Teecha

SCAN0211

You can hear it here:

-o-

Literal Translation

That-only moon in the sky
That-only March-April night

Refrain:
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

Refrain

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

Refrain

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

Refrain

-o-

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.

-o-

Poetic Translation

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]

-o-

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)

etc.

-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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20 thoughts on “Teecha

  1. Instead of repeating “enchanting love” you could have “enchanting”, enravishing”, enrapturing”. That variation will perhaps remove the undesirable monotony, will bring a sweeter refreshing breath.

  2. As you may have discerned from my notes and the poetic interpretation, my sympathy for the singer of the original song is limited.

    What would the song be if the couple make a successful go of it and look back in time? The following attempt is loosely hung on the same images and the same rhythm, but with this positive sense.

    -o-

    The night in spring, the floating moon,
    The jasmine scent are still the same;
    Our fleeting years have rolled so soon,
    The peace we had we now reclaim.

    The rapid stream that was our life
    Is quiet now and gently flows,
    The dream we shared was won with strife:
    Contentment reigns where passion rose.

    The scent of jasmine, gathering peace,
    The night in spring, the moon yet floats —
    The orchards fruit when flowers cease,
    The tense has changed, not song nor notes.

    The past we see and raise above
    The joy of life, a deeper love.

  3. Yes, this is how it should be, and due acknowledgment to the original can be given. Your present rendering is very acceptable. The bhava has come though the medium is differetn. Superb.

  4. I disagree. Clearly, the poem (beautifully composed and performed by Sudhir Phadke) conveys a feeling of a lost paradise. It’s pathos all the way.

  5. Abhay, the second version is unrelated to the original in sense and emotion – it is of successful love, but using some of the same images. The first version attempts to create the pathos of the original. The mystery for me is the nature of the change from paradise to indifference(?) – how long did it take, whether it was abrupt from new love to nothing, and how such a sensitive person couldn’t sustain the paradise. Any clues? Fully grant the beauty of composition and music of the song – hence it appealed to me as a subject of translation.

  6. Ah – I see the disconnect – when RYD says “this is how it should be”, he means life and not the translation.

  7. In the second version, the last couplet is somewhat weak, and the romantic love of the man for the woman is missing. Perhaps something like:

    Through ups and downs our life has ranged,
    Some things the less, some things the more,
    And I have changed and you have changed,
    Unchanged is you I still adore.

    With this, the sixth line can be changed from “Is quiet” to “Has deepened”.

  8. I’ve settled myself on the last version which is greatly poetic, with perfect rhythm and rhyme, and the happy lyricism:

    The night in spring, the floating moon,
    The jasmine scent are still the same;
    Our fleeting years have rolled so soon,
    The peace we had we now reclaim.

    The rapid stream that was our life
    Is quiet now and gently flows,
    The dream we shared was won with strife:
    Contentment reigns where passion rose.

    The scent of jasmine, gathering peace,
    The night in spring, the moon yet floats —
    The orchards fruit when flowers cease,
    The tense has changed, not song nor notes.

    The past we see and raise above
    The joy of life, a deeper love.

    -0-

    If at all something needs to be done, it should be in the last couplet. The enjambment is awkward.

  9. Perhaps:

    Through all we did and raised above,
    A joy we felt, a deeper love.

    [Alt for “raised” could be “held” to invoke upholding.]

  10. In the end, the 3-beat x 4 phrasing is kind of limiting. For example, a natural expression in English of the last line with hints of profundity would go something like:

    A secret joy we felt, a touch of deeper love

    which is 12 syllables, but without the short/long rhythm, and with an 8+8 = 16-beat cadence.

  11. Ok I’m ready to cal it quits with “Has deepened” in the 6th line, “held above” in the 13th, and “an intimate love” in the 14th.

    -o-

    The night in spring, the floating moon,
    The jasmine scent are still the same;
    Our fleeting years have rolled so soon,
    The peace we had we now reclaim.

    The rapid stream that was our life
    Has deepened now and gently flows,
    The dream we shared was won with strife:
    Contentment reigns where passion rose.

    The scent of jasmine, gathering peace,
    The night in spring, the moon yet floats —
    The orchards fruit when flowers cease,
    The tense has changed, not song nor notes.

    Through all we did and held above,
    A joy we felt, an intimate love.

  12. “past” in the last but one line was significant and has a deeper resonance. I’d like it brought back in some manner. How about the following?

    The past we embraced above all
    Answering love’s heart-to-heart call.

    -0-

    Well, this is a quick response. Try, or leave as you have finalised.

  13. Don’t know how to scan your lines in the 1-2-3 rhythm.

    If you want “past” and no enjambment and 1-2-3 rhythm, it’s tough. Perhaps:

    The past has held a joy and love,
    We feel it still and hold above.

  14. We have to ditch the sonnet form and go for four full stanzas by mixing in some of the earlier lines.

    Through ups and downs our life has ranged,
    The past has held a joy and love;
    Though I have changed and you have changed,
    We feel them still and hold above.

    Also, “gathering” should be “a gathering” to make it adjectival.

  15. The couplet kind of closes the theme whereas the stanza possibly keeps it still open. I’ll go for the sonnet-form, uncommon sonnet with the octosyllabic lines.

  16. When a sensitive person loves he loves the image of the lover he has created using the palette of his imagination. It may have no resemblance to the object of love. The lover is the inspiration but the inspired outcome far surpasses her. So he is poeticizing this imaginary beloved and at some point of time is abandoning his attempt to fit the real into the imaginarry. It is at this juncture that he is composing the poem. With pathos in his heart for yet another failed attempt and at the same time compassion for the lover who unknowingly became the cause of his failure.

    This artist is the subject of Tagore’s many stories. I believe it is an experience that symbolized his own quest for perfection in human love and his eventual realization of teh futility. Meanwhile while the artist is trying Tagore regales his readers with exquisite love poems painted with such idealism that already knows the end will be a separation. Unless of course one is an artist and takes the failure in one’s stride rather than settle with practical housemates.
    Robibar and Shesher Kobita are two stories with these characters, but there are many more.

  17. Thanks for the insight, Lopa. Any links to the Tagore poems, perchance a translation by you?

    What of the woman? In the present poem, there’s no hint of her state. Did she end the relationship with such a hopeless romantic, or did he as the idealist who couldn’t square with reality?

    How do Tagore’s various stories and poems proceed – who bursts the bubble, and how do events progress subsequently?

  18. Shesher Kobita ends with the poem of the same name – quite long. Maybe there is a translation online. It encapsulates the emotion of ‘love in vain’. The man is the artist in both the stories, and the woman sensitive enough to understand that their love will be time-bound, ride on a wave and crash out of existence in the trough. In shesher Kobita she bids him vidaay by explaining that she is going to someone who has been waiting for her, who is not a romantic, has seen her worst and can forgive her.
    Whereas his love was based on her highest state, which she is incapable of exhibiting all the time. So rather than see their love demeaned, she wants the memories of that high love to be intact.

    In Robibar he disappears promising to return only when he can reach a state where he will be able to love her from a high pedestal.

  19. Thanks – so no fulfillment. Hence I created the 2nd version, sort of as a response or counterpoint to the first.

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