Nabakanta Barua

(26 December 1926 – 14 July 2002 / Guwahati / India)

Ratnakara - Poem by Nabakanta Barua

Within this dark shell
All emptiness is substantial
The sky and the earth reach me
In all elastic opacity.
Severely sensuous is this mystic opacity
A self-indulging hermaphrodite god
The earthworm told me; the leech confided.

Self-indulgence begets nightmares
Bonny civilizations end in paederasty
Even in the salty water of the dead sea
They do not surface, the corpses of dead dreams.

The earthworm told me; the leech confided.

The coital simultaneity of the earth and sky
Half male and half female
I have seen the male sky
Reach for the depth of the furrows
The female sky in a cloudy grace
Receive the hills of the earth
Through the eyes of the leech, with the
Blind vision of the earthworm.

When the shell sheds its dark prison
My nerves will string the stars of the milky way
Emptiness will spread in the vacuitous pores of mass,
Like sweaty vapours of coital exertion,
Corn, the male sky will bestow on earth,
The male earth will give god to the sky,
Corn, too, will be truth like god, and
God will be food, like corn.
Flesh will follow the chemistry of dead corn
Corn will germinate in the warmth of dead flesh.

Below, in the bowels of the earth
Earth’s primal womanhood is shaken cruelly
For a strange construct
Uninseminated by god.

Hephaestus rose from lonian myths
And a voice arose of gleeful unconcern:
I am he, not born of a father’s lust
I am born of my mother’s insatiety and deprivation
Your creation is but the fruition
Of the orgy called sex.
I announce a new creation:
“Construct! ”
The one that is not born is mere matter
And all wealth is incapable of growth
You’ll snatch in lumps
The unfertilized jewels from the earth’s bowels
Non-growing, never-waning, bright.
I shall reveal to you
The secrets of power that lies within matter
Capable, conscious, efficient—
Whose growth is but change alone
Which is valued but in exchange
Where to create is to construct.

=No,sonny, you can’t hatch them table eggs
Not if you brood over them till the end of you! =

In this dark hollow of mine
In the core of corn and god
I can feel the animate vibration of matter

It seems
My voice is matter metamorphosed.
Will it not be impregnated by god?

The totality towards which
I am moving at this motionless speed
–that desire rebirth—
Is it my growth or my change?

What shall I chose—
The unfading gleam of minerals?
The eternal transcendence of corn?
Who shall I vote for—
Creation or construction?


Poet's Notes about The Poem

(Translated from the original Assamese by the poet in 1973)

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Poem Submitted: Friday, June 15, 2012

Poem Edited: Saturday, October 6, 2012


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