Poetry: Lopa Banerjee

Lopa Banerjee

Lopa Banerjee

A Poet’s Plea

[Written for the Tata Steel Literary Meet #kalaam 2020, Kolkata, India] 

In the proverbial City of Joy,
As I seek harmony amid the din and clatter of disparate sounds,
The foggy late winter sky carries tales 
Of every street corner, every Azaan and prayer, 
Many a human birth, many cremations, many burials. 

I, a deconstructed poet, writhe and burn. 
A massive, deafening noise of disdain picks 
Out of nowhere, in my land which, 
I all along knew
Was accustomed to bridging gaps between creaky doors, 
Bridging continents with the bubbling mindscape of poems and stories. 

Where do I find myself in this miasma of loss?
In my mind, my city dwells
In the confluence of the river Ganga and the oceans,
In the fluttering wings of my fellow artists 
Chiming in unison, our verses casting motions of feathery flights. 

All of us—hungry, lost, yet illuminating. 
In my mind, let my city linger softly
A soulful melody of Oneness 
Amid disparaging metaphors of Change. 

An Ode to Sun Temple, Konark 

When the rocks and the divine sculptures engraved in them breathe poetry,
Do you need the aid of verses in concocted words?
When divinity spells its untainted songs in a mosaic of figurines,
Quaint and mighty in the same breath,
Do you need the Gita, the Bible, the holy Quran?
When Prakriti and Purusha, the elemental man and woman
Converge in a volcanic ocean of wants,
Do you need any other melody, a divine rhapsody of some other form,
More voluptuous, eroding your senses, your faith in all-encompassing love?

Konark, am I your courageous, piercing need,
Your bursting sunshine, the wrenching pain of centuries when you evolved?
Am I the spurious birth of a dream in the palm of your hands
As the world breaks open in a thwarted call for a revolution?
Am I the evening prayer of the woman in her high tide,
Or the bitter, twisted lies that she wraps around her to feed parochial urges?
I keep my bejeweled tears,
the depth of my bosom,
the womb of my history
At your feet, and leave you for now.
Let me come back to you again in another lifetime, years old and starving.
Let me come back as revolutions keep brewing,
As you wax and wane, explode fiercely, wrenching out smiles,
Your unclipped verses of freedom.

A Silent Poet

A silent poet goes nowhere.
Neither winning esteemed poetry contests
Nor fluttering around literary meets
Nor wearing badges of honor at Conferences, nor being the crowning glory of litfests
Nor prancing and preening at poetry readings and heavyweight confluences.
A silent poet goes nowhere
Her stoic self is neither rooted to fire
Nor buried in the prosaic earth, making a pulp out of boiled vegetables and
Her own battered universe,
She waits, gulps down thorny human truths
and looks up at the sky, the horizon
And the ground beneath her feet
Which taught her the poetry of life.
A silent poet goes nowhere
Only surrenders, makes love to
The sky, the horizon and the earth
And then begets her own mismatched,
Bastard verses, and nurses them
over and over again.


[From my romance novella ‘All That Jazz’ which is part of my book ‘Of Love, Jazz & Old Flames]

Some days you just burn in the flames of a destitute desire
Some days the flames ask you what provoked that fire.
Some days, you ask why on earth you latched on to nameless days of yore.
Some days, you crave for that damn blasphemy
That begs to live within you for some more.
Some days, your nomad heart churns those lovelorn refrains,
Long been fed to the dogs,
You bathe in your accursed desires,
Deep within, you nurture a nameless fog.
Some glorious, seductive day, the fog surrounds you
Like shafts of lightning, whispering, inflamed.
Some dreadful nights, it is all dark,
Salt rubbed on hidden wounds, and you look on,
Voyeur-like in virtual space, in pictures framed.
Pictures of legit spouses of philandering beau
Pictures of progeny, mirror-images of dream children few
Screenshots of engrossed moments in the poetry of fake love-chants
Dreary outcry of a doomsday of your flowering wants.
Some wild, whistling, sunless days the rice boils,
The birds chirp, the body rolls on fire yet again.
Some dreadful nights, it’s a story fierce and sharp,
Engraved with the brooding ink of pain.

English translation:
‘Sawana Gagane ghor ghanaghata’ by Rabindranath Tagore 

Dense clouds hover around the monsoon sky, in the deep dark of the night.
How do I go to meet my Lord Krishna, in our grove of love?
A frail, helpless woman I am, my friend; I do not know, how.
While the Yamuna river trembles with the raging storm,
While the trees tremble and collapse with the bolts of thunder and lightning,
My body, my soul trembles as I listen to the tinkling sounds of raindrops
Drench the shaal, piyal, taal, tamaal trees,
As the deep dark night embraces the road ahead.
Tell me, o friend of mine,
Why does my merciless Lord Krishna arouse my soul
When the night around us is so fierce, deadly?
Why does his enchanting flute beckon me relentlessly,
As it calls out my name, Radha, with such passion and agony?
Dress me up with pearls and jewels, with precious adornments!
My braided hair is all haywire, my friend;
Adorn it with fragrant champak flowers.
I want to go to my Lord Krishna, leaving aside the hurdles.
I can’t wait for the call.
Do not venture ahead, Radha, to seek out your young, crazy lover
When frequent lightening frightens you thus!
The night is cruel; the thunderstorm has ravaged the road ahead---
Me, Bhanusingha, your humble servant says.

Original lyrics of the song:
‘Shawan gagane ghora ghanaghata
Nishitha yamini re
Kunja pathe sakhi kayse jaoba
Abala kamani re
Unmad pabane yamuna tarjita
Ghan Ghana garjita meha
Damakata bidyuta patha taru lunthita
Thara thara kampita deha
Ghana ghan rim jhim rim jhim rim jhim
Barakhata nirada punja
Sal piyale Tala tamale
Nibiro timiro mayo punja
Kahare sajani e duryoge
Kunje niradaya kana
Daaruna bansi kaha bjayata
Sakaruna radha naam
Moti mahare besh bana de
Sithi laga de bhale
Purahi bilunthito Lolachi kura mamo
Badaho champako male
Gahana nayanme na jao bala
Gahe kisharak pasha
Garaje Ghana ghan bahu dar pawab
Kahe bhanu taba das’
The song ‘shawan gagane’ is from Bhanusingher Padabali, one of the greatest works of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. He adopted the pseudonym “Bhanusingha” and wrote his series of poems called Bhanusingher Padabali (influenced by poems of old romantic poets Jaidev and Vidyapati). Surprisingly such a classic was composed by Tagore while he was in his teens and just started exploring the immense cultural treasure in and around him starting with kirtan (a semi-classical form of devotional songs) and Vaishnab Padabali. This is also probably his first reflection of love in the form of poetry and music.

1 comment :

  1. All five poems are extra-ordinary to say the least. Words have extreme flourish and oomph. All the best.


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