Sunday, May 08, 2016

The Poet

I have been away from this blog for several months now, but that doesn't mean I have had nothing to write. I have been too busy to write here, but I have been saving up my experiences, and I hope to write them someday. Also, I have been writing posts on my Bengali blog, so my Bengali readers have not been entirely deprived.

Anyway, it is Rabindranath Tagore's birth anniversary once more and it's time for my annual translation of a Tagore poem. As usual, this poem, called "Kabi" (which means "The Poet" in Bengali) was selected for me by my father.

The Poet
                                               ~Rabindranath Tagore

The fact that I’m quite happy
              Or at least not weak with pain,
In my poetry, that fact would
              Be treated with much disdain.
That is why I seek deeply
              In the depths of my mind
A great sorrow remembered
Or forgotten, I must find.
But that is so distant,
              That is so deeply buried
The proof of its existence
              The poet doesn’t need to carry.
His face still holds a smile,
              His body all fit and sound,
Nobody can claim to know
              Where his pains may be found.
The poet isn’t what you imagine
              By reading his poetry.
His face isn’t all grim and dark,
Hasn’t an ever breaking heart,
And things such as deep sorrow
              He bears smilingly.
He likes, in social gatherings,
              To wear civil clothes in style,
He also likes to converse
              With people, sporting a smile.
When his friend jokes, he won’t
              Die trying to interpret,
And the point where to laugh
              He’ll most often get.
Doesn’t remain lost in thought,
              When he is served his food,
And when his friends arrive
              Doesn’t sit at home and brood.
When his friends say, “He’s funny”
              Are their words all untrue?
When foes say “He’s shallow”
              Is that really baseless too?
The poet isn’t what you imagine
              By seeing his poetry.
Watching the moon wide-eyed,
Doesn’t lie on the riverside,
And things such as deep sorrow
              He bears joyfully.
If I write I’m happy
              People say, “His life is small!
He doesn’t have great hopes,
              His thirst doesn’t engulf all.”
The readers belittle me and
              Say things out of spite---
They say, “A few petty jokes
              Sates his mind's appetite.”
So the poet must put in rhymes
              His documents of pain.
Even if that is false, reader,
              Make your eyes rain.
Then make a wish with
              Sad heart and choked voice
May the poet forever write
              Sad poetry and rejoice.
The poet shouldn’t, in real life,  
              Resemble his poetry.
Smartness he needs a bit,
And find time to wash and eat,
Like normal folk, the poet should
              Talk prosaically. 

(Translation by Sugata Banerji)


  1. অসাধারণ তোমার ধারাবাহিক প্রচেষ্টা, চমৎকার তোমার অনুবাদ। যদিও আমার ইংরাজি ভাষার ক্ষমতা সীমিত তবুও উপভোগ করতে বাধা হয়নি। অনেকদিন ধরেই তোমার বাবার সৌজন্যে আমি তোমার এই প্রচেষ্টার সাক্ষী। আমার অনুরোধ, ভবিষ্যতে বই হিসাবে একটি সংকলনের কথা চিন্তা করতে পার।
    ইতি ইন্দ্রজিৎ মৈত্র

  2. জয়!!! খুব খুব খুব ভালো লাগলো । প্রতিবছরই পড়ার সুযোগ পাই। গৌতমই পাঠায়। এবার ছন্দ অনুযায়ী শব্দচয়ন আরো ভালো এবং যথাযথ । পড়ে দারুণ আন্নন্দ পেলাম। । অলঙ্কারের বিশেষ সুযোগ এই কবিতায় নেই । থাকলেও সুন্দর হতো । অভিজ্ঞতা থেকে জানি। সত্যিই উপভোগ্য যথাযথ অনুবাদ। অকুণ্ঠ অভিনন্দন জেনো। ভবিষ্যতে আরো পড়ার আশা রইল। অবশ্য আমার দেহের আয়ু ও মনের সামর্থ যদি অনুমোদন করে।
    জ্যোতির্ময় মুখোপাধ্যায় ।

  3. জয়

    এবাৱ খুব ভাল হয়েছে।

    Maturity is showing . Like every year we wait for this day. Gautamda reminds and we get delighted reading your translation. Lots and lots of love.


  4. darun hoyechhe, khub bhalo laglo. Ami etar opekkhay chhilam, sudhu bhabchhilam je, ebar konta pabo. Bhalo theko. Pisimoni.