Original Kannada Poem:
Hothot Sky (ನಿಗಿ ನಿಗಿ ಮುಗಿಲು)
pours forth an emberous heat;
strips all cover
steals all power
the life-breath’s fully beat;
Dries the throat
drops the fruit
the hot breath of the air –
is arriving in fine flair.
Showers the rain
uplooks the grain
the dark clouds break and burst;
cheep-cheep the birds,
here’s mercy for the cursed!
Transcreated English Poem:
(Translated by Madhav Ajjampur)
Poem Details: From the collection “ನಾದಲೀಲೆ”, first published in 1938.
ಹಾಡೆ ಹಾದಿಯ ತೋರಿತು (haaḍē haadiya tōritu: ~ the song itself showed the way) said Bendre of (his) poetry. The variousness of his poetry’s metre, rhythm, rhyme, prosody, and syllablism testify to the truth of this statement: the song really did show him the way. All too often, all he did was follow its lead.
In this particular poem, it may be argued that the short (staccato-ish) syllabic lines lend the poem an urgency – alluding, at first, to the withering heat and, later, to the wet relief of the rain. In any case, the poem is a wonderful example of the famous ನಾದ (naada: ~ euphony) inherent to Bendre’s poetry. Just listen to that assonance, that rhythm, that rhyme, that onomatopoeia!
In this transcreation, a particular concern was to mirror the (short) syllablism of the original poem’s lines. Trying to work the English language to achieve such effects is an especially satisfying aspect of translating Bendre’s poetry.
© Madhav Ajjampur
If you have enjoyed this translation and the recitations, I hope you will consider buying my recently-released book (!) of English translations of selected Bendre poems. The book is titled The Pollen Waits On Tiptoe. If you are living in India, you can buy the book by going to this page.
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