Sunil Gangopadhyay

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Rating: 4.33

Sunil Gangopadhyay Poems

Neera, sometimes, it seems
you are more distant
than even the day I was born.


With ease I make a million flowers bloom,
All at once I light up some suns, moons, stars,
In a passing whim I blow out the moonlight

This hand has touched Neera's face,
could I use this hand to commit a sin,
ever again?
In the late evening glow

This golden figurine- oh dear, will she ceaselessly crumble away,
In the night, in the sun, in the rain in the arms of another man?
Her nipples two bared switches,- switches? Hands tremble at their touch.

I once spat into the sea:
no one saw me, no one knew—
The froth of the impassioned waves
swept away my spit.
Yet sometimes I am embarrassed, after so many years I can hear
the sea curse me.

On the mail train's body I once chalked
a woman's profile:
no one saw me, no one knew—
in fact even the stars in her eyes were not there.
Before the train could cross a single station, impassioned rains came—
perhaps my sketch was washed away.
Yet sometimes I am embarrassed, after so many years I can hear
the mail train curse me.

When I walk the road every day, do I trample its heart?
When I catch a woman's nipple with my teeth, am I brutalising her?
Sipping wine on wintry mornings
do I represent an exploitative class interest?
Is it a sin to embrace Saraswati's idol in the first flush of adolescence?
I am still not sure about such things.
Yet I can distinctly hear
the sea and the mail train curse me.

Translated by Pritish Nandy.

Each day for us was a day of changing birth
In the light - like pieces of broken glass in the sky -
From the horizon before me, like an exile, you advanced
with hesitant steps
Your body covered with a white swan's feathers, garland of gunja seeds round your neck
I was afraid
That wasn't a time for sightseeing, it was a time of banishment
Then the city was burning with hate, the knife in the human hand was being planted
in the human heart
Religion fed on corpses burnt in flames in buses and roads
Patriotism was being regurgitated like blood-vomit
I was imprisoned in the attic, I couldn't recognise you
Then, with a small notebook, I rose and leapt into deep blue space
You were, then, standing upon Dakshineshwar bridge,
The river in your eye's pupil
Profound silence of night-time in the town, all the schoolbells going ‘dong dong' . . .

Each day for us was a day of changing birth
Do you remember, when you, like cave-woman suddenly wounding adolescence,
Had tenderly embraced, very early at dawn, the soft, red winter sun
From the kadamba tree on Hari Ghosh Street, at the time, small shards of
diamond were slowly falling
The day's first blade-sharp tram went by, saying, Awake, Awake
As on a revolving stage, all was helter-skelter - now afternoon, now midnight,
now evening
I was, at the time, shouting out my lungs in a rally, drops of blood dripping from my nose
On all sides, hunger was flickering like a serpent-tongue
Ah! that enthralling, beggarly, imperious hunger
Like the direst circle in hell, that stomach-gnawing hunger
At certain moments, I saw, on the verandah, the anxious figure of motherhood,
eyes like a bird's
I'd dreamed that, one day, the world's mothers would serve steaming rice to all
the small, small children
Those bullets and explosions on College Street
You alighted from the bus, and, at that instant, inside, the festive gunpowder went off
With a jump, someone cleared the park railing, and lay down as an ascetic might
His face in the grass.

Each day for us was a day of changing birth
You were once Woman, you became Neera
I wore false beard and moustaches and became a clerk in a pharmacist's godown
My sandal-strap tore, I squatted before a roadside cobbler
No one could recognise me, we're all unrecognisable from the back
Sometimes I was the cobbler, and he the pedestrian
Sometimes I was the road; people walked by, treading on my breast
Sometimes I was silence and, at once, a restless roar
You gave a coin to the blind old man, in Sealdah the clock stopped ticking
So many people rushing, after getting off a train, stopped, motionless, for a few seconds
And then with a crashing sound much destruction ensued
Tear-gas smoke the police crying, the Chinese didn't want to be ‘bhai bhai'
Deflected by a handbill, people fell into a hole dug in the road - many sprained
their ankles
Three live cubs frolicked ebulliently in the gutter
A group of red-haired Englishmen left after photographing the scene on a French camera
You sat alone in the examination hall, the question paper didn't arrive
I was bent low, searching for small change in my torn pocket
You went to the flower show and flew your sari's aanchal like a flag
I lay all evening by the side of a cremation ground.

