Sunday, January 15, 2006

3 Verses from Lalla "Even the shadows"   [transcreations]

    I weep & weep for you

O mind of mine!

    a prey to the world's enchantment

be careful!

    steel anchors can't hold

even the shadows of things

    that depart   while of your own beauty

you're forgetful

    With a yawning pit below

you're dancing above!

    please tell me Mister!

how do you manage the feat?

    that bank account you built?

it ain't transferrable

    at death   good Sir!

I'm amazed how you smile & eat!

    I came by that road

it's not a road to walk back on

    I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere

feeling flinty

    so the day is done

the sun's already gone down

    how hail a cab?

my pockets are totally empty

Early this morning, I was pleased to stumble on a website that gives all the 138 verses [vachs] extant & attributed to the rather singular (& perhaps influential) poet-mystic known variously as Lalla, Lal Ded, or Lalla Yogeshwari (aka Lalleshwari). She lived in Kashmir in the 14th century. Her pithy verses can seem (to me, reading both in English) reminiscent of those that would be written in the next generation by Kabir (thinking of Kabir's pithy , but too, in a way, of Kabir's utterance in longer poems too -- such as some popularized in English via Tagore's translation). As this website gives terse (& many of which look to be generally literal) translations of Lalla's vachs, I felt drawn to try some English re-renderings. These can be deemed "transcreations" -- since (among else) in some cases I may draw on contemporary imagery (as, for instance, hailing a taxicab rather than catching a ferry to cross a river -- though the latter is a deep image I'll concede).

Here, so far, are merely 3 of Lalla's many verses. But perhaps I'll attempt more in future.

Renarkably, there are works of some 42 Kashmiri poet-saints & sages given on this website (the overall site of which the part on Lal Ded forms one section). (I've barely given the overall site a glance so far. But I may focus attention, for the present, more on Lal Ded than on the others.)

[vakh #2]
La'lith-la'lith vaday boh vAy
Tseyta muhac peyiy mAy
Roziy no pata looh-laengarac tshAy
Niz-swarup kyAh mothuy hAy
      * alt: bo dAy

[vakh #3]:
tala chuy zyus ta pyattha chukh natsaan
vanta mali man khit pachan chuy
soruy sombrit yati chuy machan
vanta mali anna khit rotchan chuy

[vakh #5]:
aayas vate gayas naa vate
suman satha lusum dho
vuchum chandas har no atha
ath nav taras dim kyha bha

question / note: for the final line of the 1st verse above, initially -- following the available translation -- I rendered this as:
"& still   of your own being   you're forgetful".
Then noting that the word is swarup -- and considering that rup means form / beauty -- I ventured the present rendering ("while of your own beauty"). The reader's critique of this point is welcome. Normally, I suppose, "saarup" is taken to mean "one's intrinsic nature...." -- perhaps a neutral term. Yet is not beauty there in the word itself? Or is this really a misreading?

Also to note: at first I rendered line 3 as
steel bolts can't hold down even the shadows of things
but then came to understand that the image of the anchor was of some importance in the poem's play of imagination, so altered this to
steel anchors can't hold even the shadows of things.
The word bolt can have euphonious play in the line; but the word anchor is so estimable in its implications, and the sound, too, holds some weight.
;-) When in doubt, it's nice to defer to a poet's original, full meaning sometimes! Taxicabs notwithstanding.

[20th January: experimented more w/ visual array of words in the poem -- using a right-justified half-line approach, which solves some poss. problems resulting from variability of text display on differing monitors / browsers / etc.]


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