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.

Empty Your Heart & Other Poems— Sameer Tanti

Aug 22, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Assamese by Harsita Hiya 
Empty Your Heart

Empty your heart
And make for me, a little room
My reward it shall be for the thousand tears you have wept

Once more without fault, let me love a heart untainted,
A sleepless night’s simple awe;
In that river of your resolve, I wish to lose myself,
Where legion dead lie,
Longing to be the legends of an ancient civilization

Where the hopes of all races and tribes before me were shattered,
There, allow me to take a dip
Into passions long fallen, I wish to add new fervor;
Reveal to me a rare stance of your state,
In a pair of helpless eyes, a glimmer of hope
With peace— the half-burnt bit of a roti,
Hand me the many-hued flag of each revolt

Empty your heart
And make for me, a little room
Give me in the wake of your former glory,
A sweeping account of each disgrace
Invite me in with pride,
As the sun that rises every morning,
And bury me in the depths of your despair,
I am a dream born of star-like flowers, a bowl brimming with potent love

Amidst a thousand possibilities,
I am the holder of a place everlasting, a shared seat of equal regard
Grant me, in the celebration of every new victory,
Joyous days of unparalleled beauty.


Put Me At Ease

Put me at ease with your voice,
Its melody, like waves leaping up from a sea bed
Soothe me with the stirring of your perfect lips

No more do I wish to hide myself,
With all affairs grown old and every tale forgotten,
It is through you I set forth seeking
The lone leaf of an evening gone by,
The faintest glimmer in a ray of light,
Echoes mimicking a cowherd’s cry,
Accompanying the ever beseeching chant of an emblem

Pluck every fruit in the forest,
And feed me their nectar
Upon me, bestow your mystic tongue’s healing touch,
Grant me the gift of that ethereal sound,
I want to rob myself of all sleep,
I want to rob myself of all beauty

I see no other path leading me your way
What else is the red of your lips,
If not the blood of the setting sun,
Melting every day into the waters of a river?

Put me at ease with your voice
Soothe me with the stirring of your perfect lips.


Smoke 

Within me, old monasteries
Begin at last to stretch their limbs,
Yawning as one with tombs and temples

Within me, enchanting nymphs
Join celestial musicians,
Accompanying playful spirits of nature
To perch beside holy men

The night rolls over in bed
Vines a thousand years old
Erupt from my body,
Where roots grow out flanking flowers and leaves,
Over my skin, I sense
A sea of crawling reptiles,
The tread of many birds and beasts

The dust of ten centuries past
Rises together, filling the air
Inside muddy waters as old
Are trapped my decaying feet,
The aging relics of an ancient time

Tears and blood mingle
Within my cupped palms,
My eyes cave to a drunkenness,
The fatigue of more than a million years
Still as stone, a melody
Sits paralyzed upon my lips

I yearn to speak out,
Yet I have no voice
My eyes begin to spread their wings,
An eternal thirst makes its home upon my tongue

In the light of the morning,
You pull me to you,
But I am nowhere to be found

The mattress lies empty,
Hiding within its folds,
The sunken sleep of a deceased night

Across faces felled by sleep
I gather with care, a sprinkling of moments
From crashing tombs and temples,
Laying bare my imperiled lyricism

Down the staircase of a lost poem,
A pure dawn descends slowly but surely,
Carrying the philosophy
Of a thousand uncharted days

You begin to lose patience,
Aching to possess me
Alas! I am now nothing but smoke,
A wreath spiraling out of philosophy’s breast.


Departure (Part I) 

My farewell to sorrow!
My farewell to separation!
My farewell, O ruse, to you
Who conspired to bring me glory,
To you, O past of mine,
The history of my torment

To time herself, proud and lordly,
Who has all but forsaken me,
My dear friends, even to you
I bid my farewell!

