Triveni Journal

1927 | 11,233,916 words

Triveni is a journal dedicated to ancient Indian culture, history, philosophy, art, spirituality, music and all sorts of literature. Triveni was founded at Madras in 1927 and since that time various authors have donated their creativity in the form of articles, covering many aspects of public life....

A Malayalam Quartet

V. Sitaramiah

[The Indian Institute of World Culture, Bangalore, organized a Poets’ Meet about the end of the 3rd week of August, 1955. The poets belonged to all the four South Indian languages: Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada. Sri Masti Venkatesa Iyengar, elder poet, was in the chair.

One bunch of poems in Kannada read at that Meet was published in Triveni in the July issue, 1956.

Here are 4 items of poets read on that occasion from Malayalam, prepared by Mahakavi G. Sankara Kurup and presenting 3 poets, Chamgampuzha, N. V. Krishna Wariyar and Kurup himself.

Poetry must be read and heard in the original language in which it is composed to make full communication. But since all cannot learn all the languages of our country, one has to be content with translations. It is lucky that very competent translators have rendered these poems so as to help us get the very pulsations of the originals. I hope they will commend themselves to the readers of Triveni, which in its career has specialised in fostering friendly contacts between the many linguistic and cultural groups in India. To the poems, then.
V. Sitaramiah.]



(Translated by Balakrishnan, B. A. (Hons.))

When I am dead
And my body is dissolved into its elements,
One moon-flooded night
A pair of nightingales would nestle close on a flower-laden branch,
And gazing at my tomb
Would sing a-sobbing.

“Stars, do you see this,
The Tomb below?
You, who hail from afar,
Alas! what do you know of its inner secrets?
When night’s flowers bloom
And waft their scents all over,
When snow-clad moonlight dances enchanted,
Slowly, slowly from the tomb arises
The throbbing of a broken heart!
And, when, like white doves,
You close your wngs and gaze silent,
Out of these throbs would arise
A painful melody:
‘Tho’ I lie turned to dust,
Each particle of mine
Dances in a trance
Singing in praise of you.’

Tell us, O Stars, tell us!
Are there in your far-off land
A revelry so grand?



That day too, at sundown,
God Almighty went for his evening walk by the seashore,
Loose shirt dangling,
Silk dhoti, walking-stick and all–
They took him for a pensioned Tahsildar.
Shrinking from the rushing cars, he walked
Muffling his nose with kerchief to keep off dust.

He stops. The sky darkens to the mounting clouds
There in the east, not the gay banner,
But gayer still the many-coloured rainbow,
One end stuck to the ramshackle roof of the bazaar
The other vanishing beyond the coconut grove.

The Lord was reminded
Of His promise to Noah at the end of the first great flood.
The eternal promise
To the earth, to man and to all things living and non-living.
He, His planting the rainbow in the cloud,
Monument to his promise.

To men, their progeny and their livestock,
To the birds of the air and the beasts of the wild,
To all creatures that crossed the flood in the great Ark
Was this promise made.
Was the contract redeemed?
The Lord stood thinking,
Should He fulfil His promise eternal.

He gazed around to see
If there be any one earth
Of that old race of men.
Whither had gone that fire in the eye, that stalwart stature,
That loftiness of mind, that abounding piety!
These scampering weaklings, these little men,
Arethey the inheritors of the Brave Old Noah?
Where the sweet-throated beds of golden plumage,
Where the wild revels of the quadrupeds,
Where those green meadows, the deep forests?
This dry inconsequent globe,–
Is this the same?

God withdrew the rainbow from the cloud,
Silently, unhesitatingly.
While he walked on
Did anybody observe
The wondrous beauty of the new stick in the old Tahsildar’s hand?
Man, as he picked up the discarded cane on the beach,
Missed not the rainbow, in his high glee.



(Translated by V. Sreedhara Menon)

“O little breeze
Whom dost thou seek
Impatient and love-lorn?”
Asked the poet.

“No respite
No other thought;
You run wild and crazy
I Day and night;

The frail flowers of the field
Stand bewildered
At your mad career.

Is it not your love’s name
That you murmur fitfully
Is it not love’s intoxicant
That makes you

None other is blessed
With such ecstatic madness,
I do envy you.

Seek my friend, seek,
Heed not the laughter
Of the bamboo groove,
Hollow and silly.”

Fondly caressing me
In faltering tones,

The breeze replied,
“Friend, you have not guessed
Vainly do I wander
For a glimpse of my beloved.

It is long since we parted,
But ever-wakeful memory
Goads me on.

In the primal morn,
When I woke,
The earth and the sky
Stood eye to eye,
Dumb with grief.

