Treasure Island

Jibanananda Das

(17 February 1899 – 22 October 1954 / Barisal / Bangladesh)

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

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2009
Edited: Friday, April 13, 2012

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  • Arjun L. Sen (12/3/2012 5:30:00 AM)

    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. (Report) Reply

  • Tamal Kundu (10/13/2012 11:59:00 PM)

    Albeit rigid in translation. Jibanananda Das is quite more transiently fluid than that. (Report) Reply

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