Verbum Sapienti, To Damayanti


© 2005, Udaya Narayana Singh
From: Madhyampurush Ekvachan
Publisher: Vani Prakashan, New Delhi, 2005
ISBN: 8181834625

By the riverbank
lie many men
weak mean who have only
sedge and leaves for cover.
On the Sisal
the serpent swings.

“Damayanti, Damayanti,”
the forest shudders.
Through the thicket
the Sun peeps with caution.
His ray pierces Hiranya’s body
and reveals his thirty-three faces –
not one of them resplendent.

Trees often counsel –
Go this way,
Turn here,
Watch out!
Damayanti, Damayanti,
do not cross the forest!
In the darkness here
pimps wait.
do not cross Time!
Naladev hides there.

The forest has now known
the springs of poetry,
and the barbaric history
of their levelling.

How city trees have forgotten
their own language!

Damayanti, do not trust men!
They will ensnare you
in stories,

Do not cross the forest.
Else, the forest
will write its first poem on you.

10 January, 1980

© Translation: 2006, Udaya Narayana Singh with Rizio Yohannan Raj
From: Second Person Singular
Publisher: Katha, New Delhi, 2006
ISBN: 8189020579


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