I happen to have heard already,
That which is yet to reach your ears,
A pity! Oh, a pity!
The melody plays on, ever so faintly

Of brighter days bearing honor,
Of ages and centuries past,
You all keep talking, talking on

Where you were and where you are,
There alone, you keep talking
Of things you always have and will

While I bid farewell to every indignity
That has me buried in its debt,
To the gluttonous gathering of my desires,
To you too, O loneliness,
Thriving in all my wealth and fame

To praise and scorn, in one breath
I have come to say, “Farewell, my brothers!”

Leave me be as I am,
Amidst careless laughter and naked frolic,
Where every pang of misery and hunger
Rejoices together in a bhogali1 fair

Farewell, I say!
Farewell once more!
O season of my penury, I come seeking your blessing

To this temper of mine,
A slave to compromise,
Farewell, my friends, I bid farewell!

Shrouded in darkness,
It is time now to leave
Opening the gates of storm and rain
To enter an ancient palace of joy

From Dihing to Dibang2, unleashing sunrays
Blending hues of gold and vermillion,

Lives on a festival of riotous colors,
The romance of my earthy beloved.


Departure (Part II)

My salute to starvation! My salute to thirst!
To this gut of mine—the python within— I hereby give another salute,
To the vagrant clouds and rivers led astray,
To the streams unquiet, babbling without rest,
O Sea!—wild and turbulent—to you too I give my solemn salute

O Womb! Within you, I first gathered hunger,
Laid bare as well the sorrow
Of land shrinking day by day,
It was you, my tongue, who then showed me the way,
Divulging paths both wrong and right,
Ushering in spells—righteous and otherwise,
In company with diseased nights

With crumbling hands, I spend my hours
Clawing away at days like stone,
At last then, the fire is kindled,
Illuminating the trail to creation and contemplation

My salute to technology! My salute to ruin!
To the thirst inside for all things horrid, 

Thereupon, to every citizen
Residing in the realm of stars,
I raise my hand, saluting once more
The dawn of long-awaited light

At the end beckons a welcome arch
Leading into another age,
A time impossible to transcend,
A season of perfect purity

Lend me a hand, O Journey of mine!
To cross this burdensome path of misery,
Beyond a thousand doorways of danger,
Pray, let me celebrate you
In a festival without beginning or end

Lucid and brilliant,
The fire of my knowledge burns on steadily, 

Through each country, through each abode,
Past all the ghats and every road,
Continues thus, my lifelong scrutiny.


[1] Bhogali Bihu, or Magh Bihu, is an Assamese festival that takes place during the month of Magh (Jan-Feb), marking the end of the paddy harvest. On Bhogali evening (Uruka), elaborate dinner feasts are arranged by the community to celebrate the abundance brought forth by the harvest.
[2]
Dihing and Dibang are both tributaries of the Brahmaputra river .


Also, read translations of Malayalam poems by Desamangalam Ramakrishnan published in The Antonym

No Word Will Be Comforting Here & Other Poems— Desamangalam Ramakrishnan

Sameer Tanti is a renowned poet of Assam. He was born in 1955 in Mikirchang Tea Estate in Assam. His first work, Juddha Bhoomir Kabita (Poems from the War Fields), was published in 1985. Over the years, he has published fourteen volumes of poetry, three volumes of critical and literary essays, two translated collections of Japanese and African poetry, and has edited two short story collections. His poems have been translated into English and several other Indian languages. He is a recipient of the prestigious Assam Valley Literary Award in 2012.

Harsita Hiya, a postgraduate in English Literature from JNU (2017-19) is a writer and translator hailing from Nagaon, Assam. One of the three winners of the Storyteller contest organized by Twinkle Khanna’s Tweak India in 2020, her original fiction has been previously published in magazines such as The Little Journal of North-East and the UGC-recognized Muse India. As of now, she works as a translator (Assamese to English), being one of the three selected translators presently working on the project Write Assamese, a collaboration between Untold (UK) and Bee Books (India) sponsored by the British Council. She is also the winner of the Jibanananda Das Award for Translation from Assamese into English by The Antonym Magazine, awarded during the Kolkata Poetry Confluence 2022.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ongoing Event

Ongoing Event

Upcoming Books

Ongoing Events

Antonym Bookshelf

You have Successfully Subscribed!