Thursday, May 5, 2005

Sweeter Than Sweet

I was once inspired to try my hand at translating in verse, but it came out sounding too much like doggerel and so I abandoned it. Here was one such attempt (CC Madhya 21.137-141):

Sanatan! Just contemplate the sweetness of the Lord!
A mellifluent sea of mead
For which my mind in lusty greed
Has come and sits in waiting by its shore.

And thinking it will quickly drink its fill
Is fated but to know it never will.
Misfortune comes dressed up in doctor’s guise
and allows it not one drop, despite its cries.

Pray tell, can sweetness be still more than sweet?
And then more sweet, a sweetness even more complete?
With just one drop, the entire cosmos fills
And drowns within those lovely honey swills;
In sweetness all directions merge and meet.

The smiling rays of camphor touch his lips,
The smile melts from his misty mouth and drips
Ent’ring by force the ears of all the skies
Beguiles, and ravishing it ties
The hearts of all, and most of all, the girls.

Just hear about that dulcet flute’s disgrace!
It steals wives from their husbands’ sweet embrace,
Destroys their dharm and their chasteness vows.
And Lakshmi too in heaven is aroused,
So what hope have we poor gopis to save face?

It looses the brides’ clothes before their grooms,
Makes them leave their chores unfinished in their rooms;
It makes them dance as if tied to a string
Forgetting fear, shame and every thing,
And drags them where the lotus lord’s smile blooms.

Sri Krishna’s arms like jewelled bars of steel--
No! Not arms but cobras black who steal
Between the furrows of the gopis’ breasts
To pierce their hearts and put their fangs to rest,
And leave a wound that only he can heal.

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