Jibanananda Das: Translated by Lopamudra Banerjee

Jibanananda Das

BIO

Jibanananda Das (17 February 1899 – 22 October 1954) was a prolific Bengali poet, writer, novelist and essayist. Born in 1899 in a Vaidya-Brahmin family in the small district town of Barisal, located in the south of Bangladesh, Das is acknowledged today as one of the prime literary figures of the post-Tagore era in Bengal. According to his critics and translators, Das was considered among the ‘greatest modern poets’ of the 20th century, with an eclectic collection of literary works with a vast and diverse oeuvre, among which only seven volumes of his poems were published in his lifetime. After his tragic death in a road accident in 1954, it has been discovered that Das wrote several novels and a large number of short stories, and his critics say that he was compelled to suppress many of his notable literary works due to his immensely introvert nature. He studied English Literature and graduated with a BA (Honours) degree in 1919 and subsequently completed his Masters’ in English from the University of Calcutta. A lecturer and a teacher of English for the most part of his literary life, Das also wrote some very controversial poems including ‘Camp-e’ (At the Camp), which created quite a furore in the literary circle of Kolkata, India. A compilation of his best poems, titled ‘Sreshtho Kobita’ (Best Poems) had won the Indian Sahitya Akademy Award in 1955, a year after his tragic demise.

‘Banalata Sen’ and ‘Jhara Paalak’ (Fallen Feathers) are among his most widely known poetry collections. His legendary 18-line poem ‘Banalata Sen’ (part of the poetry collection with the same name) is considered one of the most timeless romantic verses in Bengali language. Renowned scholar and exponent Clinton B. Seely has termed Jibanananda Das as “Bengal’s most cherished poet since the illustrious Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore”.

 

Lopamudra Banerjee

BIO

Lopamudra Banerjee is an author, poet, editor and translator residing in Dallas, Texas with her family. She has co-edited two fiction anthologies, ‘Defiant Dreams: Tales of Everyday Divas’ and ‘Darkness There But Something More’. Her memoir/narrative nonfiction ‘Thwarted Escape: An Immigrant’s Wayward Journey’ has been a Journey Awards recipient at Chanticleer Reviews and Media LLC and has also received Honorable Mention at the Los Angeles Book Festival 2017. Her debut poetry collection ‘Let The Night Sing’ and her recently released book of translation of two novellas and six short stories of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, ‘The Broken Home and Other Stories’ has also received critical acclaim. She has received the International Reuel Prize for Translation (2016) for Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Nastanirh’ translated as ‘The Broken Home’ and also received the International Reuel Prize for Poetry 2017.

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(Translated from the original Bengali into English)

 

 

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The Lovers

You didn’t search for me since ages—I too, have stopped
Searching for you since long; both of us nestled beneath the same star,
Kindling us both at the edge of this earth. We remain, self-same
While the ancient imprints of the earth’s route die away.
The splendor of love too, is erased eventually,
As the star dies its inevitable death.
Does it not? He asked, glancing at his mistress.
Satiated, he absorbs the open field, the inviting sun,
The early winter caresses that cocoon him, empathizing.
They stand, transfixed, alongside the perpetuity of the earth and sky.
A primal union, sealed with the sincerest of their longings.

দুজন

‘আমাকে খোঁজো না তুমি বহুদিন – কতদিন আমিও তোমাকে
খুঁজি নাকো; – এক নক্ষত্রের নিচে তবু – একই আলো পৃথিবীর পারে
আমরা দুজনে আছি; পৃথিবীর পুরনো পথের রেখা হয়ে যায় ক্ষয়,
প্রেম ধীরে মুছে যায়, নক্ষত্রেরও একদিন মরে যেতে হয়,
হয় নাকি? – বলে সে তাকাল তার সঙ্গিনীর দিকে;
আজ এই মাঠ সূর্য সহমর্মী অঘ্রাণ কার্তিকে
প্রাণ ভরে গেছে।
দুজনে আজকে তারা চিরস্থায়ী পৃথিবী ও আকাশের পাশে
এবার প্রথম এল মনে হয়- যেন কিছু চেয়ে কিছু একান্ত বিশ্বাসে।

From poetry collection titled ‘Banalata Sen’
Originally published on December 1942 (1349 according to the Bengali calendar) Publisher: Jibanananda Das.

