળી છાતીમાં આંખો ઢાળી દઈ,
ભીંતચિત્રો કરી, ઊંબરા ઓળંગી, નદીઓને હથેળીમાં ઝીલી
મેદાનોની આરપાર નીકળી જવાની!

યાદ છે, તમને, કે આપણને, કે મને, સૌને,
જાણ્યા, અજાણ્યા, ક્ષર-અક્ષર વચ્ચે પાંખો ફફડાવતા,
બારી-બારણાની આંગળી પકડી
પહાડની ટોચથી છલાંગ મારી
અતલ સમુદ્રના ખોળે બેસવા
પગપાળા નીકળી પડ્યા હતા
કેપ્ટન નેમો સાથે,
સબમરીનનો બિલ્લો પહેરી!
માંડી હતી એક રમત!
ફેરવ્યા હતા પુસ્તકોનાં પાના,
અને,
એ પાનાંની વચ્ચોવચ વસેલા પૂર્વજો સાથે , યાદ છે,
ઊનાળાની રજામાં શિબિરો ભરી હતી?
નર્સિંગ હોમમાં જન્મ લેવા ઉત્સુક
જીવ, અજીવ, સજીવ અવતારો, જે કાન માંડીને
પોતપોતાની કથા કહેવા કરી રહ્યા હતા દોડાદોડ
એ સમયના રસભીના નવા સંબંધોને થપ્પો મારી
અરીસામાં પ્રગટ થતા ચહેરાનીએ ગુફામાં,
ગુફાનાં ગર્ભદ્વારમાં રણકતા નાદને,
સમી સાંજના પડછાયાઓને પકડવાની રમત
તમે, મેં, આપણે, માંડી હતી તે!

યાદ છે, એ સ્પર્શ,
નસેનસમાં વહી જતા એ સ્પર્શનાં સ્પંદનોની વણઝાર
વાતે વારે જાગતા રહેવાની એ રાત
અને, અગણિત તારાઓ જોઈ
તરવરી ઉઠેલા ઉન્માદની ભાઈબંધી માટે લંબાયેલો હાથ!
તીખા, તમતમતા ગોંડલનાં મરચા સાથે
તુરાં, કડવા, પારદર્શક ગ્લાસમાંથી છલકાઈ
જરાકમાં સરકી જતા વટેમાર્ગુઓને સંગે
અને
રામલીલાની પવનપાવડી પર બેસી
કે રખડુટોળીએ ખભે ભરવેલા સરસામાનમાં
સંતાઈ જઈ રમ્યા હતા સતિયો
અને ત્રણ પત્તીની બાજી, પછી કરી હતી ઊજાણી!

જનમ લીધો હતો, બાધા રાખી હતી,
સેઈંટ પોલથી જુમા મસ્જિદ સુધી,
નરનારાયણનાં મંદીરમાં જઈ કર્યાં હતાં જાગરણ,
ફરી વાળ્યા હતા, બ્રહ્માંડમાં, માના ખોળે, પિતાના ભખે,
પડોશીના હિંચકા પર, મ્યુઝિયમોનાં બાંકડે,
લાયબ્રેરીનાં કબાટોમાં સંતાઈને સાયબિરિયાની કાળી કોટડીમાં
વસતા મનુષ્યોને એકરૂપ કરી દીધા હતા સ્વજનોનાં સરઘસમાં!

છે
કે નથી યાદ?
ના સળવળાટ સંભળાતો નથી, કે નથી કંપી રહ્યા મગજના સ્નાયુઓ
એવું કશું, જે આજે આવીને બેસે, લગોલગ,
ઢંઢોળે, ખીજવે, હંફાવે, અટકાવે, પીઠે હાથ ફેરવી
જગાડે
એક સાથે વહી આવતી,
ઝાડપાનને સાથે લઈ આવતી વેદનાને સંવેદનાને-
નિરાંતે, બાંધી આપે ભાથુ મુસાફરી માટે!

યાદ છે જનમ લીધાનું!
તમને કે મને
કે આપણને,




ના, નથી યાદ, બારી કે બારણા
દાદરા કે પારણા
આદિલનો અ, કે બેકેટનો બ, કે પતંગનો પ, કે કવિતાનો ક.

યાદ છે, એક અધુરી રમત અહીં આવ્યાની
ત્યાં, જ્યાં ચાદર પથરાતી, પાનખરનો ઝંડો, લહેરાતો
ખિસકોલી સરકતી
તડકા-છાંયડાની સેમી ફાઈનલ રમાતી
ફૂંક મારતા, ઉડી જતી સવાર
અને ખુરશીઓ લઈ ફરવા નીકળી પડતા રસ્તાઓ, ત્યાં
યાદ છે
નામ નોંધાવ્યાનું, સાયકલ પર બેસી વાવટા ફરકાવવાનું

યાદ છે, અધુરી રમતનાં બે ચાર વ્યાકરણો
પાંચ સાત શ્લોક, ટપકી પડતાં જોડકણાં,
અને એક દશ બાર બીજા જણ, જે બીજા ન હોય!

યાદ છે? તમને, મને, આપણને
જનમ લીધાનું?

Translated by Hemang Desai from Gujarati

The Macaulayite Cuts Such a Ridiculous Figure

Gabriel Rosenstock

There was much laughter, she said
And 'laughter' - elongated - was the last word to escape her lips.
Some kind of lockjaw? her husband opined.
Doctors were sent for and examined the gaping mouth,
Ayurvedic specialists,
Sages: she could not breathe.
A shaman from Tibet
Blew smoke through the orifice
And recited a couplet from the Sixth Dalai Lama:
       nang gi stag mo ras 'joms
      'dris nas mthur du lang song
Which did nothing but swell her tongue.
At last, Gabriel Rosenstock arrived from Ireland
And pronounced his diagnosis, gravely but assuredly:
Postcolonial linguistic self-strangulation, he muttered
We have seen many such cases in my land.

Translated by

Beloved dreams

Nalapati Balamani Amma

Dance, dance every day
On my mind’s floor
Amidst harsh reality
Under a frying pan sky
And caught in a dust storm
At midday
A cool, green and flowery shade
You dreams for me prepared….
પ્યારાં સ્વપ્ન !!
નૃત્ય કરો નિશદિન
મન ઉપવનના આંગણમાં..
કઠોર વાસ્તવ ચારેકોર
ધર્યું ઉપર ધગતું આકાશ
ધૂળભર્યા ઘેરા વંટોળે
અટવાયાં પળના પ્રવાસ
એવે સમયે મારે કાજ
તમે જ મારાં સ્વપ્ન
લઇ આવ્યાં એક હૂંફાળો
શીળો, ફૂલ સમો ઉજાસ....

