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Tagore Translations

Your Conch Calls by Rabindranath

Written in May 1914, Tomar Shonkho Dhulay Porey (Your Conch lies in the Dust) was a part of Tagore’s poetry collection called Balaka (A flight of Swans, 1916).

A Conch Shell. Courtesy: Creative Commons
How will I endure 
Your conch fallen in the dust? 
At this dreaded juncture, 
The breeze and light stop — stunned. 
Come fight with your flag, be strong. 
Sing out loud if you have a song. 
If you want to walk, walk along. 
Come forward, fearless, 
The conch of valour lies long
In the dust, listless. 

I was going to pray
with an offering of flowers.
After toiling the whole day,
I yearn for peaceful bowers.
I had thought my wounded heart
Would be a thing of the past. 
Washed, I would at last,
Emerge unbruised, untouched. 
I saw again in the path
Your great conch lying in the dust. 
 
Is this the lamp lit for orisons? 
Are these my dusk’s recourse? 
Is this red jaba* garland woven?  
Oh, for the chaste tuberose! 
I had hoped we could resolve, 
Our differences, dissolve
The debts, sort, solve;
Have the numbers accounted.
And then, I heard the call--
Your conch resounded. 

Wake us with the elixir 
Of eternal youthfulness. 
Like a lamp, let your raga stir, 
Illuminate with blissfulness. 
Let the darkness fly, 
Celebrations reverberate in the sky.
Chase the gloom away by 
Terrorising it to distant lands. 
We will hold your conch high
Today with our two hands. 

I know sleep will not reign
In my eyes any more.
I know arrows will rain
On my chest galore. 
Some will join us, weep
Or breathe deep,
Nightmares will chase sleep
Away from cots. 
Today, joy will sweep
To your great conch calls. 


I found myself shamed
When I sought comfort from you. 
Now, adorn all of us with coats of mail
And weapons of war anew. 
We will not flinch or bolt
Under any kind of assault. 
Even if my heart vaults
In grief, victory will still flow unstaunched. 
Our strength will be forged
With the fearless call of your conch. 



*Hibiscus

This poem has been translated by Mitali Chakravarty with editorial input from Sohana Manzoor & Anasuya Bhar.

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