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Theme: TajMahal Share This Page
Shah Jahan
by Kumud Biswas
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  Emperor, this you very well knew
With the flow of time
All disappear-
Glamour, glory, wealth, youth
And our life itself
Yet you did your best
To immortalize your deepest loss.
It was your great desire
Your kingly power so immense
May sink in an evening glow,
Be forgotten in a deep sleep,
But your deepest sigh
May fill the sky
Forever with sadness and sorrow.
Let the array of your jewels
Your imperial treasure
Like a fleeting rainbow
In the distant sky
But may your Taj Mahal endure
Like a drop of tear
White and gleaming
On the cheek of time.

But alas! alas! O human heart!
Where is the time to look back?
You always drift 
On life's current so sharp
From point to point
At one place you load your vessel
And unload at another place.
As soon as the southern breeze
Fills your spring bower
With flowers and foliage
It is already dusk
It is time to shed
It is time to leave.
Yet there is no break
There is no rest
In the dew-drenched night
You have to lay your flower bed,
You have to fill your flower tray.
O human heart!
Whatever you gather
Whatever you garner
You are to leave it at the day's end
By the wayside.

This must have made you, O Emperor,
Anxious to beguile time
To steal its heart
With a beautiful present
A garland to bedeck death
In a deathless form.
One cannot always mourn
That is why
Your eternal cry
You encased in a mute form.
In your bedchamber
The name by which you used to call your love
Softly in moonlit nights
You have left that whisper here
To echo through eternal time.
Your passion so sweet and soft
Has now flowered into these silent stones.

O you poet of an emperor!
This is the mirror of your heart
This is your love's messenger
It is unique and wonderful
Like a great piece of music
It has risen towards the unknown
Where your beloved, separated from you,
Lies mingled
With the rays of the rising sun,
In the whispers of the horizon
In languid evenings,
In the beauty of chameli in full moon,
Beyond the limits which our words can reach
Whence our expectant eyes rebound.
And your messenger of beauty
Defying time's command
Travels through endless time
Carrying this wordless message-
'I have not forgotten,
I have not forgotten,
I have not forgotten you, my love.'

O Emperor, you have also left.
Your empire is a forgotten dream
Your throne is now no more
Your vast army-
The earth shook under whose haughty tread-
Their memory is like dust today
That blows over Delhi's streets.
Your panegyrists no longer sing your paeans
Nor their music mingles with Yamuna's murmurs
The jingles of anklets of your dancing girls
Are now mere crickets' drones
In the corners and crevices of your ruined palace
And sadden the evening sky.
In its midst
Your messenger is tireless
Defying the rise and fall of empires and kingdoms,
The flowing and ebbing of life's tides
It says in a steady voice
From age to age
'I have not forgotten,
I have not forgotten,
I have not forgotten you, my love.'

But it's a lie!
Who says you have not forgotten?
Who says you have not opened
The doors of your memories' vault?
All the dark losses of the past
Have kept your heart ever shrouded
Never letting it to leave through forgetfulness?
The mausoleum stands still at one place
Forever planting its feet on the dusty earth
Shrouding death with great care
In a veil of remembrance.

But who can hold life back
It is beckoned by every star
It is welcomed by every world
From dawn to dawn,
From day to day.
It travels untrammeled
Defying all bonds.
O great king
Nothing could ever keep you in its clasp.
You are so vast
Not even the vast seas can fill you up.
After your life's pageant
Like an earthen pot
You leave the world behind.
You are far greater than your deeds.
Again and again
You speed past them all.
Your traces are here but you are not there.
The love that does not move ahead
The love that took its seat on its way
And like its dust held your feet
Hailing you in amorous words
You have given it back to the dusts
And the seeds that fell
From your life's garland
On your footprints left behind
Have sprung into a lasting plant.
It has risen to the heavens and sings,
'As far as I can see
That traveller is gone.
His love couldn't hold him back
Nor his kingdom could block his way
The oceans and hills couldn't stand on his path.
Now mounted on his chariot he travels ahead
Called by the night
Called by the stars
To a new dawn
Here I stay burdened with his memories
But he has left
Shorn of all burdens and bonds.'

Translation of poem 7 from the collection Balaka by Rabindranath Tagore.In the compilation Sanchayita it is entitled Shah-Jahan.Compare poem 1 of Lover’s Gift. The original poem is at
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November 27, 2005
More By: Kumud Biswas
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