Poetry of Jibananda Das translated by Fakrul Alam
Where Have All These Birds Gone Where have all those birds gone now—and those horses -- And the women in those white houses? Wet with the fragrance of acacias-tinged with golden sunlight Those birds—and those horses--have left our world behind; My heart, tell me where -- where have they all gone now? Darkness, like that dead pomegranate—silence. On the Pathways for Long… (Prithbir Pothe Aami Bohu Din from Ruposhi Bangla) Having lived in the world’s pathways for a long, long time I know many stressful, hidden tales of the heart now. In forests, branches and leaves sway -- as if Djinns and fairies conversing! On greying evenings I’ve seen on their bodies a drop or two of rain dripping down. Like parched paddy will. White specks of dust soften in rainwater. A faint scent suffuses farmlands. From frail bodies of Gubur insects Indistinct, melancholy sounds dip into the dark river water; I’ve seen them all -- have seen the river immerse in the sloping dark; Shapmashis fly away; In Asuth tree nests, ravens flutter their wings Incessantly; someone seems to be standing in the lonely, fog-filled field. Farther off, one or two straw-roofed houses lie scattered. Why do the frogs croak on in Nolkhagra forests? Can’t they not stop? Freshly laid crow eggs slip and slide into the Sheora bushes.
(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.)
Jibonanada Das (1899-1954) was a Bengali writer, who now is named as one of the greats. During his life he wrote beautiful poetry, novels, essays and more. He believed: “Poetry and life are two different outpouring of the same thing; life as we usually conceive it contains what we normally accept as reality, but the spectacle of this incoherent and disorderly life can satisfy neither the poet’s talent nor the reader’s imagination … poetry does not contain a complete reconstruction of what we call reality; we have entered a new world.”
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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