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.