Guest poem submitted by Ravi Mundoli:
(Poem #446) Banalata Sen
For thousands of years I roamed the paths of this earth, From waters round Ceylon in dead of night to Malayan seas. Much have I wandered. I was there in the grey world of Asoka And Bimbisara, pressed on through darkness to the city of Vidarbha. I am a weary heart surrounded by life's frothy ocean. To me she gave a moment's peace -- Banalata Sen from Natore. Her hair was like an ancient darkling night in Vidisa, Her face, the craftsmanship of Sravasti. As the helmsman, His rudder broken, far out upon the sea adrift, Sees the grass-green land of a cinnamon isle, just so Through darkness I saw her. Said she, "Where have you been so long?" And raised her bird's nest-like eyes -- Banalata Sen from Natore. At day's end, like hush of dew Comes evening. A hawk wipes the scent of sunlight fom its wings. When earth's colors fade and some pale design is sketched, Then glimmering fireflies paint in the story. All birds come home, all rivers, all of this life's tasks finished. Only darkness remains, as I sit there face to face with Banalata Sen.
Translated by Clinton B. Seely. [About Jibanananda Das] An enigmatic poet, Jibanananda was born on 18th February, 1899 in Barishal, now in Bangladesh. He started late as a poet for his genre. His short creative life was cut even shorter in a fatal streetcar accident in an October evening in Calcutta. Between 1925, when his first poem appeared, and 1954, this shy professor of English literature who hardly ever traveled out of Bengal (except for a few months' stint of teaching at Ramjas College in Delhi), penned some of the most powerful verses in Bengali. Nearly half a century after his death, his poems, with their magical lyrics and tapestry of rich imagery, continue to haunt us. Jibanananda was a very private person; only one book of his verses was published in his lifetime, and there were no translations of his works for many years after his death. The beauty and magic of Jibanananda's poetry has largely been confined to the original Bengali. Clinton B. Seely at the University of Chicago described Das as "the acknowledged successor to Rabindranath as Bengal's poet laureate", in his biography titled 'A Poet Apart'. [About the poem] Banalata Sen was a recurrent theme in Jibanananda's creation with its rich tapestry of imagery. Was there a Banalata Sen? There is no documentation that there was indeed someone by that name in his real life. Expressions suggesting the end of time, and the use of words like "darkness remains" suggest end of life themes, that were common in Jibanananda's works related to Banalata Sen, but nothing beyond this is hinted at in these works. [Links] A more complete article on Das can be found at http://www.sulekha.com/articles/abasu_jibanananda.html More poems: http://webdelsol.com/Perihelion/basupoetry.htm [broken link] http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~zmhasan/BD/POEM/JibDas/ Ravi Mundoli. [thomas adds] 'A hawk wipes the scent of sunlight fom its wings' - oooh.