Translated by Lata Hirani from Malayalam to English

* Home

Arundhathi Subramaniam

Give me a home
that isn't mine,
where I can slip in and out of rooms
without a trace,
never worrying
about the plumbing,
the colour of the curtains,
the cacophony of books by the bedside.

A home that I can wear lightly,
where the rooms aren't clogged
with yesterday's conversations,
where the self doesn't bloat
to fill in the crevices.

A home, like this body,
so alien when I try to belong,
so hospitable
when I decide I'm just visiting.

Translated by

On the Brink

Stanley Barkan

On the brink of fall,the leaves decide their deciduous fate.
Autumn comes like a red-haired witch
riding the winds on a thick-strawed broomstick.
The forests stun the eyes, visioning postcard vistas:
layers of gold and orange, reds and purples.
Soon all the trees will shake off their colored complements,
and the black bony fingers will thrust themselves stark
against the whiteness of the brink of winter.

Translated by
IMMORTALITY?

Obstinate

Pratishtha Pandya

Years passed
Months passed
Even rough days passed
The last episodes of
your favourite television soap
got over.
The fledglings from the nest
atop the Neem tree
flew away
made nests of their own, I guess
The laburnum outside the window
from green to yellow to green
three times
Your saree that I started wearing at home
got worn out
and was turned into
big square pieces for the dhobi
to tie ironing clothes in
and then into small square pieces
of dishcloths for the kitchen
and finally ripped into thin strips
used to tie the Madhumalati
in the garden with.
and yet time did not pass
It refused to move on
It stood with its feet firmly planted.
Sometimes in the old house
with its standing kitchen
where you and I drank tea together
I tasted it on my tongue
like a broken, soggy glucose biscuit
that ruins the taste of the tea.
Sometimes leaving the chores aside
when you succumbed
to Papa’s demands
taking his head in your lap
with a grumble first
with a laugh next
I saw it basking in the sunshine
of your wrinkled face.
It stayed on
in places and moments
that no longer belonged to him.
sometimes like an air bubble
stuck inside the IV line
on her puffed hands
or inside the deserted lanes
of her eyes that she opened
only when I ruthlessly twisted her skin
almost separated from her muscles
Sometimes like the silence
That grew wider
between her
sinking heartbeats
Who says time just flies!
It falls and crashes in every corner of the house
gets scraped by a familiar touch
gets bruised by an unknown feeling
Wounded and bleeding
it sits in the same old place
this obstinate time
that refuses to budge
since Ma died.
*અડીયલ*
વરસ વહ્યાં
મહિના વહ્યા
વહ્યા દિવસો ય આકરા
તને ગમતી ટેલીવીઝન સિરિયલના
છેલ્લા હપ્તાય પૂરા થયા
લીમડાના ઝાડ પરના માળાના
ચકલીના બચ્ચાં ઊડી ઊડી
પોતાના માળામાં ગયાં
બારી બહારના ગરમાળા
ત્રણ વાર
લીલા માંથી પીળા
ને પીળા માંથી લીલા થયા
ઘરમાં પહેરવા કાઢેલી
તારી સાડી ઘસાઈ એમાંથી
પહેલાં ધોબીના કપડાં બાંધવાના ટુકડાં
પછી રસોડામાં હાથ લૂછવાના મસોતાં
ને છેવટે ચિરાઈને બગીચાની મધુમાલતી ને
બાંધવાના ચિંદરડા થયાં
પણ સમય તો યે ના વહ્યો તસુભર
જરાય વધ્યો નહિ આગળ
પગ ખૂપીને ત્યાં ના ત્યાં રહ્યો
પોળના જૂના ઘરના
ઊભા રસોડાના પ્લેટફોર્મ પર બેસી
તારી સાથે પીધી ચા માં
મેં એને ચાખ્યો
ડુબાડતાં, તૂટી તળિયે બેસી ગયેલા
ચનો સ્વાદ બગાડી મૂકતા
ગ્લુકો બિસ્કિટની જેવો.
સવારમાં ઘરનું કામ રેઢું મૂકી
પપ્પાની જીદને વશ થઈ જ્યારે
એમનું માથું ખોળામાં લઇ
ઘડી છણકી
ઘડી હસી
તું બેઠેલી
ત્યારે મેં જોયેલો એને
તારી કરચલીયા ચહેરાના
અજવાળામાં ન્હાતો
એ પડ્યો પાથર્યો રહ્યો
એ બધીય જગ્યાઓમાં
તમામ ક્ષણોમાં
જે હવે એની પોતાની નહોતી
એ ખટકતો રહ્યો
એના ફૂલી ગયેલા હાથમાં
ખોસેલી નળીની અંદર ફસાયેલા
હવાનો પરપોટો થઈને
ક્યારેક એની માંસપેશીઓ થી છૂટી પડેલી
ચામડીને હું સાવ આમળી નાખું ત્યારે
ખુલતી એ આંખોની મૌન ગલીઓમાં
એ ભટકતો રહ્યો દિશા વિહીન
ક્યારક એના ધીમા પડતા ધબકાર વચ્ચેના
વધતા જતા શૂન્યાવકાશમાં
વિસ્તરતો ગયો
કોણ કહે છે
જુઓને સમય કેવો વહી ગયો?
ઘરના ખૂણે ખૂણે અથડાતો
કોઈ રઝળતી યાદે પછાડતો
કોઈ જાણીતા સ્પર્શે ઉઝરડાતો
કોઈ અજાણી લાગણીએ ખરડાતો
ઘવાતો, લોહી દૂઝતો
ને છતાં ય એની એજ જગ્યાઓએ
અટકેલો રહ્યો
આ અડિયલ સમય
મા ના મર્યા પછી.

