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.

Train and other poems – Farid Kabir

Jan 14, 2022 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Bengali by Moulinath Goswami  

The train dropped us mid-way
at an unknown station

Is it The Destination, where people want to travel?
Or is it, where they get down?
Does destination seek its own kind of a person!

We get down at an overwhelming station and wonder-
Is this the place where we wanted to get off
Or it is the train that has dropped us
in this dense night of fog!

Where we got off, or
where we were supposed to go
neither of these are actually true

Before our eyes, like a picture always hangs
a train window
and, a rapidly speeding Yamuna bridge…



A building peeped into another
There’s no one inside; a window glass sits
with a cigarette hanging from its lips
A bookshelf walked up to the lucky chair
The chair rocks
A ghost of a pillow sprawls on the bed
The window sash lifts its eyes
and sees in the light of the moon –
pages of diary, sleep
fluttering like a bee, across the table

Matching shoulders with their cornices
the two-storey building kissed the white one
Is there anyone inside?
Staying awake throughout the night
hanging from the clothes rack, a headless shirt
falls off to sleep at dawn
Where is the feet, fingers of the hand?
Scent of wings in the air, and
whispers inside the house
Unhinging hands feet and fingers
a headless shirt hangs in the clothes rack

For once, the bookshelf walked up to the lucky chair
The chair rocks
Buzzing like a bee across the table
flutters sleep, pages of diary
A building came walking towards another building.


A New Poem

Suppose, while reading, three alphabets of a poem fall on the ground
Would you pick and pocket them?

Describing a night – presume, like a pristine white heron
While caressing its body
you feel the warmth of blood.
Is a night hot!

I’ve addressed daytime as a furry bear
It bites as you stretch your hand.
You decide if it is day or if it is night now
A heron of a night, and day –
a bear as dark as your eyes
Presume, the heron flies towards the bear
You were sleeping; you wake up and see
a bear standing before you!

In fact, it is evening now
You are calling it – morning
and I – night
Now you are sitting on a chair
though I am calling it a bed.
You become hesitant when bed turns to chair

In reality, where are you?
You are inside the house
Is it actually inside? Or is it outside where you are
If you are out, presume you are at home
Inside the house is actually outside

Suppose you break off from reading a book, and suddenly step outside
Pay a little attention, you will realize
even by stepping outside you are actually still inside the house!


If Someone Thinks

Translated into English by Moulinath Goswami from the original Bengali poem ‘Jodi keu Bhabe.’

If someone thinks, this night shall walk into morning
the moon like a white marble shall roll on the blue bed sheet
the red sunlight shall devour the dark night
it isn’t quite right-
Whose breath shall exhaust itself,
whose ban shall hang on someone’s door like a lock
does anyone know?

This boat, this ferrying across has ended for the day
this downpour will return to that colossal space
the cheetah too shall break free from its last lair
and walk the distant city
(There is actually nothing called impossible)

Who weaves in his head a vain day, all day and night
who drinks someone else’s tears in a false reverie
does anyone know?
No one knows, if
back home, his shadow would go to sleep, leaving him to wander
or, it would be the shadow that shall aimlessly roam
and the body shall sleep in peace!
(There is actually nothing called impossible)

Bedrock – Rochelle Potkar – contemplates life’s journey through ambitious 

Farid Kabir

Farid Kabir

Farid Kabir, born in 1959 in an old part of Dhaka, began publishing poems in the early 1980s and is now the author of about 30 books. He is considered on the major and influential poet of Bangladesh of his time. His autobiography Amar Galpa (My Stoty) has been a big hit in Bangladesh. He has also translated some poems into Bangla from other languages and published two different collections out of them. After finishing his graduation from Dhaka University, he started his career as a journalist. Now he is the Director (public relations) of Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation in Diabetes, Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders (BIRDEM).

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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