Z. R. Siddiqui describes Shamsur Rahman as one who "still soaks the language of our times, transcending the limits of geography. In his range of sympathy, his catholicity, his urgent and immediate relevance for us, Shamsur Rahman is second to none."

A Song before My Second Death

by Shamsur Rahman (b. 1929)

Is this the world whose soil gave away for so long
fruits like baxom boobs and blossoms of spring,
being so filled up with and cleft by her childern's
labour, wisdom and love? Is this that Old World?

Once on the sea-beach I have seen in the twilight
a white horse galumphing friskily like dancer-flames
prancing in the air - I remember I have left behind
days bright like deerskins, the yearning of fresh trees.

Once he who loved rivers and the blue by heart
and built these friendly banks like a skilled artist,
never will I find him animated on my eyes nor will
the noisy jet be full of life in spring's failed greeting.

The conscience that came back to my life, tearing
across the fog of nightmares wildly like blind fortune,
never did I want such light whose intent is to adore
inferno in an instant in a covetously thirsty chorus.

Who will put off the firepit setting things on fire
with clear silvery water? The heart that's gone sunless
through many exiles, only sings in utter darkness
songs of ghosts - no brighter face to hang out.

Dark dread is spread in blood, no response at all
in my locality, even at birds' frightened screeching
no wave trembles in the wind, dreadful silence on paths.
Stand over there - said someone I do remember,

where in silence a hundred lightless souls in a march
pick up insensate bloody yellow pus on to their mouths
in a delirious trance hit by terrific nightmares in the dark.
With dreadful signs of myriad unforgettable memories

their haggard existence is put on thorns; stand over there
then go straight away, alone, with nothing to care for.
Isn't it death as a sense of this scene gets on one's nerves,
not death at all, is there anything that death stands for?

It seems I were just that often heard-of Lazarus,
stayed three days in a grave, dead - with the loving
touch of resurrection have I come back into the sunshine.
Yet the dazzle of my dress can't manage to hide at all

wounds on my deformed physique, frankincense
easily drowns in the stench of old corpses; at my blue
fingertips lies the merciless darkness of those three days.
Like unfinished statues of sculptors I stick around

at dazzling festivels in this cheerful city; but yet
I can't mingle myself with the lustiness of pleasure,
in a weird awry heaven. Like lethal flowers many rapt
mysteries still flame up in these two eyes of mine.

In my soul I have carried an endlessly bizzare grief.
As flowers of dread blossom on the stalks of that grief,
none dares come close to me easily, all are afraid lest
the sad water of the Lethe should flow into their veins.

Where in which country have I lost beauty in animals'
furry darkness, having carried my life from heaven?
Here skulls of the corpses roll in dust everywhere,
helpless like pawns in chess, with no future at all.

Sometimes a giant black bird with iron-hard beaks
swoops down to tear my flesh - I can't drive it away.
And I see the full moon blazing on skulls on this soil
like a sad memory, the voice of secound death floats.

Poetry by Sofiul Azam
Read 557 times
Written on 2005-10-17 at 11:30

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