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Two poems of Shamsur Rahman

  • Published at 04:11 pm August 20th, 2016
  • Last updated at 04:20 pm August 20th, 2016
Two poems of Shamsur Rahman

Mask

Shower me with petals,

heap bouquets around me,

I won't complain. Unable to move,

I won't ask you to stop

nor, if butterflies or swarms of flies

settle on my nose, can I brush them away.

Indifferent to the scent of jasmine and benjamin,

to rose-water and loud lament,

I lie supine with sightless eyes

while the man who will wash me

scratches his ample behind.

The youthfulness of the lissome maiden,

her firm breasts untouched by grief,

no longer inspires me to chant

nonsense rhymes in praise of life.

You can cover me head to foot with flowers,

my finger won't rise in admonishment.

I will shortly board a truck

for a visit to Banani.

A light breeze will touch my lifeless bones.

I am the broken nest of a weaver-bird,

dreamless and terribly lonely on the long verandah.

If you wish to deck me up like a bridegroom

go ahead, I won't say no

Do as you please, only don't

alter my face too much with collyrium

or any enbalming cosmetic. Just see that I am

just as I am; don't let another face

emerge through the lineaments of mine.

Look! The old mask

under whose pressure

I passed my whole life,

a wearisome handmaiden of anxiety,

has peeled off at last.

For God's sake don't

fix on me another oppressive mask.

Note: Banani -- an affluent suburb of Dhaka. It has a well known cemetery.

Journey

I'll soon be gone, quite alone

And quietly, taking none of you along

On this aimless journey. Useless

To insist, I must leave you all behind.

No, I'll take nothing at all.

On this solitary journey, you're stuffing

My bags for nothing; don't squeeze my favorites books

Into that beer-bellied suitcase.

I won't ever turn their pages.

And let the passport sleep on in the locked drawer.

Only let me have a look at the harvest

From my ceaseless toil, the quietly ripening fruits

Of my talent. But what on earth

Are these wretched things you bring?

Did I lie drunk with smugness in my little den

At having produced this inert, unsightly crop?

My soul screams in mute desolation

At the thought of carrying this sight with me,

I beg you, don't add to the burden of this journey.

[Translated by Kaiser Haq from Selected Poems of Shamsur Rahman]