Translated by the Poet from Gujarati
Love song of my own

Ibn Batuta, World traveler

Udayan Thakker

Sir, Ibn Batuta is my name,
I come from a village in Morocco,
tucked away in a corner of
the fourteenth century.
Huzoor, one morning I got up and saw:
I was too big for my boots.
I wandered out of my village,
tried on many a pair of shoes.
Some were small and the rest
too small.
With folded feet I sat in a madrasa,
and learnt- let the rosary be in hand,
but the beads must be on the move.
My feet had a will of their own.
They took me to Russia and Kabul,
to Istanbul,
to Mecca-Medina where I became a Haji,
to Delhi where I became a Kazi.
Sultan of Delhi said, 'O Batuta! Take gifts
to China. Let the Chinese Emperor
know who Taghlakh is!' I departed
carrying embroidered silks and emerald studded jewelry,
mounted a wild, headstrong, beast
of a ship.
Typhoon struck at Calicut.
All was lost.
Ya Allah! Better drown at sea,
than go to China empty handed.
I turned my back to Delhi and saw
a vast ocean...
I had nothing left but a sheet of cloth
on which to pray, that I turned
Into a sail,
landed at the Maldives which uses sea shells
for money, dipped my feet
in languor.
I climbed atop Adam's hill in Ceylon and saw
another hill and then another and yet another.
I saw Alexandria,that sits on the edge
of a continent, like a veiled mermaid.
I saw dunes of sand retreat,
I saw yogis levitate,
I saw Chinese snake-eaters,
Negro fire-eaters.
Every time I bought a ship, I made sure,
it had seven sails and
no rudder.
Ibn Juyazi, the scholar of our village,
asked me to narrate my tale.
He asked and he asked.
'Note down, O Juyazi, in the year thirteen hundred and forty,
the ship sank and I lost my treasure...'
I then corrected myself,
'No Juyazi, note down thus:
The ship sank and I
found my treasure!'
ઈબ્ન બતુતા, વિશ્વપ્રવાસી
જી,મારું ઈબ્ન બતુતા છે નામ,મોરોક્કો
મુકામ,નાનું અમસ્તું અમારું ગામ હતું.
ઈસુનો ચૌદમો સૈકો શરૂ થતો જ હતો.
હજૂર,એક સવારે ઊઠી મેં જોયું તો,
પગરખાં કરતાંય પગ, થઈ ગયા હતા મોટા.
હું મારું માપ લઈ મારે ગામથી નીકળ્યો.
અલક મલકનાં પગરખાં પહેરી જોયાં મેં,
કોઈક નાનાં તો કોઈક સાવ નાનાં પડ્યાં.
હું પગને વાળીને,બેસી રહ્યો મદરસામાં,
અને શીખ્યો કે ભલે તસ્બી હાથમાં જ રહે,
પરંતુ ફરતી રહે. હાથમાં રહ્યા ન્હોતા
આ મારા પગ, જે મને ઊડઝૂડ લઈ ચાલ્યા,
કદીક રૂસ ને કાબુલ, કદીક ઇસ્તંબુલ,
કદીક મક્કા-મદીના જઈને હાજી થયો,
પછી તો દિલ્લી પહોંચ્યો,ને ત્યાંનો કાજી થયો!
મને હુકમ કર્યો સુલતાને: ભેટસોગાદો
લઈને જાઓ તમે ચીન,ચીનનો રાજા
જરાક જાણે કે તઘલખ છે કોણ! હું નીકળ્યો,
લઈને જરકશી જામા ને જરઝવેરાતો.
ઊછળતી-કૂદતી માથાફરેલી મનવારો
પલાણી. ત્રાટક્યો વંટોળિયો કલીકટમાં
ને બારે વ્હાણ ડૂબ્યાં.
ખુદાયા! ચીન જઈ ખાલી ખાલી કરવું શું?
તો ઢાંકણીમાં લઈ પાણી, ડૂબી મરવું શું?
ફરાવી પીઠ મેં દિલ્લીથી, તો નજર સામે
અફાટ જોયો સમંદર...
સિલક કશીય નહોતી, સિવાય કે ચાદર
નમાઝની, કર્યો મેં ફરફરાટ સઢ એનો.
જ્યાં છીપલાંનું ચલણ છે, નિહાળ્યું એ માલ્દીવ,
ખળક ખળક થતી નવરાશમાં ચરણ બોળ્યા,
ચડીને ટેકરી આદમની ઊંચી, લંકામાં
નિહાળી દૂર બીજી, ત્રીજી, ચોથી ટેકરીઓ,
કોઈક જળપરી પર્દો કરીને બેઠી હો
કિનારે, એવી નિહાળી અલેકઝાંડ્રીયા.
મેં જોયા રેતના પર્વતને કરતાં પીછેહઠ,
મેં જોયા ભૂમિથી અધ્ધર થનાર યોગીઓ,
રમતમાં સાપને ચાવી જનાર ચીનાઓ,
ગમતમાં આગ પચાવી જનાર હબસીઓ.
વહાણ લેતાં મેં રાખી જરા તકેદારી,
કે સઢ હો સાત, અને ના સુકાન એકે હો.
અમારા ગામના વિદ્વાન ઇબ્ન જુયાઝી,
મને કહે કે લખાવો પ્રવાસની વાતો.
એ પૂછતાં જ ગયા ને હું બોલતો જ ગયો:
લખો જુયાઝી લખો, તેરસો ને ચાળીસમાં,
વહાણ ડૂબતાંવેંત જ ગયા ખજાનાઓ.
પછી સુધારી કહ્યું: ના, જુયાઝી, એમ લખો:
વહાણ ડૂબતાંવેંત જ
મળ્યા ખજાનાઓ.

Translated by the Poet from Gujarati

Loss

Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca

Tandem Poem to accompany Poster poem 1 by Nissim Ezekiel
(My father talked too loudly…. but just before he died)
Dedicated to my father who sadly passed away from Alzheimer’s in 2004

My father could not talk to me
Before he died
Could not reach me in a distant land
Twinned in spirit, separated by geography,
I heard he remembered me
Said he could never forget me
Memory without a memory
Not able to remember
Not able to forget
Trapped in a maze of loss.
Two losses
The greater loss is mine

Thankfully,

He could not remember
What he had lost.
*********
The poem, Loss, by Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca is based on the late poet Nissim Ezekiel’s poem.
Poster Poems
1

My father talked too loudly
and too much.
but just before he died
his voice became soft and sad
as though whispering secrets
he had learnt too late.
He drew me close to him
and spoke his truths to me.
I felt the breath of his love
but could not hear a word.

Translated by
How Daddy wrote his Poetry

How Daddy wrote his Poetry

Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca

The smoke curl from the Menthol Cool cigarette
In the glass ashtray
Touched the ceiling
Creating patterned shadows
On the paint- peeled walls.
He only took one puff!

He had no fear of fire,
The knowledge that
The cigarette would eventually
Extinguish itself
Was something he trusted
Inherently.

As he lay on the dusty bed
Triangle-fold handkerchief
Over his eyes
Carefully removing the
Delicately-crafted glasses
I always thought would break
With even the slightest tap.

Then,moving to the crowded desk
Hastily wrote a few inspired lines
On pieces of paper, blank or lined
Whatever could be found.

Then again with set rhythm
Back to the bed
Placing the same crumpled handkerchief
Carefully
Over the eyes
Waited patiently for the remaining
Lines to come.

He breathed deeply.
Or ‘deep breathely’,
As he was fond of saying,
Perhaps invoking the muse
For the rest of the poem
To take shape.

