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Poetry of Jibananda Das

Shorter Poems of Jibananda Das

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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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

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Poetry of Jibananda Das

All Afternoon Long

Poetry of Jibananda Das, translated by Fakrul Alam

ALL AFTERNOON LONG
All afternoon long I saw Bashir inside the paddy field.
All through the afternoon the skeleton of that three-storied red brick building
Besides the paddy field was being set up.
				(Everything is turning urban!)
Who owns that building? Why is it being built?  
	In the minds of the birds perched on this shore in fading evening light, 
		Or unlike the birds, or the boatmen in the boats plying here or the other shore
With their usual outcries,
The blue sky looked on impassively, its mind vacant. 
	In my dream at night, I saw Kolkata’s tram company getting ready to be here as well.
		Bashir’s bullocks twain out in this day’s sun look for a break  
As domesticated quadrupeds of the world will.
		Which country’s what animals’ and which tribes’ sketches will they resemble
		In becoming museum tales for the high-born and in being immortalised?
						The truths about them will be lost steadily!
			And yet in this land of museums, in the soundless but open room of one of them,
Could it be they would go up in flames without making civilisation any poorer
				Despite its stupendous piston?
Here the only story everyone still knows is of the jackdaw and the fairy tale princess, Shankhamala!
There are innumerable bird, nests and eggs on treetops here but still they haven’t been able to build
 this day a scientific poultry shop!   

(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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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

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Poetry of Jibananda Das

Leaving the World behind

Poetry of Jibananda Das translated by Fakrul Alam

Painting by Sohana Manzoor
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).

.

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

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Poetry of Jibananda Das

One Day in the Fog…

Translated from Bengali by Professor Fakrul Alam

Jibananada Das. Courtesy: Creative Commons

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.”

ONE DAY IN THE FOG...

(“Akdin Kuashai” from Ruposhi Bangla)
 
I well know a day will come when you won’t find me in this foggy field
Having ended its walks, the heart will move on to a silent, icy room then
Or perhaps it will be a while before it can be consoled. It may take time
For it to forget this earthly field. In astonishment, I’ll keep looking 
At the shaliks of the field from my bed in darkness. Will golden eagles
Still unfurl their wings and waft their way to this fog-filled field from afar?
To this day they head for bare ashwath branches as evening turns golden.
While through the soft rice stalks field mice still keep looking at the stars
 
As evening descends. Do bees still not build hives in intense dense darkness?
Having their fill of honey, don’t they fly away in the foggy, evening wind?
So far they must fly to, alas…or perhaps hemmed by chalta leaves
Some get trapped under hives. The flies fly away…drop… die in the grass—.

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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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.

BANALATA SEN

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!


LIFE'S MART HAS CLOSED AGAIN 
(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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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

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Poetry of Jibananda Das

If Life were Eternal

Translated By Professor Fakrul Alam

IF LIFE WERE ETERNAL…

Given the boon of eternity, I would walk the ways of the world eternally.
All, all alone -- what if I would see lush green grass in full bloom then?
And what if I beheld the yellowing grass withering away -- And view
The sky full of wan white clouds at dawn? Like a tattered munia bird
Blood reddened breast in the evening -- I would see the stars repeatedly;
I would see an unknown woman’s hair drifting away from a loosened bun;
A woman who would leave -- with a face bereft of the evening sun’s glow.  

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).

.

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Categories
Poetry of Jibananda Das

Poetry of Jibanananda Das translated by Fakrul Alam

Jibananada Das (1899-1954) was a Bengali writer, who now is named as one of the greats. In his lifetime, 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.”

I will sleep

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. 

(“Ghumiye Poribe Aami” or “I will sleep” from Ruposhi Bangla, first published in Daily Star, Bangladesh)

Aghrayan’s Wintry Wilderness

Saying, "I know you don't look for me anymore in this world these days"--
I ceased speaking. Aswatyha tree leaves lay strewn amidst the grass then--
Withered and disheveled. Wintry agrahyan has arrived in this world's forests.
And yet long, long ago, our minds had been chilled by hemonto's onset!

(Agrahayan and Hemonto are names of Bengali seasons)

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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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

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Poetry of Jibananda Das

Motorcar by Jibonananda Das

A translation of Jibonananda Das’s “OOnishsho Choutrish” (1934) by Rakibul Hasan Khan

Jibananda Das: Courtesy: Creative Commons

Jibonanada Das (1899-1954) was a writer from Bengal, who has now joined the pantheon 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.”

Motorcar

A motorcar
Fills the mind with misgivings.
A motorcar is always a thing of darkness,
Though its name is the first
Among the children of light
In the bright streets of daylight
And glowing gas lamps at night.


It's a creature of the dark:
In clear dawn light
While walking past green corn fields
I look at a motorcar in amazement
And see a 1934 model --
Glimmering, causing a dust storm,
Rushing on a red brick-built road
Going underneath two hijal trees;
Streets, fields and dew disappear.
The morning light suddenly vanishes,
Like a shy bride
Faced with a contrary view,
The field and river, as if, lifeless,
Suddenly lose poise.
This motorcar is a trailblazer,
It's rushing in the direction
Where everyone is supposed to be going;
The course of a motorcar
Fills the mind with misgivings,
Just like darkness.
In the stands

Beside footpaths
On the East and West sides of the city's main field
Are motorcars;
Soundless.
Heads covered,
Seats decorated and cavernous
Steering wheels and headlights polished;
Why are they so still?
A tree of a Kolkata park is still as well
But for other reasons;
I too am still but for another reason;
The stillness of a motor is for some dark reason

 
It is a dark thing:
In night's darkness, thousands of cars
Dash past
Paris-New York-London-Berlin
Vienna-Kolkata
On this and that shore of the sea
Like myriads of wires,
Like meteors of night,
Like endless enigmas
And with the endless resolve of men and women
They also run
But where they head to I don't know.

 
The destination of a motorcar – a motorcar itself
Has always been a mystery to me,
It seems to move towards some darkness.


I don't want to go anywhere so fast;
I have the leisure to walk to wherever I want,
The leisure to wait and lounge for a long time after reaching my destination.
Let other people be excited
About all kinds of amazing feats – I don't feel the need for them!  
I am a hopelessly outdated man
In this new century
Underneath the stars!

Rakibul Hasan Khan is an academic, poet, and translator. He is currently pursuing his PhD in English at the University of Otago, New Zealand. This translation was first published in Daily Star, Bangladesh.

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PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL