Friday, 11 May 2018

Owl Haiku

Yesterday was Rabindranath Tagore's 157th birth anniversary. Of his 18 (!) volumes of collected works, the one I have read most often is probably volume 3 which contains কণিকা (Konika), a collection of proverbs, aphorisms and philosophical musings in verse.

Tagore visited Japan three times; he was fascinated by haiku and translated a few into Bengali. When I was a teenager, I tried translating some of his Konika couplets into English, in haiku form. There is only one for which I still know both the original and the translation by heart: Konika 65, titled শত্রুতাগৌরব (Feud-Pride):

পেঁচা রাষ্ট্র করি দেয় পেলে কোনো ছুতা,
জান না আমার সাথে সূর্যের শত্রুতা!
The Owl announces
Every chance he gets, "I have
A feud with the Sun."