No 12 - September 2000
Sunrise on Tiger Hill
The auditorium is ready.
The moon’s weary at the end of perambulation.
In the sky dawn’s breath trembles in the stars.
Wrapped in various winter garments, some one hundred and fifty
or two hundred men and women are today’s audience.
Pushing and shoving,
words spoken is different languages and intonations.
Only the picturewallahs
wait in ambush in silence, their secret eyes open.
On no account will they allow the right moment to slip,
instantly they’ll imprison it in the chambers of their cameras.
Like the stillness of an exhausted bird
above a blue-black cloud
a red line appeared long since.
How much longer? How much longer?
The viewers are restless.
Is there a trickery? A deception? Where is
the sun? Was it for this I came here in this wretched cold?
lust wait, you’ll see it soon.
Keep an eye behind you, can you see Everest?
How grand is Kanchenjunga!
But is it worth while, after all? -
A Bengali lady sprinkles Feringhee English,
Make-up on her face, eyebrows pencil-drawn.
Waiting and paying money,
sleep wrecked and climbing the chest-busting mountain
were not all in vain.
The sun rose.
Even after a thousand nights the viewers were lust as eager -
so brilliant was the actor.
Putting on the same performance for a thousand nights,
he was tired, but expert and faultless.
So even today, on 8 October 1938,
from behind the blue mountain
galloping like a horse of fire
the sun came up.
Click click click,
murmured the forest of cameras,
and the audience praised.
Cries of delight in sharps and flats:
look, look, did you see!
Oh how lovely! Really wonderful! -
rolled the Feringhee English.
Nothing was omitted:
fire on all the snow-peaks from the north to the west,
rainbow colours on the cloud’s blue-black body,
the money recovered, the trouble worth it.
The face with make-up cadaverous in the clear light of day.
… Sun-god, did you have to rise in spite of everything,
did you have to rise even today?
Is the law of the universe so merciless, so unerring?
There can be no exception in any way
even for one day?
O sun, o snowy ranges, peacock-necked clouds in the valley,
prisoners, as you are, of nature’s iron laws,
are you slaves of man’s accolades toot
Or are you really very distant,
truly complete and free of desires,
for ever on your own in time’s nursery?
This forest of people, talkative, bristling with cameras,
never really gets to know you?
Written 10 October 1938
Note: Buddhadeva Bose (1908 - 1974) is a major Bengali poet of the twentieth century. Ketaki Kushari Dyson is translating the main body of his work into English for the first time, in the hope of publishing a volume of his selected poems.
Translated by Ketaki Kushari Dyson
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- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The