Wednesday, December 25, 2013

SEASONS* K. Satchidanandan

It was in summer that
death first came 
to take him away.
“ Look”, he told death,
“as long as this sunlight
continues to dance like this,
sending butterflies fluttering
around the brows of the living,
and lets the waves shimmer
like leaping silvery fishes
and generates eyes
all over the seashore,
I shall not come to
your island of night.
No, not in this hour of the sun
and of violets.”

Next death came
during the rains.
“Look”, he told death,
“as long as the rain’s serenade
thrills even the stones
and even dead trees hide buds
yearning to burst forth
and the crickets’ morning carol turns
night into day,
I shall not come to
your woodless land.
No, not in this time of elephants
and of drums”

When death came again in winter,
“Look”, he told death,
“as long as the moon turns
the mist into sugar-lumps
and the sand to silver
and the earth with her hair of shadows
dreams of jasmine buds,
I shall not come to
your dreamless land.
No, not in this season of nativity
and of snow.”

Death came back in spring.
“Look”, he told death,
“As long as even the grass
grows self-aware and the crow’s cawing
sounds like a melody and love fills even
the serpents’ poison glands with honey,
I shall not come to
your abode of frozen hearts.
No, not in this moment of flower
and of wine. ”

Each time he drove death back
with his passion for life. But
in autumn death slithered towards him,
a hissing breeze over the fallen leaves
and struck him. This ecstasy, he knew,
was his end and he now lay
among those yellow leaves,
staring at the rainbow
that blossomed above him.

*The original title is ritusamhara, the title of Kalidasa’s long Sanskrit poem about the seasons.

( Translated from Malayalam by the poet )

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