Carolyne Wright


From Artful Dodge 46/47: Three Bengali Women Poets of Kolkata


  • Debarati Mitra (translated from the Bengali by Carolyne Wright with Paramita Banerjee

         1. The Young Man's Bath

Clattering down the dilapidated steps

the boy has gone to take his bath. 

Some instrument plays in the highland passageway,

from the uterine interior of the trees

colored sparks of fire fly up, showering

            into the fountain.


He rolls down shivering in the current

suddenly released,

a bow's luminous taut string.


Enchanted youthful water comes flying 

and shatters him,

carries him off in fragments

like the white stones' natural handiwork.

One of the sleeping thighs

pulls the distant mountain's birthplace

into the stunned womb.


Sloth and the memory of that sun mingle

with the clouds of deep forests covered with leaves.


        2. The Absolute Artist

From the lotus pond's edge, the calming lake, 

he brought clay.

Straining drop by drop the Subarnarekha's stream

he fashioned that festival's idol.

On the fast-flowing Ganga's bank,

alone, he dug into the breast of the earth

toward the primitive red-hued god

             whose distant myths are heard in the blood,

Fleeing deliberately, in silence,

             from the think of things,

infatuated with hell's bitterest enchantments,

             he immersed himself

and brought up thick muddy silt.


Or else he looked on astonished as

the casts of hot soft wax were hardening

and his mother's flawless lover's face

came into form in his hands.

Sweating from head to foot,

did he sort out metals the color of stone

and bring them up from the blind quarry

to make puppets with excessive care?

After two million years, meteors shower

unearthly fire of stone onto the roof -----

like the artist's greatest masterpiece

there's no space for any more creation in his work.

The artist owes no explanations;

              why should he?




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