ಅಷ್ಟು ಪ್ರೀತಿ ಇಷ್ಟು ಪ್ರೀತಿ (This Much Love, That Much Love)

A charming little rumination on love. As the audio hopefully reveals, the original poem is notable for the “happy trot” (to coin a phrase) of its rhythm – a quality I have looked to retain in the translation.

Also – while it is worth mentioning that the notes accompanying the poem say it is “incomplete”, it seems to me that there is enough in the poem to make that claim both true and false.

Original Kannada Poem:

This Much Love, That Much Love (ಅಷ್ಟು ಪ್ರೀತಿ ಇಷ್ಟು ಪ್ರೀತಿ)

Do not, counting, frown and say
This much love and that much love;
Love, be loved and stay happy.
What you have, that is your lot,
The light you have is your own day
All other light’s just needless grey.
Your house is simply where you are,
Your playground where you play;
The rest’s the backyard, so to say.

Does a string of pearly pearls
Add lustre to a kiss?
Does kissing eyelids that are moist
Undo the kiss’s swell?
Can a fragrance not be found
In tears that boil and well?
Gems and jewels, gold and all
Are glories of the mud and sand,
So, listen to me, foolish man
They’re all just fake – all just a joke
Just a vanity of life,
Love’s the real real of life.

The seven heavens, the seven hells
Are the light and dark of love;
The ages and the union’s reaches
Are its fortressed moat and tower.
I climbed upon a throne and sat
My thigh sat on its thigh;
All right, I thought, but what is here
Not there in love’s embrace?
I closed the eye within my heart
For this or that I praised;
Let there be a little hut
Beneath a spreading tree,
Can love not play and frolic there,
Can merriness not find its share?

(Translated by Madhav K. Ajjampur)

Poem Details: From the collection “ನಾದಲೀಲೆ”, first published in 1938.

Afterword:

Here’s my recitation of the translation.

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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