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from Sanskrit and Other Languages

II. From Bengali

Dilip Kumar Roy


O thou inspired by a far effulgence,

Adored of some distant Sun gold-bright,

O luminous face on the edge of darkness

Agleam with strange and viewless light!

A spark from thy vision’s scintillations

Has kindled the earth to passionate dreams,

And the gloom of ages sinks defeated

By the revel and splendour of thy beams.

In this little courtyard Earth thy rivers

Have made to bloom heaven’s many-rayed flowers,

And, throned on thy lion meditation,

Thou slayest with a sign the Titan powers.

Thou art rapt in unsleeping adoration

And a thousand thorn-wounds are forgot;

Thy hunger is for the unseizable,

And for thee the near and sure are not.

Thy mind is affianced to lonely seeking,

And it puts by the joy these poor worlds hoard,

And to house a cry of infinite dreaming

Thy lips repeat the formless Word.

O beautiful, blest, immaculate,

My heart falls down at thy feet of sheen,

O Huntress of the Impossible,

O Priestess of the light unseen!


1 “K’s translation is far from bad, but it is not perfect either and uses too many oft-heard locutions without bringing in the touch of magic that would save them. Besides, his metre, in spite of his trying to lighten it, is one of the common and obvious metres which are almost proof against subtlety of movement. It may be mathematically more equivalent to yours, but there is an underrunning lilt of celestial dance in your rhythm which he tries to get but, because of the limitations of the metre, cannot manage. I think my iambic-anapaestic choice is better fitted to catch the dance-lilt and keep it.”

From a letter to the poet