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INDIAN POETRY : some Indian modern poets (part I)

Par Ananda

Bharat Majhi (Oriya)

The Sculptor

It does not pay to blame the butterfly.

Friends, it is not as if I would become a garden someday!

So kindly cease from giving me advances for making statues;

As I don’t have even a couple of palmfuls

Of soil after the division of the land.

I had earth that could have become statues; gods, goddesses, objects of affection and reverence;

But I thought that for me all the gods have died.


That land has been sold.

Have not you seen?

At the same place a lush garden has grown.

I do agree that my skills don’t lie in cooking,

Or for that matter in gardening.

But you just might get two tight whacks if you raise the matter of the statues.

Therefore, friends! It’s prudent to desist!

If you have to say something,

Then let’s talk about the earth,

And about the tears that have been shed;

Offer each other lovely platitudes about the beauty of the earth.

Tears matter,

Till the time they inhabit the universe of the eyes.

Why search for them in the dust after they drop?

I don’t say that this earth is pretty after seeing your idiotic gardens;

If I might have,

Then the question of the butterflies could have been raised legitimately.

Hence dear friends!

Let’s face the bland fact that I won’t make statues any longer.

But it will be nice if you could come at least once a year,

And talk some random jazz, shed a few wayward tears,

And bitch about the idiocy of gardens in general.

After my return

Please don’t desert the post even after my return,

Stick to it.

Please don’t throw the flowers away,

Does it really matter if they are fresh or stale?

Please open all my hidden, deserted dreams,

By embossing them.

Please invert all the lamps everywhere,

And stop hating the darkness.

Please face the sea without blinking,

And yet, do not hate the sky.


Please know the earth to be a humungous point,

Try and stay there.

Please wait for yourself,

And while doing so, please wake up!

Please remember, that I’ll return to this only earth that there is.

Please remember that I’ll return,

Because I have sown the path with mustard seeds,

Please remember that path.


These days you sing at almost every gathering,

And I follow you shamelessly.

I breathlessly drink your voice,

Its shape, texture and tone, with an abandon

That sometimes shocks even me.

Perhaps you don’t know,

That before I come to listen to you I take off

All the noise around me.

I find my way back after the abandon of your songs,

Through my very own lost track to home.


In fact, very good indeed!!!

These songs are enough!

Enough to forget the history of your memories;

For the resolution of the defects in my horoscope,

As they are as dense and close as the

Excitement of the claps occasioned by your songs.  

Perhaps even I had left home one day,

Thinking that I too will learn to sing.

I really don’t know how,

But I was back home the next afternoon,

Having caught the earliest train in the morning.

When I hear your songs these days,

It seems as if I am offering you a glass of chilled water,

After having glimpsed a half of

One of your destitute hands.

When I hear your songs these days,

It seems as if there is a staircase going up till the sky,

And I am straining hard to go,

And harvest the moon on a new moon night.

Therefore, please keep on singing.

I am there, always,

Invisible; to frame the visions;

I keep on clapping shamelessly,

In the breathless abandon of the visions not induced by your songs.

Song for the self

I understood as much I heard.

Janhi flowers strewn across the branch,

Stretched away after shooing me out of their way;

The clouds opened their mouth,

And then spit out the rains.

I put my ears close to the heart of the clouds,

And heard.

And I understood as much as I heard.

I had nothing to say,

Absolutely nothing indeed!

Then why was I being called by the forest, the river and the birds?

Why was the sun rising,

And making me rise above the noise of the streets?

All my ancestors are busy

Climbing stairs,

And all my successors are busy counting them.

Does anyone listen to the cribbing

Of someone who cannot speak? Definitely not

Eyes about to brim over with tears,

Or the flowers that bloomed out of season.

For the sleep-addicted time, therefore,

I have nothing,

Nothing indeed!

I understood just as much I heard.

Love song

I counted whatever I could not do,

And cried.

I have to speak if so demanded:

I have to say that the ground beneath my feet is still green,

The snake slithering away is still brown,

The wind muscling its way through my diseased windows,

Is still cursed,

That my head is still hot and my heart is still cold and still.

I have written and erased so many names.

But I could never tell any of them –

That, this is the soil, and that is sin,

This is a tree, and that is the wind.

This is a ghost, and that is love;

And more than anything else I could never tell any one of them,

That this is life.

I have written and erased so many names.

I counted whatever I could not do,

And cried.


May every end not come as a sigh.

May the dawns be free from the dark clouds.

