Monthly Archives: November 2022

Phoenix’s Birth Pangs

By Navakanta Barua

Now, just now I have set me on fire
Burnt up my ancient wings 
Wings I could not fly with anymore 
But only flapped the wind—the wind
And aroused mockery and despair

I have set my backbone, thousand years old, aflame
Whence sprang forth countless branches of brittle bones 
The fluid in their marrow dried up.

I have set my ancient heart on fire
Stuck in stasis
Like clock hands standing still
In an eternally meaningless present.

Burnt up my obsolete wisdom
Buried in the bulk of my inert pride.
Ah! My age-old body-sap enmeshed in the senses
Is burning 
With an ecstasy of self-annihilating delight!

With the letters in my own funeral ashes, I thought,
The name of my father would be scripted on water
I thought the funeral ashes would nurture 
the dream harvest of future.
I didn't know that it was only me who fathered myself
I didn't know that it was only me who was born of myself.

In a strange flare of light
 I had a glimpse of my funeral pyre 
Shadow of my father
In the cool touch of strange death
 I could feel the warmth of my fuel
My offspring
My blood
I was born
I was born.

Translated by Dr Pori Hiloidari

Navakanta Barua (b.1926-d.2002) was a noted Assamese poet, novelist and translator.

Dr. Pori Hiloidari is a critic and award winning translator of Assam. She teaches English in Handiqui Girls’ College, Panbazar, Guwahati.

Click here to read the original Assamese poem.

A Friend’s Comment

Hiren Bhattacharya

Hours before I'd a few glasses of liquor
The inebriation hasn't died down altogether
Perhaps in this way
The entire night will pass over

Sometimes I drink in this way!
And its inebriation shifts me to the serene woods of my mind
I converse with myself
About issues never conferred with anyone before

How pleasant are these nights!
Where the puffed paddy of words burst*
Among stars in the azure sky
The river of my heart cleanses
The wholesome body of the night
With its cool mellifluous water

* puffed paddy of words burst : distinct articulation of words (Assamese idiom)

Translated by Krishna Dulal Barua

Hiren Bhattacharya (b.1932-d.2012) was an Assamese poet and lyricist best known for his lyric poems.

Krishna Dulal Barua is a prominent translator and writer based in Nagaon, Assam. He received the Katha Award for translation in 2005.

Click here to read the original Assamese poem.


By Hem Barua

Here is our grandmother, eighty years old.
Ignoring the scorching mid-day sun during summer 
And the devastating flood
Ignoring winter cold alike
She moves on with her flowing grey hair like jute.

I met her and asked her,
"What have you been looking for, Aita 
Bending over your stick
And scrutinizing the ground?"

Aita looked up to me
Raising her pale eyes 
And told me one thing,
"You will not understand my dear.
I am looking for the lost twenty years of my youth and dreams 
Wondering if it perished in the dust of the road."

Translated by Ananda Bormudoi

Hem Barua (b.1915-d.1977) was a noted Assamese poet and politician.

Please click here to read the original Assamese poem.

O Friend, what shall I talk of my woes

By Lakshminath Bezbaroa

O Friend, what shall I talk of my woes
Poison came out in churning nectar
The sweet honey turned bitter

I wore a jasmine wreath on my bun
Its petals fell off
I kept the bird in a gold cage
That too flew off

At dusk a togar bud blossomed
When the evening breeze sighed
Seen by none smelt by none
That too wilted and died

Translated by Nirendra Nath Thakuria

Lakshmiath Bezbaroa (b. 1864-d. 1938) was a renowned poet, novelist, playwright and satirist of Assam.

Nirendra Nath Thakuria, retired Associate Professor of English, is a translator.

Click here to read the original Assamese poem.