Varnamala : Contemporary Oriya Poetry




The doves of my eyes strike against 
the steel of the sky, 
and repulsed, return to earth, 
where, each day you wait alone 
to discover the many meanings of life and death. 

When the words, with their little palms, 
touch the body of the motionless sands, 
running through the grey heat of noons 
I seek ancestral memories in your flesh. 

You whisper the secrets of leaf and grass, 
of cliffs and woods, moss and shell, 
in forlorn nights through the tatter of clouds 
the myths of the moon sailing to its death. 

As you retrieve the ruined body of April 
drifting helplessly in the whirlpools of sand, 
it seems you love me and want me to come, 
but where is your soul? and where my body? 

And when the doves of my eyes return, 
ripping the sky's wrongs, it is time's river 
that flows through the weariness of your flesh 
and carries my dreams along. 

Leaves fall, unheard, in the quiet noon, 
and the sun respires in silence. 
The pine forest pales like smoke in the sky. 
And I don't remember when, the doves of my eyes 
flew into Ujjain or Cuttack, pursuing you.

Translation :
Jayanta Mahapatra 


How could the gulmohur 
preserve its redness 
in the unceasing traffic 
of automobiles? 

At some nondescript moment 
of some forever-lost century 
this redness began its journey 
from some first stirring of blood 
to the April sunlight of today. 

This summer day 
heaps red dust on the road 
meandering across the treeless hill. 
Tyres of cars, buses, trucks and jeeps 
and the chimneys of the steel plant 
belch red dust all the time. 
How then can the gulmohur 
preserve its own redness? 

I look out of the window 
of the superfast bus 
through my sunglasses 
and try to comprehend 
actual problems of the red colour 
and its present-day motives and conduct. 

Are my looks as stupid 
as the look of 
the superannuated old chairman 
of the Enquiry-Commission 
set up after the crowd 
took out processions, burnt buses, and 
was lathi-charged and fired upon? 

From its origin in ether 
the gulmohur's redness 
has descended on the road. 
How could redness continue to be red 
amidst all this automobile traffic? 

Where does this redness go 
after the annihilation of its being? 
Does it travel to a sad, disarrayed, 
unsure and ravaged sunset 
in some horizon? 
Translation :
Ramakanta Rath   

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