Enter the Void by Juan Felipe Herrera

Listen to me reading this poem

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I Won’t Let the Sun Sink by Sarveshwar Dayal Saxena

Translated by Bhaswati Ghosh

I won’t let the sun set now.
Look, I’ve broadened my shoulders
and tightened my fists.
I have learned to stand firm
by embedding my feet on the slope.

I won’t let the sun drown now.
I heard you’re riding its chariot
and I want to bring you down
You, the emblem of freedom
You, the face of courage
You, the earth’s happiness
You, timeless love
The flow of my veins, you
The spread of my consciousness, you;
I want to help you climb down that chariot.

Even if the chariot horses
spew fire,
The wheels won’t turn any longer
I’ve broadened my shoulders.
Who will stop you
I’ve expanded the earth
With bangles of golden grain
I will decorate you
With an open heart
and songs of love
I’ve widened my vision
to flutter you as a dream in every eye.

Where will the sun go anyway
It’ll have to stay put here
In our breaths
In our colours
In our resolves
In our sleeplessness
Do not despair
I won’t let a single sun sink now.

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सूरज को नही डूबने दूंगा / सर्वेश्वरदयाल सक्सेना


अब मैं सूरज को नहीं डूबने दूंगा।
देखो मैंने कंधे चौड़े कर लिये हैं
मुट्ठियाँ मजबूत कर ली हैं
और ढलान पर एड़ियाँ जमाकर
खड़ा होना मैंने सीख लिया है।

घबराओ मत
मैं क्षितिज पर जा रहा हूँ।
सूरज ठीक जब पहाडी से लुढ़कने लगेगा
मैं कंधे अड़ा दूंगा
देखना वह वहीं ठहरा होगा।

अब मैं सूरज को नही डूबने दूँगा।
मैंने सुना है उसके रथ में तुम हो
तुम्हें मैं उतार लाना चाहता हूं
तुम जो स्वाधीनता की प्रतिमा हो
तुम जो साहस की मूर्ति हो
तुम जो धरती का सुख हो
तुम जो कालातीत प्यार हो
तुम जो मेरी धमनी का प्रवाह हो
तुम जो मेरी चेतना का विस्तार हो
तुम्हें मैं उस रथ से उतार लाना चाहता हूं।

रथ के घोड़े
आग उगलते रहें
अब पहिये टस से मस नही होंगे
मैंने अपने कंधे चौड़े कर लिये है।
कौन रोकेगा तुम्हें
मैंने धरती बड़ी कर ली है
अन्न की सुनहरी बालियों से
मैं तुम्हें सजाऊँगा
मैंने सीना खोल लिया है
प्यार के गीतो में मैं तुम्हे गाऊँगा
मैंने दृष्टि बड़ी कर ली है
हर आँखों में तुम्हें सपनों सा फहराऊँगा।

सूरज जायेगा भी तो कहाँ
उसे यहीं रहना होगा
यहीं हमारी सांसों में
हमारी रगों में
हमारे संकल्पों में
हमारे रतजगों में
तुम उदास मत होओ
अब मैं किसी भी सूरज को
नही डूबने दूंगा।

Saturday Mornings at the Language Class

First published in Saaranga

The generosity of a weekend morning
and a teacher’s unlocked house. Her
trust in us, somewhat excessive. To
leave the property to a bunch of inquisitive
adolescents; there, less for language
learning and more for the telephone to
make prank calls with, just a few, before
the elderly tutor arrived. To then settle
down on the sofa like monastic disciples
awaiting ordination. With the trail of lessons
moving through villages, bullock carts and
heaving rivers, to let the eye settle on a
glass cabinet housing pretty dolls in
traditional finery — Japanese, Bengali,
Rajasthani. The teacher’s off-school
diversion. After the class — a walkabout of
everything from the classics and satire to
home-brewed verses on bygone Saturday
mornings — pottering over to the dining table
to uncover surprises waiting in neat porcelain
saucers. Tea cakes, cookies, seasonal savouries.
Bribes the teacher cooked to entice some
not-so innocent teenagers to bite into the
mother tongue just a bit deeper.

