Wednesday, 17 April 2013

"Each of us leaves an unfinished life"

The first name that springs to my mind when I read that line by Mary Oliver is Sukanta Bhattacharya, the youthful rebel-poet of Bengal.

হে মহাজীবন, আর এ পদ্য নয়
এবার কঠিন, কঠোর গদ্য আনো
পদলালিত্য ঝঙ্কার মুছে যাক
গদ্যের কড়া হাতুড়িকে আজ হানো

প্রয়োজন নেই কবিতার স্নিগ্ধতা
কবিতা তোমায় আজকে দিলাম ছুটি
ক্ষুধার রাজ্যে পৃথিবী গদ্যময়
পূর্নিমা চাঁদ যেন ঝলসানো রুটি

Sukanta was born in 1926, and lived through India's struggle for independence, but died just weeks before it was achieved, at the age of only 21. He also witnessed the great Bengal famine of 1943-44 as a teenager. He was a patriot, a socialist and a romantic and his poems are unique and fresh and hard-hitting. Here's my translation of the poem: 

O Great-soul! No more of this poetry
time to bring on the strictly rigid prose
let the gentle jingling of rhymes fade out
and strike the prose in hard hammer blows


there’s no need for poetry’s cool solace
O Poem! Here, today I will let you off
in starving realms, the earth’s just plain text
the full moon’s a freshly baked, round loaf.

An unfinished life, if ever there was one.  Wonder what he would have written had he lived in a free India?



  1. Wow nice to know about great soul.
    and the poem is hard hitting

    1. Some of our most enduring modern poetry is his. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Replies
    1. Indeed. To think where he would have taken Bengali poetry had he been given the chance. Terrible loss.

  3. It's why I hope reincarnation is possible. Another chance, another life, a better life or maybe a new way to leave a mark on the world?

    I once read we choose our destiny before birth. . .

    1. Well, for us reincarnation is a fact of life :) but it's not desirable of course, the idea is to get free of the cycles of birth and death altogether and attain a state of bliss, at one with the universe. But even if rebirth is possible, the soul never comes back as the same person. There is never going to be another Sukanta.