Kokila

While doing a bit of early spring cleaning, I found an old Marathi song book and my old fountain pen! So here’s an attempt at translation. Feel free to suggest improvements.

So that was a close-to-literal translation. To be accurate, instead of “diamonds” it should be “pearls”.

Now we can try a bit of trans-creation. Getting the tropical imagery and cultural context right in English can be difficult. But with some keen insights given by a friend, here goes …

The song bird of spring is cooing its insistent song;
You to me now and ever I to you belong.

Spring, in a princely turn of season,
Gathers under a tree with us as one;
Soft hands given into yours, as gently burn
The gloaming stars of trance day-long.

On a languorous swing from a branch above,
The blossom of our delightful love,
Pearl-sprinkled on heaven’s fledgling dove,
Arrives on soul-wings that sweep in strong.

Dear, when you draw close to me,
The vine a-flower hugs close the tree,
Nectar in the lotus yields the bee;
On our dreamy eyes the love-smiles throng.

Here’s the link to the Lata Mangeshkar song from Kanyadan: http://www.dhingana.com/kokil-kuhu-kuhu-bole-song-kanyadan-marathi-2535b31. It can be heard here also: http://www.aathavanitli-gani.com/Song/Kokil_Kuhukuhu_Bole.

There are some differences from the transcription in my song book.
1. mohoruna dahali varati apuli hindolat priti – words rearranged
2. madhumarand instead of madhumakarand
3. antarat mitata dole instead of papanit hasta dole

But the English one is still ok, imo.

-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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7 thoughts on “Kokila

  1. Given the variance #2, the 13th line could be:

    With nectar fills the water lily

    And while we are at it, partially due to variance #3, the 14th line could be:

    In dream-filled eyes the love-smiles throng

  2. An excerpt from Lord Byron, the romantic classical poet known for his love songs. Nature in it is very English (=reserved).

    O’er fields through which we used to run,
    And spend the hours in childish play;
    O’er shades where, when our race was done,
    Reposing on my breast you lay;

    See still the little painted bark,
    In which I row’d you o’er the lake;
    See there, high waving o’er the park,
    The elm I clamber’d for your sake.

    Another fine one about love is by Shelley (from memory, so no punctuation):

    I can give not what men call love
    But wilt thou accept not
    The worship the heart lifts above
    And the heavens reject not

    The desire of the moth for the star
    Of the night for the morrow
    The devotion to something afar
    From the sphere of our sorrow

  3. From my dad, some “Coil” = kokila references from Savitri.

    A quick response: Here are three passages in Savitri about the bird.

    Impatient for felicity he came,
    High-fluting with the coïl’s happy voice,
    His peacock turban trailing on the trees;
    His breath was a warm summons to delight,
    The dense voluptuous azure was his gaze. ||93.27||

    Asocas burned in crimson spots of flame,
    Pure like the breath of an unstained desire
    White jasmines haunted the enamoured air,
    Pale mango-blossoms fed the liquid voice
    Of the love-maddened coïl, and the brown bee
    Muttered in fragrance mid the honey-buds. ||93.31||

    [The Birth and Childhood of the Flame]

    The air drank deep of unfulfilled desire;
    The high trees trembled with a wandering wind
    Like souls that quiver at the approach of joy,
    And in a bosom of green secrecy
    For ever of its one love-note untired
    A lyric coïl cried among the leaves. ||98.3||

    [The Call to the Quest]

  4. Final:

    The song bird of spring is cooing its song;
    You to me and ever I to you belong.

    Spring, in a princely turn of the season,
    Gathers with us under a tree alone —
    Soft hands given to each other, as burn
    The gloaming stars of trance daylong.

    Swaying gently on a branch above,
    The blossom of our delightful love,
    Pearl-sprinkled on heaven’s fledgling dove,
    Soars on soul-wings beating strong.

    As you, my dear, draw closer to me,
    The flowering vine hugs tighter the tree,
    With nectar fills the blue water lily;
    In dream-filled eyes the love-smiles throng.

  5. With some tweaks with my father f2f in Pondicherry:

    The song bird of spring is cooing its song;
    You to me and ever I to you belong.

    Spring, in a princely turn of the season,
    Gathers us under a tree alone —
    Soft hands given each other, as burn
    The gloaming stars of trance daylong.

    Swaying gently on a branch above,
    The blossom of our endearing love,
    Pearl-sprinkled on heaven’s fledgling dove,
    Soars on soul-wings beating strong.

    As you, my sweet, draw near to me,
    The flowering vine hugs close the tree,
    Nectar flows in the water lily;
    In dream-filled eyes love-smiles throng.

  6. Here’s a completely different take – more “English” in flow and rhyme structure (though with shorter lines), less imagery compensated by idea association, still broadly true to the original:

    The kokila’s dulcet call
    Rises into the sky;
    You are mine forever
    And forever yours am I.

    Beneath a far tree
    Bright in a spring dress,
    Awash in the light of stars,
    Soft hands in a caress.

    A glimmering stream below,
    A swaying branch above,
    A heart on homing wings,
    A blossom of tender love.

    Flowers on a climbing vine
    Blushed in a sweet embrace,
    Outside – a flow of honey,
    Inside – a touch of grace.

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