Kazi Nazrul Islam

(24 May 1899 - 29 August 1976 / Bardhaman / India)

My Explanation - Poem by Kazi Nazrul Islam

I am a poet of today, not a prophet of a future day,
Poet or worthless, call me whatever, I put up with anything you say.
Some say, to the future you belong,
Your place, as a poet, tomorrow will come along.
How come you lack message enduring like that emanates from Rabi's hand?
I am blamed, but I wont' quit playing rising sun's music band.

My fellow poets are disappointed, they read my works and sigh,
Saying: the good one is becoming no good, as he can't say to politics good-bye.
Does not read a book - finished is this chap!
Some say: His wife has brought, indeed, all this mishap!
Some say: The fat one is spoiled, playing cards - non-stop - in the jail,
Others say: You were better there; toward jail again you should sail!

Mentor says: You're no good, except shaving using a sword!
Every Saturday my lover's letter conveys me, 'Nothing useful in you is stored.'
I say: Honey, shall I reveal the secret?
Letters stop in a hurry; not one more I get.
Sacrificing everything, I got married: Hindus say, 'Get lost'!
Am I Muslim or a heathen? Where is my pigtail or beard, or the hem of loin-cloth?

All the goody-searching priests or Mollahs wave their hands and pronounce:
This one invokes names of deities; this rogue one we must denounce!
Hear the Fatwa: Kafir is this Kazi; nothing else,
Even though he wants martyrdom, or so he tells!
Some scripture we know, and we still earn our livelihood!
Hindus detest my use of Persian words saying: from us, this guy deserves no good!

No one is happy with me; the disciples of non-violence? of course, not!
I am blamed I play the violin of violence; I get the revolutionaries' hot heads even more hot.
The revolutionaries say: This one is non-violent,
My songs deal with spinning wheels: they resent.
Top Brahmins find me atheist, lesser ones regard me as one of the Confucians;
Independence lovers don't accept me; their opponents prefer me to be with those Europeans!

Men think I am a feminist; women, however, think otherwise,
I never went to England; I am worthless in my expatriate friends' eyes!
My admirers see me as Rabi of new age,
If not of new age, at least a poet of these trendy days!
I hear all these, bemused; exercise for a stronger heart,
Lie down with eyeglasses on; sleeping through the day is my life's part.

I don't know what I write; Do I even understand anything of my own?
I couldn't raise my hand in protest, so I write with my head down.
Dear friends, I did not find appreciation in you,
but my name shines in government's list in lieu.
Honoring my works as invaluable, without value people take it.
Have you heard anything else? Be careful, may not be far a government spy's pit!

Friends, you have seen me engrossed in my own mind's temple,
I rebuke and admonish my mind, but bringing it under control I wish were so simple!
Every time I chain itself, somehow it escapes free
I beat it, and the same I repeat, to complete my victory,
I wish this mad mind would listen to me, but even to Rabi or Gandhi, it did not listen,
Abruptly it wakes up and then wanders in the jungle's darkness in search of roaring tigers that glisten.

I say, O this insane one, you are doing so great in the community,
You are already a half-leader; but if you lose this opportunity,
would you ever be a full leader,
and weep with the crowd as a speaker?
Pick up the fish in the net now, O fool, before it slips away, I bet!
Take this break to get your leaky house fixed, otherwise soon you will regret.

Who understands that this minstrel's mind roams around singing and reciting!
This name hardly rings any bell; Days are passed chewing Betel leaves, ah, a taste so inviting!
May be some day there won't be any more of epidemic of malaria,
Especially, since the autonomy is coming in its full pomp and euphoria.
Yes, we want moon, but those hapless ones cherish a meal, as teardrops of their little ones dribble,
The agonized mother shouts: Hush, you miserables! See, independence is coming - no more quibble!

But those hungry kids can't care less about autonomy; their desire: a little salt and some rice,
Ah! the hour is late; nothing they have nibbled yet; the flame of hunger seeks no advice.
When I hear that cry, my insane mind charges in a rush,
My intoxication for autonomy seeks shelter merely in my dream's brush!
I say, bemoaning: O God, are you still there? Why are they not, then,
Humiliated or destroyed, those who suck the blood of these children?

We all know, to bring independence, those lofty slogans we have devised,
And, at the same time, how burning hunger of so many million children, we have compromised!
So much money was raised, but independence still remained a dream,
as the hungry people can't pay enough, they are so weak even to scream!
When a baby is snatched away from the mother's bosom, we plead, O royal tiger, please eat grass!
The mother keeps begging from door to door, while in her shack hiding the baby's carcass.

My friends, I can't say any more; my mind feels so much agony and pain,
I have gone mad; now, I utter whatever my mouth throws out in disdain.
My own blood won't make much difference,
With blood-ink I keep writing, hence,
My head can't forbear robust ideas or big thought any more; so agonized is this mortal,
All those who are in peace and happiness, it's your privilege to write epics immortal.

I don't care any more, if I live or don't, when gone is this trendy sensation,
Rabi is shining above our head, and then there are you, the golden generation.
Those who usurp the morsel of three hundred thirty million people: let our prayer keep brewin',
In my blood-ink writing, may it be engraved and sealed their utter ruin.

[Original: Bengali, Translator: Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq ]


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Poem Submitted: Friday, September 30, 2011

Poem Edited: Tuesday, May 29, 2012


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