Joy Goswami

Translated from Bengali by
Prasenjit Gupta

Joy GoswamiAll that rainfall
Laid out in the rainfall, all those dead bodies
Beating at the dead bodies, all that wind
Trembling with the wind but not billowing out, all those
encompassing shrouds
Thrusting their muzzles in, tugging at the cloth, all those night-time dogs
Shouting, driving the dogs away, all those attendants
Half-naked, squatting attendants
Laid down beside the attendants, all those wooden staves
Those clay pipes not burning, in the rain
Those not-burning pyres
Spaced apart, all those not-burning pyres
Behind the pyres, the ragged river-bank
And on all those ragged edges, risen from the water,
All their mothers sit
Their heads covered with uncolored cloth
Risen up from the water after long years, climbed down from the rain,
All their mothers sit like small white bundles
So that at burning time
They can be close to their sons--
At burning time when the dead will remember
                                       a wife left behind
An only daughter who ran away with her lover
Unresolved property and a friend's treachery
The dead man will remember the first day at school and
Unseen for so long,
                         unresisted, the cause of his own death
When he tries, flustered, to sit up on the pyre
                                     one last time
And the attendant's stave strikes hard,
breaking him, laying him out--
Then she can touch that fire-burnt skull
With her age-old kitchen-weary pot-scrubbing shriveled hand
And, spreading the end of her sari over those molten eyes,
                              the widow can say
Don't fret, baba, my son, here I am, here, I'm your mother,
                                                       here, right at your side!


A poem for the iron falcon

Joy Goswami

But this won't shake me out of slumber, dear iron falcon,
howsoever much you try
To drill in your beak, into my skull
howsoever much
you perch on both my shoulders, one foot on each, and the
talons sticking out of them
But that won't stop me from dreaming, dear iron falcon, my
Eyes are not within your reach, you have power over my fingers
my ribcage
And my spine, you control the way
I sit, stand, blow my nose and hiccup, you have power
Over my pillows, big and small, and my pots and pans
My clothes, doors and windows, my drums and bells
You have power over my private orchestra, and yet
My mind has gone away, drop exceeding drop, it has
Taken on the speed of light, there's nothing much you can
do about it dear iron
Falcon… howsoever much… you try
To drill in your beak into my skull, the matter inside
will never melt
Dense, black and steaming hot
Your lips will fail, they'll bend and twist, dear iron falcon,
with your
Thousand contraptions clanging inside you, and a thousand
television sets crashing
A thousand aircraft groaning as they take off and land
a collision, compensations
Joining hands, murders and planting spies, but
there's nothing much
they can do about this, those spies, raw and seasoned, those spies
Wearing a child's face, dear iron falcon, right here…
With this ocean of flames in front of me, and its fiery droplets rising
through the haze, the sun
Floating away, it drops like a dead star, and
This vast ocean, made up of many-hued suns
And me slipping out through a gap, somewhere, coming
out into the open
Through the other end
To find an enormous heart, right there before me
with all its life, throbbing…
My eyes go down into it like a flying machine
Shooting messages
Shooting messages from far away
From the farthest places
From my previous life
In the meantime, you may do as you wish with this body of mine
dear iron falcon
I can't be bothered any more…

Translated from the Bengali by Chitralekha Basu

Joy Goswami

Joy GoswamiOne of the finest Bengali poets of recent times, Joy Goswami shot to fame in the seventies. He was born on November 10, 1954 in Calcutta. He is an innovator, bringing new styles and techniques to Bengali prose and poetry. His poems are marked by a unique style and a fierce sense of privacy. Through a strong sensory approach, he creates and recreates images as if making his own body the carrier of his poetic realizations.
Time and again he has returned to his favourite subjects of nature, time, and universe. Myriad shades and depth of emotions in flow of words like a stream characterize his poems Pratnajiba, Aleya hrada, Unmadera pathakrama. Yara brshtite bhije chilo is his experimentation with the prose poem. Joy Goswami is the recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award, 2000 for his anthology Pagali tomara sange.

The Library of Congress has fourteen titles by him.

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