Image 01

Archive for the ‘Translations’ Category

My Body Is The Temple

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015


Rich build temples for Shiva

What can I, a poor man, do?

My legs are pillars

My body is the temple

My head makes the golden cupola

Oh, Lord of kUDala sangama

The standing will perish

The moving will stay on.


The Shared Mirror remembers Basava!

*Kudalasangama deva: Lord of meeting rivers

Translation by Neelanjana



Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Jyoti Lanjewar

Their inhuman atrocities have carved caves
In the rock of my heart
I must tread this forest with wary steps
Eyes fixed on the changing times
The tables have turned now
Protests spark
Now here
Now there.
I have been silent all these days
Listening to the voice of right and wrong
But now I will fan the flames
For human rights.
How did we ever get to this place
This land which was never mother to us?
Which never gave us even
The life of cats and dogs?
I hold their unpardonable sins as witness
And turn, here and now,
A rebel.


Translated from Marathi by Shanta Gokhale

In the orchard of graves

Saturday, September 20th, 2014

Gurram Seetaramulu

gaza's child

The language of murder is the same everywhere

But we've to discover a new language to console you, child;

Bloodthirsty Uncle Sam

Has forcibly ended

Your parents' lives.

Now Gaza is bleeding

Your home has fallen;

Time is a butcher, child

Even the orchard of graves

Does not offer you a sapling.

The seed that was trampled

Under the march of the bunker busters

Promised you

A tree

Hope that grows

And offers you shade. 


My translation of Gurram Seetaramulu's untitled Telugu poem expressing solidarity with Palestinians.

Gurram Seetaramulu is a doctoral fellow at EFLU. 

The Farm is Sad – Om Prakash Valmiki

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Translation from Om Prakash Valmiki's Hindi poem 'Khet Udaas Hain

The bird is sad
for the emptiness of the forest.
The children are sad
for – hammered like a nail 
on the doors of the big houses –
this grief of the bird.

The farm is sad —
that even after a full harvest
he, with mortar on his head,
is going up and down the ladder
against that wall being built.

The girl is sad —
till when can she hide the birth.

And the rented hands
are writing on the wall
'To be sad
is against the spirit of India!'.


खेत उदास हैं / ओमप्रकाश वाल्‍मीकि

चिड़िया उदास है
जंगल के खालीपन पर
बच्चे उदास हैं
भव्य अट्टालिकाओं के
खिड़कीदरवाज़ों में कील की तरह
ठुकी चिड़िया की उदासी पर

खेत उदास हैं
भरपूर फ़सल के बाद भी
सिर पर तसला रखे हरिया
चढ़उतर रहा है एकएक सीढ़ी
ऊँची उठती दीवार पर

लड़की उदास है
कब तक छिपाकर रखेगी जन्मतिथि

किराये के हाथ
लिख रहे हैं दीवारों पर
'उदास होना
भारतीयता के खिलाफ़ है !'

Source: From here

Akhil Katyal is a writer and translator based in Delhi. He is an Assistant Professor at the Department of English at Shiv Nadar University. He finished his PhD from SOAS, University of London in 2011 and his poetry, fiction and translations have been published widely.


I won’t spit on your face

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

Gurram Seetaramulu

Now I understand

Why you tied a pot

Below my mouth, and a broom

Around my arse!

If I spat at your ugly face,

My spit would have been defiled!

I was nourished by amniotic fluid,

Not weaned on vomit like you!

I know everyone is born

From the loins, but weren’t you born

From the mouth!

That’s why you vomit vomit!

Aren’t you a septic tank from head to toe,

With a mouth that has gone to rot

From the chanting of dishonest slokas

For ages!

Aren’t you Manu’s child

Who remains impassive

Even when spat at or

Showered with dirt!

That is why

I won’t defile my spit

By spitting at your face!

abvp attacks prof. geelani

My translation of Gurram Seetaramulu's untitled Telugu poem written in protest against an attack by ABVP activists on Prof. S A R Geelani, at a Delhi University seminar in November, 2008.

Gurram Seetaramulu is a doctoral fellow at EFLU. 


Dalita Naaniis – 2

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Last night

Kanshi Ram appeared in my dream

he raised me from the floor

and placed me on a chair



The beloved crop

committed suicide

The farmer

only expressed solidarity




is a Hydra

If you cut it into pieces

it survives as sub-castes




the murderer


exactly like a man!




is not a clay idol:

She is the dalit mother

who changes mud into rotis



Not everyone

can become a Buddha

It is enough

if he doesn't lose his buddhi.




blew the conch:


this is the right beginning for you.



All the milk is from the buffaloes

but the cow is worshipped

Isn't that

varna discrimination among animals?



How does green grass burn?

