A Poet Alone

for Jibanananda Das

Do not get in my way. I am not in yours. Only in a field
where words torment and twist, and triumph like grass, am I on my own.
Do you not know that to see the green life of my country
I must turn to the hidden root, a poet alone.

Do you not know that the air is filled with her voice
who once said she loved me? Now each hurrying, whispering thing,
a devdaru-branch tossing, paddy-leaves seething, a mosquito shrilling,
or a doyel alight on the air . . . what does not thrill me to sing?

What does not breathe me? Ah, you catastrophic disfigurement
of life, you crawling human world,
come back to the forest with me for an afternoon.
So many stories and poems are here. In a sari mist-swirled

a river-girl sings. O land of my language, my Bangla,
what trace of me will she keep? Do not let me
lie in pieces forever on Rashbehari Avenue.
Distant as I was, out of place, out of step . . . do not forget me.

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