Ramakanta Rath

(13 December 1934 - / Cuttack, Orissa / India)

The Soldier In Exile - Poem by Ramakanta Rath

Sometimes I wish I should return,
throw this body to the ground before the judges
installed in all the marketplaces of my country,
and tell them, come, hang it
on your gallows of prefabricated words.

Sometimes I wish I should stop hiding among rocks,
and feeding on the sunlight and on the wind,
sail across the ocean's nights and days.
I would then unload all my bones
into the arms of the soil smiling at my homecoming
and tell it I have no further part
in its future.

I however hesitate.
The shores of my country would be inaccessible
with stones dislodged by vengeance and counter-vengeance
and with putrid weeds of mangled interpretations,
all its green and proud forests would have been burnt
by loud proclamations of conquests that never occurred,
its body bleeding,
its railways and roadways and harbours shattered,
encampments of imported mercenaries
all along the banks of its moist eyes.

All this notwithstanding,
I sometimes wish I should return,
but some other times I do not wish I should return.
Sometimes it seems all my love is a moon
rising every evening and setting every dawn
in the sky above wherever I exist.

Sometimes, however, I wish I should return.

[Translated by the poet]

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 19, 2012

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