Throw in some dogmas, 

politics into it

and you'll know how.



The one who is sold is the boss

and the buyer is the slave!


isn't even a business.


My translation of some of Netala Pratap Kumar's Telugu naaniis from his collection of poetry 'daLita naaniilu'. 

Naaniis are a new form of short poems, somewhat like haikus, that Telugu poets have been experimenting  with in the last two decades or so. Please read more naaniis by Netala Pratap Kumar here. 

Dr Kathi Padma Rao, talking about Pratap Kumar's naaniis, says:

Buddhism is the philosophical foundation of 'daLita naaniis'. Ambedkar vaadam (Ambedkarvad) is its sociology. The idiom is of the Dalit wadas. The expression stems from struggles and conflicts that are a part of life. Reading these aphorisms is like listening to my father, or my uncle, or my grandfather.


Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Baban Londhe

On a plain so vast our eyes could not reach

they would make speeches to their hearts' content

and shout out novel slogans,

blow a breath of hope on our overtired limbs.

At times, to our shanty towns they would come,

careful not to rumple their ironed clothes

crossing our lanes and alleys,

jumping across streaming gutters

when they stopped beside our doors

we felt inexplicably moved.

Viewing our pitiable state they would say

'Truly, this needs a social economic cultural change,

the whole picture needs to be changed.'

Then we would sing

their songs

in sonorous full-throated tones.

Acting innocuous, they would eat

the marrow of our bones.

Days passed by.

Darkness pressed from all sides,

We battled against sunshine and rain

And like fools awaiting salvation

we have stood our ground

and are sunk to the neck in mire.

But now they say plans are worked out

for our salvation

–covering our wasted tombs

in a new shroud

What munificence!


Baban Londhe's Marathi poem 'Shroud' translated by Charudatta Bhagwat. Source: No Entry For The New Sun: Translations from Modern Marathi Poetry. Edited by Arjun Dangle

Black Sun

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Black black Sun

Blackish Sun

Blackness blackness Sun

The Sun of the winning path


          The Sun of charms

          The beautiful Sun

          The beautiful Sun

          The Sun of the leaf sandals


The Sun of the sowing season

The Sun of the dark clouds

The Sun of rain drops

The little Sun

The Sun singing lullabies

In the eyes of the corn


          The Sun on the food basket slung from the beam

          The Sun in the clay pot

          The Sun of beef curry

          The Sun of cold food


The Sun who dances

In the thatched hut


          The Sun of the ear of corn

          The toddy tapping Sun

          The matangi1 Sun

          The gosangi1 Sun


The Sun who smiles in the cockleshell mirror

The Sun who dances wearing snail-shell anklets


          The Sun of charms

          The beautiful Sun

          The beautiful Sun

          The untouchable Sun


The Sun who was burnt to ashes alive

The Sun who rose from the ashes blazing

The Sun who bled on the fields of Karamchedu

The Sun who learns to walk on the path of blood

The Sun in the gunny sack on the waves of the Tungabhadra2


          The Sun who befriends

          Swarnamma3of the sweat drops

          The Sun who gives his heart

          To the crescent moon Yesanna3


The Sun of the flaming spark in Alisamma'svows

The Sun of righteous sharpness

In Anil Babu's5 eyes

The Sun of the army of ants ithe Sikkolu6 hills

The Sun who swims against the flood of the Godaari7

Shambhuka's decapitated head like Sun

The Sun of Ekalavya's chopped thumb

The handsome Sun with the index finger


The Sun of twilight

The moon like Sun

The Sun of the blue flag

The Sun of black gemstones


          The brave Sun

          The Sun of daggers

          The Sun of tears

          The Sun of timeless wisdom


The Sun who has bloomed

On the righteous path of Dhamma

The brave Sun

The Sun of the winning path


My translation of the Telugu poem 'nallaaTi suuriiDu' by K. G. Satyamurthy ('Sivasagar'); from his collection of poetry 'Sivasagar kavitvam'.

The poet says this poem is a continuation of his efforts to define 'daLita soundarya Sastramu' or Dalit aesthetics.

[1] matangi and gosangi: a reference to the Madigas; gosangi also refers to cobblers, ascriptive occupation of the Madigas. 

[2] Tungabhadra: a reference to the Tungabhadra canal of the Krishna irrigation system which supplies water to farms in parts of Guntur district. Here, the poet talks about the mutilated bodies of the Dalits killed in the Chunduru massacre (1991) which were wrapped in gunny sacks and thrown into the Tungabhadra canal.  

[3] Swarnamma and Yesanna: some common names among Dalits in Coastal Andhra. The poet could also be referring to the Dalits' role in labour (Swarnamma is derived from 'swarNamu' which means gold or wealth or its production, in general); yEsanna refers to Jesus Christ, or spiritual liberation.

