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.

Return from the Seas and Other Poems – Premendra Mitra

Mar 28, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Bengali by Arindam Nandy
  Return from the Seas
Blue! Blue!
Is there a touch of green?
Light, dark and shades endless
More or less blue, nonetheless.
Like a sudden laughter in space amidst all this
         A few seagulls!

I think, I say, the sea wishes,
Its white foamy waves to
         Touch the conch-rubbed wings
         And search the sky

The rhyme-seeking mind seeks a likeness.
        Nowhere, nowhere at all!
The heart, like the two eyes, sings aloud,
        True! True!

Left behind the soil, tress and lands for good,
         Folding enormous wings
         Floating in salty waves lightly,
Shoreless, just water, and
         clouds, stars and wind to live by,
Drawing patterns on
         Times of endless blues,
What is it what is this, whatever
         Before I know or discover,
         The steamer reaches shores
         Of today-tomorrrow-day after.



Wind goes a whiz whiz
Stars shiver.
Heart goes rusty
In the old quiver!
Whose hair’s messed up
How does it matter?
Or measure the tears
A litre or a quarter?
He lost so much
Over the years!
Where hides the pain
From the wound of spears?
Wind goes a whiz whiz
Stars shiver.
The woods afar, flushed
The bloom or the heatwave?
How does it matter
To know the reason, to rave?
In a heart, so corroded
In an old quiver!

You must have seen strange creatures on the city streets
Just like humans
Or a tad different,
Like a cartoon of one or a twisted carricature!
Even then, they move about and talk and
Fill the streets like garbage,
Sit panting in the leftovers and trash,
– And beg for starch.
Not blood, nor flesh,
Not some stone cold green heart,
These step-brothers of humans want some starch.
While the civilisation continues to meditate and search.
One day they had ploughed the land, I guess
Then forgotten it all, no less
The true yeild of rice grain to paddy
Forgotten that the wooden plough
Can be lifted on shoulders,
And some day some one did.
They don’t know somewhere lies a monster wave
That can move mountains with ease.
After straining the rice,
When I pour the starch in these starving wretched mouths,
Seems like a diabolic and cruel charity to me.
Why not just leave them aside,
And let them decompose on their own
Will this rice then turn into
Fiery and burning intoxicant like motherly love?
The skeletons of these kids fill the streets – bereft of mother’s milk,
Was Dadhichi’s bone stronger than this ilk?


Premendra Mitra

Premendra Mitra

Premendra Mitra (1904 ~1988) was an Indian poet, writer and film director in Bengali. He established himself as a powerful poet in the modern Bengali literature of the post-1930s and was influenced by the works of Rabindranath Tagore. He is well-known for the creation of a Bengali ‘poet-sleuth’ Parashar Barma and teller of ‘tall-tales’, Ghanada. He also wrote science-fiction. Film directors like Satyajit Ray, Tarun Mazumdar, Tapan Sinha, have adapted from his stories. As a film director and scriptwriter, he wrote screenplays and stories for films in Hindi, Oriya and Bengali. A Padmashree awardee, he was also awarded the Akademi Purashkar (1956) among others. The Post & Telegraph Department of India released a postage stamp to commemorate his contribution to literature in 2019.

Arindam Nandy

Arindam Nandy

Arindam Nandy is an Indian film director and advertising person. He debuted with his Hindi feature film Via Darjeeling and has made more than 80 advertising films and documentaries. He has written for The Telegraph, Ei Samay, The Times of India, Ananda Bazar Patrika, Sambad Pratidin and The Journal of the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis USA. He runs his company Arindam Nandy Productions, engaged in creating advertising and design material. A Masters degree holder in Comparative Literature, Arindam’s interests include poetry, cinema, music, reading, history & popular culture, traveling across the world, painting, cooking and the World Wide Web.


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