POEM: LETTER TO INDIA

Photo: Times Now

By Gabriel Rosenstock

(On the imprisonment of Telugu-language poet Varavara Rao)

India!
Does the goddess Saraswati smile
When you imprison your poets
When, Covid-stricken, they hallucinate
Sitting in a puddle of urine?
India!
Is Saraswati pleased?

            Varavara Rao, I send you these words
That they might glow
Like scattered motes of dust
Caught in fleeting sunshine –
Oh, India! Do you allow
The light of dawn to enter his cell without being      searched
Or the light of the moon
Or distant stars?

India!
Saraswati’s beatific smile
Is fading on her lips.

*** 

(Irish Version)

LITIR CHUN NA hINDIA

(An file Teileagúise Varavara Rao i bpríosún)

A India!
An mbíonn meangadh ar bhéal an bhandé Saraswati
Nuair a chuireann tú do chuid filí i bpríosún
Speabhraídí orthu, buailte ag an gCóivid,
Ina suí i lochán fuail?
A India!
An sásta atá Saraswati?

       A Varavara Rao, seolaim chugat na briathra seo
Is mé ag súil go lonróidís
Ina ndeannach scaipthe
A mbéarfaidh ga gréine orthu –
A India! An ligeann tú do sholas na camhaoire
Teacht isteach ina chillín gan cuardach a dhéanamh air
Nó solas na gealaí
Nó na réaltaí i gcéin?

A India!
Éagann meangadh beannaitheach Saraswati
Ar a béal 

Bio:
Gabriel Rosenstock is a bilingual poet from Ireland. Recent works include Walk with Gandhi, illustrated by Masood Hussain (Gandhi 150 Ireland). Website: https://www.rosenstockandrosenstock.com/

*** 

(Greek Version)

ΕΠΙΣΤΟΛΗ ΣΤΗΝ ΙΝΔΙΑ

(Για τη φυλάκιση του ποιητή της γλώσσας Τέλουγκου, Βάραβάρα Ράο)

Ινδία!
Χαμογελά η θεά Σαράσβατι
Όταν φυλακίζεις τους ποιητές σου
Όταν, γεμάτοι Covid, έχουν παραισθήσεις
Καθισμένοι σε μια λίμνη από ούρα;
Ινδία!
Είναι η Σαράσβατι ευχαριστημένη;

     Βάραβάρα Ράο, σου στέλνω αυτές τις λέξεις
που μπορεί να λάμψουν
σαν σκόρπιοι κόκκοι άμμου
στο φευγαλέo φως του ήλιου –
Ω, Ινδία! Aφήνεις
Το φως της αυγής να μπει στο κελί του χωρίς να ελεγχθεί
Ή το φως της σελήνης
Ή τα μακρινά άστρα;

Ινδία!
Το μακάριο χαμόγελο της Σαράσβατι
Σβήνει στα χείλη της.

(Greek version: Sarah Thilykou) 

Bio
Sarah Thilykou
is a poet, editor and translator from Thessaloniki, Greece.

***

(Spanish Version)

Carta a la India

Poema de Gabriel Rosenstock, publicado en Cafe Dissensus Everyday.

Julio 2020

India!
Sonríe la Diosa Saraswati
cuando aprisionas a tus poetas
cuando, afectados por el Covid, ellos alucinan
sentados en un charco de orines?
India!
Está complacida Saraswati?

Varavara Rao, te envío estas palabras
que tal vez brillen
como partículas de polvo esparcidas
atrapadas en una fugaz luz solar
Oh India! Permites
la luz crepuscular entrar en su celda sin ser  revisada
ó la luz de la luna
o las distantes estrellas?

India!
La beatífica sonrisa de Saraswati
se desvanece de sus labios.

Spanish version: Patricia Jiménez (Costa Rica)

***

(Italian Version)

Lettera all’India

(A proposito dell’imprigionamento di Varavara Rao,  poeta di lingua Telugu)

India!
La dea Saraswati sorride
Quando metti in prigione i tuoi poeti?
Quando, colpiti dal Covid, hanno le allucinazioni
Seduti in una pozza di urina?
India!
Saraswati è contenta?

Varavara Rao, ti mando queste parole
Che possano risplendere
Come granelli di polvere
Catturati nel sole che fugge –
Oh, India! Permetti
Alla luce dell’alba di entrare nella sua cella senza essere    perquisita?
O alla luce della luna
O alle stelle distanti?

India!
L’estatico sorriso di Saraswati
Sta sparendo dalle sue labbra.

(Italian version by Silvia Pio)

***

(Romanian Version)

Scrisoare către India

(despre întemnițarea lui Varavara Rao, poet, vorbitor de limbă Telugu)  

India!
Zîmbește zeița Saraswati
cînd îți întemnițezi poeții,
cînd, loviți de Covid,aceștia  halucinează
într-o baltă de urină?
India!
Se bucură Saraswati?

