Translated by Professor Fakrul Alam
ARISE, ARISE, O PATRIOT! Arise, arise O patriot India wants you — O endearing hero Above funeral pyres and prison-shackle free, O hero arise Shelter us, O one worth commemorating eternally! Saintly one, arise in a haven of pollen dust Let your booming message ring across the heavens And let your mantra of self-sacrifice reverberate India cries out in boundless grief Arise from your everlasting sleeplessness Stirring beyond death, bring ambrosia to our souls HELMSMAN ATTENTION! Travelers, take care, in thick darkness you must traverse Rugged mountains, dreary deserts, and turbulent oceans. The boat rocks, the waves swell, the sail are torn apart, The sailor veers off course, who’ll take over, who has the guts? Who has the gumption and can dare — the future summons! Through this storm, you must steer, and row your craft home! The night is dark, sentinels of the motherland, be on guard! The pent-up desires of countless years hurl you forward! Stirred by pain the neglected heart must now play its part. Bring all along, make them your own, give everyone his start! Hapless nations drown, ignorant of the art of survival, Helmsman — redeem this day your pledge to free the motherland! Who dares call out, “Are you Hindus or Muslims?” Helmsman — claim the drowning as the same mother’s offspring! There is panic in the pass, travelers take fright, the sky quakes The ones in the rear are full of fear and wary of what lies ahead. Helmsman — halfway down the path can you forsake them? Let them squabble, you must carry on, and bear your burden! Helmsman! Ahead of you lies the battlefield of Palashey*, Where Clive’s sword crimsoned with the blood of Bangalis. Nearby in the Ganges India’s sun set, seemingly forever. Surely that sun will rise soaked in blood once again. Those who sang songs of life’s victory even on the scaffold Have come unnoticed to see us sacrifice ourselves in turn. This day our nation must pass the test of redemption Now is the time—the boat rocks, the sea swells, helmsman attention! *Battle of Plassey, 1757 'Helmsman Attention!' was first Published in Daily Star, 2006
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.
Fakrul Alam is an academic, translator and writer from Bangladesh. He has translated works of Jibonananda 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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