There is dark in this winter, and it robs me of sight,
For the skies have been drained of their color and light.
There is pain in this winter, and it robs me of peace,
For my rest, it is troubled, and my work does not cease.
What happens, in winter, to the sap of the tree,
Has happened, perhaps, to that spirit in me
That whispered those verses that I would then write,
In springtime and summer and fall, with delight.
Like the leaves of the trees when the winter has come,
The lines that I wrote in the past have become.
They have withered and faded and fallen away.
The winds of December took remnants of May.
If I last through the winter and I witness the spring,
To the muses of diction, my notebook, I’ll bring.
If I then am admitted to pleasures, I’ll write,
As the wardens of winter are fading from sight.
Then the sap will be flowing again in the tree,
From its exile returning – from its prison, set free.
And the lines that I write will be fluid again,
As I’m freed of this winter, this winter of pain.
Then the leaflets and petals will open to light,
And the birds, in the morning, will chirp in delight.
Then the spirit will whisper to me in my dreams,
And I shall write stanzas with iambs in reams.
But that season, so fruitful, is imagined at best,
And my reason insists that these fancies, I test
With a touchstone of winter – an icicle clear –
That tells me – that season I crave is not near.
My muses have vanished, and I’m left with the snow.
My sight, it has faded, and I’ve nowhere to go.
In the grayness of winter, in this season of cold,
In the pain and the darkness, I am weary and old.
And if I am pitied, then what of the one
Who sits on the street, where the winter is fun –
Or even of her, who has shelter in walls,
But no heat for the winter – as the poorer befalls?
But if I should come to the ending with this,
I might rob you, myself, of your remnant of bliss.
So I’ll end this – not that way – but instead with a poke:
My moaning for self – it was mostly a joke!
For who but a child, who’s been spoiled by its mother,
Would cry out in furor, creating a bother,
When its mother had left it alone, for a minute?
So know, though I’m bawling, there’s little that’s in it.
For I’ll live through this winter, harsh though it is –
And in snow that is sullied, find crystals of bliss.
And even in winter, in the pain and the dark,
I shall call like the mythical bulbul and lark. \1
To the reader, dear reader, whose patience I test: –
I wish for you – pleasure that is truly the best,
The pleasure that has in it essence of joy –
The thrill that the muses of diction enjoy.
For the muses find pleasure, where others find pain.
And this is what poets and women explain...
But the poets, they prattle, while the women are still.
For the women are sane, while the poets are ill.
But if, as may happen, a poet’s a dame,
Then all that I’ve written will appear to be lame.
And further on this, in the cold and the snow,
Would weary the reader – so I’ll bow and I’ll go.
2014 February 28th, Fri. Bensonhurst, Brooklyn 1. Although the bulbul and the lark are real families of songbirds, their symbolic uses in Persian and English poetry, respectively, may perhaps justify the reference to their poetic incarnations as "mythical" – at least for those of us who have never seen or heard the real birds in their natural habitats.
Some other word, such as "acclaimed" or "legendary", might have been more appropriate, but I could not find one to fit the meter. (For those interested in such things, the beat used here is tetrameter in the anapaest -- although some of the lines begin with an iamb.) The birds referred to as bulbuls in English are found over much of Asia and northern Africa. However, in Arabic and so also in its borrowers, such as Farsi (Persian) and Urdu, the word bulbul is used for what, in English, would be the nightingale. The larks are spread over Europe, Asia and proximal parts of Australia (with one species in North America). All of the birds mentioned so far are passerines, thus being members of the largest order of birds. This order includes many of the aves that even city-dwellers know by sight and sound, including the common ground sparrow. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I would like to thank the reader for her/his patience in reading so far. For making the footnote possible, I would also like to thank the anonymous ones who labor, unpaid, on Wikipedia articles. While I'm at it, let me express my gratitude to the parents, teachers and others, often equally bereft of acknowledgement, who spend long hours, over many years, on thankless duties that sustain so many of us, even in the harshest of seasons. -- Arjun / Babui
xombar, 24e phebruari, 2014 kri. bruklin, niu io`rk
----------------------------------------------------------- Who Can It Be?
There by the water, by the shade of the tree,
The one that is singing, who can it be?
The more that I wonder, the stranger it seems.
Could that be the being I saw in my dreams?
