When Jibanananda translated his own poems

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By Abdus Selim

There are perhaps innumerable examples of poets translating their own poems in the realm of literature, but what I am focused on in this brief writeup is sketching the trends in Jibanananda Das’s translations of his own poems. We all know the first most successful poetry translator of this subcontinent happens to be none other than Rabindranath Tagore, for, his renderings of his own poems into English brought him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. But of course no such thing happened to Jibanananda Das.

The English translation of four poems, “If I Were” (Jodi aami hotem), “O Kite” (Hai chil), “Banalata Sen” (Banalata Sen), and “Meditations” (Manosharani) came out in the anthology titled Modern Bengali Poems in 1945. All four of them were translated by the poet himself. Abhijeet Roy comments on Jibannanda’s translation in his lecture that he delivered at The Open University, UK, “Jibanananda as the translator of his own poem . . . was anxious to retain his lifetime obsession with the meaning of human history in the context of an unfathomable universe.” The poet himself held that, “Poetry and life are two different outpourings of the same thing; life as we usually conceive it contains what we normally accept as reality, but the spectacle of this incoherent and disorderly life can satisfy neither the poet’s talent nor the reader’s imagination . . . poetry does not contain a complete reconstruction of what we call reality; we have entered a new world.” This mysterious new world referred to by Jibanananda Das was perhaps the anxiety and obsession for retaining the meaning of human history in the context of an unfathomable universe, that Abhijeet has tried to imply. Read more

Source: Dhaka Tribune

 

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