The Bird is Flying – Have You Seen it? (ಹಕ್ಕಿ ಹಾರುತಿದೆ ನೋಡಿದಿರಾ?)

One of the most historically significant poems in Kannada literature. In this case, not (simply) for its “poetic worth” – which for once takes a backseat – but for its impact on the Kannada literary scene. I will let Shri Māsti* Venkatēsha Iyyangār explain (in his own words)…

“…a couple of years later I saw him [Bendre] again at the Beḷagāvi Sāhitya Sammelana or the Beḷagāvi (Kannada) Literary Conference [in 1929]. At that conference, Shri Bendre read out his poem, “ಹಕ್ಕಿ ಹಾರುತಿದೆ ನೋಡಿದಿರಾ? (The bird is flying – have you seen it?)”. It is impossible now to describe the ecstasy its listeners felt that day. [While] that one reading was hardly sufficient to understand the various meanings the poem suggested, it was enough to astonish the thousand-strong audience. It was clear to everyone of standing in the “poetry world” that here was a new poet whose poetic shakti (~power) was his very own.”

For a great many more piquant details (including Bendre’s story about the poem’s genesis and information about Masti), please read the afterword below.


To read and listen to more (including the entire translation), please buy my book, The Pollen Waits On Tiptoe.

If you are living in India, you can buy the book on Amazon India at this link: However, if the book is unavailable at the Amazon link or you prefer not to patronize Amazon, please write directly to me ( or MUP ( to order your copy of the book.


1. If you are living abroad, you will, unfortunately, not be allowed to buy the book on Amazon India. Therefore, if you would like one or more copies of the book, please write directly to me ( with your details. I will do my best to arrange to send you a copy (or copies) of the book.

2. If you are in India and are looking to buy more than one copy of the book, please write directly to me ( or to MUP ( Please also note that buying 10 or more books will entitle you an overall discount of 30%. To avail yourself of this discount, it is best to write directly to MUP.

3. The book is now also available as an ebook. The app hosting the ebook is called VIVIDLIPI and the book can be purchased at this link. (Since the publisher does not have an agreement with Amazon, I am afraid the book is not available on Kindle.)

Author: MKA

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 poetry at I also translate sundry other Kannada writings into English. My favourite poets include Yeats, Tagore, Bendre, Dylan Thomas, Emily Dickinson, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. If you'd like to get in touch, do write to me at I'd be very happy to hear from you!

4 thoughts on “The Bird is Flying – Have You Seen it? (ಹಕ್ಕಿ ಹಾರುತಿದೆ ನೋಡಿದಿರಾ?)”

  1. 1) it is “(The) bird is flying (upon), have you seen” ,
    and not “have you seen the flying bird”.
    What is to be “seen” is not the so much so the obvious-fied premise that “it is bird”, but rather the latter part that its in the continuous state of “flying”.

    0) Its not “Da Ra Bendre” who is the corresponding author, its rather “Ambiktanayadatta”. “Dattoo mastar” is said to have highlighted this point a number of times, urging people to stop taking his name in relation to the works of amdatta.


    1. Your first point’s well-taken. It’s not like it didn’t occur to me to say “The bird is flying – have you seen it?” or “The bird’s awing – have you seen it?” However, I chose this because it fit more nicely with the rhythm of the rest of the poem – and because it’s not all that far away from the “bhaava” of the original. Like I’ve said repeatedly, what I call “translations” are not so much translations as transcreations, “ಭಾವಾನುವಾದ”s, attempts to capture the “spirit” of the original. (Still, it’s worth considering the refrain again.)

      Your second point seems to have been made without going through the THIRTY FOUR translations/transcreations that’ve been published on the website. Or the write-ups associated with a great number of these translations. Or the other “pages” that are part of the website. I’ll give you a pass this time, but I suggest you pay full attention to any work you’re inclined to offer a opinion about; especially if that opinion’s a critical one.

      I have no objection to people offering their suggestions. Or commenting. Indeed, I welcome it. On the other hand, I’ve little patience for half-baked, dubious, ದಂತಕತೆ-type offerings about Bendre’s life and times. Bendre’s “relationship” with “Ambikatanayadatta” was close to miraculous. To speak in binaries like EITHER Bendre OR Ambikatanayadatta is far too simplistic. As far as I can tell, Ambikatanaya(datta) was a (ದೈವೀ) ಶಕ್ತಿ, a daimon, an afflatus. To read Bendre Ambikatanadatta’s entire poetry is to marvel at and wonder about the true nature of the relationship between “Bendre maastra” and “Ambikatanayadatta”. And then, of course, there are poems like “ಜೋಗಿ” and “ಕಣ್ಣ ಕಾಣಿಕೆ” and “ಏಲಗೀತ” where Ambikatanayadatta’s “ಕೈವಾಡ”, as it were, is glaringly obvious.


    1. Dear Arun,

      Thank you for writing and expressing an interest in the book. 🙂

      While I would love to introduce a Kindle version, the publisher, rather unfortunately, does not have an agreement with Amazon (and Kindle). However, they do have agreement for an ebook with VIVIDLIPI, a “local” app that houses mostly Kannada books (and some English translations).

      Here is the link to the ebook, priced in INR and meant for Indian residents. Please see if that suits your needs. Please also let me know if it doesn’t and I will see what I can do. (For instance, if you are living in the US, I am making plans to ship a whole batch of books there.)




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