'Each word is an angel': Six poems by Bhaben Barua

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'Each word is an angel': Six poems by Bhaben Barua

'Each word is an angel': Six poems by Bhaben Barua

Translated from Assamese by Dibyajyoti Sarma

The Words

Each word is an angel. Have to find each in smoky solitude, where an evening drowns in water — and above the dark forest suddenly is visible the glimmer of a star-studded sky — flapping its wings fly away the bird of the night… Each has its individual personality, each its secret goal. Have to find each in a stupor inside a tremor where time stops in secrecy, and meaningless mass of things change shapes into various stages of meaning. Each has its designated place, like planets in the sky and each is silent observer, as if — of numerous tides, waves that line up one after another. ***


Your sadness is yours The roots of your sadness is yours The soil of your sadness is yours The sunshine, the rain, the wind Of your sadness Are all yours My song, a bird I let it fly to accompany your sadness Let it be Yours too Those of you who drank from the black pot You drank the bitter juice of the fruit of the wild tree In night’s cauldron Those of you who drank from the white pot You drank the bitter juice of the fruit of the wild tree In day’s cauldron Those of you who peer with a straight gaze Inside the white pot Inside the black pot Don’t be scared Don’t be worried Don’t be upset In your estranged nothingness You aren’t destitute Your sadness is yours The roots, the soil The sunshine, the rain, the wind Sitting on the bough of your sadness From behind the leaves of sorrow Let the bird sing: You aren’t destitute You aren’t destitute [In Assamese, the pronoun ‘you’ has singular and plural variations — ‘tumi’ and ‘tomalok’. Therefore, ‘your’ too have two variations — ‘tomar’ and ‘tomalokar’. The poem uses ‘you’ and ‘yours’ in plural.] ***

Paul Cézanne

These are known — unknown fruits Scratching the eyes found In my heart The solidified mass of emotions Inside the taste and the smell In that tough emotion The end of the geometry From fruit to fruit Serious sculptures On the rotating earth Inside my heart.
[Paul Cézanne (1839-1906): A French artist considered to be last of the impressionists, and founder of cubism. His works on still life, as demonstrated in the painting, Still Life with a Curtain (1895), illustrates Cézanne’s increasing trend towards terse compression of forms and dynamic tension between geometric figures.]

The Green Tremor

In confused piano, among the crowd of fingers, in the wave of the tune life forgets itself — In return, it finds the tremor of its origin. The wind presses the paddy field; the rhythm of that weight tumbles from my chest to my fingers. Ten golden ghosts sing in my body the green song of the soil. ***


The heart sinks in water and finds the tune of transparency, unfathomable pain. Among the grass and reeds, there’s drawn, in rhythmic lines, the transparent pain of a face; there lies a few rotten fruits. In that depth everything is transparent, everything is without shape weight of the hand, the light’s wave, the speed of darkness There’s no fear of storm now: The tune of transparency is not lost in insane upheaval.
Bhaben Barua was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1979. He studied in Calcutta, and did his masters from Delhi University. After working in Delhi and Punjab University, he finally joined the Gauhati University. His collections of poems include Sonali Jahaj (Golden Ship, 1977) and Bhaben Baruar Kabita Sangrah (Collected Poems of Bhaben Barua, 1997). Dibyajyoti Sarma has published three volumes of poetry and an academic book, besides numerous writing credits in edited volumes, journals and websites. He was born in Assam and now lives in Delhi.
Read more: ‘I am a footstep on the slippery road’ : Five poems by Sameer Tanti ‘And we smelt like guavas’ : Five poems by Nilim Kumar An observer walking on the sidewalks  

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