Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earlier this week I received my copy of Indian Literature (Nov- Dec issue).
With a tribute to the giant, Dilip Chitre.

Now, poetry and I keep each other at a safe, respectful distance, occasionally nodding.

But this is mind blowing; you know the sort that gives the nerve endings in some dull part of the brain a good shaking and hot water scrubbing, yes, add the bleach.

For once nothing matters.
I can only sit up straight and agree wholeheartedly, salute and sigh, wring hands at the hundreds of sins of missed meaning and made-up line, after reading “The Translator”

(if you’re reading this, language warnings apply.)

The Translator

Dreaming in four different languages
And of the continents of silence
A man is f*cked up by the nagging problem of meaning
And cannot rest.
Translations are possible only when one is fully awake.
But at night, when one is a cave man who has lost his tribe,
Who can be a Renaissance Man?
The nameless painters of Altamira
Have been able to dream up
The Museum of Modern Art.
But who were the poets and translators of the cave?
Who crafted the first words out of wild corn
And the bones of animals?
Who told the first lies
Upon which our profession is based?
On waking, he soothes himself by asking difficult questions.
But once he goes to sleep,
His own ambivalence disturbs him,
Producing nightmares
Out of the savage silence of four different languages.

© Dilip Chitre


AmitL said...

I did get a big confused at the translation,frankly.

Anonymous said...

"savage silence".

PQ said...

Quite an accomplished writer, just wiki'd him. Will try to read more about his work.

austere said...

PQ- follow the varnamala link...

mago- yep.

Amit- this is about the inadequate craft of translation...and the kind of cheating we do?

mark said...


Arunima said...

:-) nice one. went to the Altamira link too and improved GK

austere said...

mark, arunima -:)

arunima-- me too. plus picasso's quote that this was the ultimate in modern art.