Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Canvas & Other Poems— Prabha Varma

Sep 4, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Malayalam by Sandeep 

Painting for color, wall for painting
House for wall; thus in that order!
Earth for the house to stay upon, and for—
That the planetary system, in that order!

One creates canvas for the other, yet-
For all those, mind forms the canvas!
Is there any canvas ever wider than that?
Is there canvas ever for indelible paintings?

Paintings may whiten by spread of colors;
White canvas may once decay and crumble
Wall where hangs the painting may collapse
House behind that wall may once tumble;

Even the globe where house stands may fall
As days and nights go by, may once disintegrate
One day globes may lose direction and those
May brush with each other, thus deteriorate.

In that space where everything finally ends
May once twinkle the mind of a star; inside it—
Can appear color, painting mixing colors;
A surface for painting to stay; and far beyond
Even that may exist an earth; and this universe.
Order of time is cyclic! Only due to that we know
That everything has neither beginning nor end!


While you remain gazing at
Here on the tip of the leaf
I transform into being a drop
Left to be detached from!

Still remains a lone desire
Still left is that sole wish
Let that final fall be onto
The tip of a roses petal!

If so, at least for a moment
Can glow, glisten for once
In the light of solar radiance
Transform into a diamond.

If so, at best for an instant
Can become rose water
To moisten the earth by
Spreading that fragrance!

If not that, if I fall just onto
The leftover water surface
That is left in a puddle;
What then will be left of me?

Mattress of Shadow 

In order to rest head, a mattress
Of shadow; to quench thirst
A drop of rainclouds breast milk;
To eat when hungry a fallen—
Bael-leaf; and upon falling due to
Tired legs, earth to pertain!

On getting wet, double strand wipe
Of sunlight; to hide shyness
Not one but directions eight; sheet
Of wind to hide during cold;
To reach with gasping breath, space
With clouds thatched as roof!

I realize, oh universe, there isnt any
Bound to the generosity yours,
Since long time ago, such an ocean
Of benevolence is your mind.
No payback to your compassionate
Mercy; thus take back myself!

Also, read an insightful take on the Galician  poet, Rosalía de Castro , written by Leyre Villate Garcia, and published in The Antonym

Rosalía de Castro— Leyre Villate Garcia

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Prabha Varma is a poet, lyricist, journalist, and multi-faceted littérateur whose poems are composed of a confluence of tradition and modernity. In 2016, he won the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award for his magnum-opus novel-in-verse ‘Shyama Madhavam’. He is also the recipient of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award, Vallathol Award, Vayalar Award, Asan Poetry Prize, P. Kunhiraman Award, and many more. In 2019, he won the national film award for best lyricist. Presently he is also the Media Advisor to the Chief Minister of Kerala.

Sandeep has published two collections of poetry, Sheer Echoes of Time, Pranatha Books, 2006, and Complaints of a Selfish Soul, Green Books, 2010. He is a regular contributor to several international poetry journals. Also as a vocalist, trained in Carnatic classical style and Kathakali music, he has performed on stages across India and abroad. Apart from that, he is involved mostly with scientific research fabricating paths and guiding light for sensing applications, presently working at the Centre for NanoScience and Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.


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