A translation of Nazrul’s Bidrohi (written in 1921, published in 1922) or ‘Rebel ‘ by Professor Fakrul Alam
Born in united Bengal, long before the Partition, Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976) was known as the Bidrohi Kobi, or “rebel poet”. Nazrul is now regarded as the national poet of Bangladesh though he continues a revered name in the Indian subcontinent. In addition to his prose and poetry, Nazrul wrote about 4000 songs.
The Rebel Proclaim O hero Proclaim My head will be held high! My head will tower o’er the snow-capped Himalayas Proclaim O hero Proclaim piercing the infinite spaces of the sky Going beyond the sun, moon, planets, and stars Plunging through earth and the heavens Bursting through God’s very seat I’ve come—the wonder of the universe! On my forehead blazes God’s fiery mark—the regal sign of victory! Proclaim O hero— My head will be held forever high! I’m forever indomitable, imperious, and remorseless, My dance is cataclysmic, I’m tempestuous, and I’m the destroyer, I’m terrifying; the curse of the earth I’m irrepressible I smash everything to smithereens. I’m undisciplined, I’m wayward, I crush all bonds, trample on all bans, rules, and restrictions, I obey no laws, I sink heavily laden ships, I’m a torpedo, a deadly floating mine. I’m the destructive Dhurjati, the disheveled sudden storm of Baishakh. I’m the rebel, the rebellious son of the Creator of the Universe. Proclaim O hero— Forever my head will be held high. I’m a cyclone, a whirlwind, I pommel all that lie in my path, I am a dance-driven swing, I dance to my own beat, I’m a free spirit, high on life. I’m the musical modes Hambeer and Chayanot, the festive swing of raga Hindol, I’m all hustle and bustle, On the road I’m all twist and turn, I sway back and forth, I’m an ever oscillating, lightning fast swing. I do whatever I please My enemies I embrace, with Death I grapple. I’m insane, I’m a hurricane. I’m the plague, the terror of the earth. I squash all tyrants, I rage restlessly. Proclaim O hero My head will be forever held high. I’m forever frenzied and intoxicated, I’m irrepressible, my soul’s beaker bubbles over with the liquor of life. I’m the sacrificial fire, am Yamadagni, the keeper of the sacrificial fire I’m the sacrifice, the priest, the flame too! I’m Creation and Destruction, I’m human habitation, and the cremation ground. I’m the Conclusion, the end of night! I’m the son of Indra, the king of gods, moon in hand, the sun on my forehead, On one hand I hold love’s slender flute, on the other the trumpet of war. I’m Shiva, my throat blue, I drink poison churned by creation’s ocean of pain, I’m Byomkesh, I hold the freely flowing Ganges in my ethereal locks. Proclaim O hero Forever will my head be held high. I’m a solitary Bedouin, I’m the capricious Chenghiz I defer only to myself and bow to none. I’m a thunderclap, the OM resounding from Ishan’s horn I’m the blast of Israfil’s trumpet, I’m Shiva’s bow-shaped drum, the trident, and gong of the god of death. I’m Chakra’s ring, a strident conch, I am the primal scream! I’m a whirling dervish, a devotee of the sage Vishyamitra, I’m a raging fire, I’ll consume earth in my flames! I’m carefree and full of glee-- the enemy of creation, the principle of destruction. I’m the demon eclipsing the sun and ushering in the day of doom. I’m sometimes placid--sometimes torrid, sometimes unbelievably wanton, I’m a hot-blooded youth, I’ll even humble God’s pride! I’m the exuberance of a gust of wind, I’m the mighty roar of the ocean. I’m resplendent, I am radiant, I’m a rippling-bubbling brook—the splash of the wave—the sway of the swing! I’m the unbraided flowing hair of a maiden, her glowing ravishing eyes. I’m the sixteen-year old’s love-stricken heart, wayward with passion, I’m bliss! I’m distracted, indifferent to the world, I’m the grief-choked heart of the widow, I’m the despair of the depressed. I’m the piled up pain of the wanderer, the forlornness of the homeless, ` I’m the agony of the insulted, the tormented heart of the jilted! I