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.

Rudra Muhammad Shahidullah

Aug 22, 2020 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Bengali by Mohammad Shafiqul Islam

What sort of delusion is this!
While so close it seems you’re far away, beyond reach,
the periphery of distance to the sky.
If you come, climate and nature appear different,
another geography emerges,

all equators take different meanings –
if you come, it seems the sky smells soaked.

If you stretch hands, it seems they don’t touch my hair,
the fingers escaping affection are very cruel.
If I take a glance at you, you seem to stare at me,
forlorn and exhausted bestowal escapes barefoot
like distressing shadows moving to other images.
When you come, it seems you could never come . . .

If I ask your wellbeing, it seems you didn’t come,
even if I sit beside you, it seems you didn’t come.
If I hear a knock at the door, it seems you’ve come,
if I open the door, it seems you didn’t come.

If you say you’ll come, it appears a forewarn of danger,
weather-forecast – cautionary signal number eight, nine,
low-tide, north, west –
when you come, it seems you could never come.

If you go away, it appears you came,
if you depart, it seems you’re ubiquitous.



Distressed people, you should wake up today –
wake up trees, villages, workers, cities,
and confined habitats.

Now the miserable life confronts with murder and terror.
We’re going through hard times – flowers cry in captivity,
listen, the melancholic weep echoes in forbidden air.

Speak Amitav, speak up.
Rousing fire’s rebellious magma in whetted blood,
speak once: tyranny, I don’t belong to you,
speak up once more: I don’t yield to wrong people.

Water covers three-fourths of the Earth –
let them know – hills and soil collapse for floods,
giant rocks tumble as rude water hits.

Unresolved grievances in their bones and blood,
their hearts bleed, but they never give in.


Stop Silence

Stop this heart-rending disconsolate damage,
this dark wastage – strangle the carnage spree.

Dawn lightens the locality, but birds are missing –
opening cornfields, we invite – come, dear birds,
make resonance once; in the silent morning,
may beautiful songs fill the air – let nature, milieu know,
birds still exist, and life’s dawns have music.

Stop so many deaths, unbearable hours.
Painful pandemics burn in bones,
stop the loss of rusty hearts.

Language rose high breaking all barriers,
the language in human flames –
why don’t we hear the resonances today?

Who are happy and fly lanterns in the sky?
Who in hard times travel by jets?

Houses are cold with deaths,
the locality a perilous crematorium.
No songs, no birds, no sounds – stop silence,
eyes have turned scarlet in pain, deadly silence . . .

Stop deaths, say – come birds, come resonance,
wake up once again in this dark cruel morning.
let the birds sing – let nature, milieu know,
birds still exist, life’s dawns have songs.

Rudra Muhammad Shahidullah

Rudra Muhammad Shahidullah

Rudra Muhammad Shahidullah is an acclaimed poet of Bengali literature, was born in Bagerhat, Bangladesh, in 1956. His poems are widely read by Bengali readers around the world. Romantic and revolutionary, Rudra is very popular, especially among the young generation of readers. He died in 1992.


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