Then he paced up and down
The sparse room
Reading the words aloud
And invited me in
To be bothaudience and critic.

Daddy typed with two fingers
On the old clickety typewriter
And the manuscript was ready
To be delivered to willing eyes.

Daddy wrote often
Into the early hours of the morning
And I had to creep into the room
Mouse-like
Cockroach quiet,
Remove the handkerchief
Turn off the light
And tell him
He must sleep.
It’s late, Daddy!

I stood outside his room
Until I heard the familiar click
Of the old wooden latch
And I knew he’d get a few hours
Of fulfilled slumber.

Epilogue

Daddy’s recipe for the good life
Was to write a poem
In every circumstance
Joyful or adverse.
On a crowded Indian train
Or lurching bus.
Ignore the stares
Of curious fellow travelers
Pull out the pen and paper
And get to work.

And for a mundane example
To brew the perfect cup of ‘chai’
One must immerse the tea leaves
Into the boiling water
And let them brew.
Walk away into another room
Write a poem
Which will then be the brewed thoughts
Of a pensive mind.
And the perfect cup of ‘chai’
Is born!

Do not wait for the muse,
Persist, to defy the block.
Follow the simple recipe
Of a beloved beverage.

In my husband’s home now
Far from my father’s home,
When ‘Chai’ is made
With combinations of ginger
Cinnamon and cardamom
Sugar, milk and whatnot,
Father’s poetry wafts in
On waves of spice
And earthy freshness.
Memories are made of this
And poetry too!

Post-Epilogue

Grandfather was a ‘science’ man.
When father won
A poetry prize in school,
Came home rejoicing to share the news,
Grandfather said,
‘Poetry, what’s that?’
The child bought a bar of chocolate
For four ‘annas’,
An ancient, humble Indian coin
But a princely sum to the boy
Who ate his treatin solitary silence
And tears of wept Hurt
Mingled withHope
Andsecret Determination
To pursue the
Poetic journey.

Translated by
Loss

Ghalib’s Haveli in Ballimaran Road

A J Thomas

In spite of being in Delhi for the last 22 years, I was visiting Ghalib’s Haveli on Ballimaran Road, off Chandni Chowk, for the first time.
The timeless poet shares his home now
With a shop—never mind, faring better than many
Of Delhi’s beloved bards who upheld
The Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb,
And yet have left no earthly trace.
One can only gaze around at the relics of his life
With a lump rising to one’s throat.
Such exalted conceits, word-craft, humour;
Unbending sense of honour bruised by
History’s nasty turns. Perpetually in debt
Yet never perturbed in his angelic self.
Homeless, ever roaming in spirit, he’d have little value
For a majestic dwelling place like this.
He’d even forgive the garish facelift given
To his long-lived-in, one-time quarters.
He knows these, and the countless tomes churned out about him,
Are well-meaning attempts to keep his memory alive. He’d even forgive
This, my lame verse in his name.

Translated by
Sarmad Shaheed
Shoorpanakha

Sarmad Shaheed

A J Thomas

(Recently I revisited the Juma Masjid area and Ballimaran, which inspired two poems. The first one is on the Martyr Sarmad who was executed by the Emperor Aurangazeb)
The king is naked, cried the innocent child.
Power is naked, the unsheathed sword.
Truth is naked too. Innocence can see it.
The two often clash in battle, sparks flying.
Sticking to nudity is the ultimate truth-speaking.
That’s what Sarmad did--the absolute unconformity,
Outside the frames of the established.
If Mansur Al Hallāj declared ‘I am the Truth’ chanting Ana’l Haqq,
Sarmad did something similar, saying only the La Ilāha part of the kalimah
Leaving out illā-llāh, perhaps implying
‘There’s no God outside, but within oneself.’
Dazed by the unravelling, Aurangzeb had him beheaded
Outside the Eastern Gate of the Juma Masjid
Where the headless Sarmad danced on the steps
Carrying his head in his hands, before giving up the ghost,
As the legend goes.
Standing on the very steps, I frame a picture of his Red Dargah below
With the Quila-e Mualla, -- or, the Exalted Fortress which was eventually reduced to
The simple Lal Quila to suit the latter-day reality of total decrepitude--
Looming in the skyline behind.

Translated by
Ghalib’s Haveli in Ballimaran Road
Shoorpanakha

Alang

Adil Jussawalla

Perennial scrapyard, magnet for the remaindered,
burning ground for ships that outlive their terms of service.

thought its working conditions are savage deplored,
I don’t want to go there now, other things matter.

On night and day are showers of light
from instruments cutting through once-buoyant life.

the sound of crushers, claws, the smell of metal
becoming liquid – all we imagined to be in another country

now blinking their warning lights in rooms close at hand
or in hospitals near or distant,

where those marked to be proceed may spend
the five years it takes or more to make a great ship

vanish, as mother spent hers, open to probes and instruments,
and may make others I dare not mention spend.

Let it be merciful I pray, with us still alive
(however faintly) to the blessings of sight and sound.

the passing of ships with all their lights on, the music at sea
others are joyously dancing to, glimpse

the sudden bight arc of a lighthouse even as it’s happening
here grappling irons hit our decks and slack cable sing as they tauten

Translated by

Women Going to Buy Bags of Milk

Indu Joshi

Wearing night gowns
At around five thirty in the morning
women going to buy bags of milk
in a half-sleep and half-awake state
put their bags of milk – if they have more
than one-
into plastic bags from saree sales or cloth bags
and return home
Some return home
holding their plastic bag of milk between
their thumb and index finger,
moving the arm back and forth
as if holding a kitten from its neck.
If she is from my compound, she greets me
with a ‘Jai Shri Krishna,’ and before I pass her
asks, “So how are you today?”
Then satisfied that she could ask the question
she moves on
not listening for an answer.

Wintry December has begun
and it is dark at five thirty in the morning.
In the bright neon lights you can see the shapes
of women wearing nightgowns from afar.
When they near, they try to recognize each other.
If one is wearing a sweater or a scarf
others squint and peer and are satisfied
only when an identification has been made
Oh! That is the no. 2 from the society next to ours.
(Watch it –
that only means the woman from house no. 2!)
In the dim light of the cabin of the dudhwali
they first identify each other
then ask for their bags of milk.

In the west – the moon before sunrise
is not in the least pale.
It is a full moon, the yellowish full moon of poonam.
A scattering of stars can been around it.
When I reach the milk cabin
a dog lying nearby looks at me
with sleep-filled eyes
and I remember that woman’s question
“So how are you today?”
Carrying my bags of milk, wearing a night gown
I also return home.

