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.

Kedarnath – P. M. Narayanan

Dec 10, 2021 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Malayalam by Muraly.R 

Along the narrow path,
Granite paved,
Stretching to dizzy heights,
You and I.
Ahead us,
Near, very near,
Far, far off,
Dazzling snowy mountains.
Around us,
Plaits of mountain peaks,
Like domes of mystery.
Clusters of rocks-jet black.
Near them
Grand old ancestor trees,
Head held high toward the deep blue sky.
On the slope
Shepherds grazing cattle.
In their eyes
Raw, blazing joy.
In the great depths
The rustling sound of river Mandakini—
Like a baby laughing heartily when tickled.
The array of lofty mountains
In penance,
With folded hands, held high.
In the freezing time of silence
The rising sound of God.
Babies like God.
Rivers like babies.
Hearing the sound of Mandakini,
Crashing on rocks,
Like the earth
In her pang of separation,
Waiting for someone,
Listening for footsteps.”

Dusk drawing near.
Heat of sunrays weakened.
The snow begins to fall.
The dazzling snowy mountains
Far away, far away
Like a mirage.
The high flagstaff of Kedar, still miles afar.
We,weary and fatigued,
Like the imprisoned ones
In some unknown land of witches.
Nature, a few hours ago,
Like a calf, licking our feet with it’s rough tongue
Gazing us with her drooping eyes.
Now, she,
A lioness,
Rushing at us from the mountain cave,
Her fangs exposed,
Stretching her greedy tongue.

A voice from behind.
“Dusk is nearing.
Snow has started falling.
Kedarnath is far away.
Walking, you cannot reach there.
Please mount this horse.”
Sighing with relief.
“Horseman, You?”
Saab, lucky are we.
Only because of the compassion of Kedarnath
You thought of mounting this horse.”
“No, Girdharilal.
In this unknown mountain peak,
Darkness slowly creeps in,
When coldness slowly, slowly penetrates the body,
Lucky are we,
Only we.”

Reaching Kedar
It was past dusk.
Our legs soaked in snow, frozen.
In the sanctum sanctorum ,
Eyes closed worshipfully
Before the Jyothirlinga*
Kedarnath blooms
Within the inner eye.
Like the array of lofty mountains
In penance,
With folded hands, held high.
Like the baby Mandakini
Laughing heartily when tickled.
Like Girdharilal,
Standing before us
Holding the reins of the horse.


*A devotional representation of the supreme God Shiva. There are
twelve jyothirlingas which are major places of worship of Lord Shiva.
Kedarnath is one among them.

P. M. Narayanan (born 1945) is a Malayalam poet, critic and translator who has published extensively for the past four decades.  His books include collection of poems, articles, translations, edited works and
a biography.  They represent the turn towards modernisation in Malayalam literature.  He has received various awards including Sahitha Akademi award for translation.

Muraly.R (born 1950) is the nom-de-plume of Ramakrishnan. R. He is a translator who has to his credit anthologies of poems and short stories in Malayalam and English.  He has published translated works in many periodicals.  He has so far authored six books. A collection of Ashok Vajpeyi’s poems translated from  English to Malayalam is to be published shortly.


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