Kazi Nazrul Islam
Poverty, you've empowered me,
Endowed me with Christ's dignity
And adorned me with a thorny crown,
Ascetic one, you've inspired me
To speak out and eye the world boldly
Deliver messages as incisively as a knife;
Your curse has made my veena a sword!
Arrogant hermit, your scorching flame
Has shorn my golden visage of its glitter,
Shrinking its sap and drying the soul early,
When I try grasping with emaciated hands
Beauty's bounty, O Impoverished One,
You step forward and lap it up.
A forlorn desert is all you leave
For my imagination to play with.
My eyes blaze at my own beauty!
My desires, tinged with pain-yellow buds,
Would rather bloom like the soft-white
Fragrant shefali flower. But Cruel One,
Like an unfeeling woodcutter, you break
All branches and destroy all blossoms,
My heart glistens like an autumnal dawn,
Wet with dew shed by sympathetic earth.
You are the sun, your heat dries up
Every dewdrop of pity. I shrink
Inside the shade that earth affords.
Dreams of Beauty and the Good shatter.
Pouring liquid poison down the throat
You ask: "What good is nectar now?
There is no parching sensation,
No intoxication, no madness.
Weakling that you are, not for you
To seek manna from heaven
In this sorrow-laden world!
You are a serpent, in birth singed
By pain! In a thorny garden you weave
Garlands. On your forehead
I leave this mark of woe!"
I sing songs, weave garlands, and feel my throat burn,
Snakebites have left their marks all over my body!
Translation: Fakrul Alam