Excerpt Poetry of Jibananda Das

Banalata Sen translated by Fakrul Alam

Title: Jibanananda Das: Selected Poems with an Introduction, Chronology and Glossary

Translated by Fakrul Alam

Publisher: The University Press Limited, Dhaka.


For a thousand years I have walked the ways of the world,
From Sinhala's Sea to Malaya's in night's darkness,
Far did I roam. In Vimbisar and Ashok's ash-grey world
Was I present; Farther off, in distance Vidarba city's darkness,
I, a tired soul, around me, life's turbulent, foaming ocean,
Finally found some bliss with Natore's Banalata Sen.
Her hair was full of the darkness of a distant Vidisha night,
Her face was filigreed with Sravasti's artwork. As in a far-off sea,
The ship-wrecked mariner, lonely, and no relief in sight,
Sees in a cinnamon isle signs of a lush grass-green valley,
Did I see her in darkness; said she, "Where had you been?"
Raising her eyes, so bird's nest-like, Natore's Banalata Sen.
At the end of the day, with the soft sound of dew,
Night falls; the kite wipes the sun's smells from its wings;
The world's colours fade; fireflies light up the world anew;
Time to wrap up work and get set for the telling of tales;
All birds home—rivers too—life's mart close again;
What remains is darkness and facing me—Banalata Sen!

(Shesh Holo Jeebaner Lenden)

Life’s mart has closed again
			Banalata Sen!
Where have you gone at this time of the day
The kingfisher hasn’t forgotten its noontime play
The shalik bird to its nest has found its way
Excited, the river is foaming again
	But you are nowhere, Banalata Sen.

Was there anyone like you anywhere?
Why is it that you are the first to disappear?
	Why do you have to be the first
	To go and make the world a desert
	(Why are you always the first?)
The magician’s mantras have lost their hold over men
	But you are far away Banalata Sen.

Evening will always come and spread across the sky
	Often I go to sleep where slums are close by
	Often winds startle and go on a high
In a station in hijal jam forests has stopped the night train
	Late night’s Banalata Sen! 

(These translations are from  Jibanananda Das: Selected Poems with an Introduction, Chronology and Glossary, translated by Fakrul Alam, published by The University Press Limited, Dhaka, 1999. Republished with permission from the original publisher.)

About the Book: Jibanananda Das (1899-1954) is one of the most important poets of Bengal. Nevertheless, he remains a poet little known outside West Bengal and Bangladesh. Perhaps due to the absence of competent translations into English and other languages, Das achievement as a poet remains unrepresented in world literature. This selection of poems is designed to emphasise how Das’s poems are great treasures of our literature through the medium of translation. Fakrul Alam’s uniquely competent English translations were done originally mark the birth centenary celebrations of Jibanananda Das this year (1999). In this second edition, he has translated a few more poems to show even more fully the range of Das’s verse. Lovers of poetry outside the Bengali-speaking world should get a sense of the richness of Das’s poetry, his growth as a poet, and the extraordinary range of his work through these translations.

About the translator: Fakrul Alam is an academic, translator and writer from Bangladesh. He has translated works of Jibanananda 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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