Shamsur Rahman

(23 October 1929 – 17 August 2006 / Dhaka / Bangladesh)

For A Few Lines of Poetry


I go to a tree and say:
Dear tree, can you give me a poem?
The tree says: If you can pierce
My bark and merge into my marrow,
Perhaps you will get a poem.
I whisper into the ears
Of a decaying wall:
Can you give me a poem?
The old wall whispers back
In its moss-thickened voice:
If you can grind yourself
Into the brick and mortar of my body,
Perhaps you will get a poem.

I beg an old man
Bending on my knees:
Please give me a poem.
Breaking the veil of silence,
The voice of wisdom says:
If you can carve the wrinkles
Of my face onto your own,
Perhaps you will get a poem.

Only for a few lines of poetry,
How long must I wait before this tree,
In front of the crumbling wall,
And the old man?
How long will I be bending on my knees?

[Translated from the Bengali by Syed Najmuddin Hashim]

Submitted: Thursday, March 22, 2012

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