Banalata Sen

Jibananda Das. Translated from the original Bengali by Amitabha Mukerjee

A thousand years I have walked these paths,
From the harbour at Malacca in the dark of night
To the straits of Ceylon at glimmer of dawn.
Much have I travelled -
The grey world of Ashoka-Bimbisara,
Further yet,
The dark city of Vidharbha;
Around me life foams its stormy breath.
Weary of soul,
I found a moment's respite in her presence -
She: Banalata Sen of Natore.

Her hair the ancient darkness of Vidisha,
Face a sculpture from Sravasthi.
A sailor in distant oceans, rudderless, lost,
When hoves into view
Island of grass through fronds of cinnamon,
A green relief
So she felt to me.
In the darkness she spoke -
"All these years, where had you been?"
Her eyebrows arched like the soaring wings of a bird -
She: Banalata Sen of Natore.

With the sound of dewdrops,
Comes evening.
The sunset fringe of gold on the eagle's wing
Melts into the night
And the glow of fireflies.
Birds return to nest -
The shop of life
Shuttered for the day.
Left behind in the darkness
Face to face -
Only she: Banalata Sen of Natore.

Original translation 11/90

Copyright © 1991 Amitabha Mukerjee (