Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Kabir by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

In the March issue of Poetry, AKM's translations of Kabir. Here's 'Chewing Slowly':

Chewing Slowly

god my darling
do me a favour and kill my mother-in-law
             —Janabai, tr. Arun Kolatkar
Chewing slowly,
Only after I’d eaten
My grandmother,
Two brothers-in-law,
And father-in-law
(His big family included)
In that order,
And had for dessert
The town’s inhabitants,

Did I find, says Kabir,
The beloved that I’ve become
One with.

Translated from the Hindi by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

 In his introductory essay, AKM says: 
An authentic Kabir poem, in the thousands attributed to him, may never be found, nor does it matter. If you catch the spirit, anyone can write an authentic Kabir poem. Innumerable anonymous poets have done so in the past and continue to do so even today, adding their voices to his. A researcher in Rajasthan in the nineties looking for Kabir songs in the oral tradition came across one that used a railway metaphor and English words like “engine,” “ticket,” and “line.” Asked how Kabir could have known these words, the singer replied that Kabir, being a seer, knew everything. In “To tonsured monks,” too, Kabir knows everything, including a Jamaican sect and the name of a London publishing house.


km said...

Kabir would have dug that suspense.

Space Bar said...

I hit publish by mistake! :D trust you to catch it while it was happening.

km said...

Those lines from Arun Kolatkar's poem caused a major spit-take.

(Just yesterday I came across another terrific poem by him in the most unlikely forum...)

Space Bar said...

well? tell!

Fëanor said...

Ha. This poem is a cert for a foodie blog, I think.

Space Bar said...

feanor: truly. it's a manifesto for the slow food movement.

km said...

Great. Now I can't find that forum in my browser history. (But now I want to read more Kolatkar - any recommendations?)

Cheshire Cat said...

"And father-in-law (his big family included)"

I am a little confused as to who ate whom...

dipali said...

Brilliant! Many many Kabirs abound.

Shweta said...

Thanks for the lead, SB. Given me such a chaska to read them in Hindi now.