am the anguish of the heart-stricken, I feel the pain of unrequited passion, I’m the tingling sensation of the maiden’s first caress, the thrill of a stolen kiss! I’m the startled look of the secret lover, the glance forever stolen, I’m the fluttering heart of the restless girl, the jingling of her bangles. I’m forever the child, forever the adolescent, I’m the cloth covering the budding youth of the village belle. I’m the north wind, the breeze from Malabar, the wanton southern stream of air. I’m a minstrel’s soulful tunes, the songs played on his flute and lyre. I’m the parched throat of mid-day, the flaming, glowing sun. I’m a softly flowing desert stream, I’m a shaded green sylvan scene! I rush forth in a frenzy, I’m frantic, I’m insane! I’ve discovered myself all of a sudden, I’ve burst through all bonds. I’m the rise and the fall, I’m consciousness issuing out of the unconscious, I’m the banner of victory at the rampart of the world, the flag of man’s triumph. I’m a storm reverberating through heaven and earth. Lively like the horse Borwak, swift like Indra’s winged steed Uchaisrava, Spirited and neighing my way through! I’m a volcano flaming in earth’s bosom, the mythical sea-horse spouting fire. I’m a fire coursing through the netherworld, uproarious, tumultuous. I’m lightning, speeding past, skipping and leaping forth in joy. I’m an earthquake striking suddenly spreading panic everywhere. Grabbing the hood of Vasuki, the snake-god, Grappling with the fiery wings of Gabriel, messenger of heaven, I’m the God-child, vivacious, I’m impudent, I bite into the borders of my earth-mother’s dress. I’m Orpheus’s flute, Lulling the restless ocean to sleep, With the caress of soothing sleep I bring calm to a fevered world, My flute’s melodies enthral I’m the flute in Lord Krishna’s hands. When angry, I rouse myself and dart across the boundless sky. Cowering, the fires of the seven hells flicker with fear and fade from my sight. I carry the message of rebellion all across earth and the sky. I’m the monsoon deluge of Shravan, Sometimes making earth fertile, sometimes causing massive destruction-- I snatch from God Vishnu’s bosom his two paramours. I’m injustice, an evil star, malevolent Saturn I’m the blistering comet, the venom-filled fangs of a king cobra! I’m the blood-thirsty goddess Kali, I’m the marauding warlord Ranada, I sit in the midst of hellfire and smile with the innocence of a flower! I’m made of clay, I’m formed of the Supreme Being, I’m ageless, immortal, and imperishable, I’m indomitable! I’m what humans, demons, and even gods dread, I’m invincible in this world, I’m Lord of the gods of the Universe, the Ultimate Truth of Being! I dance, frisk and gambol through heaven, hell and earth! I’m insane, I’m insane!! I’ve discovered myself all of a sudden, this day I’ve burst through all bonds! I’m Parashuram’s hard-striking axe, I’ll rid the world of warmongers and bring peace and harmony to the universe. I’m the plough on Balaram’s shoulders, I’ll uproot earth to its foundations, delight in the joy of reconstruction. A mighty rebel, weary of war, I’ll stop creating a stir, Only when the cries of the wretched of the earth will stop renting the skies, Only when the oppressor’s bloody sword will cease smearing battlefields, A rebel, weary of war, Only then I won’t stir. I’m the rebel sage Bhrigu, on God’s very bosom, I’ll stamp my footmarks, I’ll slay the Creator, I’ll tear apart his indifferent whimsical callous chest. I’m the determined rebel, on God’s very bosom I’ll stamp my footmarks, I’ll tear apart the Creator’s whimsical chest. I’m the ever-rebellious hero-- Soaring over the world, all alone, head forever held high!
Recitation of Bidrohi by Nazrul’s son, Kazi Sabyasaachi.
Fakrul Alam is an academic, translator and writer from Bangladesh. He has translated works of Jibananda Das and Rabindranath Tagore into English and is the recipient of Bangla Academy Literary Award (2012) for translation and SAARC Literary Award (2012).
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