This is a place of wordy transgression, where I gather a few loose transliterations of poetry and songs from Indian languages and add my words, to form a rough love-dialogue between two voices. That dialogue is as much the relationship of a stray Indian poet to all her experienced heritage as the individual agonistic misreading necessary to every canon. ‘Puja’ and ‘prem’ combine in the distinct ‘bhakti’ tradition of mystic poetry below; Harold Bloom’s mode of martial transgression finds little reflection here.
We must acknowledge our literary masters, so I name Gurudeb’s Rabindrasangeet. All the music on this page remains his, all else, all heresies remain mine.
He said, “we know that old song of admission, tumi sandhyaro meghomala.”
The clouds garland the evening as you arrive, my sole desire and longing,
cherished and crescent in my skies.
Intoxicated, this heart conjures you, and so you are mine,
my dream of evensong.
I painted your feet with songs from my heart’s blood,
and your lips with the honeyed poison of my broken joys and sorrows.
Transcendent over my life, you became mine.
I shadowed your eyes with the collyrium of my wanting
until your gaze held me captive, and wound your limbs around
with songs; just so, I made you mine,
lord of my life and death.
To which ‘I’ said in response: I rein myself in because these passions are mine alone. Mine to cherish, mine to burn, mine to parch and revive like the eternal seasons. I have made of these an airy cage, in whose soft light live the images of my obsession, cocooned in dreams. This is mine. In my few unfettered moments I am this. This boundary of freedom I draw with the reach of my stride, this ambit and wall of my heart, this momentary and forgotten gladness. And outside it the vast, sharp shapes of the world.
The master insisted, “Kotobaro bhebechinu apona bhuliya.”
How often at your feet did I fight to forget myself
and declare outright how much I have loved you in secret?
But you were an otherworldly thing.
How does one speak of love to a god?
It was easy to worship you from afar, in secret, in solitude, with no witness to love, despair or that which was never done. I fought myself well, kept my silence.
So, when today you seek me out willingly, I am irresolute:
can I speak of how we have loved?
And I pointed in silence to Mahadeviyakka’s closure:
“and seeing, I quell today
the famine in my eyes”
12th Century. Trans. A.K. Ramanujan from medieval Kannada to modern English in his _Speaking of Siva_ (1973). #68, p 120.
It was a Lover’s Dialectic he had mapped.
“tomar holo shuru, amar holo shara,
tomay amay mile emni bohe dhara”
Where you begin, I end, and just so, between us, we engender the ringed river.
You know that if you have light and companionable warmth I have a dark and solitary path. We dance together, but we are not one.
You know that if you have been the shoreline, I have been the sea. Around your still waiting has lapped my restless wandering.
I have watched you, as life grew abundant around, and my bounty slipped through these hands like quicksilver.
If you ever feared, I knew I had left fear far behind.
We walked apart until we met.
And yet I find, where you have begun is my journey’s strange summation.
How could I not answer?