Translated from Bengali by Professor Fakrul Alam
TO A PAINED ONE Now late at night you have a bed, A quiet and dark room, Placidity and silence. Think of nothing more. Listen to no one speaking, Just wipe your bloodied heart clean And tucked like the tuberose, Go to sleep. CITIES My heart, you’ve seen many big cities Cities whose bricks and stones Accents, affairs, hopes, frustrations and terrifying deprivations Have turned into ashes in the cauldron of my mind. Nevertheless, I’ve seen the sun amidst thick clouds in a corner of a city I’ve seen the sun on the other side of the river of a port city Like a love-struck farmer, he bears his burden in the tangerine-cloud coloured fields of the sky; Over the city’s gaslights and tall minarets, I’ve also seen—stars— Like flocks of wild geese heading towards some southern city. DAYS AND NIGHTS The whole day went purposelessly. The whole night will pass miserably. Full of frustrations and failures, Day in, day out, life is drudgery To be wasted away. And yet the phanimansha’s thorns we see Daubing the dew delightfully; not one bird in the sky All knowingly guilty birds in their nests now lie.
(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.)
Jibananada 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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