The Bullock Poem by Kedarnath Singh

The Bullock

I don't know if he is still needed
Or not
But he is coming back,
Indifferent to the Tandoori Roti of the sinking sun,
With only moisture from the air and a bundle of grass
Upon his back. He comes
Like a colossal boulder rolling downhill.
He is walking
And he remembers only the track
Whisking him like his own tail, onward.

There is a smell
And he does not know its source
But it is there,
And somewhere a drum is sounding,
And trees are being felled within the forest,
And the lambs are treading upon his hooves.

A sudden snort
And his earns are erect.
This is the smell of new-mown hay, he tells himself,
And with fresh hope.
Surrenders his body
To the warmth and slumber of the entire community.

Between the crackling flames
And the tales nodding with sleep,
He alone is an animal that thinks
Of hay all day long
And of God all through the long night
The next day dawns, new
And cool and fresh
Suddenly he remembers the pasturelands.

He lifts his tail and having gone twenty-one times round
the dwelling place
Finds himself face to face with the plough
He is extremely pleased.
For the first time he feels
Glorious horns crowning his forehead,
And with redoubled vigour
He places his neck under the yoke.
And now, among the marshes,
Only his horns glimmer,
Until the day

Translated from the Hindi by Mrinal Pande.

Kedarnath Singh

Kedarnath Singh

Chakia, Ballia, Uttar Pradesh / India
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