Two fragments: Jibanananda Das

Once, I wanted her – her distant footsteps roused my thirst
Still I’ll forget her – forget how to be awakened
Perhaps I’ll think of those days before I sleep
But this world’s winter-numbness
Will numb me too
I shan’t want her though I wanted her once
~ ~ ~
In some lake
Some river wave
The water of some ocean
Merging like droplets for a moment
On a distant dawn near the sun of the century
The upheaval of our lives
Had perhaps sought to learn to be young
~ ~ ~
[Fragments from longer poems]


The City: Jibanananda Das

You have seen many big cities, my heart
The bricks and stones of those cities
The dreadful plundered eyes of words, work, hope, despair
Have burnt to ashes within my bitterness
But still I have seen the sun rise by the enormous cloud over the city
Seen the sun across the river at the harbour
Its load like the amorous peasant’s in the orange field of the clouds
Above the gas lights and high towers of the city too I have seen – stars
Flying towards a southern ocean like a multitude of wild swans


This Meadow Shan’t be Silent: Jibanananda Das

This meadow shan’t be silent then, I know
Beneath the stars, this stream
Will still dream
Does this world ever tire of dreams of gold?
Because I’ll be gone
Will the wild flowers not be soaked in dew
In soft-smelling waves?
Will the owl no longer sing for its goddess ?
Does this world ever tire of dreams of gold?


Bonolata Sen: Jibanananda Das

A thousand years, and yet I walk these paths
On darkest nights from Ceylon to Malay seas
I have wandered; Bimbisar and Ashoka’s grey lands
I was there; further still, in Vidarbha’s dark cities
Life foams around my weary soul again
She brought me a spell of peace – Natore’s Bonolata Sen

Her hair as dark as Vidisha’s ancient nights
Her face sculpted in Sravasti. Like the lost sailor
On the distant ocean, the ship’s rudder broken,
Who sees a green land in a cinnamon isle
In the dark I’ve seen her. ‘What kept you?’ she asks, and then
Raises her bird’s-nest eyes – Natore’s Bonolata Sen

Like the sound of falling dew at end of day
Evening comes; the hawk wipes the sun-smell off its wings;
The colours of the world fade, and the manuscript
Twinkles in firefly hues for all these tales
All birds come home – all streams. All transactions end
Only darkness remains. And – face to face – Bonolata Sen


Skysoaked: Jibanananda Das

Suranjana, you better not go there
You better not talk to that young man
Come back, Suranjana
When silver starfire fills the night

Come back to this meadow, this wave
Come back here to my heart
Don’t go away with him anymore
Far, so far away – and further away

What do you say to him? – with him!
The sky hides the sky
You’re like earth today
Whose love sprouts like grass

Your heart is as grass now
Beyond the wind, the wind
Beyond the sky, the sky