Lalon in Translation | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 20, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 20, 2018

Lalon in Translation

The City of Mirrors

(Barir Pashe Arshee Nagar)


There the City of Mirrors lies

Within a stone's throw of my place,

I have a neighbour living there,

Oh, I've never seen his face!


Shore-less waters raging all around,

No boat to cross this wide wide sea—

I must go and see my neighbour dear,

But, who will ferry me?


O how could I tell what my neighbour's like:

He has no head, no torso, limbs—

Now he rides the aimless gales,

Now in water swims.


If my neighbour touched me once

Even death-pang I could thwart—

But though the same room we both share,

We're a million leagues apart!


Rara Avis 

(Khanchar Bhitor Ochin Pakhi)


How does Rara Avis

Go in and out of the cage!

I would I could hold it

In my mind's bondage.


Eight vaults the cage has and nine doors,

Latticed alcoves and windows,

The plenary hall on top—mirrors

Have set the place ablaze.


Oh, what can I do now but grieve

By the wanton bird deceived?

Why did my bird break free from its cage

To vanish in the wilderness?


My heart, the cage that you desired,

With unripe bamboos reared

This cage will give way soon I fear,

In tears, Lalon says.


The Unknown Suitor

(Bol re shei Moner Manush Konjona)


O tell me who this suitor is—

This life of my life:

Mother worships him as husband,

“Mom” he calls his wife.


Who the prime mover, who the anointed one,

Whose love's indorsed those solitary men

To reveal all that the Vedas lacked,

All that acumen?


When two waters blend into one

Without flowers fruits can sprout.

The mind was created by the mind

By entwining ins and outs.


On the topmost stratum there is

The enlightened one;— and also his

Primal mother, the jeweler of light—

Wretched Lalon! Woe betide.



Ferry Me, Boatman

(Par-e Loye Jao Amay)


I sit and wait

Like a shore-less sea,

O kind-hearted boatman mine,

Ferry me, I prithee.


I loiter as the sun goes down

All alone at the empty quay,

Who else but you could I call to

In my agony?


Forever a hopeless strayer

I know no hymn, no prayer,

Saviour I hear they call you, my dear,

Hence my entreaty.


If the ailing you don't heal

You shall smudge your own goodwill,

Who would call you, Lalon asks,

The Lord of the lost, tell me.



His Soulmate

(Ache Jar Moner Manush Mone)


He who has his soulmate in him

Seldom tells his beads.

Aloof, disinterested, he

Enjoys the mundane sprees.


Will you call to him aloud

One that's already nearby?

Where he has access, there none else is allowed,

The knowledge is solely his.


Your hand will keep on rubbing

Where it's sore . . .

So your soul will nurture more

The one it needs.


One that's had a glimpse of that light

Mute he stands for good—

Lalon laughs at the showy crowd,

The Hare Krishna bees.

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