Each day for us was a day of changing birth
The body's lustre shines upon all those magic scenes
The body peeps inside the poem, sometimes it is shadow; sometimes it's the recalcitrance
of flesh and blood
Now it drowns, now comes and sits, face to face
Kalidasa's bee touched your quivering lip
I, having become grass and flower, placed my tongue upon your navel
Like Modigliani's woman, the moonlight glistens in your thighs
Once I became the child, and you the eternal Mother
At one point you were the absolute girl, an adulterous king desired you
The ocean flung powerful waves skyward
The sky was louring towards hell
A tantric was inhaling the smell of the yoni-lotus
the great illusion, unsatisfied, was saying, More, more
Ah! that playfulness, the heart's openness
In the springtime, we lay in bed and composed a hundred histories of copulation
Our arms round one another's necks, sitting unclothed by the window
at the hour of cow-dust or at dawn
A cigarette in my hand, in your hair a golden comb
The forgotten earth was returning to us, little by little; from heavenward, the soft sound
of a voice
At cow-dust or dawn, drop after drop of rainbow-coloured water in the sky
You kept staring in that direction; there was no aeroplane anywhere at that moment
Speaking in one voice with Keats, you absent-mindedly scolded Newton
That split-second was the moment of my rebirth.

Neera, our delusion ends, we once again build from sand those tiny houses of sorrow
We're still prancing about like naked children
On the seashore
Sometimes, what a splendid hiding-place, the century's jhau thickets
I can't see you, I've dipped my pen in the inkpot in your name
I haven't touched you, like a pregnant doe you melted into a mountainous kingdom
Storm after storm is blowing away entire sides of horizons
A wave of the magic wand is enough to summon from heaven waves of lightning
the earth growing in eminence
All's sound and sound's deletion, the turning of a page
The amloki fruit beneath the hands is sending out intermittent glances; it, too, glances
at me with a suppressed smile
Neera, you're alone on a faraway boat, you've spread your two wings
I'm alone in a distant mail train, can't read the name of a single station
You withdrew from the factions in the school committee, went and hid behind a door
I'm spending afternoons on a chair in a glass-ensconced room
While, on the other hand, so many tree-shadows by the river remain unoccupied
Those who'd said that revolution's at hand are now composing their memoirs
And those who were wiped out, were too much wiped out
The red-haired group's camera is still roaming the nooks and by-lanes
No one speaks of love any more
Whenever civilization hears of love, it breaks into giggles and laughter
When someone visits the bathroom to wash their face, they weep alone and splash their
face with handfuls of water
Neera, we have much further to go, don't get lost
There are many births to change, don't get lost
Neera, immortal girl, don't you get lost now!

Calcutta is a dead weight on my heart:
I must destroy her before I go.
I shall seduce her away to Haldia port
and feed her sweets spiked with arsenic—
Calcutta is a dead weight on my heart.

Calcutta counterfeits moonlight, and has learnt
to mix thorns and gravel
with her kisses.
She forgets to add sugar to tea like her tears
and has so many paramours
that even at noon her thighs separate.

How can I let you go, my charmer, so easily
to the Supreme Court at Delhi? Instead,
when dusk sets, with perfume on my heart
I shall clasp you with violence
and taxi down the strand.
You shall twist to the music in a restaurant
and slipping your sari off your shoulders
rest two cameras on your breasts—
everyone will whistle and applaud.

There is such music in your limbs, you are like a brilliant light
in the mirror, at your feet
I could bring a virgin eulogy in verse from the south of the city.
Shall I offer you a lotus on a golden tray?

You shall be murdered at midnight.

Calcutta, where can you escape my clutches?
You cannot hide in Canning Street—
and if you run down the broken lanes of Chinatown,
I shall chase you like a leopard,
leaping across the traffic lights, past miserable Burrabazar,
down Chowringhee—the convalenscent's diet—
I shall pursue you. My painful love like a strange phantom
shall track you down with vengeance.
Where can you escape? I shall turn back all the ships on the river
and switch on a powerful searchlight in the dark maidan
to grab you by your throat.

