Poetry in Translation
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Banalata SenFor millions of years,
I have been striding across the trails of the world.
From Serendip's beaches to the strand of the Malays,
I dwelled in the infinitely remote courts,
The lost lands of Vimvisar and Ashoka,
Settling in yet-more-sequestered Vidarva.
I am tired, troubled by the sea's angry roar.
Amid all this, the brief respite—
The peace, the grace, of Banalata Sen.
Her hair pitch-black, remote as Vidisha's night,
Her face as if carved at Sravasti,
As a lost sea-rover adrift in the deep
Sees the verdant isles of spice,
So I glimpsed her in the dark.
"Where on earth have you been,"
She intoned, unfurling her eyes, like bird's nests.
She, Banalata Sen of Natore!
The long day heals, evening's dewy hand envelops.
The falcon's wing divests all trace of sunshine.
While the world's colors start to drain,
Compiling the storied memory.
Whether in old tales or the firefly's flash,
Birds return to their nests, the waters ebb.
All that remains: the darkness in which I sit,
Staring face to face with Banalata Sen.
Translated from the Bengali by Nicholas Birns