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Archive for November, 2011


Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Don't see me

as a useless blind shell

and throw me away

in disgust


For a minute

hold me to your ear

with patience.

Through me

you can listen to

infinite roars of the ocean.

Though you've separated

my ocean from me

I've assimilated the whole ocean in myself.

Whatever inference

you may draw from that roar,

I speak that language.


My translation of Sikhamani's Telugu poem 'aalcippa' from his collection of poetry, muvvala chEtikarra


Friday, November 4th, 2011

The regal realm with the sorrowless name:

they call it Begumpura, a place with no pain,

No taxes or cares, none owns property there,

no wrongdoing, worry, terror, or torture.

Oh my brother, I've come to take it as my own,

my distant home where everything is right.

That imperial kingdom is rich and secure,

where none are third or second – all are one;

They do this or that, they walk where they wish,

they stroll through fabled palaces unchallenged.

Oh, says Ravidas, a tanner now set free,

those who walk beside me are my friends. 


Sant Ravidas's poem from the book Songs of the Saints of India, edited by Hawley and Juergensmeyer, page 32 [AG3]. Gail Omvedt in her book, Seeking Begumpura, writes "It (begumpura poem) was an expression, in the early modern age, of a utopia, perhaps the first one in Indian literature. In some ways it seems to stand alone, yet it was a harbinger -of the kind of social vision that would underlie all the later struggles and theorizing of anticaste inetllectuals.  Begumpura was, for Ravidas, an imagined city, without geographical location, without a history: it was to be a later task to build it in space and time."  

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