Before I escape I shall pour gunpowder in the secret ducts of your
and light a match between your thighs—
rows of mansions will be flung in the air, scattering
debris everywhere—all our lovemaking,
ornaments, the immortal universe of Chitpur shall be destroyed
in an instant.

As you have pushed me towards death,
you shall have to die with me.

By writing a poem I shall now build a palace,
by writing a poem I shall claim a limousine,
by writing a poem though I may not be elected President
I shall demand my fistful of earth:
for eons this world has been indebted to the shepherd's song.

By writing a poem I shall claim Scotch, premium brand, and
a leg of chicken cooked in unadulterated oil, nothing less—
for this poem I shall demand countless odalisques—
or a woman whose knees I can clasp in a public place and crave

Whenever I stand at the level crossing I must hear gunfire—
after writing a poem I shall not renounce my demands—
like a pariah I shall roll in the dust near your feet,
wringing blood out of bones—I am still waiting, begging open
humanness from humankind's eyes—
from the fevered forehead, spit and phlegm I have come for this poem,
like a brutal drunk I have incinerated myself and risen from the ashes,
awake to the sound of helplessness echoing in my lonesome room
I have come to avenge everything by writing a poem.

Sunil Gangopadhyay Biography

Sunil Gangopadhyay (Shunil Gônggopaddhae), is an Indian poet and novelist. Early Life He was born in Faridpur in what is now Bangladesh. He studied at the Surendranath College, Dumdum Motizhil College, City College, Kolkata - all affiliated with the University of Calcutta. Thereafter, he obtained his Master's degree in Bengali from the University of Calcutta in 1954. Literary Career He was the founder editor of Krittibas, a seminal poetry magazine started publishing from 1953, that became a platform for a new generation of poets experimenting with many new forms in poetic themes, rhythms, and words. Later, he started writing for various publications of the Ananda Bazar group, a major publishing house in Kolkata and has been continuing it for many years. He became friends with the beat poet Allen Ginsberg while he was traveling in India. Ginsberg mentioned Gangopadhyay most notedly in his poem September on Jessore Road. Gangopadhyay in return mentioned Ginsberg in some of his prose work. After serving five years as the Vice President, he was elected the President of the Sahitya Akademi on February 20, 2008. Sunil, along with Tarun Sanyal, Jyotirmoy Datta and Satrajit Dutta had volunteered to be defense witnesses in the famous trial of "Hungryalism" poet Malay Roy Choudhury. Personal Life He married Swati Bandopadhyay on February 26, 1967. Their only son, Sauvik was born on November 20, 1967. Works Author of well over 200 books, Sunil is a prolific writer who has excelled in different genres but declares poetry to be his "first love". His Nikhilesh and Neera series of poems (some of which have been translated as For You, Neera and Murmur in the Woods) have been extremely popular. As in poetry, Sunil is known for his unique style in prose. His first novel was 'atmaprakash' and it was also the first writing from a new comer in literature published in the prestigious magazine- 'desh' (1965). It was critically acclaimed but some controversy arises for its aggressive and 'obscene' style. Sunil said that he was afraid of this novel and went away from calcutta for a few days. Satyajit ray, the iconic film-maker thought to make a film on it but it wasn't possible for reasons. The central character of 'Atmaprakash' is a young man of core-calcutta'- sunil, who leads a bohemian life-style. The novel had inspiration from ' On the road' by Jack Kerouac, the beat generation writer. 'Arjun, Pratidwandi, filmed by Satyajit Ray (English title: The Adversary), Aranyer Din-Raatri (The Days and Nights of the Forest, also filmed by Satyajit Ray), Ekaa ebong Koyekjon are some of his well known works of fiction. His historical fiction Sei Somoy (translated into English by Aruna Chakravorty as Those Days) received the Indian Sahitya Akademi award in 1985. Sei Somoy continues to be a best seller more than two decade after its first publication. The same is true for Pratham Alo (also translated recently by Aruna Chakravorty as First Light), another best selling historical fiction and Purbo-Paschim, a raw depiction of the partition and its aftermath seen through the eyes of three generations of Bengalis in West Bengal, Bangladesh and elsewhere. He is also the winner of the Bankim Puraskar (1982), and the Ananda Puraskar (twice, in 1972 and 1989). Sunil has written (and still writes) in many other genres including travelogues, children's fiction, short stories, features, and essays. Among his pen-names are: Nil Lohit, Sanatan Pathak, and Nil Upadhyay. Though he has written all types of children's fiction, one character created by him that stands out above the rest, is Kakababu, the crippled adventurist, accompanied by his young adult nephew Santu, and his friend Jojo. Since 1974, Sunil Gangopadhyay has written over 35 novels of this popular series, most of which appeared in Anandamela magazine. One of Sunil Gangopadhyay's cult poems, Smritir Shohor has been turned into a song for the film Iti Mrinalini (2011) directed by Aparna Sen.)

