Shabdaguchha: Logo_new edited by: Hassanal Abdullah issue: 75/76


Poets and Translators:

Stanley H. Barkan
Dariusz Tomasz Lebioda
Sultan Catto
Catherine Fletcher
Naznin Seamon
David Lawton
Bishnupada Ray
Ellen Lytle
Richard Jeffry Newman
Roni Adhikari
Dhanonjoy C Saha
Howard Pflanzer
Maki Starfield
Natasha R Clarke
Amirah Al Wassif
John Smelcer
Ekok Soubir
Hassanal Abdullah

A Tribute To

Buddhadeva Bose (1908-1974)

Poetry in Bengali

Hadiul Islam
Suman Dhara Sharma
Mahbub Mitra
Mohammad Jasim

Letters to the Editor

Naoshi Koriyama
Carolyne Wright
Sultan Catto
Peter Thabit Jones
Samantha Jane
Denise Moyo
Chandan Das
Partha Banerjee
Sulekha Sarkar
Somnath Ray

Cover Art:

Thaira Almayahy Husen

New Logo:

Najib Tareque

Celebrating 21 Years of Publication
প্রকাশনার একুশ বছর

edited by: Hassanal Abdullah

    Buddhadeva Bose


    While he could still turn back, he understood nothing.
    And then there was only sand and bared horizons:
    thorny bushes, spiders a skeleton or two of camels.
    Encircling the villages of language, a vast and violent sky

    Brutally raped all thought, reduced it to ashes,
    and itself was slowly stilled. The sun cooked his flesh
    in his own fat, dressing him for another birth as it were.
    And his thirst followed him like a pack of dogs.

    Mirages ripped at last, the first palm appeared
    and in dark rings on the sand a hint of pregnancy—
    down on his knees, he dug with frenzied fingers:

    the trickle was thin for thirst. Yet the cool touch
    evoked a change of season. From wetted hands hung fruit,
    and an evening azan rose through the throat soothed by sight.


    Your gentle hands I never can escape.
    so small, so full of distance, and yet somehow
    they scatter pollen to touch me in exile.
    And darkly through the stones a stream begins to gush,

    like one not seen, but heard with body’s rapture
    by a traveler who has lost his way in a forest.
    Has my tremendous toil then come to nothing?
    How hard I’d worked to leave behind

    the village mango-grove and build a safe retreat,
    arrogant and cold, enclosed in glabrous walls,
    invulnerable to mercy and the seasons.

    And yet my tower stands because it’s filled
    with your absence and the imperceptible
    touch of you I never can escape.



    Only one for birth, but death has many doors;
    knee-deep water, microbes, a drop or two of poison.
    And its effect is never either less or more:
    a Shelley dies as much as desiccated hag.

    And dying begins even before the birth.
    A single mango costs a million blossoms’ ruin;
    although a thousand chances start on the way together,
    all are lost on the way, except the lucky one—

    not the best or bravest—which hits the gaping womb.
    Maybe he’s just a nobody, but because alive and present,
    gaily the world forgets the unborn Sun of Valor.

    —You, who on the frontier still lie dimly huddled,
    do not blame me. I am always open:
    it’s you who are weak, too weak to penetrate.


    You who elected me, but then absorbed
    in the seasons’ merry-go-round, forgot the day is brief,
    who sometimes send me letters that sigh between the lines,
    but if I offer the ring, postpone the consummation,

    or leave no more than a kiss, or kiss the wind until
    everywhere spread the spaces where grapes most gladly ripen,
    or sometimes with eyes like a sunset’s afterglow—

    changeful, fleeting, indefinite—
    suffuse my heart with desire and frustration:
    to you I say: though many a time I’ve launched
    on barely tolerable expeditions,

    yet all the tale is not attack and skill.
    There were some who cancelled the vast, astonished debts
    and captured me at once. Maybe they matter most.


    but who can tell? . . . Are you not intimates
    embedded in each of my days and epochs of the heart,
    nurtured by the years in the midst of natural darkness,
    bright as a coral reel tossed up by sharks and storms,

    and secretly tinged with the red of younger-growing dawns?
    Maybe I’m slack, forgetful. But in dreamy clouds of sleep
    you are the stars that come; in my bath you startle me;

    with me straphang in trams, get mixed in my curried fish.
    Why malinger then? In girlish coquetry
    why still put to test the range of preparation?

    Come, strike out, assume I’m unconcerned,
    let fall you instant blow and ravish me like lightning.
    If not the honey of heaven, or a tryst with Urvashi,
    bring a fearful blast aglow with salt and sulfur.


    Draw the window curtains, there’s nothing to see outside.
    All are mere seducers—those grasses shimmering skies.
    Remove the dolls and goldfish, clear the room of flowers,
    and put your trust in the monotonous void.

    There’s nothing anywhere: close your sight and hearing.
    Which sage can teach what’s not already yours?
    Better accept the primal Sinbad load—
    laboring like an ass all day to fit a pair of rhymes.

    Winter drops anchor: what else do you need?
    Pure walls arise with seas and continents,
    the tints of changing time dissolve in each other;

    and, bared of the patchwork quilt of sunlight, starlight,
    the world recedes, gets lost in darkness,
    challenging you to the task of restoration.



    Only the personal is holy. A shaded lamp
    when evening deepens, darkness spread like a sky
    around the hidden star of a yellowed page:
    or a letter written in the shy half-sleep of midnight,

    slowly, to a distant friend. Do you think that Christ
    was a philanthropist? or Buddha a committee chairman,
    hard-working venerable, loquacious,
    dribbling vain saliva? Far from the drums and watchmen

    of the wholesale vendors of salvation,
    softly they walk their ways of vagrancy.
    I say, let go the world, let go where it will.

    Be small, inscrutable, be deafened with delight
    that half an hour warmly shared with a woman
    can give much more that the helpers’ hue and cry.


    All of this is not for you. Only the book lies open,
    Those who smile and chant in tune with tinkling tea-cups
    become, when the night is late and neighbors’ lights are out,
    cockroaches and scurrying pantry mice,

    Fighting for bits of food. Being ignorant
    of welcoming feast, they take the droppings for history.
    Not this, for you. Learn what flowers, fruit
    and the seasons teach as they come and go.

    Leave no address. Like spring in blank December,
    vanquished, forgotten, conspiratorial,
    go far, to distant lands where nobody speaks your tongue,

    and you wander uncertain, anonymous,
    with eternity whispering to your heart
    in the stars’ inhuman language, now and then.

    Translated from the Bengali by the poet

    Buddhadeva Bose (1908-1974) is a major Bengali modernist of the twentieth century. His poetry has been reprinted from the anthology, I Have Bengal’s Face, edited by Sibnarayan Ray and Marian Maddern, Editions Indian, 1974.

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Printed Version
পত্রিকার মুদ্রিত কপি


A Tribute to Buddhadeva Bose

Poetry in Translation (polish)

Poetry in Translation (Bengali)

Poetry in Translation (Ahtna)

Poetry in English 1

Poetry in English 2

Poetry in Bengali

Editor's Journal

Shabda News

Letters to the Editor

শব্দগুচ্ছর এই সংখ্যাটির মুদ্রিত সংস্করণ ডাকযোগে পেতে হলে অনুগ্রহপূর্বক নিচে ক্লিক করে ওয়ার্ডার করুন।

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Shabdaguchha, an International Bilingual Poetry Magazine, edited by Hassanal Abdullah