This is a poem by my mother from the collection “Nadichi Wat” (River’s Way). It captures the passage from the second stage of a fulfilling life into the initial inklings of the third. It has extreme lightness and delicacy, and its form is free and gently flowing. How to capture all this in English?
Mind Peacock Feather
My mind today
A peacock feather became
Mounting the wind
A new-traveler became
In my mind
Whatever I had sketched
Even that in my
Even today is fresh
In my life
Still it remained
Spreads a fragrance
In my life
A priceless companion
Mind peacock feather
Light, light became
Up on a high hill-
Brow it leaped
On the height what I experienced
Its description is beyond words
Slightly touching and rearranging …
My mind today a peacock feather became
Flying in the wind, a new-traveler became
All the dreams that I had drawn in my mind
Even all of those descended here in my life
Light, so light, my journey became
Its feelings are even today so fresh
Happiness filled my life and overflowed
A new night a fragrance spreads
A new dawn arrives nascent everyday
My co-traveler is one of a kind
My life’s invaluable companion
Mind peacock feather light, so light, became
And leaped on the brow of yonder high hill
What I experienced on that height
Is beyond words to describe
With this poem, trouble starts from the title. “Mind peacock feather” is not evocative in English of a mind richly colored by life’s experiences but still light and able to fly, evoked in Marathi. The word “pravas” for travel occurs thrice, and words relating to lightness and ease attach to travel and the feather. The poem turns on three main lines or ideas: of the mind becoming a peacock feather, of happiness and fulfillment in life, and of a new night spreading a fragrance and waking into dawn, signifying new possibilities. The style has a loose structure in terms of meter and rhyme, and the poem is held together by assonance.
While the previous version of translation is free-flowing and assonance-based like the original, here’s an attempt to make it regular in English with rhyming couplets of 11 syllables per line.
Rich as a peacock feather, my mind took wing,
Rising in the wind, began a new-journeying.
All my dreams descended here into this world,
Left a trail of memories that are still unfurled.
Lightening my journey and easing my road,
Happiness filled my life and it overflowed.
With a new fragrance the night mesmerizes,
The day with a dawn of new feelings rises.
My co-traveler is unique, midst all, the one
My fulfilling life’s invaluable companion
Mind-peacock-feather became so light, so light,
And vaulted on the brow of younder hill’s height
Whatever I saw and felt on that high hill
Is beyond ken, by words indescribable.
Please read the comments below for an organic discussion of this translation, or read the “finished” version of these translations here: (pdf).