Jibananda Das (1899-1954)


I have walked earth's byways
     for millenia
     from Ceylon's coast
to the archipelago of Malaya,
     in the night's darkness,
     moving ever.
     I have been a guest
at the now hoary court
     of Vimsivar
     and Asoka;
     in the further dark
     of the city of Vidharva.
     Life's seas foamed
     all around. I was weary.
     And my sole respite came,
     I spent a couple of hours
     with Natore's Banalata Sen.

Her hair dark, like some long gone
     Vidisha's night,
her face like Sravasti's delicate
     Like some mariner,
     helm lost, gone astray
     in far seas,
     by chance of discovering
     the greenness
     of Spice Islands -
     I saw her in the dusk.
     And raising eyes, like bird's nests,
     she asked: `Where were you
     so long?'
     She asked me then.
     Natore's Banalata Sen.

Evening comes at all our day's end
     like the sound of dew.
The kite wipes off sunshine's scent
from its wings.
When all the earth's colours are spent,
     in the fireflies' brilliant hue,
     completing an unfinished tale,
     an old script
     finds a new arrangement.
     All the birds return home,
     all the rivers.
     All the day's transactions end.
     Just darkness remains
     and sitting with me
     face to face,
     Banalata Sen.

               (translated by Ron D. K. Banerjee)

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Revised: February 28, 1996