Nazrul’s poetry translated 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 FRENZY OF DESTRUCTION Ring bells of victory! Ring bells of victory! Summer’s storm flutters the flag of the New! Ring bells of victory! Ring bells of victory! He who was to come is coming, Dancing as if possessed and bent on destruction! Crossing Oceans, storming the Main Gate, smashing portals, Into the dark hole of death In the guise of the eternal executioner— Through smoldering smoke Lighting the lamp of lightning The Violent One comes, Bursting with glee! Ring bells of victory! Ring bells of victory! Locks swaying in the overcast sky, He makes the sky flare, Forcing even the fiery all-consuming comet’s tail to tremble. In the very heart of the Creator of the universe Like an unsheathed sword the blood sparkles Roll and sway! His loud laughter stuns the universe into silence— Look how stunned the universe is! Ring bells of victory! Ring bells of victory! A dozen suns’ rays stream fiercely from His eyes The sorrows of the world stick in His disheveled hair. Every teardrop falling from His eyes Makes the seven seas roll and swell His cheeks flush and glow! Hugging mother-earth in His huge arms, He thunders, “Let destruction triumph!” Ring bells of victory! Ring bells of victory! Take heart, take heart, cataclysms shake the universe, The sluggish and shrunken, the dying and decrepit, Hide and flee because of the coming catastrophe. Cheerfully, compassionately, The infant moon’s beams will shine in the sky’s unkempt locks. Light will flood your home now! Ring bells of victory! Ring bells of victory! The eternal charioteer comes, lashing his bloodied whip, His horses neigh out; their cries resound in thunder and rain. Their hooves spark off stars and scatter them across the blue sky In the covered well of the dark dungeon The gods are tied up in sacrificial stakes And heaped in cold stony pillars. Time for Him and His chariot to shake the earth. Ring bells of victory! Ring bells of victory! Why fear destruction? It’s the gateway to creation! The new will arise and rip through the unlovely. Hair disheveled and dressed carelessly Destruction makes its way gleefully. Confident it can destroy and then build again! Ring bells of victory! Ring bells of victory! Why fear since destruction and creation is part of the same game? Ring bells of victory! Wives, hold up your lamps of welcome! The Beautiful comes in the guise of the Violent One Ring bells of victory! (First Published in Daily Star, 2007)
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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