2014 Feb. 24, Mon. Brooklyn ----------------------------------------------------------- Wie Kan Dit Wees? Daar naby die water, in die skaduwee van die boom, Die een wat sing, wie kan dit wees? Hoe meer dat ek wonder, hoe meer vreemde dit lyk. Kan dit wees om die wese wat ek gesien het in my drome? Maandag, Februarie 24, 2014 Brooklyn
Can humans, who have lived, through all their time
As humans as we know ourselves to be
And even longer as the apes we are,
In little groups, with others by our side,
With whom we bonded and with whom we shared
Whatever we had found on which to live –
Can humans now survive, amongst the crowds –
And yet alone, as we have never been?
Within our houses and apartments, we
May live with luxuries we never had
Or still be poor and live from day to day –
Or know we'll end as paupers on the street.
But whether rich or poor or in-between,
We're sentenced now to abject poverty –
The poverty of utter loneliness,
In prison cells that we ourselves have built.
I walked beneath a pallid moon, Upon a winter's eve. The trees were standing, skeletal – And watching, I believe. The sky was masked by curdled clouds, The moon shone wanly through, And I was striding through the gloom, Resolved on what to do. The snow lay glowing on the ground, The air was cloying cold. And there was malice in my heart, A malice that was old I reached the place and started then To shovel out the snow. And though the work was slow and hard, I labored more and more. And when at end I'd finished, I With satisfaction saw The places I had needed clear Were cleared, as per the Law. And then I turned and noted, with A dark and evil glee – The entrance from the road, I'd blocked For neighbor's misery. Of neighbors, we had two – and one Was aged, while the other Was young – and would, with autumn leaves And winter snow, not bother. So I would rake and sweep each year And shovel in my turn, And though I did this for them both, I never saw return.
And so, in this, a winter harsh, My labor, I'd decided To lighten, doing less, for him Whose youth did not deserve it. For her, who now was aged, I Had shoveled, as for us. For him, who was her tenant, I Refused to further fuss. I'd cleared, for her, her sidewalk and I'd shoveled 'round her bins, I'd salted as I always did, Been free, in this, of sins. But as for him, who had a van – A van he'd park at night, Compressing all the snow, I thought: This wrong, it's time to right. For once, I thought, let the lordling, who Deserved the title, "jerk", Before he parked his van, do just A little bit of work! For though there was a garage he Could use if he so wanted, He left for me the clearing of The snow, to his advantage. And though I did not have a car, And neither did the elder, He lazily would park his van So others could not enter. So when my in-laws came, they'd find The driveway entrance blocked, And so would drive for blocks to park, At the tenant's rudeness shocked. And though we'd asked him kindly, he Persisted in his practice, And if, by chance, my in-laws parked, Recruited goons and nasties. And so, although I'd done my deed And so had satisfaction, At what would happen in the morn, I felt some trepidation. I looked then at that pallid moon, That darkly curdled sky, Those trees that stood in ghostly rows, That snow I'd piled on high. And furtively, I looked around – And seeing not a soul, I turned to the moon and clouds and trees, With eyes like burning coal. “Behold, oh Children of the Dark, This labor that I've done! And be you mute, or you shall be As snow that melts in sun!” And one by one, they promised me, In stillness, in the night, Their silence. So I took their leave And left, in dark delight. But when the midnight hour was there, I stealthily stole back, And saw the knave, in his van of black, That snow, with force, attack. But only with his van! The fool Got stuck for quite a while – And then drove off – as in the dark, This evil one did smile.
I later learned, he'd parked his van Beside the nearby school. He did not have to shovel, so I wondered, “Who's the fool?” 2014 February 18th, Tue. Bensonhurst, Brooklyn
I hear the distant pulsing of the drums.
And as I near, the sound grows louder. Soon,
I find that I, along with prancing kids
Who strain at mothers’ hands and skid on ice,
Have synchronized my steps. I glide along –
And even climbing ice-hills at the curbs
Is effortless. It seems we gain in strength,
When martials make us dance – or march to war.
The young man strikes the drum with rhythmic force.
The leather, taut, responds to every blow.
In music, there is often scent of sex,
Which we, as children, did not care to know.
But being male, and so of warrior-gene,
The pipes and drums beguiled me as a boy,
When every year, upon a certain day,
I heard the fascists marching up the street...
I pass the drummer and the dancer and
I enter in the Chinese restaurant.
And soon enough, they’re there. The drummer stays
And beats his drum outside, upon the street.
The lion enters, dancing, with his back
And tail supported by his trailing friend.
No room for two to be the lion’s legs –
The place is busy, with the tables filled.
