Varnamala : Contemporary Oriya Poetry




My lost crown appears to me
as I face the sea, 
watch it rolling about on the sands. 

And here my kingdom lies in shards, 
enveloping me like a fortress 
vast, and the limit's past. 

I forget myself, forgetting my first name 
in time to become my second self, 
turning a stranger to myself, 
aloof and unfamiliar. 
In the sky of my own self 
I lose myself, losing too 
my beginning and my end: 
the truth of all that was or wasn't, and is. 

All words in an instant 
turn wordless, 
the word's past, 
the unheard of what is heard. 
All sounds seem meaningless, 
the quest for all meaning futile. 
Oh, if only these sounds unite 
to become a signal, a sign or symbol 
that would open 
the entrance to a magical cave 
at the touch of a finger... 
To say, to know, to understand 
Useless are these words and voices, 
all the prepared prayers. 

Translation :
Jayanta Mahapatra 


She is the one who slays me,  
moment by moment,  
In the grove of casuarinas,  
by the shores of the sea,  
She is the one who slays me,  
in the very last act of the play.  
With every single gut of my blood  
is woven a pattern of immense terror.  

She is the one who slays me  
hour by hour  
In the white man's cemetry, or here.  

She is the one who pushes me  
down the abyss of death.  
Drawing me with the beak of her gaze,  
She slays me with the strands of her smile  
Here within, or in some lonely river isle,  
In an abandoned citadel.  

And I live again, fall in love with her.  
My Sumba-Nisumba existence only resembles her.  
So she is a Goddess, for how else  
Can she secure the slayed,  
Death and love, with strings of slaughter;  
Because love is death, her order ultimate.  

And receiving and giving seem complete  
when each other we annihilate.  

She is the one who slays me  
with eyes of murder,  
Slays me in the cell of love,  
Over a secret stairway,  
or on some forgotten border,  
For she is a Goddess:  
truly she makes me hers  
Under the pretense of worship,  
each moment by moment  
In every single act of the play. 

Translation :
Jayanta Mahapatra 


It's night.  
It's cold.  
What incredible fury of the blizzard !  
An unbearable death  
could break into this house  
like a hungry wild cat.  
Close the doors and windows.  
It's better here,in this corner of the lounge  
of this house.  
The chairs, the carpet and the table do not talk.  
Talk, sing, or do something  
entirely petty and entirely unnecessary.  
Or take a book, lie down, and do not speak.  
Whatever you do today will have some meaning—
a mile-long sip from a teacup,  
drawing in cigarette smoke and puffing it out,  
the violin's sad melody—
whatever you do will have meaning,  
whatever you do will clearly be better.  

Close the windows and doors.  
Let's build a pathway paved with echoes,  
away from solidified mysteries,  
and arrive at the abode that's our very own.  
There, in that abode,  
a single moment holds  
the reflection of our whole familiar world.  
In light's green effulgence,  
and in darkness that contains  
God knows how many layers,  
the blue sky descends in dewdrops  
into the abyss of consciousness.  

Let's go then to the frontier  
where all disquiet has ceased.  
Let's go into the house  
set apart for us  
by God knows who.  

Some day, however, those terrible paws  
will break into the house.  
Its doors and windows will fall apart.  
Electricity will be switched off.  
It will embezzle every single certitude  
of my universe  
and, then, disappear for ever.  
This moment will be the moment  
of all-devouring time  
that has no beginning,  
and no end.  
Look, the black wild cat  
is here once again.  
Translation :
Ramakanta Rath   

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