This is meant to be a place of transgression, where I shall gather a few loose transliterations of poetry and songs from Indian languages I know. We all need to acknowledge our masters. I name one here. All the music on this page remains his, all heresies mine.
1. He said, we know that old song of admission, “Tumi sandhyaro meghomala.” I transribed it thus.
The clouds garland this evening as you arrive,
My sole desire and longing, cherished, and crescent in my endless skies.
This heart in its own sweet intoxication has conjured you,
And so you are mine.
I have painted your feet red with the songs of my heart’s blood,
My dream of evensong,
And your lips with the honeyed poison of my broken joys and sorrows,
thus you are mine, transcendent in my life.
I darkened your eyes with the shadows and collyrium of my wanting
Until your gaze held me captive.
And wound your limbs and form around with my songs.
They have made you mine, and just so
I have made you the lord of my life and death.
And 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.
2. The master had insisted, “Kotobaro bhebechinu apona bhuliya.” I had heard him then.
How often have I fought to forget myself, my heart at your feet,
And there declare outright how much I have loved you, beloved, in secret?
But you were an otherworldly thing; and I thought,
how does one speak of love to a god?
It was easy to resolve to worship you from afar in secret solitude, all my life,
with no witness to the depths of this love or those silent unshed tears.
I fought myself too well, kept my silence.
And today you seek me out willingly, I am irresolute-
How can I bring myself to speak of how much I have loved?
And I had 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.
3. It was a Lover’s Dialectic he had mapped.
“tomar holo shuru, amar holo shara,
tomay amay mile emni bohe dhara”
How could I not answer?
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, this cornucopia of life,
And my bounty has slipped through my hands like quicksilver.
If you ever feared, I had left it far behind.
We walked apart until we met.
And I find, where you have begun, my journey’s strange summation.