September 30, 2017

जो पुल बनाएंगे

जो पुल बनाएंगे
वे अनिवार्यत:
पीछे रह जाएंगे।
सेनाएँ हो जाएंगी पार
मारे जाएंगे रावण
जयी होंगे राम,
जो निर्माता रहे
इतिहास में
बन्दर कहलाएंगे


September 29, 2017


No monument stands over Babi Yar.
A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
I am afraid.
Today, I am as old
As the entire Jewish race itself.

I see myself an ancient Israelite.
I wander o’er the roads of ancient Egypt
And here, upon the cross, I perish, tortured
And even now, I bear the marks of nails.

It seems to me that Dreyfus is myself. *1*
The Philistines betrayed me – and now judge.
I’m in a cage. Surrounded and trapped,
I’m persecuted, spat on, slandered, and
The dainty dollies in their Brussels frills
Squeal, as they stab umbrellas at my face.

I see myself a boy in Belostok *2*
Blood spills, and runs upon the floors,
The chiefs of bar and pub rage unimpeded
And reek of vodka and of onion, half and half.

I’m thrown back by a boot, I have no strength left,
In vain I beg the rabble of pogrom,
To jeers of “Kill the Jews, and save our Russia!”
My mother’s being beaten by a clerk.

O, Russia of my heart, I know that you
Are international, by inner nature.
But often those whose hands are steeped in filth
Abused your purest name, in name of hatred.

I know the kindness of my native land.
How vile, that without the slightest quiver
The antisemites have proclaimed themselves
The “Union of the Russian People!”

It seems to me that I am Anna Frank,
Transparent, as the thinnest branch in April,
And I’m in love, and have no need of phrases,
But only that we gaze into each other’s eyes.
How little one can see, or even sense!
Leaves are forbidden, so is sky,
But much is still allowed – very gently
In darkened rooms each other to embrace.

-“They come!”

-“No, fear not – those are sounds
Of spring itself. She’s coming soon.
Quickly, your lips!”

-“They break the door!”

-“No, river ice is breaking…”

Wild grasses rustle over Babi Yar,
The trees look sternly, as if passing judgement.
Here, silently, all screams, and, hat in hand,
I feel my hair changing shade to gray.

And I myself, like one long soundless scream
Above the thousands of thousands interred,
I’m every old man executed here,
As I am every child murdered here.

No fiber of my body will forget this.
May “Internationale” thunder and ring *3*
When, for all time, is buried and forgotten
The last of antisemites on this earth.

There is no Jewish blood that’s blood of mine,
But, hated with a passion that’s corrosive
Am I by antisemites like a Jew.
And that is why I call myself a Russian!

--- Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Translated by Benjamin Okopnik


—–1 – Alfred Dreyfus was a French officer, unfairly dismissed from service in 1894 due to trumped-up charges prompted by anti- Semitism.

2 – Belostok: the site of the first and most violent pogroms, the Russian version of KristallNacht.

3 – “Internationale”: The Soviet national anthem.

September 20, 2017

The Development Set

‘Excuse me, friends, I must catch my jet
I’m off to join the Development Set;
My bags are packed, and I’ve had all my shots
I have traveller’s checks and pills for the trots!

The Development Set is bright and noble
Our thoughts are deep and our vision global;
Although we move with the better classes
Our thoughts are always with the masses.

In Sheraton Hotels in scattered nations
We damn multi-national corporations;
injustice seems easy to protest
In such seething hotbeds of social rest.

We discuss malnutrition over steaks
And plan hunger talks during coffee breaks.
Whether Asian floods or African drought,
We face each issue with open mouth.

We bring in consultants whose circumlocution
Raises difficulties for every solution –
Thus guaranteeing continued good eating
By showing the need for another meeting.

The language of the Development Set
Stretches the English alphabet;
We use swell words like “epigenetic”
“Micro”, “macro”, and “logarithmetic”

It pleasures us to be esoteric –
It’s so intellectually atmospheric!
And although establishments may be unmoved,
Our vocabularies are much improved.

When the talk gets deep and you’re feeling numb,
You can keep your shame to a minimum:
To show that you, too, are intelligent
Smugly ask, “Is it really development?”

Or say, “That’s fine in practice, but don’t you see:
It doesn’t work out in theory!”
A few may find this incomprehensible,
But most will admire you as deep and sensible.

Development set homes are extremely chic,
Full of carvings, curios, and draped with batik.
Eye-level photographs subtly assure
That your host is at home with the great and the poor.

Enough of these verses – on with the mission!
Our task is as broad as the human condition!
Just pray god the biblical promise is true:
The poor ye shall always have with you.’

- Ross Coggins

September 5, 2017


अकवि क्या है:

वह, जो ताबूत और अस्थि-कलश की दलाली करता है?

एक जनरल, जो खुद के बारे में ही निश्चित नहीं है?

एक पादरी, जिसे किसी चीज पर आस्था नहीं है?

एक सैलानी, जिसके लिए हर चीज अजीब है; वृद्धावस्था और मृत्यु भी?

एक वक्ता, जिस पर आप विश्वास नहीं कर सकते?

खड़ी-चट्टान की कोर पर खड़ी एक नर्तकी ?

एक आत्ममुग्ध, जो हर किसी से प्यार करता है?

एक जोकर, जो गाल बजाता है

और बेवज़ह यूँ ही बुरा बनता है ?

एक कवि जो कुर्सी पर सोता है?

आधुनिक समय का एक कीमियागर?

एक आरामतलब क्रांतिकारी?

एक पेटी-बुर्जुआ?

एक जालसाज?

एक ईश्वर?

एक मासूम?

सैंटियागो, चिली का एक किसान?

सही उत्तर को रेखांकित करें.

अकविता क्या है:

चाय की प्याली में एक तूफ़ान?

चट्टान पर बर्फ का एक धब्बा?

मानव-मल से ऊपर तक भरा एक पतीला,

जैसा कि फादर साल्वेतियेरा मानता है?

एक आइना, जो झूठ नहीं बोलता?

लेखक-संगठन के अध्यक्ष के गाल पर पड़ा एक तमाचा?

(ईश्वर उनके आत्मा की रक्षा करे!)

युवा कवियों को एक चेतावनी?

जेट-चालित एक ताबूत?

एक ताबूत, जो वायुमंडलीय दायरे से बाहर परिक्रमा करता है?

एक ताबूत, जो कि केरोसिन से चलता है?

एक शवदाह-गृह, जहाँ कोई शव नहीं है?

सही उत्तर के सामने X चिन्हित करें.

---निकानोर पार्रा (उदय शंकर द्वारा अनुदित)

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