દૂધની કોથળીઓ લેવા જતી સ્ત્રીઓ
ઇંદુ જોશી

નાઈટ ગાઉન પહેરેલી ને
સવારના લગભગ સાડા પાંચ થી છના અરસામાં
દૂધની કોથળીઓ લેવા જતી સ્ત્રીઓ,
અર્ધ ઊંઘમાં ને અર્ધજાગૃત અવસ્થામાં,
જો કોથળીઓ એક કરતાં વધુ હોય તો,
સાડીના સેલની પ્લાસ્ટિક બેગ કે કપડાની થેલીમાં
મૂકી ઘેર પાછી ફરે છે.
કોઈક તો વળી પેલી બિલાડી
બચ્ચાને મોંથી ઝાલી જતી હોય
એમ એક કોથળી તર્જની ને અંગુઠાથી પકડી,
હાથ હલાવતી પાછી ફરતી હોય.
મારા ફળિયાની હોય તો
‘જે શ્રીકૃષ્ણ’ કહેશે, પછી હું પસાર થઈ જાઉં
એ પહેલા તરત પૂછશે,
‘આજે કેમ તમે ?’
અને જવાબ સાંભળવાની રાહ જોયા વિના
પ્રશ્ન પૂછી શકાયો એવા સંતોષથી
ચાલી જશે.

હમણાંથી હવે ડિસેમ્બરનો શિયાળો
શરૂ થઈ ગયો છે ને
સવારે સાડા પાંચથી છ માં
અંધારું જ હોય.
નિયોન લાઈટ્સના અજવાળે
દૂરથી ગાઉન પહેરેલી સ્ત્રીઓના ઓળા દેખાય.
પાસે આવે ત્યારે એકબીજીને
ઓળખવાનો પ્રયત્ન કરે.
તેમાંય કોઈકે સ્વેટર શાલ કે સ્કાર્ફ ઓઢ્યા હોય
તો આંખો વધુ સતેજ કરે
અને
ઓળખાણ મેળવીને જ જંપે કે
આ તો બાજુની સોસાયટીની બે નંબરી.
(જો જો હોં ! એટલે કે બે નંબરના ઘરની એમ સમજવું)
દૂધવાળીના ગલ્લા પાસે આછા ઉજાસમાં
પહેલા એકબીજીને જુએ ને પછી
દૂધની કોથળીઓ માંગે.

પશ્ચિમ દિશામાં – સૂર્ય ઉગતા પહેલાંનો ચંદ્ર
આજે જરાય ઝાંખો નથી,
પૂર્ણ છે, થોડો પીળાશ પડતો પૂનમનો.
તારાય થોડાઘણા છે તેની આજુબાજુ.
હું દૂધના ગલ્લે પહોંચું છું ત્યારે
પાસે સૂતેલું એક કૂતરું ઊંઘરેટી આંખે
મારી સામે થોડું જોઈ લે છે ને
મને પેલી સ્ત્રીનો પ્રશ્ન યાદ આવે છે,
‘આજે કેમ તમે ?’
દૂધની કોથળીઓ લઈ,
નાઈટ ગાઉન પહેરેલી હુંય
પાછી ફરું છું.

Translated by Gopika Jadeja from Gujarati

Shoorpanakha

A J Thomas

My enticing smile, alas,
Reveals only my fangs
My enamoured fondling of your
Winsome shoulder
Are but scratches with my talons
My love-burnt eyes turn
Into two blazing embers
My bosom aquiver with passion for you
Reveal only my hirsute teats!
How am I to love you Rama
With all these
Treacherous exteriors?
My love for you
Is the yearning for the eternal You
But this is how I am defined
And, you, of all people
Spurn me!
You are all-seeing, aren’t you?
How come you can’t see my
Heart burning in Panchagni
Yearning for union with you?
Your petite wife whom you call half your body and soul
Will soon turn fickle, and jump out
Of the circle your slave-brother has confined her in
On your behalf. You can’t spurn femininity
And get away with it. I am Shoorpanakha
The sole sister
Of the conqueror of heaven and earth,
Yet I fail in front of you, Rama.
The molten lava of my tears
Will engulf your epic
In flames of devastation.


Translated by
Ghalib’s Haveli in Ballimaran Road
Sarmad Shaheed

THE TROUBLES

Matthew Geden

There is a woman at the sink
rinsing dishes, sunlight washes
her hair, she can hear the snip
snip of his shears trimming the border
hedge, a chocolate egg drips
in the afternoon heat, ice cubes
are melting into her gin and tonic.

She waits for the end of an era;
and it comes with a strange silence,
a stillness between this world and the next,
an ambulance breaks the spell, draws near,
pulses and wails as she drops a dinner plate.


Translated by

IMMORTALITY?

Stanley Barkan

(a “footnote” after Donald Lev)

I jumped off
the Brooklyn Bridge.
Twice.
But I failed.
I didn't die.
The Guinness Book of World Records
called me up,
said I should try again:
If I lived,
I'd set a record.
So I jumped a third time
and succeeded.
At last I've achieved . . .
Immortality?


અમરત્વ?
(ડોનાલ્ડ લેવ વિશે પાદટીપ)

હું કૂદી પડ્યો
બ્રૂકલિનના પુલ ઉપરથી
બબ્બે વાર
પણ નિષ્ફળ ગયો
મર્યો નહિ
ગીનીસ બુક ઓફ વર્લ્ડ રેકર્ડ્સ
-માંથી ફોન આવ્યો મને
બોલ્યા: પુન: પ્રયત્ન કરી જુઓ,
જો હું જીવી જાઉં
તો વિશ્વવિક્રમ થશે.
એટલે હું ત્રીજી વાર કૂદ્યો
અને સફળ થયો.
મને મળ્યું આખરે...
અમરત્વ?

Translated by
On the Brink

Love song of my own

Pratishtha Pandya

I lay etherized like that evening
inside one dark hotel room
made of concrete, wood, and glass
with no doors leading outwards
no windows looking inwards
where you visit me
like the occasional fog
on a winter evening
pretty much like a cat
jumping from rooftop to rooftop
refusing to be tamed.
I rest my head for a while
on the cold but soft fur
on your chest
seeking warmth in vain
then search for the sunlight
in the yellow eyes of an electric bulb
chase my dying breath for wind
Outside on the glassy street
_women come and go
talking of Michelangelo_
You walk with all of them
Go for a coffee
with a few favourite ones
at the café across the road
next to the rainbow flower shop
All the time toying with a question
that I know
you will dare not ask
On this side of the glass
I wait
not knowing
for what
till when
I am not sure if there will be time
Time to look into your eyes
After the fog has lifted
Time to hold your hands
After the women have left
Time to walk on the open streets
After the walls are broken
Time to make sense
After questions have lost meanings
I am not sure if there will be time
To wait
To dream
To live
To make love
Time has frozen in the dark
Inside this hotel room
Without doors and windows
without a past
without a dream
This room lies etherized
on my chest in the dark
as I write this love song
for you.