Every peace does not need a war.

Every sea does not need rivers.

May every act of creation be a challenge,

And the beak and the voice of every bird be filled.

May every wave throw back some sweetness,

And the bite of every thorn be a surrender of flowers.

May every drop of tear nurture our faith,

May every kiss warm our apprehensions,

And may the self-destruction of each dejection,

Remind us that we are men.

The Black sheep

Agreed, that everything was just my dream.

I had wanted that all the beautiful girls

In the world should understand poetry;

That the letters of all mothers be auctioned

For millions of dollars;

That flowers be completely careless

About either the storms or the rains;

That famines be tolerable;

Like the legendary tolerability of sorrow in dreams,

May hills be worshipped and not saalagrams;

Agreed, that everything was just my dream.

What else could I have given to anyone here?

Whose dying harvest could I have salvaged?

For whom could I have set a ladder till the heavens?

Which birds could I have taught

The science of flying away with the net

With all my useless ineptitude?

But I know for sure,

That no one has the guts to listen my dreams breathe.

Because I am the black sheep of lineage that rarely sleeps.







M R Renukumar (Malayalam)

The Silent Beast

Be up

before the crow

touches the ground.

Must clear the cow dung.

Clean the cowshed

before he’s here,

The milking-man.

The milk-pot,

the oil-can,

Must keep them handy.

When he’s gone,

the milking done,

the milk measured,

Mark today’s volume

with a pencil

on the calendar.

Don’t forget.

The haystack’s thinned.

Even so,

must climb up,

pull down some,

for it to feed.


to three houses,

of the neighbours.

Must slip into the


get the leftovers.

Mud pot on hip,

must cross,

scorching glances

of men

angling by the canal.

Stir, stir

as the snout dips,

searching for feed

still dry.

Must swat hard, quick,

Finish off

that bloodsucker,

the leopard-wasp,

on its belly.


the folds

on its neck,

as it stretches out,

belly full,

chewing the cud.

Must sharpen

the sickle

on the rough washing stone.

Go, cut fresh grass

in the priest’s yard.

Must wait for passers-by

to help lift

the bundle.

Be careful.

Don’t slip

while crossing

the single-log bridge.

Must drink up the rice-gruel.

Wash the bowl.

Must blow out the lamp.

Rest head,

on left hand,

Turn body,

to one side,

Fill up the depth

of the soul

with nothingness.


be up

before the crow


to the ground.


Out of the woods

the bundle of dry leaves gathered,

blood on your lips.

‘It was a twig

that slashed’ – your

faltering testimony.


Moves in the Night

The Opening

marred by squabbes

over white pawns.

The acrobatics

of heads

and tails,

jostling, pushing, shoving,

straining hard inside,

the first move,

never to be shared.

The lethal chessboard

of the night

turns fecund.

Sprawl out,

swoon off,

the worsted.

Sprawl out,

stretch limbs,

the victorious.



Saw her once

by the road

in the scorching sun.

Sitting in the shade

of the woven


fixed on the side,

she was

breaking granite.

The old pluck

was missing.

It used to

spring up,

as she threw up the stones,

and caught them,

in nimble fingers.

Her score soaring,

mine, drowning.

That old dogged drive.

I can hear the sounds

When our eyes

thread together

She talks

casual stuff,

and I bleed

from her scratches.

As drops of blood

well upon

the delicate film

of the past,

she hurries past

shaking off

a soundless laugh

upon the kaana flowers.

The breeze brings me

the scent of her laughter

Upon the screen descend

the dragon-flies

she’s shooed off.

Can still hear

the sounds

as I soak into


of her bathing the child,

of her doing the washing,

of her wringing the clothes.






Jiban Narah (Assameese)

A tale toppled

The barking of a dog under the bamboos

The barking merged with grandpa’s cough


   Dog :   Buddy I won’t stay with you any longer

   Tiger :   Why mate ?

   Dog :   I hadn’t known before you’re scared of people.

   From now on I’m going to live with people without fear.

The supple bamboos Grandpa planted long ago

Clambered up the ladder to the sun

We clambered onto Granny’s laps

Splitting the knotty blossoms woven on the loom

Stretching strides over slender shadows

We were to reach either side of the river.

