A Name For My Little Daughter Poem by Kedarnath Singh

A Name For My Little Daughter

Rating: 5.0

Sunlight, it clings
To you, that name, like a butterfly's wings
To the quivering dew-wet twig of a rose bush;
A naive name—
It comes in a quick spontaneous rush
To lips long jaded, where it clings—
Your right and only name.

Oh there are other names,
And I can never quite say why,
Watching you at your secret games
Amid the quivering bushes and plants that rise
High as your shoulders and no higher,
Why my heart echoes that right and only name.

Ah how can you comprehend
What chasm stretches between
Your silent smiling and
These echoing words of mine?

Yet I have seen
At the bottom of that questioning smile
Mile after mile
Of pathway that will wind
About that chasm; seen
The dead ends and the blind
Or broken turnings, the many
Still unbuilt bridges spanning
The spaces of the mind,
Which I must cross for what small sense
I'll ever make of the multiple questions
begging behind
This small existence.

Yes I am sad; but why
Are you sad, child?
What makes you cling
Now like a frightened butterfly,
Silent and hushed against my sunless shoulders?
I have done nothing

But give you a name, a small, soft name
Befitting what you are this moment.

Ah yes, you know
Now what you cannot comprehend—
How all my days must now be spent
Finding a fitter name for you—
More permanent,
And making more sense
Of this small existence—
Yet yours, and only you.

Translated from the Hindi by M. Halpearn.

Kedarnath Singh

Kedarnath Singh

Chakia, Ballia, Uttar Pradesh / India
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