a little fifthness.

this poem was written in telugu by a dalit poet, satish chander, around nine years ago. the poem, a response to the riots in los angeles, was his way of adding fuel to the fire of black anger in america, the poet said.

his words : 'american blacks aagraha jvaalalaku svadESee aajyamidi'.

i tried to translate it to see whether i understood it correctly, fully..the poet evokes varied images..in controlled anger. he gave the poem an english title 'lost angels'. that's the only part of the poem which remains true to its original spirit, i think.

here goes :

it's not just milk
but crores of sins are white too
only, adulterated by a few tears

glass-eyed swans
tell me about the color of tears, not the portion of water
you're the angels
who slipped off a tipsy heaven
reveling in the waters, you must have slurped the oceans
tell me about the taste of tears
in god's deep embrace
you must have perspired a little
tell me about the scent of tears

i, like the dark cloud
could rain down a flood
on how tears feel

it's not just jasmines
hand-gloves are white too
only, stained by a little blood

having washed your hands, emperors
before you crown me with thorns
show me a thimbleful of dark blood
you are the the serpent kings of the primeval jungle
you must have bitten the dust, where man got hurt
tell me about the taste of the blood that spilled
when you caressed the warrior's back as a whip
the sandalwood trees must have swooned
tell me about the scent of blood

having ascended the cross
like a throne, i, on the other hand
when asked about the blood
will guide your fingers through the holes in my palms

not just the seven colors
the four varnas mixed are white too
only, darkened by a little fifthness

raised by the crumbs of angarajya to a finer varna, o arch sudras
tell me about the color of power
from god's feet to his shoulders
you've climbed, oppressors
manu's dharma in your moneypurses
hoarded, of course,
tell me about the taste of power

in the scum-laden lake
what springs forth doesn't reflect your face
tell me about the scent of power

i, who you have never considered human
if asked about the feel of power
shall unpeel its skin, with illustration.


v_tel001 said...

Nice post

Mridula said...

If the poem reads so well in translation, I can only imagine how well written the original would be!

Anand said...

Splendid effort, Kuffir.

kuffir said...

thanks v-tei001, mridula, anand.

Kamesh said...

Really Really nice poem.


Sheetal said...

wow! packs a punch

Bhale Budugu said...

manasulonunchi vacchina maatalu alaage untaayandi..ade mana kavula goppatanam.

Words coming out of heart are always splendid. That's the essence of our poets

sasikanth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sasikanth said...

The translation did full justice to the original. From Marx to Mao Telugu poets echoed the socialist ideals.

A lot of telugu prose and poetry needs to be retold, in English, so that a large audience will know the profoundness of Tilak, Butchi Babu and so on. Just as Geetangali reached a global auidence.

Any effort in that direction is heartily welcome! Will look for more from you.

satishchandar said...

Here is Satish Chandar, who penned Lost Angels in Telugu. Thans for your Enlglish rendering.

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