Thursday, September 27, 2007

To Be Read In the Interrogative

A great poem by Julio Cortazar.

Have you seen
Have you truly seen
the snow the stars the felt steps of the breeze
Have you touched
really have you touched
the plate the bread the face of that woman you love
so much
Have you lived
like a blow to the head
the flash the gasp the fall the flight
Have you known
known in every pore of your skin
how your eyes your hands your sex your soft heart
must be thrown away
must be wept away
must be invented all over again


Alok said...

this comment is not related to the poem (though it is quite good too)

you asked about the writer Sasthi Brata on my blog. No haven't read him, but his autobiography is quite famous. he was more of one book person. I haven't heard of anything else written by him.

among the Indian writers, specially the ones who wrote in Hindi my favourite is Nirmal Verma. His stories and novels are about the crisis in personal relations in modern societies and the experience of loneliness and alienation in human existence. I have read one English translation of one of my beloved of his stories Parinde (Migratory Birds) too but didn't like it much. May be because I am familiar with the original language and couldn't find the same effect in English. In general I have found that languages like Spanish, German and French have been able to attract very good translators but it is not the same with the subcontinental languages.

Among the hindi poets my favourite is Nagarjun. His real name was Vaidyanath Mishra but he chose that name after converting to Buddhism. His namesake was a famous Buddhist philosopher in ancient India.

Most of his poetry is highly Political... of the radical firebrand kind. In one he asks for gunpowder to be inserted into his nostrils because he likes its smell. in another he writers about a rickshawpuller and compares his body to a concreate ballast with blood veins inside.

He wrote some wonderful poems about village life, challenging conventional notions of poetry and aesthetics. for example one of his poems is an ode to a female pig, celebrating her maternal love for her piglets. it is quite graphic and very funny. in another poem he celebrates jack fruit. I don't know if you have seen it but it is fruit not really known for its aesthetic beauty.

I dont know if you can find some good translation... I don't have any book with me either but perhaps I will try to write something from my memory sometime.

Alok said...

Ismat Chughtai is another writer who I like very much.

Her story The Quilt is very famous. You can read the english translation here. It was banned by the British government when it was first published in the early 1941. She was another radical feminist, specially remarkable because she came from a conservative muslim family.

Kubla Khan said...

Alok....thanks for your comments.
you are right about the translations. perhaps, european languages are more easily translatable into english.
also, most other languages and writers get ignored.
this is the imperialism of languages.
thanks for the link.