Mayatoru (The Illusion Tree) by Dipankar Dasgupta SignUp
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Theme: Nature Share This Page
Mayatoru (The Illusion Tree)
by Dipankar Dasgupta
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There happened to be a tree
Throwing up its arms,
As soon as the eve arrived,
It danced in ghostly spree.
On occasions again,
When the clouds glistened as they gathered
Atop the woods it growled.
For a bear it’d become, its shoulders in a hump,
It shivered if it rained and in a fever it’d slump.
When a spell of rain is over,
And full of smiles once again 
The moon begins to hover,
Where on earth did the bear go,
Where for that matter the tree?
A million diamond fishes have thronged  
To form the crown I see. 

What was it that tilted 
In the half-shadows of dawn?
I didn’t know -
This I could’ve sworn.
As the morning then arrived,
Not a single fish survived.
The silver fringe of a shimmering light
Is all that caught my sight.

This is a translation of a Bengali poem by Ashok Bijoy Raha. The poet had tried an interesting rhythmic structure for this poem. To Bengali readers, the structure would not pose a reading problem. English readers though might find it less smooth going. To correct this problem, I have produced the Version above for English readers and the Version below  for Bengali readers. Both versions use identically the same words, but for the English version, the long Bengali lines have been broken up and replaced by shorter lines. Also, I have added punctuation to the first Version. They are not a part of the original Bengali poem, as the next Version shows. 

~*~

Alternative version with the original Bengali line structure retained.

There happened to be a tree
Throwing up its arms as soon as the eve arrived it danced in ghostly spree.
On occasions again
When the clouds glistened 
As they gathered atop the woods it growled
For a bear it’d become, its shoulders in a hump
It shivered if it rained and in a fever it’d slump
When a spell of rain is over
And full of smiles once again the moon begins to hover
Where on earth did the bear go, where for that matter the tree
A million diamond fishes have thronged to form the crown I see. 

What was it that tilted in the half-shadows of dawn
Didn’t know - this I could’ve sworn
As soon's as the morning arrived,
Not a single fish survived.
The silver fringe of a shimmering light
Is all that caught my sight.
 
Share This:
November 19, 2011
More By: Dipankar Dasgupta
Views: 2030      Comments: 6

Comments on this Poem

Comment @ Rajat Das Gupta

I am yet to read your translations, but will do so. I too am fond of the rhythmic form. I don't feel too comfortable with blank verse.

Regards.

dipankardasgupta
12/31/2012 02:28 AM

Comment 30 December 2012
TO: Mr. Dipankar Dasgupta

Thank you very much for your views. I am not a poet of my own but made a place in the poetry world by virtue of my Tagore translations. You may find these in Boloji.com My stress is on beauty for sake of which I've tried rhyming in almost all the Tagore pieces I've laid my hand on. As Tagore had said, "As the guard of the two banks of a river makes its flown spontaneous, so does rhyming for aesthetics". Of course, Tagore himself had composed a large number of poems in blank verse without losing an iota of their poesy. But when I tried to emulate his style for those poems, my first drafts appeared insipid, and for improvement I had to resort to rhyming though with much of toil. I also feel, modern trend of brushing aside rhyming practice has rendered many poems unappealing and only a maestro can attempt this.
Rajat Das Gupta

Rajat Das Gupta
12/30/2012 08:49 AM

Comment @ Rajat Das Gupta

Thank you for your comment. It carries wisdom. In fact, when I translate, the first condition I impose on myself is that I should not produce something that reads like a translation. In other words, I try my level best to make it appear as though the work was originally written in English. To make sure that I am on the right track, I get it vetted by English speakers who have no knowledge of either the Bengali language or the culture. So, universality is what I consider to be the guiding spirit in my translations. Regarding this particular piece, between the first translation and the second, the only change relates to "punctuation". The words remain unaltered. Nonetheless, a change is a change and it was indeed inspired by the Bengali punctuation. As you say, it was not really necessary. I was particularly impressed by the "mistress" notion. Beauty is more important than fidelity. And a translation can count as a mistress alone, not a wife. It was a double-edged simile.

dipankardasgupta
12/30/2012 02:45 AM

Comment 29 December 2012
TO: Mr Dipanker Dasgupta
I'm not inclined to go into the nutty-gritty on the differences in view of "Mayataru" at different times of the day/night of a basically good poem However, I feel, your attempt to produce two versions of translation of the poem (maybe, one less faithful to the original Bengali, and the other more, according to your judgement) was unnecessary. I had interesting communication in this respect from learned Mr.Ajit Mitra more than a decade back which I quote below.

"In the early twentieth century there was a saying in the literary world of Paris – which subsequently gained wide circulation all over the world – about one’s living with translations and remaining contended with it. It went on as : Living with translation is like living with a mistress. If she is beautiful, she is not faithful. If she is faithful, she is not beautiful. Pretty tongue-in-cheek though, but not entirely devoid of substance.

One may assume that the above is a way of looking down upon the translators as a genre, who happen to have the thankless tasks of presenting authors of one language into another. The reader of the translated version is in most cases ignorant of the beauty and splendour of the first language, and thus has to be contented with its substitute. If the first one is taken as ‘ideal’ the second, third and others cannot be equal to the ‘ideal’. This was Plato’s way of looking at things. However, like any other creation the interaction between the two – here between the author and the translator – creates its product. And translation is taken by many as act of creation also."

So, you should have no hesitation to boldly present your "creation" and the first version was pretty good and makes the second one redundant.

Rajat Das Gupta

Rajat Das Gupta
12/29/2012 08:21 AM

Comment @ rdashby

You could be right, but I am not sure if 'A million diamond fishes..form the crown' is a fringe effect. The way I read the original poem, it had appeared to me that the leaves of the tree reflecting the moonshine appeared to the poet as a pack of diamond fishes, the pack itself taking the shape of a crown. The crown is what the tree is wearing on its head. Since this is all that is being described, the trunk of the tree is lost in darkness -- probably. If so, the crown is the whole tree, or the part that matters. Not a fringe effect, assuming this interpretation is correct.

Regarding your second observation. I think what the poet had tried to capture was that a fringe, as with a border or frills, attached to the morning light shimmered on the tree. The compact crown, which was not a frill, was gone.

Having said this, I will definitely keep your observation in mind and see if confusions can be removed.

Thank you once again for your critical view. It is definitely a help.

dipankardasgupta
11/20/2011 10:36 AM

Comment This is a beautiful poem, so the criticism reflects no lack of appreciation, but merely questions one effect. Let me quote the relevant section:

A million diamond fishes have thronged to form the crown I see.
What was it that tilted in the half-shadows of dawn
Didn’t know - this I could’ve sworn
As soon's as the morning arrived,
Not a single fish survived.
The silver fringe of a shimmering light
Is all that caught my sight.

'A million diamond fishes..form the crown' , which is a fringe effect. 'Not a single fish survived', which indicates the crown fringe has disappeared, but then 'The silver fringe of a shimmering light is all that caught my sight', the problem being highlighted.

rdashby
11/20/2011 09:48 AM




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