The Best Poem Of Sunil Gangopadhyay


Neera, sometimes, it seems
you are more distant
than even the day I was born.
You walk alone --
in the autumn-woods.
The rustle of leaves
under your tender feet,
fill the air!
The mountains, sloped like a bullock's neck
meet the horizon,
and the evening sun
resounding its victory-cymbals
sets behind those hills.
All these, Neera, seem more distant
than even the day I was born.

Sometimes, when I've looked at the sky,
I've seen a dying star.
I feel a shiver in my heart,
my eyes come down to the earth
and to the world all around.
At those times, Neera,
I feel a strong desire
to fight all that is born to die!
I wish to place the flag of the Heavens
in your almond-hued palm,
and tell the whole world,
that the ray of mystical light
falling on your chin,
shall stay arrested, forever.
At that moment,
in the distant leafstrewn woods,
I see your enigmatic smile!

You know Neera,
that the white pigeons that fly in the evening sky,
even they are obscured by darkness!
like the light of our eyes,
and like all worldly sorrows!
It's only the misery of man
that stretches beyond his lifetime.

[Translated from Bengali poem 'Nashbar' by Sheila Sengupta]

Sunil Gangopadhyay Comments

Sayeed Abubakar 24 October 2012

Sunil is no more. He died on October 23,2012 at Kolkata. He was undoubtedly a great poet.

26 12 Reply
Sayeed Abubakar 24 October 2012

Sunil is no more. He died on October 23,2012 at Kolkata. He was undoubtedly a great poet.

20 11 Reply
Sayeed Abubakar 24 October 2012

Sunil is no more. He died on October 23,2012 at Kolkata. He was undoubtedly a great poet.

12 12 Reply
Sayeed Abubakar 24 October 2012

Sunil is no more. He died on October 23,2012 at Kolkata. He was undoubtedly a great poet.

8 10 Reply
Adeeb Alfateh 09 June 2019


3 0 Reply
Mahtab Bangalee 10 February 2019

Sunil Gangopadhyay THE NAME of POEM THE NAME OF WORLD POETRY THE NAME of UNIVERSE the Name of another greatest PLANET OF POEM YES, the TRUE POET HE was greatly influences ME HIS mastermind translation of WORLD POETRY. HE was the TRUE VEINS; ONLY ONE THE BLUE BLOOD of POETRY LOVE his mastermind versification LOVE his spellbound POETICAL POWER

3 0 Reply
Md imran Hossain 01 October 2015

I like your poem"kew kotha rakeni"

1 0 Reply
Neela Nath Das 12 February 2013

I love to read your writings.Since my childhood days, I'm your fan.Santu kakababur golpo, Gogoler golpo, Nillohiter golpo, Neera, Prothom Alo, Seisomoy all are my favorite.I have kept the bookSada pristha Tomar Sange your collection of Bengali poems with me as it bears the very words you wrote to meNeelake Priti Janai. You will be always in our mind.

21 2 Reply
Debasish Mridha, M. D. 21 January 2013

Among the handful of creative Bengali poets beloved Sunil Gangopadhyay is one of the best.

59 3 Reply

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