Translated by the Poet from Gujarati
Obstinate

AS YET UNBORN

Stanley Barkan

Oh to be Adam
again
with all his ribs
yearning for a woman
as yet unborn,
mouth free
of the taste of apples,
ears without
the hiss of snakes,
mindless of
nakedness and shame
in the garden
of gentle creatures
waiting for a name.

Translated by
NAMING THE BIRDS

Sibyls

Manisha Joshi

Huddled in a group, the sibyls sit;
in slightly soft, and slightly loud tones
they speak, of things.
Their fists are filled with grain
which they fling high up, for birds.
To fill their beaks with grain
scattered far and further
the birds run!
The sibyls are at a game of the blind-man's-buff
and the birds
pay a visit to their homes
to gorge on all the dinner ready and covered.
Exhausted, when the sibyls return,
they shriek at the chaos of upturned bowls.
It is the birds for sure!
These all-knowing sibyls,
they know not how to curse.
By paddy-filled granaries they sit sobbing,
When they stroll along the Greek roads,
before them walks the cacophony of birds
and people cannot hear a word.
Unheard, these sibyls will perish just so.
The birds stomachs will then explode,
and O! their wailing chicks that never took wing.
People will repent this for sure.
New hands in sibyl-homes, will sprout each day,
anxiety like new moles on the body will consume them.
The sibyls will then have avenged.
***

*The sibyls are ancient Greek women gifted at foretelling.


સિબિલ

સિબિલીઓ ટોળે વળી બેઠી છે.
થોડુંક ધીમેથી, થોડુંક ઊંચા અવાજે
કંઈક બોલી રહી છે.
એમની મુઠ્ઠીમાં દાણા છે.
ખૂબ ઊંચે ઉછાળી પંખીઓ પાસે ફેકે છે.
પંખીઓ દૂર દૂર વેરાયેલા દાણાઓ
ચાંચમાં ભરી લેવા દોડે છે.
સિબિલીઓ હવે આંધળોપાટો રમી રહી છે.
અને પંખીઓ જઈ પહોંચ્યાં છે, એમનાં ઘરોમાં,
ઢાંકેલી રસોઈ ખાવા.
થાકેલી સિબિલીઓ ઘેર પાછી ફરે છે.
અધખુલ્લાં વાસણો જોઈ બોલી ઊઠે છે,
નક્કી આ પક્ષીઓ!
બધું જ જાણી લેતી આ સિબિલીઓને
શાપ આપતાં નથી આવડતું.
ધાન ભરેલી કોઠીઓ પાસે બેસી એ ડૂસકાં ભરે છે.
ગ્રીસના રસ્તાઓ પર નીકળે છે તો એમની આગળ
પક્ષીઓનો કલબલાટ હોય છે.
લોકોને એમના શબ્દો કંઈ જ સંભળાતા નથી.
આ સિબિલીઓ આમ ને આમ મરી જશે.
પક્ષીઓનું પણ પેટ ફાટશે.
બચ્ચાંઓ ઊડ્યા વગરનાં રોશે
લોકો તો ખૂબ પસ્તાશે.
સિબિલીઓનાં ઘરમાં રોજ નવા નવા હાથ ઊગશે.
દરેકને પોતાના શરીર પરના નવા તલની જેમ
એની ચિંતા થશે.
અને આમ, સિબિલીઓ વેર વાળશે.

*સિબિલ : પ્રાચીન ગ્રીસની ભવિષ્યવેત્તા સ્ત્રીઓ.


Translated by Neeti Singh from Gujarati

Coming Down The Mountain

Mark Roper

You have been
where you have been
someone else,

a place of peat, pool and sky,
stripped by wind
and swept by light.

You have walked yourself
invisible, rock
your bone and motion

and you would like
to walk forever
but you have to go down.

You try to take
something with you:
a sliver of quartz

or a ram’s horn,
a special feather,
a piece of eye bright.

They soon fade,
as a pebble picked
from a lake will fade.

What’s found up there
lives only up there,
in that high air.

All you can take
is the way, each time,
you’re simplified –

the gift of long hours
spent alone
with stream and stone.

Where a raven’s call
took all your attention.

Where news of the world
didn’t rate a mention.

Translated by Poet from Irish to English

Day & Night

John Menaghan

From THE TAGORE VARIATIONS: A Series of Poems Inspired by lines from Rabindranath Tagore

Has the time come I may go in at last?
All day I’ve been outdoors in summer air.
It seemed a sin to turn my back on splendor.
As if the rising sun had laid before me
a gift from which no sane man turns away.

But now the dark, and weariness, descend.
To lie in blackness seems a kind of solace
that brilliance cannot bring, try as it might.
All day the sun embraced me like a lover,
then left me—with a craving for the night.


Translated by
Words
The Visitors
The Air Is Still
As If You Knew
Dust
The Traveler’s Song
Autumn

Words

John Menaghan

From THE TAGORE VARIATIONS: A Series of Poems Inspired by lines from Rabindranath Tagore

Words have wooed yet failed to win her.
Deeds done for her performed in vain.
What could he say to bring her closer?
What could he do to make her care?

Asked to abandon all he loved
he would have left it far behind.
Had he known how to sell his soul
he’d happily have made the trade.

None of that mattered, not at all.
Nothing he did--or might have done.
He watches her, from far away,
move through the life she chose instead.

She made her choice, took his away.
What choice had he but to endure
and wonder now, observing her,
if she regretted it at all?

Endure? Regret? Words, words. What good
are words to him when what he’d craved
was to be at her side right now,
to live with her through all his days?


Translated by
Day & Night
The Visitors
The Air Is Still
As If You Knew
Dust
The Traveler’s Song
Autumn

The Visitors

John Menaghan

From THE TAGORE VARIATIONS: A Series of Poems Inspired by lines from Rabindranath Tagore

They took their seat in a corner,
and they sat so quiet and meek.

I asked them why they’d come,
but still they spoke not a word.

I offered them food and drink,
but smiling they looked away.

What else can I offer? I asked.
And again: Why are you here?

They turned to look back at me
and sorrow flowed into their eyes.

They rose then and bowed solemnly
and backed away toward the door.

Where will you go? I cried.
Tell me before you depart.

Their sad eyes rose to the sky,
then dropped down to the floor.

Is there nothing you can say?
I need you to speak to me.

