Feather (ಗರಿ)

The very last poem in Da Ra Bendre’s first poetry collection, itself titled Gari (ಗರಿ) and first published in 1932. The feather here serves as a wonderful metaphor for a poem (each, at its finest, an exquisite and ethereal creation). Given the luminous poetry Shri Bendre was to create (and “strew”) over the next five decades, this poem seems nothing less than prophetic.

Feather (ಗರಿ)

Upon this cloth of stretching sky
That has nèither start nor end,
Is forever and forever flying
The ever-moving bird of wind.

And flying like this bird of wind
Is the many-feathered bird,
In whose wake are sometimes strewn
The feathers of its flying wings.

Let these fallen feathers play
Just as much as they would like
Within the wind that blows and swirls
And rubs and sprays and spurts and whirls.

And, if by chance or accident,
These feathers light upon the ground,
Pick them up and blow them forth
Up to the heights from where they came.

Do not, smitten by their colours, keep
Them hidden safely in your palm;
Do not, though they seem a little off,
Pluck some hairs and comb some lines.

Yes, pick them up and blow them forth,
Let them fly as much they will;
For that’s the only reason why
They were put on a bird’s body.

And, ìf, as you watch their play,
You feel within a surge of joy,
Then, you too swell and peacock-like
Dance your way up to the sky.

Yet ìf you do not feel that way,
Then simply send the feather forth;
For èver blows the able wind
That takes it far, and out of sight.

But if, by chance, the wind does not;
If, perhaps, they tòo lack strength,
Then do your bit and make them soar
For that is all the life they know.

Upon this cloth of stretching sky
That has nèither start nor end
Is forever and forever flying
The ever-moving bird of wind
.

(Translated by Madhav K. Ajjampur)

Poem Details: From the collection “ಗರಿ,” first published in 1932.

Author: Madhav Ajjampur

I'm Madhav, from Bangalore. I write my own poetry in English and translate Da Ra Bendre's poetry from Kannada into English. (You can read my translations at https://darabendreinenglish.com/). My favourite poets include Yeats, Tagore, Bendre, Dylan Thomas, Emily Dickinson, and Gerard Hopkins. If you'd like to get in touch, do write to me at mk.ajjampur@gmail.com. I'd be very happy to hear from you!

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