To Memory: 1

Buddhadeva Bose

Translated from Bengali by

Ketaki Kushari Dyson


It’s you I accept as Goddess.  There’s nothing that’s not yours.

What I call the well-spring, the root cause, is really your sleep:

intact even on the horizon, stealthily it creeps,

but if, half glancing, you turn in bed, a lush wonder flowers,


and glossy grapes kiss the earth, turning it to wine.

So the canvas lies blank, stone’s inert, the vina just a jarring whine

till you teach us how to cross the surf, navigate the main,

till you lead us beyond the track, the rugged terrain


of warring night and day, to eternity’s peaceful plain,

from far to farther, to another birth, the prehistoric cerulean

where, in a matrix, like a cluster of stars, burn


man’s destiny and your unending treasures.

Darkness is what you own, but greater than light is that dark,

and utterly valueless is what you idly discard.


To Memory: 2

Buddhadeva Bose

Translated from Bengali by

Ketaki Kushari Dyson


 ‘Tree’, ‘flower’, ‘pond’, ‘cloudy day’: are dry mathematical symbols,

merely abstract, till you raise the curtain and show that my eyes too are yours.

The vine trails over my body, a field bursts into sudden yellow flowers,

dyeing the sky-line.  And thus I come to claim the earth, stars, and all else.


War flares; the citizen runs abroad, roaming from shore to shore,

losing in an instant letters, pictures, manuscripts, all that cold store;

but still he won’t lose you, for the pole star is your sign,

which never sets elsewhere and is of all hoards the inner gold mine.


On a straight road we walk.  Ants in procession, along the diligent miles,

carry the corpse of a huge insect through childhood, the youthful years,

even dragging from age to age documents, signatures, files, –


till gradually men’s countless children grow old and disappear.

But through your heart must he walk – whoever wishes to go back,

for only you know that pathway – that fine, curved, effortless track.



(from The Selected Poems of Buddhadeva Bose, Translated and Introduced
by Ketaki Kushari Dyson, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2003.)