ಎರಡು ನಾಟ್ಯಗೀತಗಳು (Two Dramatic Songs)

A number of Bendre’s poems were actually ನಾಟ್ಯಗೀತs or “dramatic songs” – many of them composed for dramas that were never completed! The two song-poems featured here were written for a drama called ಸತಿ (Sati); which too remained uncompleted.

Like Bendre himself notes, the context of these song-poems is as follows.

A king of Pataliputra, having already wed three hundred princesses, invites to his palace the wife, Sati, of the celebrated ascetic Dhyanagupta of Vaishali. Cloistered in the queen’s quarters of the palace, these are the songs the three hundred princesses sing (in chorus) when they learn the news.

(If the first song is an expression of the disquietude the princesses feel upon hearing of Sati’s arrival, the second is a full-throated lamentation of the pathos of their situation since she came.)

Will You Remember, Will You Forget (ಮರೆಯುವೆಯೋ, ಅರಿಯುವೆಯೋ!)

Will you remember or
Will you forget us – us all?
Sweetheart, darling, gold-of-our-life,
Will you come meet us – us all?

We said we were parrots
In the cage of your heart;
Sweet, besotting, light-ring – king!
In this palace of pearls
In this wildly world
Will you abandon us – us all?

Our memory still thrills
To that very first touch;
Intoxicating beauty’s bard – lord!
Ages have passed,
Will you come laughing again
To call upon us – us all?

We have gathered in shadows
As the night falls;
Come in merciful show – hero!
By blowing love-breath
In these beautiful dolls
Will you not save us – us all?

O King, Beloved! (ಎಲ್ಲಿರುವೆ ರಾಜಗಂಭೀರಾ!)

Where are you O king, beloved!

This life-breath’s wailing like the wind
Within a ruined house of god;
And even the walls of stone are calling;
Where are you O king – beloved.

This life-breath’s pining for the light;
For lack of air it’s withered;
This jasmine-heart’s a curled-up bud;
Where are you O king – beloved.

This life-breath’s but a water-shade,
The heaven’s stars are saddened;
Quavering they say, “Darkness has spread”:
Where are you O king – beloved.

This life-breath’s wish to see the things it
Can’t is no longer small or bounded;
O love, it’s thirsty, (though the passion’s cooled);
Where are you O king – beloved.

And now this life-breath is so lifeless,
Its own existence seems borrowèd;
Your faithful beauties await your coming;
Where are you O king – beloved.

(Translated by Madhav K. Ajjampur)

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

Not Ever Looking Back (Concerning an Old Painting) [ಹಿಂದs ನೋಡದs]

A number of Da Ra Bendre’s poems are from the perspective of a woman. This particular poem expresses the despair of one such “heroine.” The poet has indicated that the poem sprung from looking at an old painting (of a gopi who entranced by Krishna’s presence is oblivious to her surroundings and her gopi-friends).

As usual, here is a recording of my reciting (singing) the original Kannada poem. The tune, if one is discernible, is C. Ashwath’s.

Not Ever Looking Back (Concerning an Old Painting) [ಹಿಂದs ನೋಡದs]

Not ever looking back, my dear,
Not ever looking back.

He looked but once upon me,
And smiled a friendly smile;
Then he turned and on he went,
Not ever looking back, my dear,
Not ever looking back.

The scent that rides upon the air,
It said to me – ‘go there, go there’;
My mind followed without a care,
Not ever looking back, my dear,
Not ever looking back.

My heart itself’s no longer mine,
What care I for the rain or shine;
My mind follows its destined line,
Not ever looking back, my dear,
Not ever looking back.

Like the thread within the needle’s eye,
Like the foot caught in the míre,
Like the wheel of time upon its way,
Not ever looking back, my dear,
Not ever looking back.

(Translated by Madhav K. Ajjampur)

Poem Details: From the collection “ಗಂಗಾವತರಣ,” first published in 1951.