Varavara Rao, îți trimit aceste cuvinte,
s-ar putea să strălucească
precum firele de praf răzlețe,
prinse în raza fugară –
Oh, India! Lași zorii
 să-i intre în celulă  fără gîndul căutării,
 luna,
sau stelele îndepărtate?

India!
Zîmbetul fericit al zeiței
I se stinge pe buze. . . 

(Versiunea în limba română: Olimpia Iacob)

***

(French Version)

Lettre à l’Inde

O Inde!
La déesse Saraswati sourit-elle
Quand vous emprisonnez vos poètes
Pour avoir halluciné de Covid
Assis dans une flaque d’urine?
O Inde!
Saraswati est-elle heureuse?

Varavara Rao, je vous envoie ces mots
Pour qu’ils luisent
Comme des particules de poussière
Prises un moment dans les rayons du soleil
O Inde ! Autorisez-vous
L’aurore à entrer dans sa cellule sans être fouillée
Ou les rayons de la lune
Ou des étoiles lointaines?

O Inde!
Le sourire béatifique de Saraswati
Meurt sur ses lèvres.

French version: Éamon Ó Ciosáin

***

(German Version)

Brief an Indien

(Anlässlich der Inhaftierung des telugu-sprachigen Dichters Varavara Rao)

Indien!
Lächelt die Göttin Saraswati
Wenn du deine Dichter kettest
Wenn sie halluzinieren im Covid-Fieber,
Hocken im eigenen Harn?
Indien!
Ist Saraswati erfreut?

Dir, Varavara Rao, sende ich diese Worte
Auf dass sie hie und da
Aufglühen wie Staubkörner
In einem raren Sonnenstrahl –
Ach, Indien! Erlaubst du es
Dem Morgenlicht einzudringen in seine Zelle
Ohne Durchsuchungsbefehl
Oder dem Mondenschein
Oder den fernen Sternen?

Indien!
Saraswatis seliges Lächeln
Erstirbt auf ihren Lippen.

(German version: Heinz Lechleiter)

***

(Latin Version)

Pro poeta in vinculis
India,
An dea Sarswati renidet
Ubi in vinculis poetae tuae
Covido XIX capti
Lacuna loti sedent?
Varavara Rao,
verba ipsa tibi mitto
ut ardent similes
dissipatis pulveris particulis
sole fugace
India,
An lucem diluculi
cellamintrare lices
sine investigatione
aut lucem lunae
aut lucem remotarum stellarum
India,
beatus risus Sarswati
labris suis evanescet

R. Sheehan (Centrum Latinitatis Europae ad Eblanam punto Robert Emmet)

***

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***

Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine, “Poetics and politics of the ‘everyday’: Engaging with India’s northeast”, edited by Bhumika R, IIT Jammu and Suranjana Choudhury, NEHU, India.

9 thoughts

  1. Thank you. Can poetry change anything? Maybe not, but should poets remain silent when one of their fellow-bards is incarcerated? Poets can show strength in solidarity, by using their art to encourage clemency and humanity, by reaching out to the international literary community, to form a chorus of voices, calling for the release of Rao. Those who know him speak of a man of rare integrity. His detractors say, ‘He is a blind follower
    of an outdated Naxalite ideology’. I’ll tell you what’s outdated:a lathi-wielding police force, as the Defund the Police movement clearly shows. The lathi belongs in the Museum. If we must have a police force, let poetry be part of their training!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We must be open to the possibility of change. I remember being at a protest in Dublin to demand the release of an
        Irish citizen who was being held in an Egyptian jail. As in the case of Mr Rao, there were worries about his health. I was approached by a policeman – officially known in Ireland as An Garda Síochána, Guardians of the Peace: says he, ‘I haven’t seen you at one of these before’. It was a friendly chat. Maybe he was bored and wanted to make conversation. Or else he was gathering information. My point is that he wasn’t threatening. We, the people, pay taxes which in turn pay the wages of public servants. If we are not happy with the way they perform, we can demand a change in our police culture. Reforms are necessary on an ongoing basis and as society changes, the police force must be trained to be sensitive to these changes. Getting back to the disgraceful imprisonment of Mr Rao, let’s not forget Shelley – a great freedom lover – who declared poets to be the ‘unacknowledged legislators of the world.’

        Like

  2. Thank you for writing this timely poem. Indeed it’s a shame that we have pushed Mr. Rao to this state of disillusionment. I appreciate the fact that multiple languages paved the way for this universal sentiment in a year which is contentious to the core. Kudos to the translators/writers. We need freedom and diversity of the written word.

    Like

  3. Bravo, Caro Gabriel, and all the translators.Perhaps the WPM can organiserad a demand for the immediately release of Varavara

    Sempre
    Jack Hirschman

    Like

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