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.

Listen To My Song & Other Poems— Kanji Patel

Sep 14, 2022 | Poetry | 3 comments

Self-translated from the Gujarati by Kanji Patel 
Listen To My Song

In the deepening night
And in the dying word
Birds sing full-throated
How can life be poured
Into the quivering creepers

When forests have diminished
Waters are consumed
And earth is emptied
Amidst the hearts on fire
And the battles raging high
When the bodies stagger
Birds sing dirges

O the standing one!
Lie down
Place your ears onto the earth
The earth implores,
‘Listen to my song.’


Dada, Let Us Ghoomar

Dada woke in the pre-dawn darkness
Picked up the bunyan
And created the sun

In the second spell of darkness
He took the mahua
The moon was formed
He turned the rest of the trees into stars

Dada would rush the sun
Every morning into the sky
Brought  the stars
With the fall of night
Placing the moon and the stars took long
By the end, the sun rose

Over time the sun, the moon
And the stars
were well-versed
In climbing up the sky

Once by sheer accidence
Dada slipped into eternity
The sun, the moon, and the stars
Alone and spiritless
Climbed up the sky
One after another

Again by another accident
A new Dada arrived
Then darkness reigned

What to do?

He called the son and the son’s wife
From the deep forest
Drawn by his call
They soared into the sky
One became the moon
And the other the sun

Children descended the earth
One after another
At night
Dada was on the charpoy
Encircling  him
The children Ghoomared
Dada joined in
Much weary he fell into slumbers
Who had the courage to rouse him?

Deluge broke
And Dada floated
On the water on his charpoy

It was darkness once again
And children wept

Dada, bring the bunyan
Bring the mahua
Let us Ghoomar !


Come To The Village Fair

The master had the thought
In the beginning, it was a burning coal
Melting the darkness with heat
Then flowed the sparks
Formed an arch
And created the sky
Born of the remaining darkness was night
The night asked, ‘Why am I?’

The master thought  once again
And the born were the birds
Birds, pure light
Fluttering hither thither
Chuck… chuck…
And the arch was full
Now, weary of playing
They  asked, ‘Have we only to play?’

The master thought the third time
Conjured the earth,
The forests, plains, mountains, deserts, and rivers
The birds had the new abode to fly and frolic
Then, ‘Have we only to play?’
questioned the earth

The master thought  for the fifth time
And came about the woman and man
Who wandered the earth
And went weary
Man-woman asked, ‘Only this much to us?’

The master pondered fifth time now
He made the procreative fluid
The master grew the humankind
With speech, ways, and affairs
They spent them all

The master asked
‘Humans, will this suffice for you?’
‘We shall play, eat  and drink
Sing and dance,’ they answered

‘Will you call me to join in it?’ asked the master
‘Come to the village fair,’ they said. 


Such Hunger

The world has only heard of hunger
Has not known it yet
They say,
In it, every nerve shredded
Knee and belly coiled into one
Just for a morsel of food
A cob of Kodra, or Bavato, or Banti, or Bhatur
Or half a bowl of Thulu 
To put out the fire

The desire to extinguish
Is ancient
Even then the world
Did not know hunger
Nor did it know how
The belly burns within

May such hunger
Be once with every belly. 


Notes:
Dada: grandfather
Ghoomar:
Rajasthani folk dance
Kodra, Banti, Bavato: coarse grains
Bhatur: paddy ground with its husk
Thulu: cornflour soup


Also, read a creative non-fiction piece telling the story of a dog, written by Parimal Bhattacharya , translated to English by Bisnhnupriya Chowdhuri, and published in The Antonym

Bow— Parimal Bhattacharya


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Kanji Patel is a Gujarati poet and fiction writer. His poetry and fiction center around Adivasi and Denotified Tribes and Communities (DNTs). He is the author of three novellas, four collections of poetry, and one collection of short fiction. He has won many awards such as the Katha award (1996), Umashankar Joshi Award for Novel (1990), and the Dhumketu Prize for short fiction (2008). His poems have been translated into Assamese, Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Odia, Malayalam, Tamil, English, and Irish. 

3 Comments

  1. Streamlet Dkhar

    Beautiful poem Kanji Patel ji. With your permission I can translate them into Khasi language

    Reply
  2. Streamlet Dkhar

    With your permission Patel ji I can translate your poems into Khasi

    Reply
    • Biswadip Chakraborthy

      How about Khasi to English? We are looking for translator from Khasi to English

      Reply

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