One of Bendre’s poems from the early period, with a wonderfully original conceit. The peacock and the koel serve as metaphors. The language of the original is folksy Dharwad, and abounds in end-rhyme, assonance, and onomatopoeia (mina mina mina minchatitta: ಮಿನ ಮಿನ ಮಿನ ಮಿಂಚತಿತ್ತ). Though the onomatopoeia is untranslatable, I have looked to include a measure of assonance and end-rhyme in the translation. The unusual sentence-structure is a consequence of this attempt.
Also, here is a recording of my reciting (singing) the original Kannada poem. The tune, if one is discernible, is Mysore Ananthaswamy’s.
The Peacock-Smile (ನಗೀನವಿಲು)
Woman, upon your lips
did play a peacock-smile;
did play a smile, did flee a smile;
did it look cloudward the while.
A-flash a-flash a-flashed the smile;
did rise the smile, did fall the smile;
did fall the smile, did glow the smile;
did the land and waters gleam the while.
Within your eyes the coloured gaze
did dance thakadimi dance;
did dance and prance, did droop and fade;
did play coquette at every chance.
On the tip of the mango-tree-of-the-mind
did sit a kōel all alone;
did sit and never sing a note;
did gaze on you with look forlorn.
A living life was suffering;
did wail all through the day and night;
did wail all through, did flail all through:
did search for something with its might.
With a rain of tears too
did it pour forth its woe;
did pour its woe, did plead its case:
did wilt when no response did show.
(Translated by Madhav Ajjampur)
Poem Details: From the collection “ಗರಿ,” first published in 1932.
Here is my recitation of the translation.
© Madhav Ajjampur