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.
1 thought on “Phoenix’s Birth Pangs”
Excellent translation.Read with pleasure