Jibanananda Das (1899-1954) was a Bengali poet, writer, novelist and essayist. Though overshadowed by literary giants like Rabindranath Tagore, he has over the years gained recognition as one of the greatest poets in the Bengali language.

Twenty years later

Jibanananda Das

If I meet her again twenty years from now!

Again in twenty years –

Beside a sheaf of grain, perhaps,

In the month of Kartik –

When the evening crow goes home – the yellow river

Flows softened through reeds, kash-grass into the fields!

Perhaps no grain is left in the field;

There is no need for haste.

Straw from the nest of the goose,

Straw from the nest of the bird

Is scattered – night, winter, dew at Mania’s house.

Our life has traversed decades –

If suddenly I meet you again on a country road!

Perhaps the midnight moon emerged from behind massed leaves,

Slim dark branches across its face,

Sirish or plum

Casuarina, mango;

Then after twenty years I think of you no more!

Our life has traversed decades –

If we suddenly meet again on a country road!

Then, perhaps, the owl ventures down to the field

            In the darkness of the acacia lane,

            In gaps of the peepul windows –

            Where does it hide itself?

Descending as quietly as eyelids, where do the kite’s wings rest –

Golden, golden kite – the dew has hunted down the kite –

Twenty years from now, if suddenly I meet you in that mist!

Translated by Mary Lago and Tarun Gupta

month of Kartik: a fall month overlapping September and October. In the ancient and exact Bengali calendar, the dates of the month change according to lunar calculations.

kash: long stemmed grass that in the fall bears beautiful white flowers which throw a cloud-like sheen along the river banks and the edges of rice-fields in Bengal.

sirish: a Bengal tree that blazes with massive red flowers in the spring and summer months.

*Third World Resurgence No. 329/330, January/February 2018, p 60