Alas! My beloved had flown
From my arms,
Perchance to test
The faith and force
Of my love.

A starry flower or two
Had fallen from her tresses
As hurriedly she left.

The tinkling of her anklets
I heard.
Methought it was the early birds.

Her crimson foot-prints
I took for the blush of dawn.
The shining ring,
Slipt from her hand,
Cheated me as the crescent moon,
Fool that I was!

Her silken Kerchief
I did not cherish,
Thinking it was
A wisp of cloud.

Nor did I kiss
The hem of the ruffled garment,

Mistaking it for
The ruddy rolling sea.

From then on,
Regardless of me,
I have been wandering
In quest of my soul’s effulgent joy.

Is none that has seen.
Those that claim to have seen
Have seen not. To see
I myself should strive.

Some there be
That deny the very existence
Of the fair one whom I seek.
Believe them I cannot.

The fragrance
Of her sweet face
I breathe in the
Fresh jasmine blooms.

When I put my thirsty lips
To the pool
I am reminded
Of the cool touch of her cheeks.

How can the mind be drunk
With remembrance,
If the dear one I seek
Is a lie?

Not in the arms of the tender-leaved vines,
Nor on the spotless beds of snow
Do I find peace.
Sometime I may meet
My darling. Hope sustains.
Weary and faint, at dead of night,
Oft do I fall in the solitude of the wild.
Softly my beloved steals
To my side,
Fondles me with balmy hands.
I start in sudden joy,
To weep, to weep alone.

Rousing the slumbrous sea I pray,
‘O friend tell me where my beloved is
Grinning with foamy teeth
He dissolves in laughter
Taking poor me perhaps for mad.
How often have I not asked in anguish
The ancient trees.
Shaking their shaggy heads
Trembling from root to top
They repeat,
‘We’ve not seen, not we.’

The eternal hills,
Wrapt in meditation,
Pointed at the skies,
While I lay wailing in their laps.
The skies spelt ignorance
By their silence. Is it to be endless,
The torture of my longing?
I wonder!”


(Translated by T. K. Balakrishnan)

Ephemeral Moment!
Who sucks the honey off The life-flower
And gently floats away!
How my fancy, elegant and simple,
Longs to trap your tissue-wings in her tremulous finger-tips!
Do not deceive her who yearns
To crush you with kisses to her heart!
Let her with words–silk-soft threads–
Painlessly bind your feet fragile.

Let her in all innocent impatience
Scrutinize your tender wings.
Was not
This infinte variety of colours on your tear-wet wings mixed
From the numerous passions,
Pigments of mortal minds?
On your rainbow-wings are projected
The transient moods of the human mind,
The sweet yearnings of the soul,
Vibrant with desires.

These tiny moments!
Before me they come
And vanish behind
With lightning-surpassing speed.
These tiny moments!

Each unique, varied!
Whence do they come and whither go so quickly,
Whilst my fancy gazes, dumbfounded, deceived,
Now thro’ smiles, now thro’ fears,
At the scale-dust of remembrance off your wings, sticking soft on her finger-tips

Ephemeral Moment!
Unless you fly, flapping your tiny wings,
Would there be,
On Earth or in the Heavens,
These innumerable pulsations of life?
Actions! Would they search
For their own reactions, like a cow her calf,
To embrace them?
Let the fear in the sinner’s heart, fanned by your tiny wings,
Spout like a giant flame!

Ephemeral Moment!
When you flap your tiny wings,
The infinite, the universe, moves forth with immense speed.
Each flap echoes differently
In different hearts.
And, like some distant drums rolling,
Incidental music to the March of life,
Trudging along Karma’s path,
Trampling births and deaths.

Fluttering Moments!
You come so swiftly,
Each in the wake of the other, almost touching.
Is not this wondrous firmament
But the shadow cast by your wings?
What we see as True, Real, Stationary–
Ah! It is but a bewitching illusion.
The stars, like frost, tremble
When you flap your tiny wings.
And the hoodlum empire of pride, built by human might,
Shudders and sways in the wind like some ragged cobweb,
When you flap your tiny wings.

If the withering flowers of life fall, when you flap your wings?
For a hundred thousand beauties are evolved
And put forth their buds!
If the Sun, who brightens the Sky, burns out?
The creative Cosmic Force would
Strike fire out of cinders burnt black!
And in this light and warmth
Life would spark anew!

Ephemeral Moment!
Speed you now ere my tears, long suppressed,
Wet your wings numb.
But before you go, let me scribble on your wings
A message for Beauty
Whose embrace I painfully yearn for:
“How long, how long,
Must I wait in dreamy imagination
To realize thee!”

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