Banalata Sen

It has been a thousand years since I started trekking the earth
A huge travel in night’s darkness from the Ceylonese waters
to the Malayan sea
I have been there too: the fading world of Vimbisara and Asoka
Even further—the forgotten city of Vidarva,
Today I am a weary soul although the ocean of life around continues to foam,
Except for a few soothing moments with Natore’s Banalata Sen.

Her hair as if the dark night of long lost Vidisha,
Her face reminiscent of the fine works of Sravasti,
When I saw her in the shadow it seemed
as if a ship-wrecked mariner in a far away sea
has spotted a cinnamon island lined with greenish grass.
“Where had you been lost all these days? ”
yes, she demanded of me, Natore’s Banalata Sen
raising her eyes of profound refuge.

At the day’s end evening crawls in like the sound of dews,
The kite flaps off the smell of sun from its wings.
When all colours take leave from the world
except for the flicker of the hovering fireflies
The manuscript is ready with tales to be told
All birds come home, rivers too,
All transactions of the day being over
Nothing remains but darkness
to sit face to face with Banalata Sen.

Translated by Faizul Latif Chowdhury

by Jibanananda Das

Comments (7)

Who is this Banalata Sen? A modernist, post-modernist or contemporary Bengali lady or not? A lady from East Bengal or West Bengal? Is it the Dark Lady of William Shakespeare or the Helen of Faustus? Who is she after after all? A nautch girl replica of the king's durbar or the terracotta plate depicting frescoes and figurines in love and relationship? The poet's imagination or daydreaming? The nightly kaaminis or the morning-time rajanianidha blooms? Beauty is truth, truth beauty.
I want the bengali .
The translation can give you only the 10% of the poem. It is not possible provide the most famous alliteration of Bengali literature in English.
This poem owes so much from Edgar Allan Poe's Helen, thy beauty is to me
Wow. This is a great poet. I was born in Bengal and lived my life elsewhere. I can scarcely speak Bengali now, and have got used to the idea that I do not belong there or even in India. Yet Jibanananda's work takes me back deep into a place inside myself I had long forgotten, where I was supposed to have belonged. His lyrical edge moves me to tears, even in translation.
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