Tagore wrote on almost all aspects of life. Here are Fakrul Alam’s translations of Tagore’s songs for Ashar, the third month in the Bengali Calendar around the months of June-July. It is the time the monsoons start to set in. The sky, the flora and the fauna are resplendent and fecund with the much-awaited showers. Alam, a renowned scholar and translator from Bangladesh, was kind enough to share these six songs of the season which will soon be a part of his forthcoming publication on translation from the Gitabitan, Tagore’s treasury of more than 2000 songs.
Garland of Lightening Gems (Bajromanik Diye Gantha, written in 1925) Ashar, how delicate is your garland of jewelled thunderbolts! Your dark beauty is set off by lightning flashes Your spells have the power to melt stones and sprout crops-- On your winged feet you bring from sandy wastes flower garlands On withered leaves you come in torrential and triumphant showers Your clouds resound like tom-toms in festive abandon In your deluge of delicious green, parched earth revives But keep your awful, life-threatening floods away! In the Thunderous Clouds (Oi Je Jhorer Meghe, written in 1922) There--in the lap of storm clouds--the rain comes Its hair loosened, its sari’s borders flying! Its song beats flutter mango, blackberry, sal and rain-trees Making their leaves dance and murmur in excitement My eyes, moving in beat to its music Wander in falling rain, losing themselves amidst sylvan shades Whose familiar voice calls out to me in the wet wind endlessly Stirring a storm of anguish in my soul on this lonely day? The Tune of New Clouds (Aaj Nobeen Megher Shoor Legeche, written in 1922) Newly arrived clouds stir a tune in my mind today And my thoughts become all aflutter causelessly How these clouds lure me outdoors again and again, Casting their shade on my eyes every now and then In the rain pouring from the sky tumultuously What message of the path to pursue do they bear? That path will take my mind’s tune into the unknown And disperse it in the bower of one forever forlorn! The Sky’s Musings (Aaj Akashe Moner Kotha, written in 1922) This day I hear the sky’s musings in thundershowers They’ve reverberated in my heart all day long. On the dark lake water, clouds thicken The wind, bearing the pain of centuries, Has murmured in my heart all day long By my window and in darkness I commune with the sky, all alone Like rustling branches, hidden memories stir Evoking a tear-soaked tune in my soul As crickets chirp on—all day long! Under the Kadmaba Trees (Esho Nipo Bone,written in 1925) Come and walk in the shade of the Kadamba tree rows Come bathe in rain water streaming down incessantly Let down your disheveled thick jet-black tresses Drape around your bodies your sky-blue saris With kohl-lined eyes and jasmine garlands Come and walk in the shade of Kadamba tree rows! Every now and then, my dear, dear soul mates, Let smiles light up your lips and eyes wondrously To the beat of pouring rain, let Raga Mallar tuned songs, Sung in your sweet voices, sound in forests sonorously Come and walk in the shade of Kadamba tree rows! Tear-filled Sorrow (Ashrubhara Bedona, written in 1925) Tear-filled emotions stir everywhere! Whose desire sounds in dark in the clouds this day? They speed across tempestuously, Whose lament echoes in the rumbling? Who could be focused on such fruitless worship?
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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