book excerptise:   a book unexamined is wasting trees

Jibanananda Das

Chidananda Dasgupta and Jibananda Das

Dasgupta, Chidananda [Das Gupta]; Jibananda Das;

Jibanananda Das (Makers Of Indian Literature)

Sahitya Akademi, 2004, 48 pages  [gbook]

ISBN 8126018747, 9788126018741

topics: |  poetry | bengali | india | biography | translation

I purchased eleven books from sAhitya akAdemi in april 2011, most of them from
the "makers of modern indian literature" series, and this is truly the only
one that was worth buying, even at the throwaway prices of the Akademi.

dasgupta's translations are in general more readable in english than clinton
seely's or even sukanta chaudhur's later compilation (A certain sense).


born to a brAhma family in barisAl in the eastern sunderban delta
(bangladesh), jibanAnanda did his BA and MA in English from presidency
college calcutta, and was a lecturer at city college.  however, he lost his
job after six years (the college laid him off as the juniormost staff in a
time of financial stress).  he never recovered, living his entire
life in dire financial straits.  his works were also ruthlessly critiqued
throughout his life.  a number of volumes were published only after his
death, and he is widely recognized as the leading poetic voice of the
post-Tagore generation.

links: wiki
       জীবনানন্দ দাশ (bangla wikipedia)


The Corpse : Jibananda Das p.26

Here, where the silvery moon lies wet in the forest of reeds
Where many mosquitoes have hopefully built their homes;

Where, wrapped up in themselves, and silent in desire,
The golden fish devour the blue mosquitoes;

Where, in this far corner of the world, the river lies
Deep and alone, painted in the colour of the silent fish;

And lying next to the field, in the midst of tall grass,
The river's water stares endlessly at the pale red cloud;

Or the darkness of the starlit sky
Looks like the head of a woman with a knot of blue hair.

The world has other rivers; but this river
Is the red cloud, the yellow moonlight carved up in patches;

All other light and all other darkness has ended here,
only the red and blue fish and the cloud remain;

Here, forever, floats the corpse of Mrinalini Ghoshal
Red and blue, silvery and silent.
			[shab, from _mahAprithibI]

The cat : Jibananda Das p.27

All through the day I keep meeting the cat;
In the shade of the tree, out in the sun,
Amidst the dense shade of the leaves
After a spot of success with a few bones of fish
He lies hugging the skeletal-white earth
Wrapped up in himself like a swarm of bees.
And yet he scratches at the trunk of the Gulmohar tree,
Walks behind the sun, stalking it.
One moment he is there;
The next, he has vanished.
I saw him in the autumn evening stroking, with soft white paws,
The scarlet sun; then he gathered the darkness
Like little balls, grabbing each with a jab of his paws
And spread them all over the earth.
			[biRAl, from _mahAprithibI]

Banalata Sen

For aeons have I roamed the roads of the earth.
From the seas of Ceylon to the straits of Malaya
I have journeyed, alone, in the enduring night,
And down the dark corridor of time I have walked
Through mist of Bimbisara, Asoka, darker Vidarbha.
Round my weary soul the angry waves still roar;
My only peace I knew with Banalata Sen of Natore.

Her hair was dark as night in Vidisha;
Her face the sculpture of Sravasti.
I saw her, as a sailor after the storm
Rudderless in the sea, spies of a sudden
The grass-green heart of the leafy island.
‘Where were you so long?' she asked, and more
With her bird's-nest eyes, Banalata Sen of Natore.

As the footfall of dew comes evening;
The raven wipes the smell of warm sun
From its wings; the world's noises die.
And in the light of fireflies the manuscript
Prepares to weave the fables of night;
Every bird is home, every river reached the ocean.
Darkness remains; and time for Banalata Sen.

I have felt their peace in my bones,
walking through The dead streets of the night; seen them gathered Round the
top of the tower; it seems I have not seen A simpler, more moving event. The
starlit city, crowded with towers; The eye moves down and takes in the
burning cigarette stub, The wisp of hay pushed along by the wind. I close my
eyes and move to a side — the tree Has shed many brown, faded leaves, and
they have fled. So in the stillness streets of Babylon...‎ pages
 of night have I walked Through the

amitabha mukerjee (mukerjee [at-symbol] gmail) 2012 Sep 21