T.S.Chandra Mouli , a poet, translator, critic, is an academic. He is a Fellow of Royal Asiatic
Society, Great Britain and Ireland. He visited...read more China and Thailand and made panel presentations
in International Conferences in the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong and Suan Dusit
Rajabhat University, Bangkok. His publications include (edited/co-edited) sixteen anthologies of
literary criticism besides six authored texts. His translation work includes the play Coolie the
Sovereign. He is the Chief Editor of VIRTUOSO, a Refereed Transnational Bi-Annual Journal of
Language and Literature in English. Lives in Hyderabad, India.
He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org; Ph:91-9849005304
Poetry enthralls, sending the audience into a stage of unending ecstasy. Among creative writers a poet enjoys an exalted status and is regarded with unalloyed awe. In India, regional writers are held in high esteem in their respective circles. A translator is often viewed as a second rate writer. One Telugu poet had the nerve to declare that all those writing in their mother tongue are luminous Suns, while the translator reflects their brilliance like Moon.
Translating poetry is a difficult task. Practicing translators and readers have diverse perceptions of the art of rendering poetry from one speech system into another. Everyone is aware of what Robert Frost meant in the famous quote “what is lost in translation.”
Literal translation reads like a document, if fidelity to the source text is accorded prominence. Improvisation, a little explication, aided by intuition make the translated text impressive and acceptable to the reader. ’Transcreation’ is a term generally employed to describe the art of translating a poem.Dr Kiriti Sengupta contributes a beautiful expression ‘transition’. He opines that translation of a poem is nothing but transition from one language into another. He deserves commendation for this singular input to the art of translation. This just sums up his competence and contribution as a translator.
He being a bilingual poet, Kiriti renders ample justice to the task undertaken in offering to the reader the translated text Poem Continuous with the subtitle ‘re-incarnated expression’, to savour the nectar of beautiful Bengali poetry written by renowned poet Bibhas Roy Chowdhury.
The entire text glides like a symphony with the translator, who is also a medical practitioner, reading the pulse of the poet accurately so as to render his poetry from Bengali into English fluently, flawlessly facilitating non-Bengali readers appreciate beauty of Bengali language and expression.
Partition of Bengal, truly a painful experience to the people of the region, culminated in the partition of India, before the colonial rulers departed. The raw wound rankles still and has not yet healed. Prevailing social scenario in the country is the best testimonial to the ill-conceived plan of the alien masters. Just as Jayanta Mahapatra keeps reminding himself and his readers about Kalinga war forced by Ashoka the Great on the people of Orissa, and the marks of shame and suffering that have remained raw even today, every Bengali poet experiences and expresses an inner most agony at the partition of Bengal. Bibhas Roy Chowdhury is no exception.
Kiriti Sengupta captures the spirit of Bengali expression exquisitely and succeeds in ‘transporting’ it into English through majestic, charming translation in a facile manner, as seen in poems like “Bhaitiali-Song of the Boatmen”[P.22]. May one say that a translator is a boatman operating between the banks of two languages across flow line of literature!
“In the core of my heart I nurse the wounded soul carefully
Union of the parted Bengal will aid in my recovery… [P 23]
Bibhas Chowdhury acknowledges Rabindranath Tagore as his ‘guru’ and motivator in unambiguous terms. There is perfect rapport between the poet and his translator. Naturally, the emerging work carries falvour of Bengali and elegance of English.
My mother stays far away, all alone
like the coveted hibiscus flower
hidden beneath the wild grass
[ The Poetry of A Hibiscus Flower, P36]
These lines illustrate how effortlessly ideas are communicated commendably. Kiriti mastered the art of communicating comfortably.
There is an undercurrent of melancholy in the poems offered in this text. But buoyant optimism of the poet comes to the fore fascinatingly. Source of melancholy need not cloud spirit of hope as is evident here. Perhaps, it explains why this book is so appealing. Nowhere does rendition look jarring or monotonous. Simplicity of the translator might have enriched his expression.
My poems blaze, how much of this knows the script?
This reviewer deliberately avoided quoting extensively from the book Poem Continuous, only to stimulate curiosity in the reader to go through the poems in the book, savouring the content and expression, so remarkably chiseled by Kiriti Sengupta in his own unique manner.
Don Martin who edited and wrote the foreword enlightens the reader with his thoughtful observations, while Kiriti Sengupta’s humility is seen in the translator’s note. The subtitle of the text ‘reincarnated expressions’ is a remarkable contribution of the translator. Rich design of the book is in tune with the content. Kudos to the publisher.