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.

Flowers Strewn On The Ground & Other Poems— Shankar Lahiri

Nov 16, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Bengali by Aritra Sanyal 



A hog, fleshy and smooth. A woman
                                                       kissing it deeply.

A green dragonfly flapping at their feet.

Sudden gust of wind thuds at the window panes.
A man, likewise, crashes at their feet,
                                        ‘Save me, oh! save me’.
Yet, they stay unmoved.
As if they would snub even death.

A bubble, blue and enormous,
                         light, restless, and easy
Stuck at the ceiling;
Oh! the bubble seems to be in labor. 

What kind of habitat is this?—thought the chiffon girls.
What home is this?—children cried out like ropes.

Characters dripping off the letters
Flames severed from the lamps
‘Easy, Easy’—saying some hairy beasts to them. 

Flowers Strewn On The Ground

Flowers strewn on the ground—I thought some poems are shed
From the stalk.             So much more water flowing in the stream,
Chimneys, chequered in red, churning the blue sky.

I think verbs will be eliminated now
Mukherjee’s new servant would be cleaning the kitchen. 

New porcelains have a tinge hitherto unseen. 

What was in the supper last night—was there soup
                 cherries between the gleaming teeth, the highbred apples
a dish of mutton, warm, soft, and juicy
                              garlic, rose water, cloves, and attar.
What was in your supper last night—it left a mark on the bed.
—All dressed up as you are,
              with a fresh green pen by the new leaves.  

What did you see at midnight, your cracked lips
                                                               dry with thirst
—As if a worm-eaten leaf,
Water deep in an abyss, a raging dust storm, a desert bandit.


Call me to the table, hand me a cup and a proposal
Air has milk in abundance,
               Light has sugar, plentiful in store.

I want to fly quite far, with a spotless mile-meter
Check if the wings are folded.

Break open the package, measure, and pour,
                                                 So  I can now
Melt away in the cup;
                     The bright spoon, eagerly awake
And let the coffee be made.

I have come around from this end to the other
           to reach your cup.
                                           Do you likewise
      pour all your milk and all the sugar you have.
Do you too love the written-down recipes! 

Gradually, from the depth of the cup,
A strong flavor rises and permeates the embryo
                                                                  and resonates
in lips, in wombs, in myriad wings.

Blue Button

Water: the longest tunnel
      Where the color blue is born;
Light: the lid of the tunnel.

A blazing knife and a firearm
Shriek of a lacerated vein, a flood
Warm, imposing bandage
                             And pains spreading, engulfing.

Wind: the crimson cotton, translucent in the air
Water droplets surround them
          Droplets skirting the slender fingers too.
A finger opens the lid and descends
                                        slowly into the tunnel,
Onto some bizarre buttons;
            Rows of blue buttons humming softly in the deep.

Also, read a short fiction by Manoj Kumar Goswami , translated from Assamese by Harsita Hiya, and published in The Antonym

Friendless— Manoj Kumar Goswami

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Shankar Lahiri (b.1950) is a poet, editor, prose writer, filmmaker, artist, and avid thinker. Now a retired engineer, Lahiri keeps himself fully engaged in forest safari, photography, book designing, computer graphics, and the study of cosmology apart from writing and trying to curate his own universe full of endless possibilities. A poet of the 80s, he has been actively associated with the cult Bengali Little Magazine, Kaurab, as a member of its editorial board. He has authored seven books of poems, three books of prose (non-fiction), and has edited the complete works of Swadesh Sen. He has so far directed four films based on poetry, the latest of which (M B Rajmahal) is available on youtube.

Aritra Sanyal (b.1983), a poet, translator, researcher, amateur photographer, and ex-sports journalist (The Statesman) works as a teacher at a school currently. He is the author of five books of poetry in Bengali, the latest of which, Bhanga Manusher Bhumikae (In the Role of a Broken Man) came out in 2020. He is the recipient of Sunil Gangopadhyay Award (2018) conferred by Kabita Academy, West Bengal. He has translated and collaborated with poets from different parts of the world. He co-edited Bridgeable Lines, a book of Bengali translation of 12 contemporary American poets in 2019. In 2021, he co-edited and published the Bengali translation of Salome, by Adeena Karasick.


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