It’s morning on one bank

Night on the other

So sparkling white is the river-sand

I hadn’t known before, I’ve come to know now

And I’ve come to know

River-sands cannot be soaked

Never never –– said water and earth

And I’ve come to know

Man cannot be known

Never never –– said the dog

Beneath the bamboos earth water sand

Live light and shade sunlight rain

A hut made by father’s hands

And the winds


By mother’s hands

And lightning yarn

Scaling the ladder from this hut

The people turning into birds and beasts worms and insects


Flee fever ailments childhood adolescence old-age

Flee the past the present the future

Grandpa too made off one day

Taking the dog along

The barking of the dog

Twined round the ladder

The rains descend in sheets shattering the sky

The dreamy web of illusion spreads

The yearning for rain hasn’t been sated

yui yui – – do you hear ?

Or is it a sudden fit of delusion

On the bed of rain and the woods

At the crossroads of incoherent thoughts

Why does a utopian poet fall prey

Is man an isle

Or a fleeting thrill....

Here, slowly drifts a strain

Slowly slumber pulls to a soft bedspread....

In the ripples raised by fish

A faint light stirs to a swing

From the bottom of the brimful pond

The coiled notes of the water spill over and spread

What commotion do we start at

Why does the facial hue change

All of a sudden

Is this a delusion or a dream in slumber....

Someone passes by waving from the distance

Hey there ! How’re you ?


Why fine ?

A tale toppled

A bark

A dove

Crawling out from the tale’s shell up to the courtyard

Granny opens the tangled blossoms

Opens the causeway of Maying Makkong1

Clambering down over the sky of birth and rebirth

The Subaltern

On digging history thousands of villages get ravaged

Under the earth and mingle with the river-water

Some unreal men rise from the water and stare transfixed –

At the historian and the hero of history

Standing across from the shadows of the dead

The historian opens up oddities

Theorises with condensed letters shuffles the past

Learning about it the indigent lot

Burst into laughter years after and sing :

Cunning lads love naive lasses

History loves the dumb

The lyrics make the unreal men applaud and dip into the river immersed under the water they sing :

None can keep count of the current under water

None can keep count of the ripplings of water

And none can close the count of the lies of history

Krishna Leela transformation :1

Pushing through the female crowd

Krishna crushes the grass

the grass flourish

In the downpour

The sun and woman

A primitive reminiscence

Grasping their bosoms

The women jump into the river

In the river there's no water,

O'Krishna no water

How do we wash our bodies

A whiff of scream rends Krishna's heart

Pushing through the crowd Krishna descends to the river

Never to return from the river eternally

Krishna Leela transformation : 2

Krishna doesn't return from the waters throughout eternity

Throughout eternity does the leela go on

The leela has no beginning no end

Krishna too has no beginning no end

What has an end O' Krishna

We await with the flame of lust lit in our hearts

Then die out burning

Burn out to ash

I'm in fire

I'm in ash

Krishna is my name

I'm a flower blooming in the void

Krishna Leela transformation : 3

Suddenly the roar of a tiger in the woods

The trees flee terrified by the roar

The grass-plots come flying in panic

And thump into a tribal village

The villagers come out

With machetes-axes-spears-spikes


Block the tiger's way

The tiger finding no way out for escape

Changes its form in fear into a man

Oh! look at its act–

Catch it! Catch it! catch it! – the people shout

Assuming the form of man it presents itself

I'm Krishna!

I'm Krishna!!

So what, we don't know you –

Catch it! catch it!! catch it!!!

I'm Krishna

Of the Kirtana-Ghosha2

Of Kirtana-Ghosha ?

Then calm down O' people calm down

Leave him alone

Leave the poor being alone

Krishna, you really scared us out of our wits

You can transform yourself even into a man from a tiger

– The people break into a guffaw

I can also transform myself into a tiger from a man

No, don't don't

We're scared

We're scared

Krishna Leela transformation : 4

Why do you look for

Flowers blooming in the void

Teenaged girls in a group sprouting with lust

Move about on the pavement

Yet Krishna doesn't see them

All glossed in splendour

Krishna hangs on the computer screen

How Krishna cannot transform himself

From man to tiger

For fear of mice

1 Leela :   amorous sport of Krishna of the Mahabharata.

2 Kirtana–Ghosha :   a modified version of the Bhagavata in Assamese by the great Vaishnavite saint, poet and social scientist, Sankardeva (1449-1568) which along with the Naam–Ghosha by Madhabdeva (1489-1596), poet, scholar chief associate and disciple of Sankardeva, contributed extensively towards the neo-Vaishnavite movement in Assam. These two books also had a great impact on the tribal societies.

A lot of thanks to my friend Mandakranta SEN, who sent  to me all these poems. 


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