They stay awhile beside me, near the door.
The tail instructs the lion, who’s half-blind,
To walk towards the gods, in an alcove red,
With plastic lights in lieu of votive lamps.
And there, the lion bows to the bearded ones
And towards the goddess of compassion too.
And when the bows are done, he walks the floor
And then returns, to bow to gods again.
I glimpse his face, with glasses, grimacing
From all his effort, walking weighted, bowed.
His mouth is open wide, as if in pain,
And though it’s cold, I know his sweat runs wet.
The Han enjoy their new-year's lion-dance
And dance-of-dragon too. In China, they’ve
A fortnight off – but in Hong Kong, three days…
And here, they work – or take a day sans pay.
And when I ask, I’m told this dance – and all
The bows the lion-boy did, while bending deep,
Towards the gods and goddess – these will bring
The owners fortune, luck, prosperity…
And so it is, that every year, we hear
The drums that rouse the streets – and see
The lion and the dragon bow and dance,
As Montreal or Rome becomes Canton.
The poem in Bangla (Bengali) is followed by a rather free translation into English. Vowels in Bangla are usually intermediate inlength (duration) between what would be considered long and short for English vowels.The stress accent in Bangla is much weaker than in English, and is generally on the first syllable.
In the Roman transcription I have used herefor Bangla, the vowels a, e, i, o, u are as in Latin (or Italian & Spanish).
Two vowels have been added: e` and o`, with sounds roughly like those of the vowels in (the noun or the stressed verb) can and (standard British English) hot.
These two added vowels are more "open"versions of e and o, respectively. Note that theo` is still a rounded vowel, unlike the oin theusualU.S. pronunciation ofhot.
The ~ following a vowel indicates a (faint)nasalization.
The consonants t and d are, as in the Latin languages, dentals – pronounced by touching the tongue-tip to the back of the upper teeth. The t' and d' are alveolar (not circumflex as in many other Indian languages). They are pronounced by touching the tongue-tip to the gum ridge of the upper teeth, roughly as in English.
The h after a consonant indicates added aspiration (an unvoiced puff of air, as in theEnglish h). A consonant that is not followed by an h is unaspirated – and so should not be followed by that extra puff of air. For speakers of English and most other languages that are not Indic (Indo-Aryan), this distinction may be difficult to hear and reproduce. I have used xtorepresent the sound of the sh cluster of written English, so as not to createan exception to the use of h as an aspirant.
The letter c is used for the cluster ch in English chum, without the aspiration that is more evident in English chin. The aspirated version is written ch.
All other consonant letters used have values that are roughly the same as in their most common usage in English. ======================================== Bharot Xadhin
Ko`to din bade, e dexer theke
Bidexer bahinir jaoa!
Akaxe bataxe, ureche bhore
Xadhin Bharoter haoa!
Ki kore boli xediner ko`tha,
Dirgho kahini aj?
Chokher jo`le, bhaxie dilam
Ei Bharoter laj.
Elo Ingrej, korlo do`khol,
Roilo pracin bhar.
Ge`lo Ingrej, tao ki khajna
Elo Ingrej. Karkhana-ko`le
Sromiker do`l khat’e.
Ge`lo Ingrej. Ho`be ki jo`ma
Sromiker bo`l mat’he?
Notun juge, xo`hore, ga~e
Axbe ki khalax xexe?
Purono dukkher kapor chere,
Ut’hbe ki Bharot hexe?
A woman said,
“There have been times, that often stretched through years,
when sex, though still in consciousness, was like
the distant moon. And there were other times,
when the act was like the sun that penetrates
and lights again the lamp that’s called desire.”
A man replied,
“Since puberty – and even from before,
when sex was like a scent I did not know,
it’s been with me, an ever-smoldering fire
that dims and brightens, rising up in flames.
It never truly dies, but waxes, wanes.”
“This varies so, from man to man – and more
between the women – that to speak as if
it is the same, by gender, may be wrong.
The sexes, they are different – but so
is each from other – and from self by age.”
And yet another,
“You speak of sex, while some have such distress
that this is furthest from their minds, besieged…
Who thinks of sex in famines or in wars,
or when we're caring for the old, the sick,
the children and their messes? Mating’s out.”
So each described this elemental urge,
as each might talk about the restless sea.
And some described the waves and others, tides –
and others spoke of variant presences…
And yet, its essence stayed, for all their talk,
for each of them, a thing of mystery.