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.

Two Hindi Poems by Kedarnath Singh

Sep 24, 2022 | Poetry | 3 comments

Translated from the Hindi by Sharmista De
People Of My Language 

People of my language
Are people from my street
People from the street are people of the world.

I dreamt last night
All the people of the world
Sitting on a bus
And speaking in Hindi
Then the yellow bus
Vanishes in the air
Leaving me with only my Hindi
Just like the last coin
Left to me
In all hardships.

She says nothing
But my tongue knows even without uttering
Her skin bears innumerable
Scar marks
Of sleepless nights of her nouns
The often pain of her adjectives
Yet in the vortex of it all
On million lips
She dances in sweet little glee!

Go, peep in all government offices
Ask the table
The walls
Search the tall piles
Of ominous files
Nowhere you’ll find, I bet
Her single alphabet
And she doesn’t know
Whom to thank for it
If not the lord!

It’s my request
A request with folded hands on the crowded carfax—
Not national—language
Language—language—let my language be
Just a language.

She is filled with
Droplets of infusion of many voices
From near-and-neighbour and far-and-wide
Whenever I speak her
Somewhere within
Arabic, Turkish, Bengali, Telegu,
And even the swaying sound
Of a leaf
I speak a little more or less
Whenever I speak Hindi.

But what I feel
When I speak is
I am a cause of anxiety
In the grammatical case
Sorrow of the native loanwords
In modern loanwords’ propinquity.


River 

Walk gingerly
And she’ll touch you
Run and you’ll beat her behind
If taken along
Even through rugged roads
She’ll keep walking
Holding your finger
Leave her
And in that darkness
She’ll build her
Whole world stealthily
Hidden from the eyes of millions of stars
In a tiny snail.

The truth is
No matter where you are
Even on your toughest days of the year
You’re loved by the river
The river who isn’t here now in this home
Yet she’s there somewhere
Beneath the mat
Or the flower vase
Flowing silently

Hearken to her
When the city sleeps
Pressing your ears to the window
Listen adagio
In vicinity
Like a moaning male alligator
The river will be heard!


Also, read a short story by the stalwart Bengali writer, Manik Bandopadhyay , translated to English by Nishi Pulugurtha , published in The Antonym 

Prehistoric— Manik Bandopadhyay


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Kedarnath Singh (7 July 1934 – 19 March 2018) was an Indian poet who wrote in Hindi. He was also an eminent critic and essayist. He was awarded the Jnanpith Award (2013), and Sahitya Akademi Award (1989) in Hindi for his poetry collection, Akaal Mein Saras (Cranes in Drought).

Sharmista De is a trilingual (English, Hindi and Bengali) poetess and painter. She is an avid traveler and her work is mostly inspired by nature and human relationships sans gender bias. She believes that feelings have no language, hence, her interest in translation literature has immerged over the years.

3 Comments

  1. Bandita Rudra

    Commendable effort! My favourite of the two is River.

    Reply
  2. Pradip Basu

    I have no knowledge about the hindi original poems but these English ones are wonderful

    Reply
  3. Kobita

    Beautiful translation, very apt and very vivid.

    Reply

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