You can hear it here:
That-only moon in the sky
That-only March-April night
In privacy near me
That-only you-also desirable [desire-fulfilling] woman
Quietness like that-only
Soft that-only moonlight
Drawn by shadows a picture that-only engaging
The arbor of jasmine that-only
That-only scent enchanting
All even if like that-only
Today where is that desire [intoxication]
I-also that-only, that-only you-also
Today where is that endearment
That yearning in the chest is not
That dream in the eye is not
Of that first love
Today ceased [were cut] the signs
In the dried flowers vainly
Scent [I] search again
That song comes together not
From the disturbed notes
This song presents three categories of difficulty: the language, the sense or emotion, and the rhythm.
The language is refined, classical, and erudite. For example, the cessation of the signs of new love is indicated by a word used in grammar for elision.
Many words end in the modifier “-ch” which is untranslatable. It signifies “unique and identical”, and is the foundation of the poem. In the literal translation, it is indicated by the suffix “-only”. The other modifier used in the poem is “-hi” which is indicated by the suffix “-also”.
The word “dhund” is repeated. It means diminution of consciousness through reduced sense perception. In the first instance it applies to the dimness of the moonlight, and in the second to the intoxicating desire of new love.
The poem is about the reduction or loss of love. But the exact sense of this loss must be identified. It is sung by a man and addressed to his beloved woman. He says, the scenery is the same and “you” or his lover is the same, but the signs of new love have now ceased.
How long did the new love last, and why did its signs cease? That is not said. So let’s take a few sample epochs. If it was just a few days or weeks, such pathos is not justified. If it was a year or two, such a sensitive and erudite man could have used the time to build a foundation for a lasting love. If it has been several years, say five or seven, I’d say the man is unwilling to step up to the responsibilities of adulthood and a mature relationship. If it has been ten or twenty years, that’s a pretty good run for signs of new love, and there is nothing to lament about; he should work on mending it instead of giving it all up in such hopelessness.
Though none of the epochs fit well, something like one or two years is likely the best fit. One can’t but consider the man, especially one so sensitive as to sing such a song, to be somewhat peevish and unable to evolve the relationship into a balanced aspect of life with new discoveries and joys waiting at every turn, renewing the feelings of new love in new ways.
The change appears to be abrupt, both in the nature of the love (from signs of new love to scentless, dried flowers and a broken song) and the timing of the change (“today”). But the specific incident triggering the change is not mentioned. If the “today” is to be interpreted as the more gradual “now”, and if the gradations of the changing love are to be read between the lines, then one can consider this a song of the end of love between the couple after trying to salvage and mend the relationship. The latter is the likely setting, especially given the terminal sadness of the song.
Nothing is mentioned about the frame of mind or state of emotion of the woman, who is likely to be more sensitive and insightful about the change in the relationship, whether gradual or abrupt, except that she remains desirable to the man, who thus seems narcissistic. Since she is the meaningful constant in the poem, I have titled this translation “teecha”, “she-only”, and I have varied the refrain to indicate that the man has changed (even though he professess to be the same).
The rhythm of the original is twelve beats per line set to the six-beat dadra taal. We can attempt to recreate this waltz-like rhythm in English.
Mid-April night, that moon above
And you with me, enchanting love
Quiet, the peace, soft light of stars
The shadows, silhouettes of evening hours
That bower of jasmine is still the same
The same the fragrances still that flow
And you with me, enchanting love
Though all is the same, that thrill is gone
In you and me the love that shone
The dream we had I see no more
I feel no more that yearning glow
Yet you are still enchanting, love
The signs of love that spring at first
I search in vain, for a trace a-thirst
Our song, its tune now lost and gone
Its words and notes no more I know
I’m lost, but you enchant, my love
[Alt. to avoid repeat of lost: Our song, its tune subdued and gone]
Scansion of a few lines is indicated by adding the beat number after the vowel. The short vowels are one beat and the long vowels are two beats, with some variations, and the accent is mostly on the (2) beat, with exceptions like “silhouettes”.
Mid- (1) A (2,3) | pril (1) night (2,3), | that(1) moon (2,3) | a (1) bove (2,3)
And (1) you (2,3) | with (1) me (2,3), | en (1) chan (2,3) | ting (1) love (2,3)
Quiet (1,2,3), | the (1) peace (2,3), | soft (1) light (2,3) | of (1) stars (2,3)
The (1) sha (2) dows (3), | sil (1) houettes (2,3) | of (1) eve (2,3) | ning (1) hours (2,3)
That (1) bower (2,3) | of (1) jasmine (2,3) | is (1) still (2,3) | the (1) same (2,3)
And (1) same (2,3) | the (1) fra (2) gran (3) | ces (1) still (2,3) | that (1) flow (2,3)
Please read the comments below for an organic discussion of this translation, or read the “finished” version of these translations here: (pdf).