The Illusion Tree (Mayatoru)

Translation of an original Bengali poem by Ashok Bijoy Raha.

The poet experimented with an interesting and unusual rhythmic structure for this beautiful poem. It reads quite naturally in Bengali. However, for English readers, the rhythm may not come easily if the lines are arranged as they appeared in the original Bengali poem. To take care of the problem, I am starting off with the English reader friendly format. This is followed by the format that is closer to the Bengali original. The essential difference between the two is that the “English reader” version has split up long lines into short ones. The words used are identical for the two versions. Also, I have added punctuation in the first version that were absent in the Bengali poem. Version 2 of the translation avoids punctuation as well.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Version 1: For English Readers

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.

Version 2: For Readers familiar with the Bengali language

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 soon’s as the morning arrived,
Not a single fish survived.
The silver fringe of a shimmering light
Is all that caught my sight.

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Comments

  • knot2share  On November 23, 2011 at 5:33 am

    Now this makes a bit of sense to me ! I know I am very slow on the intake of poetry. Diamond fishes – interesting reference. I seem to behave like this tree too, during mood swings :-)..shoulders slump and sulking face. But my face lights up when the bright star shines over my head and becomes gloomy as the last ray of light dissolves into the horizon.

    Thank you for the version – FOR ENGLISH READERS

    • dipankardasgupta  On November 23, 2011 at 11:12 am

      I think this was a relatively easy task. I need to choose this type alone for a while before I come back to revise Surrender (Samarpan). Let’s see.

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