They passed beyond the door
with a smile and a wave and were gone.

I found myself all alone,
just as I’d been before

but not quite as I had been
for the room looked emptier

and something had gone with them
to wherever they’d disappeared.

I sank to the ground and wept
mourning whatever I’d lost

till a voice inside me cried:
Let the time not pass in vain!

I ceased weeping then and rose
and left that place far behind

seeking I hardly knew what
but the road and its solitude

meaning to travel until
I could hear my soul exclaim

and my body sigh under the strain
and the air fill with shouts and screams

and the harp of the road break out
in the sweet music of pain

then take myself home and sit
in the corner so quiet and meek

as sorrow flowed into my eyes
and ask myself why I had come

and who I supposed I might be
and offer myself no reply.



Translated by
Day & Night
Words
The Air Is Still
As If You Knew
Dust
The Traveler’s Song
Autumn

The Air Is Still

John Menaghan

From THE TAGORE VARIATIONS: A Series of Poems Inspired by lines from Rabindranath Tagore

The air is still
and silent about you.

It has no tale
to tell to anyone.

The secrets locked
inside your sleeping skull

cannot escape,
cannot betray you.

No breeze, no wind
carries away your story

to ears that might
receive it gracelessly,

perhaps distort it
past all recognition

to do you harm,
to tell a vicious tale.

Sleep on. You’re safe
now as you’ll ever be.

Not safe at all,
of course, for no man can

evade his end,
approaching silently.

Translated by
Day & Night
Words
The Visitors
As If You Knew
Dust
The Traveler’s Song
Autumn

As If You Knew

John Menaghan

From THE TAGORE VARIATIONS: A Series of Poems Inspired by lines from Rabindranath Tagore

Think it your good fortune
to sit perfectly still
where you are placed.

Think of the frantic times
spent wandering about
and settling nowhere.

If the time has now come
to remain where you are
it is not for nothing.

Everything that ever
happened has led to this
moment, here and now.

Out in the great beyond
a terrible chaos
rushes through the void.

But you are in this place
resplendent with silence
if only for a time.

Surrender yourself to
stillness as if you knew
what it meant to live.

As if you understood death,
though patient, lies in wait
out there . . . somewhere.


Translated by
Day & Night
Words
The Visitors
The Air Is Still
Dust
The Traveler’s Song
Autumn

Dust

John Menaghan

From THE TAGORE VARIATIONS: A Series of Poems Inspired by lines from Rabindranath Tagore

Stained with dust
he keeps himself
from the world
and is afraid
even to move.

Movement could
well imply a hope
that he might be
so much more
than simple dust.

He feels no need
to ask how he
might move this
world were he
to lose his fear.

Or does he fear
moving he’ll find
the world itself
mere dust and
nothing more?

Translated by
Day & Night
Words
The Visitors
The Air Is Still
As If You Knew
The Traveler’s Song
Autumn

The Traveler’s Song

John Menaghan

From THE TAGORE VARIATIONS: A Series of Poems Inspired by lines from Rabindranath Tagore

The traveler has to knock
at every alien door
to come to his own.

At the wayside where
shadow chases light
and the rain comes

in the wake of summer,
I sit here before my door
and I sing all alone.

Fires and shadows mingle
with the gloom of dust.
I have done all I could.

Translated by
Day & Night
Words
The Visitors
The Air Is Still
As If You Knew
Dust
Autumn

Autumn

John Menaghan

From  THE TAGORE VARIATIONS: A Series of Poems Inspired by lines from Rabindranath Tagore

The horizon is fiercely naked,
still and keen and cruel.

I am like a remnant of cloud
uselessly roaming the sky.

Let the cloud of grace bend low,
take this emptiness of mine.

Float it on the wanton wind
and vanish away in the dark.

Translated by
Day & Night
Words
The Visitors
The Air Is Still
As If You Knew
Dust
The Traveler’s Song

NAMING THE BIRDS

Stanley Barkan

Tired of naming cattle & fish,
Adam turned to the birds.
“Raven,” he said;
then “dove,”
prophetically,
these first creatures of the air
who’d be symbols in a later time
of rain and flood and rainbow.
Of the birds who would
sing at dawn and dusk
he had little interest;
so Eve decided to try
her onomastic skill.
“Nightingale,” she whispered.
“Ibis, heron, flamingo,
parrot, peacock, tanager,”
mystery, grace, magnificence
of thought, motion, and design.
It took a woman
to properly name
the birds of Paradise.

Translated by
AS YET UNBORN

Rimbaud

Richard Berengarten

Precocious pupil, teenage layabout,
he’s played provincial brat, brash schoolboy slut,
barbarian beast, filthy louse-ridden mutt –
until piss-artist drink-mates chuck him out;
absinthe and argot mingling in his throat,
teacher’s best pet, deranged, turns foul-slanged slob,
illumination-seeker, cannon-gob,
working his passage on a drunken boat . . .
And then he’s twenty-two. And poetry stops.
And then, as if he’s cleaned up, done the cure,
and doesn’t need the hit, crack, high (or crutch?),
his previous life, he says, has been rinçures –
rinsewater, dishswirl, drainwaste, sloshmurk, slops –
yeah, been there, done that, thank you very much.

Translated by

Swinging Boats

Angela Patten


Sometimes it seems as if your life
is all about trying to balance
on a swinging boat, the painted kind
you used to love at the old time
carnival on Dun Laoghairepier.

It wasn’t Coney Island but what
did you know of foreign parts?

The helter-skelter where you slid
hell-for-leather on a burlap mat
down a winding metal chute
seemed to go on for miles
what with all the howling kids
and the general hullabaloo.

The swinging boat was gaudily daubed
in blue and yellow swirls, slung
like a cradle between two spars.

A man in a lead-colored coat
and tweed cap took your money.
Then you stepped in one end,
your sister in the other,
and you pulled on the ropes in tandem
to make the boat sway back and forth
like a clock less pendulum.

It wasn’t Venice but what
did you know of gondoliers?

Some days,caught up
in the endless round of tasks
dictated by your To Do list,
as if your frantic busyness
were a requirement for sainthood
or a penance for past iniquities,
you might be a carousel pony
galloping in everlasting orbit
or a girl clad in a secondhand frock
going nowhere fast
in a swinging boat.

Translated by

A While

Glenn Shea

Near Yangxua, Guangji Province

The light westering, the shadows playing at angles;
the abrupt round hills leap up to surround us.
Lili leads us from the village onto a footpath
into a grove. The trees are afire with fine ripe oranges,
fat wet globes of fruit. We exclaim at them,
chewing the juicy skins. All day we’ve been greeted
and waved at, known as visitors. A neighbor
drove her old blue clunker into town
to pick us up. Lili says of the village,
when there’s trouble we help each other,
and for just some moments whatever isn’t calm
and a joy goes away. We linger in it,
saying little, the green trees misting over.
The dusk comes with the first words of dark behind it,
and at last we turn to go back,
the oranges bright in our hands as lanterns.