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How I Miss You

First published in Saaranga

I miss you like I miss the memory
of things I once couldn’t forget if
I tried to. Like the leaves of the tree
under which the market presswallah

wielded his heavy iron on the entire
neighbourhood’s rumpled crease.
Like the minstrel’s khanjani, portable
cymbals of wistful supplication. I

miss you like the absent compressor
of our dysfunctional refrigerator, its
garish orange paint a reminder of
a well-wisher’s gigantic kindness

in selling us her relic. When it no longer
cooled water or made ice, Uncle made
It his secret cabinet for stashing the
diaries no one could read anyway.

Not even him. I miss you like the boy
Uncle must have once been, con brio,
wanting to love, seeking home. I miss you
like the illusory promise in the songs we

bellowed in school praising our nation, a
sordid country of uneven ladders. I miss
you the way we miss things not exactly
lost and no longer easily found.

To Have Loved

What a beautiful thing it is to have loved.
To stand next to a Japanese maple tree slowly

dying and admire the burgundy stars
shimmering on its branches in sunlight.

To hold a father’s unsteady hands as the
breath ebbs out of him on an uncertain night.

To dig through rubble, fresh and still warm from
the bomb that fashioned it, for your daughter’s

missing doll. To chat with your friend’s
granddaughter over Whatsapp, epistles of

encrypted affection. To think of your daughter’s
face, now in prison, with a trembling heart and

a colourless smile. What if you don’t make it until
she’s freed? To let go. Of a withering Japanese

maple, your father’s sentience, the head of your
child’s lost doll, the hope to see your daughter again.

To have loved is to make peace with loss even though.
To have loved is to know the insolence of desire.

Copyright. Bhaswati Ghosh

Thirty-eight years with Shakti

Samir Sengupta

Translated from the Bangla by
Bhaswati Ghosh

First published in Parabaas

From Shakti Chattopadhyay’s handwritten
facsimili edition of
Kuri Bochhorer Kuriti
(‘Twenty Years, Twenty Poems’)

I first met Shakti in 1957, at the College Street Coffee House. I still carried on me the smell of Ramakrishna Mission’s Vidyamandir from where I had just graduated. The modernity of Coffee House startled me almost every day. I would find myself a corner to sit at the Krittibas table, with the poets barely tolerating me. Scores of foreign names—of poets, novelists, films, filmmakers—rained down my head. Every single day, I would hear new names—how in the world could I get to read so many books, watch so many films? I hadn’t even seen the magazine Kabita (*Poetry, কবিতা ) yet. I have faint memories of Shakti wearing a red tie and commuting to his workplace, Hind Motors as a daily passenger.

Somehow, with time we became friends. I didn’t write any poetry, only dealt with prose, that too very little. I had enrolled into Jadavpur University’s master’s program in Comparative Literature, which brought me an entry into the haloed and unique adda of ‘Kabita Bhavan’ (*lit. house of poetry, residence of Buddhadeva Bose, founder-editor of Kabita). Shakti’s name was still on the student roll, but one hardly saw him on the campus. He would (suddenly) show up once every six or nine months and that would be it. He was part of the batch following ours, a classmate of Rumi’s (Damayanti Basu Singh, Buddhadeva Bose’s youngest daughter) in the BA course. Buddhadeva had forced him to enroll with hopes of making him return to the mainstream. By then, however, a witch had already seized Shakti’s heart.

Read the rest in Parabaas

Ganga and Mahadev by Rahi Masoom Raza

Translation: Bhaswati Ghosh

My name sounds like a Muslim’s
Slaughter me and set my home ablaze
Plunder the room where my statements stay awake
Where I whisper to Tulsi’s Ramayana
And say to Kalidasa’s Meghdoot
That I, too, have a message.
My name is like that of Muslims
Kill me and torch my house
But remember that the water of Ganga courses through my veins
Throw a splash of my blood on Mahadev’s face
And say to that yogi — Mahadev
Withdraw this Ganga now
It has sunk into the bodies of the degraded Turks
Where it runs as blood.

