Chhanda

 

     Willful Play

     It was not the terrible descent of Shankara
Nor the burning, wandering wildfire in the forest
     Forceful, sweeping, dislocatingly powerful,
It was the vast-blowing, circling storm-wind.

     She wasn’t stopping, but she was happy
She wasn’t ornamented, but she was splendid
     She wasn’t a woman, but a beautiful
Flowing, meandering river on her way.

     It was not the gesture of a dance
Nor the ring of the sweet ankle-bells:
     Wave, wave, breaking, breaking,
The willful play of the sea at peace.

-o-

Please read the comments below for an organic discussion of this translation, or read the “finished” version of these translations here: (pdf).

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6 thoughts on “Chhanda

  1. With rhymes:

    Willful Play

    It was not the terrible descent of Shankara
    Nor the burning, wandering wildfire in the forest
    Forceful, sweeping, dislocatingly powerful,
    It was the vast-blowing circling of a tempest.

    She wasn’t stopping, but she was happy
    She wasn’t ornamented, but she was splendid
    She wasn’t a woman, but a beautiful,
    Flowing, meandering river wended.

    It was not the gesture of a dance
    Nor the ring of the sweet ankle-bells:
    Wave, wave, breaking, breaking,
    The play of the calm sea with shells.

  2. The eleventh line could be:

    Wave after wave after wave after wave,

    Or

    Wave after wave, breaking, breaking,

  3. As far as I can tell, it’s about three vignettes from nature; no deeper meaning. But there is a suggestion – in the 11th line there’s a sudden deepening of the rhythm.

    From the point of view of translation, the two main difficulties (and hence attractions) were the title, repeated as an attribute of the sea in the 12th line, “chhanda”, and the 11th line with its change of pace and repetition of two different words for waves.

  4. For the 11th line, this one might be the best suited for rhythm and “English”:

    Wave after wave, breaking and breaking,

  5. Willful Play

    It was not the terrible descent of Shankara
    Nor the burning, wandering wildfire in the forest;
    Forceful, sweeping, dislocatingly powerful,
    It was the vast-blowing circling of a tempest.

    She wasn’t stopping, but she was happy;
    She wasn’t ornamented, but she was splendid;
    She wasn’t a woman, but a beautiful,
    Flowing, meandering river wended.

    It was not the gesture of a dance
    Nor the ring of the sweet ankle-bells:
    Wave after wave, breaking and breaking,
    The play of the calm sea with shells.

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