[4] Alisamma: was a key witness in the Karamchedu massacre (1985) as her own son Duddu Vandanam was also killed in the massacre. The courageous woman had braved many threats and inducements to speak about the killings in many public meetings and was ultimately also murdered, two years after Karamchedu.

[5] Anil Babu: Kommerla Anil Kumar was a witness in the Chunduru massacre. Balagopal, the human rights activist, had written: Anil Kumar was 'an articulate young dalit who survived the massacre of August 6 to give a graphic account of the incident but was shot dead by the police on September 10 in the course of an attempt by the latter to remove a hunger strike camp set up by the daiits at Chundur.'

[6] Sikkolu hills: Srikakulam; this is a reference to the one of the earliest Naxal movements.

[7]: Godaari: The river Godavari.  

Song of the gallows

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

I shall stand

on the gallows

and indulge

in daydreams


Another world

whispers endearments

on the swing

of my dreams


I shall stand

on the gallows

and envision

sweet dreams


My sweet dreams

shall come true

and the whole world

shall smile


The red army

shall open its wings 

and spread

in all directions


The fearless

red army

shall achieve



The wind

from the villages

shall encircle

the cities


It shall

build graves

for evil spirits

and demons


I shall stand

on the gallows

and gaze

upon another world



shall bring down the curtain

on this inhuman



On the Himagiri*

of humanity

the red flag

shall fly


From the great flames

of the revolution

the new man

shall rise



the Kalahari desert

new lilies

shall bloom


I shall stand

on the gallows

and sing

the radiant song


I shall place

my neck on the executioner's block

and play the lute

of the universe


The seven seas

as one

shall sing

the universal song


The camaraderie

of the hammer and the sickle

shall show

the path of light


Holding the sun

in his palm

the peasant

shall plough the field


The moon 

in the factory

shall spin

the wheel


The worker

of the clenched fist

is the helmsman

of the new world!


The glorious


is the wearer 

of the crown of stars!


I shall stand

on the gallows

and indulge

in daydreams


Another world

whispers endearments

on the swing

of my dreams



Don't spill

your tears

for me!


Don't forget

the struggle!

Don't give up

the red flag


Hold fast to

the gun in your hand


great caution!


My blood

shall not go to waste

My death

shall not go to waste


In the pond

of my blood

a new world

shall bloom


The music of life

shall be heard

in the presence

of my death

I shall adorn

my neck with the noose

and hail the revolution!

I shall hail victory!

I shall stand

in the face of death

and sing the song of life!

I shall sing the song of new life!




Farewell! Farewell!

Farewell to the gallows!


Farewell to the noose!

Prison wall! Farewell!

Serpent hood! Farewell!









My translation of the Telugu poem 'uri paaTa' by K. G. Satyamurthy ('Sivasagar'); from his collection of poetry 'Sivasagar kavitvam'.

*Himagiri: The Himalayas. 

Written in May, 1972. The poet says he composed it when two guerilla activists, bahujan peasants, Bhoomaiah and Kishta Goud were sentenced to death. 


The east wind prevails

Friday, October 12th, 2012

The east wind prevails

The east turns red

India opens its eyes

And showers sparks of light!                    || The east wind blows


A bundle of cold food on the back

An axe in the hand

Mao Tse Tung on the mind

And the red banner in the heart

The peasant has risen!

The peasant  roars

As the guerilla!                                        || The east wind blows


As the current in the wind

As the water in the stream

As the fish in the water

As one among the people

The peasant has risen

The peasant sounds the battle conch

As the guerilla                                         || The east wind blows


As a poisoned arrow in the enemy's heart

As a spear in the traitor's bed

As the fierce daring of the axe

That breaks the necks of the rich

Yours is the exemplary courage

Yours is the righteous battle!                    || The east wind blows


Let the machine guns ring

Let the toxic flames spread

Let many sorrows and burdens

Surround you and rage

You stand as a rock!

Yours is the high road!

Yours is the people's path!                       || The east wind blows



The east wind prevails

The east turns red

India opens its eyes

And showers sparks of light!                   || The east wind blows


My translation of the Telugu song 'tuurpu pavanam viicenOy' by K. G. Satyamurthy ('Sivasagar')– from his collection of poetry 'sivasagar kavitvam'. Written in 1968.  

The poet says:

This is the first song I had written during my journey in the revolutionary movement. It conveys the message of the slogan, 'The east wind prevails over the west'. This was a slogan of Chinese communist party during the Cultural Revolution. The slogan and the song express the aspiration that the east wind, or the gathering revolution, should prevail over the west; that the eastern nations- Asia, Africa, South America- should subdue Europe and the west.     

Welcome The Shared Mirror

Log in

Lost your password?