Theme: Ecstasy

Ineffable Music

Translation from Bengali works of Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Laureate of 1913.
Read Translator’s Notes at the end of the poem.

Amidst the muddle of all weal and woe
That does with the stream of life flow,
Sudden encounter there has been
With moments of fulfillment hardly seen –
As in a mass of pebbles, a rare
Pick of a glistening sapphire.
So many times  I thought
In Bharati’s (*) garland have those caught, (*)
But dared not,
Lest my poesy would fall short;
My artistic zeal
Their innate beauty would kill.

At Darjeeling we went for a trot
Stayed in a concealed cot
Down the main road –
On the porter’s back our load
Of all stores to keep our revel,
Like Esraj (**), food chests et al, we set for Sinchel  (**)
To spend the night on that peak
Our enjoyment to seek.
On the mendicant mount,
Our mirth wouldn’t count.
Shaky Nabagopal rode a pony
And was indeed funny –
More he feared,
More the boys jeered.
Of that clime they were the lord,
All the way echoed their laughter and discord.
The vacuum of the hill
We few would fill
With our wits
And delighting feats –
With our ingenuity high
The solemnity to defy;
Such was our conviction
As we trekked on.

At last when our up climb ended
The afternoon Sun had descended,
Hoping amusement profuse,
Our unguarded cacophony we did muse
Would overflow our night
With nectarous delight.

At the peak under the sky infinite,
The Sun right on the horizon to prelude the night
Down the wide valley there
Zigzags the silvery river,
At the Western sky lines
The angels’ playfield shines
With the golden pot’s outpour,
Its ecstasy to capture the Earth to its core.
Reticence fell on the revelers,
All stood in amazed peers;
The Esraj lay aground silent
Earth’s din held to perceive that supreme moment.

Not born in the Vedic age
None could gage
A solemn hymn to the gale
Down that superb dale.
Right then we looked behind
The full Moon to find;
With friend’s beaming smile –
Heaven’s Poet Laureate to beguile
With his mystic literal
Just composed with its ineffable spell.

Daily the maestro plays his lute,
Unwitting, perceives the absolute,
One day all of a sudden,
The silver string resonates with the golden
When none is around,
That never before he found.
The music that day thrived
In eternal silence it dived
That very day;
His lute, the maestro scraps away.
When the ineffable tune did play,
On this Earth was my stay –
“Wonderful” – to say.

(*) Bharati is the Goddess of Learning, also referred as Saraswati, whose worship is    performed particularly by the student community in Bengal, the time for it is generally in the month of February.

(**) Esraj- a stringed musical instrument, like violin.

Translator’s note:

Poem No:1 of the book Patraput (Folded leaf) written on 4 May, 1935, 6 years before the death of the Poet in 1941 at the age of 80.

The poem is based on the association of the Poet once with a party who went for a trek on the mountain. There was a lot of reveling with the Poet’s participation, as is usual in such excursions, which the poem indicates. At the end, the spell of the ineffable natural beauty on the mountain captured all, and drowned the Poet into its fathomless ecstasy, quite in contradiction with his earlier reveling mood.


More By  :  Rajat Das Gupta

Views: 1404     Comments: 1

Comments on this Poem

Comment Bhaalo legechhe. I have liked it. Your skill in translation of Tagore's poems has reached a new height. Victorian, but so lucid! What else can one want? Surely, Kumud Ranjan Biswas too will like this. He is a good translator too. But his use of the language is so different from yours. This only proves, when it comes to expression, one can be so very different but still effective. That is why poetry will never die. Thanks.

29-Dec-2011 01:02 AM

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