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Within the Background and To You: Jibanananda Das in Ananda Lal's Translation

Within the Background 

Going within the background ten, fifteen years ago 
when I did see you; then time while hiding within 
your hair of black clouds ignited the lightning in
your intense woman's face—innermost one, you know. 
Your face: on all sides water clamours in the murk, 
no guide to coastland anywhere—still the deep breeze 
brings all war-weary tired sailors as returnees;
they are young, they are dead, death’s the fruit of much work. 

Time isn’t barred anywhere, still, on your face’s way 
you stand alone stopping him even now, woman—
the sign that maybe at dawn we were all human, 
is the sun’s annulus in this blind world today. 
On all sides false seas—Jason, Odysseus, Phoenician 
merchants’ tense lights—not Ashoka’s own, eons from above 
we bear even now, loot coral from each rough ocean, 
your eyes’ dejected censure . . . beloved, I quench love. 

Translated by Ananda Lal

* A Certain Sense (Sahitya Akademi), Banalata Sen by Jibanananda Das, Writers Workshop

To You 

Once I used to think you were like water. 
The glow from your face in morning radiance
Or at midday-in evening's final light—
Looks on—goes away-the water’s brilliance. 

I used to think while sitting on the shore
From a choked pond, if some people gather 
Water chestnuts and go away-below, 
Undistorted like your face, the colour 

Of the desolate water keeps staring;
Within the daylight, having shifted place,
Verdant parasites get created again 
By the cool waterline of its own face; 

Coming to know a world’s blood has been spilt, 
Since a world’s light goes out on every side, 
He pulls the coloured snake within his breast;
When the sky's colour fades after noontide.

Upon your breast our world’s unfailing morn; 
Upon your breast our evening’s bloody brief; 
Upon your breast our world’s night: the river's 
Serpentess, a creeper, dissolved belief. 

Translated by Ananda Lal

*Banalata Sen by Jibanananda Das, Writers Workshop


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