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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.

Sand Worm and Other Poems— Sambhunath Chattopadhyay

Jul 28, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Bengali by Kingshuk Sarkar 
Sand Worm 

A little brine, some wet sand, a bit of sea foam—
            that’s home.
That’s where we wallow in private comfort.
Here, to live is to wallow
           to procreate our kind
                    sunk deep in passions. Blind.

That’s the law: even after learning about land
man will not be able to crawl away from sand.

Nearby, the evening light brightens the mysterious flowers
of blue weeds and wisdom’s grey cacti.
But the sand-worm won’t turn that way.
                  Why should it?
It knows, to be happy is to need
                is to stay domestic
                     wallowing. Enchanted by the act of living.

That’s the law.  That’s why even after learning about land
man has not been able to crawl away from sand.   


Zero’s Arc

Zero doesn’t mean nothing.
Zero means, something.
Try to write zero and watch the curve
gather a definite area in its middle!
Is life then, zero’s bewildering game
with time skilfully etching the circle?
When fingers of death arrive and erase its circumference
does body and soul blend with the immense, the whole, that lies outside?
This gentle breeze swaying the trees in the green field,
this shimmering river, this pair of love-birds
trying to settle on the fragrant flowering bough –
the earth’s circle has ensnared all these with its spell.

Zero doesn’t mean nothing.
Zero means, there exists, an indestructible enchanted circle.


See

Just see. That’s your role.
Watch the knight, bishop, castle, king, and queen
play inside the black-white scheme in sorrow and in glee.
Strange chessmen battling out a scene – inside a scene!
Who is the vanquished? Whose is the victory?
Just watch and be amazed
at the amazing game taking place,
let the blue background– the sky, the nebulae, the stars– be. 


Blind Fish

Blind fish live in the dark waters of the bottomless sea.
Down there, nature teaches him about birds and bees.
He learns what she thinks, by feeling her body.     

Boundless life awakens intense love
with its language of signs.
Under a sea, life manifests life’s dexterity. 


The Horse-Head Nebula

The horse’s head is awake in a different space– glowing,
blue in the deep darkness.

On the obverse of our creeper-green births and pale-flower deaths, in a time far from
our time, the infinite spreads.
                                 Lest I drift pulled by its intense cosmic tide,
lest the horse-head seem more attractive, mysterious, bright,

the world holds me tight in its green arms and plays
its earthly games with oceans, clouds, winds, and birds
                                                                                         like a child.


Also Read:

A Poem for All Those Unwritten Ones and Other Poems – Kamal Vora

Let’s Take a Selfie with Time and Other Poems – Saroj Bal

Sambhunath Chattopadhyay (1930 – 2018) lived the better part of his life in Manirampur, a sleepy town on the outskirts of Kolkata, India. Having chosen to remain outside the poetic movements and fraternities of Bengal, Chattopadhyay never received the limelight of his contemporaries. Neither was he bothered about it. Sambhunath Chattopadhyay died in November 2018.

Kingshuk Sarkar works as a Spanish teacher and translator. His translations from Spanish have been published in Anushtup (a Bengali literary journal) and Satsori (an Assamese literary magazine). His translations of eight poems of Sambhunath Chattopadhyay (translated from Bengali to English) have been published in Visions International (Print, USA) and Kritya (Online, India) in 2020.

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