Shamsur Rahman (23 October 1929 – 17 August 2006 / Dhaka / Bangladesh)
Roar, O Freedom
What shall I do with the spring
when I hear only the cuckoo moaning
and cannot see gorgeous flowers blossom?
What shall I do with the garden
Where no birds ever pays a visit?
Oh, how rough and stony is this earth!
Skeletons of trees stand, row after row,
like so many desolate ghosts.
What shall I do with the love
that places on my head a crown of thorns
and hands out to me the cup of hamlock?
What purpose the road serve
On which no one treads,
Where vendors of coloured ice-cream
Or waves of city-inundating processions
are never seen?
I had called you, dearest
When we started our journey
With our face turned to the rising sun.
When the back-pull of bourgeois charm
Kept from your ears the soaring sound
of the people singing.
You are still prisoner under the claws
of a fierce eagle.
you cannot yet walk on a road
with the rainbow coloured carpet spread on it.
Oh, how tough it is to keep going
without you by my side!
A horrid monster comes, casting dark shadows
in a moment he crushes under his heels
the foundation of new civilization,
he hangs the full moon on the scaffold,
declares unlawful the blossoming
of the lotus and the rose.
He bans my poems, stanza by stanza,
quietly, without any fanfare,
he bans your breath,
he bans the fragrance of your hair.
By the bent body of the young girl
sitting on the lonely porch of old age.
waiting for the dawn of happy days.
By the long days and nights of Nelson Mandella
spent behind the bars.
By the martyrdom of the heroic youth
O Freedom, raise your head like Titan,
give a sky shattering shout,
tear off the chain around
Roar, Freedom, roar mightily!
[Translated by Kabir Chowdhury]
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