Translated by

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
Home sickness
Blood-soaked

Home sickness

Shelly Bhoil

These ballerinas,
the migratory birds
lift their toes
swiftly
unfolding feathers
in harmony
to perform the sky dance
and exit the horizon
leaving behind empty-nes(t)s
echoing with joyous, envious
songs of home and return
for this solitary immigrant
whose path is chartered on
a seamless ocean
of individual drops

In the sprawling waves
of loneliness and longing
I drift between things banal
tv, tea, smokes and car
to the corner street
where someone's soot-clad feet
comfortably dislodged
from a card box home
shatter my ballerina romance

for I realize-
home sickness is a luxury
unavailable to the homeless!

Translated by
Meaning-making
Blood-soaked

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
Home sickness

LET US BUILD A BRIDGE

Yogesh Joshi

Let’s go then
We shall erect a bridge
So what, if there is no river?
If we build a bridge
it is possible
that the river may arrive
in our hamlet.

Who said
that a river starts from a mountain?
In our village
it may come from the sea.

The sky and the sea
are equally close like us.
It is true,
that the birds do not have
a affiliation to their nest
as is with the sky.

By now I can see
fish and scallops and conch-shells
in the mirages.

What do you think of the mirages?
Diving in them
from their bottoms
one can bring pearls also.

If one genuinely wants
to drown
it can be done within igneous rcok.
One can sow something in the wind.
Just with a drop of water
many a rock can be splintered.

Do you want to come? Speak up.
Let’s go then
to raise a bridge.

Translated by Dileep Jhaveri from Gujarati
SAND DUNES

SAND DUNES

Yogesh Joshi

In the end
I long to be planted
in this desert.

Between two tall ridges
I am sitting
like Mount Olympus
I whisper a little
in the ears of the wind
and in next to no time
scading sand
starts pouring down
on my head...

From all the four sides
sprinting ardently
streams down
scorching sand
on my head...

Now chest-deep
Now neck-deep
Now head-deep
Now I am under the mound...

Now
above me
taller than the mountains
sandbanks after sandbanks
sandbacks after sandbanks
moving like surf
with the speed of a snail...

The mounds
above me
keep on rising...
and from my underneath
ascends lava higher and higher...

And still
even now
why
it is not possible
to be planted
to be intered
or to be burnt down?!



ઢૂવા

રોપાઈ જવા
ઝંખું છું હું
છેવટે
આ રણમાં.
બે ઊંચા
ઢૂવાઓ વચ્ચે
બેઠો છું હું
મેરુ ની જેમ.
પવનના કાનમાં
કશુંક કહું છું
કે તરત
બળબળતી રેત
ઠલવાવા લાગે છે
મારા શિર પર...
ચારે બાજુથી
ઉમળકાભેર ધસી આવીને
ઠલવાતી રહે છે
ગરમલાહ્ય રેત
મારા શિર પર..
હવે છાતી સુધી રેત
હવે ગળા સુધી રેત..
હવે હું
ઢૂવાની નીચે...
હવે
મારી ઉપર
ઊંચા ઊંચા પહાડ જેવડા
ઢૂવેઢૂવા..
ઢૂવેઢૂવા..
ગોકળગાયની ગતિએ
મોજાંઓની જેમ વહેતાં..
વધુ ને વધુ
ઊંચા ને ઊંચા થતા જાય છે
મારી ઉપરના ઢૂવા..
ને મારા તળિયેથી
ઉપર ઊઠતો જાય છે લાવા..
છતાં
કેમ હજીયે
નથી તો રોપાઈ શકાતું
નથી તો દટાઈ શકાતું
કે નથી તો બળી જઈ શકાતું?!

Translated by Dileep Jhaveri from Gujarati
LET US BUILD A BRIDGE

Love You a Pound

Song Huiyuan

Four tenths cooked rice, three tenths vegetables,
two tenths beans, one tenth meat
is my unvarying life.

Domestic life, fully itemized.
I love you, too, up to a pound.

One tenth kindness and scorn,
two tenths getting together and breaking up,
three tenths not giving up, still leaves four tenths.
I am writing you a lyric poem.

Nothing compares to these four tenths,
I use four tenths to win me a fair lady.

Copyright: Journal of 21st Century Chinese Poetry, ISSN 2166-3688
http://modernchinesepoetry.com

Translated by Meifu Wang and Michael Soper from Chinese

Cliché

Rong Rong

A man and a woman—
it's like a traffic accident
between an old car and an even older car.
The old street had been rerouted,
so they met at the new freeway exchange one day.
During a traffic jam, they collided
— he and she —
like two vehicles.

The promises were the first to be broken,
but lies will live another day
with growing disappointments.
The sky looks shattered through the windshield,
and dealing with loss will devour half of the spring.
In the dark, secrets and pangs of desire
all come to the fore, again and again.
Who knows how to navigate the maze of traffic rules?

It hurts because of the commitment,
but once again it proves the weakness of the human will.
After one bloody injury: from the nerve ends to the brain,
even the flesh contracted anxiety disorder.
Speeding, red lights, one-way streets, traffic tickets—
a love affair has become a mad maneuver—
no ambulance but time can come to their rescue.

They are two survivors.
Can he realign?
Can she be less suspicious of the car's reliability?
She has become the most careful driver,
worried about wrecking her second-hand car.

Copyright: Journal of 21st Century Chinese Poetry, ISSN 2166-3688
http://modernchinesepoetry.com

Translated by Meifu Wang and Michael Soper from Chinese

November

Meng Ye

She knows in November my eyes
will gain a little more depth.
She comes to see me then.

Every year when November comes, she grows a little uneasy.
She knows my eyes on such days
will have a deeper shade.

In November, the sky is almost empty, few birds are overhead.
I know on such days, eyes gains a little more depth,
not just mine but everyone else’s.
”Let me have a look at you? ” She holds my face up.
”Ah…”
It’s as if a big bird, beating its wings, is diving into
the deep pool of my eyes.

“Is it a bird?”
I can’t really tell,
but I feel that it reaches very deep.

She always looks at me so quietly. She must be able to see
I become a little more shriveled every year…

Copyright: Journal of 21st Century Chinese Poetry, ISSN 2166-3688
http://modernchinesepoetry.com

Translated by Meifu Wang and Michael Soper from Chinese

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.