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At The Night, The Star Talks to Himself

The eyelids, heavy with sleep.
I return home, in my heart, the song of the fallen crops.
The hidden treasures, a momentary dream, lost on my way.
I find myself amid the pink body of twilight—but, it is no twilight.
In the wee hours of the night, the star talks only to himself,
And our own faces, at night, nestled in the bosom of the earth.

The night has spent itself for ages, yet the pitch-dark unknown to us.
They who have never emerged in daylight, come in hordes, after dusk.
We’ve never seen them in the dust and soot, amid the commonplace crowd.
In dreams, their pitchers spill water, their bangles echo in the wind.
Beneath the starlit sky, they congregate.

The eyes, still awake, took in the myriad hues of the clouds
I have seen the birth of many a furtive dawn, many a verdant dusk,
While I returned, forlorn, to the clouded fields of the village.
So many days I have roamed in the sun and the shade, as the truant butterfly.
When did the magic spell of this wayward journey break,
When did the house of my dreams dismantle, thus?

And now, I return home, the eyelids, heavy with sleep.
In my heart, the song of the fallen crops.
The hidden treasures, a momentary dream, lost on my way.
I find myself amid the pink body of twilight—but, it is no twilight.
In the wee hours of the night, the star talks only to himself,
And our own faces, at night, nestled in the bosom of the earth.

ঝরা পালক/সারাটি রাত্রি তারাটির সাথে তারাটিরই কথা হয়

চোখদুটো ঘুমে ভরে
ঝরা ফসলের গান বুকে নিয়ে আজ ফিরে যাই ঘরে!
ফুরায়ে গিয়েছে যা ছিল গোপন, —স্বপন ক’দিন রয়!
এসেছে গোধূলি গোলাপীবরণ,—এ তবু গোধূলি নয়!
সারাটি রাত্রি তারাটির সাথে তারাটিরই কথা হয়,
আমাদের মুখ সারাটি রাত্রি মাটির বুকের ‘পরে!

কেটেছে যে নিশি ঢের,—
এত দিন তবু অন্ধকারের পাই নি তো কোনো টের!
দিনের বেলায় যাদের দেখি নি—এসেছে তাহারা সাঁঝে;
যাদের পাইনি পথের ধুলায়—ধোঁয়ায়—ভিড়ের মাঝে,—
শুনেছি স্বপনে তাদের কলসী ছলকে, কাঁকন বাজে!
আকাশের নীচে— তারার আলোয় পেয়েছি যে তাহাদের!

চোখদুটো ছিল জেগে
কত দিন যেন সন্ধ্যা-ভোরের নট্‌কান–রাঙা মেঘে!
কত দিন আমি ফিরেছি একেলা মেঘলা গাঁয়ের ক্ষেতে!
ছায়াধূপে চুপে ফিরিয়াছি প্রজাপতিটির মতো মেতে
কত দিন হায়!— কবে অবেলায় এলোমেলো পথে যেতে
ঘোর ভেঙে গেল,— খেয়ালের খেলাঘরটি গেল যে ভেঙে।

দুটো চোখ ঘুম ভরে
ঝরা ফসলের গান বুকে নিয়ে আজ ফিরে যাই ঘরে!
ফুরায়ে গিয়েছে যা ছিল গোপন,—স্বপন কদির রয়!
এসেছে গোধূলি গোলাপীবরণ,—এ তবু গোধুলি নয়!
সারাটি রাত্রি তারাটির সাথে তারাটিরই কথা হয়,—
আমাদের মুখ সারাটি রাত্রি মাটির বুকের ‘পরে!

 

From his poetry collection titled ‘Jhora Paalak’ (‘Fallen Feathers’)
Originally published on 1927 (1335 according to the Bengali Calendar)

*****

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2 Comments:

  1. Thanks for introduction to Jibannaanda Das ji,The legend from Bengal.

  2. Dr Prahallad Satpathy

    Excellent translation ma’am, lucid.
    Kudos

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