गंगा और महादेव
राही मासूम रज़ा

मेरा नाम मुसलमानों जैसा है
मुझको कत्ल करो और मेरे घर में आग लगा दो
मेरे उस कमरे को लूटो जिसमें मेरी बयाने जाग रही हैं
और मैं जिसमें तुलसी की रामायण से सरगोशी करके
कालीदास के मेघदूत से यह कहता हूँ
मेरा भी एक संदेश है।
मेरा नाम मुसलमानों जैसा है
मुझको कत्ल करो और मेरे घर में आग लगा दो
लेकिन मेरी रग-रग में गंगा का पानी दौड़ रहा है
मेरे लहू से चुल्लू भर महादेव के मुँह पर फेंको
और उस योगी से कह दो- महादेव
अब इस गंगा को वापस ले लो
यह ज़लील तुर्कों के बदन में गढ़ा गया
लहू बनकर दौड़ रही है।

Yaman

First published in Saaranga

It comes with autumn’s
surreptitious footfall. Each
Alaap a waft of incense
Smoke, rarely a thunderstorm.

The oxygen of light
Slowly dissolves. With It,
the room. Yaman, like its
teevra Madhyam, persists,
cementing itself in wall
corners, sustaining
the breath.

Hours deepen. The
sun’s diurnal imperiousness
becomes a laughable hoax.
Vision loses its clues. The
world is lost, an illusion
one had given in to. Bypassing
The eye’s stubborn pathways,
Yaman rows the ears and flows
Right into the heretic heart.

No one claims darkness
better than Yaman.

Notes of Eternity: Rabindranath Tagore

                                                                                                                          Calcutta |May 2, 1895

A nahabat recital can be heard playing somewhere today. A morning nahabat makes the heart quiver strangely. I haven’t been able to discern the significance of the unspeakable state that envelopes one’s mind when listening to music. And yet, every time the mind attempts to dissect that state. I have noticed that whenever beautiful music plays, the moment its intoxication hits the soul, this world of life and death, this land of arrivals and departures, this world of work, of light and darkness recedes into a distance — as if across a vast Padma River — from where everything appears as if it were only a picture.

road nature trees branches

To us, our everyday world doesn’t always appear to be the most well balanced. A tiny fraction of our life might seem disproportionately huge, our hunger and thirst, daily squabbles, rest and labour, petty annoyances besmirch the present moment. Music, with its beautiful intrinsic equilibrium, can, within moments make the world stand in a perspective where the small, transient imbalances disappear. With music, a whole, vast and eternal balance transforms the entire world into a mere image, and man’s life and death, laughter and tears, past and future land in the present to play in one’s ears as the meditative rhythm of poetry. With that, the intensity of our personal tendencies decrease, we become puny and immerse ourselves without strain into the immensity of music.

Small and artificial social ties are useful to function in the society, yet music and other evolved art forms instantly show us their insignificance, making every art somewhat antisocial. This is why listening to a good poem or song quickens our hearts, tearing asunder social formalities and igniting in the mind a struggle that seeks the freedom of eternal beauty. Anything beautiful stirs in us a conflict between the fleeting and the permanent, causing us a certain inexplicable pain.

Poona | May 6, 1895

Nahabat: A temple music tower. Musicians sit on the upper story and play during festivals and sometimes at the time of daily worship. (Source)

Translated by Bhaswati Ghosh

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BURIED KNOWLEDGE

Do seeds talk to each other
as they gestate in the earth’s
deep, dark womb? Are there
secrets ripening with promises
that only unborn vegetables
can know — the alchemy between
trapped moisture and heat, between
fire and water, between desire
and drowning — before
the sapling cranes its neck
overground?

Is that how seeds find
their way inside chubby aubergines
and slender beans? Life bursting into life.
One unto a pod, a bed, a whole
efflorescent farm.

Is that how, by
Multiplying, desire eclipses
drowning?

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