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.

Shamsur Rahman

Feb 20, 2021 | Front And Center, Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Bengali by Moulinath Goswami

Keeps Coming Back

It keeps coming back, the blood soaked shirt
Comes back to the maidan, comes back to the intense landscape
Comes back to the huge jawline of the tense still city.
Soaring in the air, changing hands
the blood soaked shirt always flutters, like a flag in a rally.
The indomitable days return again and again,
Time and again our cities and villages erupt in a tumultuous wave.

“I shall come back again,” said the vibrant youth
briskly folding the sleeves of his shirt
and time and again, vanishing himself
in the pleatless euphoria of pulsating slogans, never to return.
No sooner than a melancholy flood is wiped off
from a mother’s eyes
The eyes of another mother cloud into a ceaseless monsoon sky,
No sooner than the lament of a bereaved woman
at the devastation of her family ceases, alas,
The bosom of another woman turns into a desolate cemetery,
No sooner than the soft earth of his son’s grave
is shed from the hands of a father
Another bullet riddled lifeless son deserts a father’s bosom
and goes down into the airless grave.

The blood soaked shirt keeps coming back
Back to the maidan, back to the intense landscape
Back to the huge jawline of the tense still city, it returns.
The boy who used to play in the streets
under the glorious youthful sun of Nineteen Sixty-Nine
who build castles in dust, who rolled by the drain,
wondered at file of trucks, jeeps, rifles
tunics, bayonets, boots and helmets
now walks the rally in unsteady steps.
The demure and tender girl who always stayed in the background,
who wouldn’t see the sun
now dazzles from one rally to another
And beneath their feet shimmers the blueprint of a new civilization.

It keeps coming back, the blood soaked shirt
Comes back to the maidan, back to the intense landscape
Back to the huge jawline of the tense still city.
Kicking dejection out of despair
Beating with sticks and driving fear out of dread
We spew sparks of slogan wherever we go.
And each time our hands transform into an impetuous flag
And every time we turn into Padma, stirred by storm.

It was me they killed in the sunny streets of Fifty Two
It was me they slayed during the rebellious hours of Sixty-Nine
It was me they murdered again in Seventy-One
They keep murdering me
By the side of the street, at crossroads,
in processions and in meetings
It’s me they kill, they kill again and again.

Shall this Bangladesh of mine
turn into one huge martyrs’ monument then?

Shamsur Rahman

Shamsur Rahman

Shamsur  Rahman (23 October 1929 – 17 August 2006 ) Born in Bangladesh, Shamsur Rahman is revered as one of the finest poets in Bengali literature of the 20th century. He was a modern poet whose verses spoke about the pains and pleasures of the common man. He was their collective voice in love and protest. With more than sixty books of poetry to his credit, he is regarded as a father figure in the literary arena of Bangladesh
Moulinath Goswami

Moulinath Goswami

Moulinath Goswami is a Bengali poet who also does translation of Bengali and English poems. He has one collection of poetry named ‘Dayal’. He is a regular contributor to various literary periodicals


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