Dec 6, 2009


False and impenetrable
like a garden traced on a mirror,
the imagined city
which my eyes have never seen
interweaves distances
and repeats its unreachable houses.
The sudden sun
shatters the complex obscurity
of temples, dunghills, prisons, patios
and will scale walls
and blaze on to a sacred river.
the city which a foliage of stars oppressed
pours over the horizon
and in a morning
full of steps and of sleep
light is opening the streets like branches.
At the same time dawn breaks
on all shutters looking east
and the voice of a muezzin
from its high tower
saddens the air of day
and announces to the city of many gods
the solitude of God.
(And to think that while I play with doubtful images
the city I sing persists
in a predestined place of the world,
with its precise topography
peopled like a dream,
with hospitals and barracks
and slow avenues of poplars
and men with rotting lips
who feel the cold in their teeth.)

- Jorge Luis Borges

(translated by Charles Tomlinson)

Dec 5, 2009

Translating Das

Arijit sent me this poem by Jibanananda Das.

হয়তো আকাশের বুকের গভীরে
কিংবা তার থেকে গভীরতর কোন এক অজানায়
তুমি বসে আছো নিবিড়, অসীম স্তব্ধতার মুখোমুখি |

নিঃশ্বাসে তোমার পাললিক প্রেম
অবিরত মিশে যেতেছে বাংলার মাটিতে,
যেথায় তোমার ক্লেদাক্ত হৃদয়
অবিরত খুজে ফেরে সন্ধ্যার আবির আকাশ |

My translation:

In the deep recesses of the sky
Or perhaps in some deeper unknown,
Facing the infinite stillness,
You sit still.

Your breath,
Suffused with alluvial love
Continually infuses Bengal's earth;
There, your weary heart
Looks out relentlessly
For the vermillion sky of dusk.