Jibanananda Das

Into the half light and shadow I go. Within my head

Not a dream, but some sensation is at work.

Not a dream, not peace, not love,

Inside my heart a sensation is born.

I cannot escape it

For it places its hand in mine,

And all else pales to insignificance—futile so it seems.

All thought, an eternity of prayer,

Seems empty.


Who can go on like the simple folk?

Who can pause in this half light and darkness

Like the simple people? Who can speak

Like them, anymore? Who can know

For certain anymore?—Who seeks to understand

The carnal savors anymore?—Who knows the joys

of life again, like everyman?

And sows seeds like everyman anymore?

Where is that relish? And who, hungry for harvest,

Has smeared himself with the scent of earth,

Has anointed himself with the scent of water,

Has gazed toward light with rapt attention,

Has gained a peasant heart,

Who would any longer remain awake upon his earth?

Not a dream-not peace-but some sensation is at work

Within my head.

When I walk along the beach, or cross from shore to shore

I try to ignore it.

I seize it as I would a dead man's skull

And wish to smash it on the ground. Yet it spins like a living head

All around my head,

All about my eyes,

All about my chest.

I move, it too comes along with me.

I stop—

It too comes to a halt.

As I take my place among other beings

Am I becoming estranged and alone

Because of my mannerisms?

Is there just an optical illusion?

Are there only obstacles in my path?

Those who were born to this world

As children,

Those who spent their time

Giving birth to children,

or those who must give birth to children

Today, or those who come to the sown fields of this world,

For to give birth-to give birth—

Is not my heart

Like theirs, their heart and head? Is not their mind

Like my mind?

Then why am I so alone?

Yet I am all alone.

Did I not raise my hand to see it hold a peasant's plough?

Have I not drawn water in a pail?

Have I not often gone with sickle to the fields?

How many wharfs and rivers have I been to

Like those who fish?

Algae from a pond, the smell of fish

Engulfed my body.

—All these tastes,

—All these I've had. My life has flowed

Like unchecked winds.

My mind slept as I lay beneath the stars

one day.

All these desires

I knew once—unchecked—unbounded.

Then I left them all behind.

I have looked upon woman with love.

I have looked upon woman with apathy.

I have looked upon woman with hate.

She has loved me,

And come near.

She has paid no heed to me.

She has despised me and gone away when I called her time and again,

Loving her.

Yet it was actually practiced one day—this love.

I paid no attention to her words of contempt,

No attention to the wrath of her hate,

And went my own way. I have forgotten

That star—the sinister influence of which

Blocked my path of love over and over again.

Still, this love—this dust and mud.

Within my head

Not a dream, not love, but some sensation is at work.

I leave all gods behind

And come close to my heart—

I speak to this heart.

Why does it mumble to itself alone like churning waters?

Is it never weary? Does it never have a moment's peace?

Will it never ever sleep? Will it not enjoy just

Resting calmly? or not know the joy

of gazing at the face of man?

of gazing at the face of woman?

of gazing at children's faces?

This sensation—only this desire

What does it gain, immense—profound?

Does it not wish to leave the beaten paths

And seek the starry span of the sky? Has it vowed

To look upon that man's face?

To look upon that woman's face?

To look upon those children's faces?

Those sickly shadows under eyes,

The ears that cannot hear,

The hunchback—a goiter that arose upon the flesh,

A spoiled cucumber—chancred pumpkin,

All that is within man's heart

—All that.

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