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Thursday, 14 June 2018

POET OF THE MONTH #48: Amrita Bharati


AMRITA BHARATI, c. 2000




DEEP IN THE STILLNESS


He threw me away
like a clod of earth.
He didn't know
I was a thing with a soul.
He didn't know
I was alive.

He kept on throwing me
like a clod of earth
out of his way ––
onto that neglected path
that happened to be mine.
And so I kept travelling
along my own way.
Each time some fragment broke off ––
some infatuation, some addiction to happiness,
some earthly hope,
some dream squandered on man.
Each time some fragment of my being
would break off.
And now it was my turn.
The world was already left behind ––
like a desert in a sandstorm,
like an ocean in a hurricane,
like a desolate city.
Man, step by step descending, 
was already left behind.
And now it was my turn.
Standing on the last patch of earth
I gathered myself into a whole thing
and hurled myself into the stillness.
This was my silence ––
pervasive and expansive.
Now the world was either a dream
or a sea-flower
imagined at the end of the ocean.
Deep in the stillness.
Only the sound of my footsteps.


date unspecified


Translated by LUCY ROSENSTEIN




The Poet:  The following biographical statement appears on the Poetry Translation Centre website.  [It is re-posted here for information purposes only and, like the poem re-posted above, remains its author's exclusive copyright-protected intellectual property.]

Amrita Bharati (born 1939) is one of the most gifted and prolific female poets of her generation: she has written seven books of poetry and a volume of prose. Yet her name has no currency in Hindi poetic circles, or in western scholarship: there are no studies of her poetry and some of her collections are out of print.

This sentencing to silence seems astounding to anyone who has encountered Amrita Bharati's unique poetic world.  Her poetry is a witness to a complex spiritual journey which takes her from a land of intense existential angst, agony and anger to a refuge of serenity where ‘the mind stops' and the anguished protagonist finds herself and ‘Him'.  The visionary power of her poetry is all the more astounding as she treads totally new ground.  Unlike her main predecessor –– Mahadevi Verma  –– whose poetic 'I' is a stylised, idealised image of the eternal woman in love, a product of the poet's imagination rather than a reflection of her experience –– Amrita Bharati has the 'courage to probe into [the] inner world, and to make it public property.'

Amrita Bharati's poetry is undoubtedly informed by her studies of Sanskrit (she did an MA and a PhD in Sanskrit at Benares Hindu University) and her intimate knowledge of Sri Aurobindo's work (she has translated several of his poems in Hindi). Her poems contain numerous references to Vedantic ideas, Tantric images and Krishna bhakti.

The critic Nirmal Verma said of her, 'Amrita Bharati is probably the most alone signature on the slate of contemporary Hindi poetry.  Alone and unique.'


Click HERE to read more poems by Indian poet AMRITA BHARATI on the Poetry Translation Centre website.

You might also enjoy:
POET OF THE MONTH #43: Bejan Matur
POET OF THE MONTH #38: Ewa Lipska
POET OF THE MONTH #11: Fatma Ben Mahmoud

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