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Nishikanto, Roy Chowdhury

English Poems


I am the clay-petal of a mortal flower-birth,

I am the barren brownness of desert-desire,

Through my dim pores is fluted the music of earth,

My breast bears the candle of a glow-worm fire.

I am a pilgrim-poet on the ways of the world,

My poems are surging upon Time’s ocean,

Around my life’s stone-torpor ages have swirled,

Far-calling fountain voices of deep emotion.

When the divine death-victor Will comes near,

My sleeping soul remembers an ancient duty:

My dark dungeons, light-festivalled, disappear,

And heavenly jewels jingle in my earth-beauty.

Crowned with pure joy, each clamouring atom stills:

At the feet of the timeless Beloved my body thrills.

O My Heart

Like a star in the sky, like a flower in May

You bloom, O my heart, in the deep,

Like a shell which bears the pure pearl play

In an ocean of vigilant sleep.

You have your colours, you have your brush

And a canvas eternally wide;

In a trance you dance with the luminous hush

Bearing Time’s silent tide.

You are moulding the clay to an angel’s eye,

And moving the thorn as a pen

You change the black veil with a golden dye

And break the blind dark den.

Consciousness grows in the Mother divine,

You laugh on her lap in your dream;

Your thoughts are bright with her red sun-wine

And your words in her silver moonbeam.

Sleep, sleep, O my bird, in your glorious nest

Like a pearl in the deep’s delight,

Like a star of the sky in its radiant rest,

Like a flower on a timeless height.

The Artist Almighty

From where come the shimmering dots of emerald green

On the dead-red canvas of a stone-stricken soil?

Such honey-sweet plenty flowers from what source unseen—

Here, where earth’s form is a crude poisonous coil?

Here I have seen a straight brush-stroke, iron-ash-grey,

A long winding of palm groves horizon-stretched,

Branches of star-triangular rhythm with heaven-sapphire play,

Steel-strong sinews by deathless spirals caged.

O thou, the Almighty Artist of royal reality,

Teach me thy technique of miraculous transformation,

By which I can lose my flesh-born dull triviality

And gain release for my life, gain realisation.

Give Thy colour-fountained luminous brush of power,

Let bloom through my hard granite a heavenly flower.

The Yawning West

A darkness masked as light its angry motion hurls,

The lost dark sun shines like a hungry vulture’s eye,

A serpent way from horizon to horizon swirls

Its flow of aimless, dreamless travellers. Destiny

In a soul-paralysed wakefulness sets world-life to swim

On a sweet-coloured poison-deep. Demon shades

Recast into dire splendours through human faces gleam

In a flesh-festivalled glory: shimmering flame pervades

From the hard black-fire mouth of mortality and men’s gaze

Is blind with burning undelight; Hideously nude,

The body moves, a myriad-mooded carnal blaze

In a death-desiring day, the devil’s prostitute.

On the western shore the breaking old world roars,

The vampire witch her all-devouring dragon face

Opens where the evening scene of evil floods and pours

The blood of an old sun.

Here a pure crystal grace

Crowns the horizoned east far from that tossing sea;

New evolution here unrolls its tranquil white—

Mooned consciousness.

O embodied fair Infinity,

Mother of a divine creation, touch with heavenly Light,

Release the earth from cruelty of the demon-day.

Thou hast taken up my fate, queen of the radiant throne,

In thy high cradle of star-truth; I laugh and play

And nestle in thy heart’s sapphire hyaline. An unknown

Joy hushes now my soul: it carries still sublime

Words, thy celestial necklace jewelling endless Time.


My consciousness flows like a wide and glowing river;

The gloomy tide is now a splendour-gleam,

Thou hast come and thriven in me, O rhythm-giver,

I brim with thy full-mooned creative dream.

In my bosom’s secret core

Thou hast opened a radiant door

And through it vast melodies pour:

A gold descent with heavenly murmur, an angel-stream.

The world of clay bears a gorgeous change

While round her neck I wreathe a sun-garland

Of amaranth glory. Far enchanting fiery and strange

Starry notes flame through each earthly strand.

O trivial creatures of flesh

In pleasure’s dim painful mesh,

I shall make you bright and fresh

And free, with the marvel touch of a mighty lustrous hand.

The pale gray and black dry thorns upon the way

Under my tread blossom to beaming rays,

The universe is a lyre that tunes a play,

Fragrant with my heart’s rosary of godly grace.

I have shattered the hard rocky prison

Like a spring my spirit has risen

And flooded the desert horizon;

My life illumines the death-dark night of time and space.

Triple Tremolo

A mystic land, a world of magic wonder;

A picture painted with subtle light and shade;

A white moon lotus of deep and delicate splendour;

A rainbow romance—a rose of passion-red.

A land of light with a delightful play;

A festival manifested with heavenly claim;

Descending showers that make to blossom the clay

An eveless and a sleepless sunfire flame.

A land of earth with many laughters and tears

Churned and cherished in the bosom of a yearning source,

Through the mortal game immortal experience bears

And pulls at the sky with giant cords of force.

O painter and poet-musician of my human birth,

I am tuned in thy tremolo of dreamland, heaven and earth.

Mermaid Angel

The dull gold of departing day dissolves in the west,—

A barren evening’s nut-brown atmosphere

Fading to shadow slowly on the horizon-crest;

With a wan dream of dead sun I am walking here;

Before me moves an ocean of vastitude sapphire

With wavy curves cream-soft and Chinese-white,

And from the Unfathomed rises a vision of silver-fire—

Shimmering with grace of a crystal God-light

A mermaid angel of beauty and movement came,

Revealed the pearl-purity of your divine deep

With star-rising bright eyes and a moment-whim

Of jewelling play and rhythmic delightful sweep.

It changed time, transformed the day’s departing tear.

Turned to crystal my dull nut-brown atmosphere.

The Night of Silence

Hark, the voice of silence, call of the midnight bird:

The tune shakes the root of the dumb sleep earth,

It climbs above spreading its echoes through the stirred

Ways of heaven and jingles with stars of marvel-mirth.

The veil of mystery slowly lifts with the ethereal sounds;

The unknown beauty of night opens to the solemn vast

Infinitude: the dream-rose garland of love surrounds

The maiden on her velvet couch—an expectancy cast

Like lightning among the blind foldings of cloudy time;

The delivered consciousness of the imprisoned thirst for light

Brims now with song of celestial streams, the joyous chime

Glows with an inner moon-rise melody, gold and white,

Drenching the desert-dark of the world; O Immortal lore

Of mortal birth, like the bright-winged bird with you I soar.

Eternity’s Playmate

My consciousness is caught by a giant power,

And I am drinking heavenly vats of wine;

My moments now are starring Time’s black tower,

My thought ripples on the infinite crystalline.

An unhorizoned moon of peacefulness

Beams her white widening calm in my soul-centre:

A new sun thrills, creating golden days,

Moved by the magic brush of my heart’s painter.

O force beyond all speech, joined is my fate

To your everlasting ecstasy of fire;

For I have grown eternity’s playmate,

Tossing my diamond-music of desire.

World after world melts to a spirit-shower:

My consciousness is caught by a giant power.

Dance on Deep Stillness

A red sea swings

On the crystal deep,

The rainbow sings

On a white wide sleep;

The greenwood bowl

To horizon-goal

Flows with a wine of golden streams

The flame-lives dance

On a still life-fire,

And soul-songs glance

On a mute sapphire;

Births are all dews

Of human hues—

Bubbles of wine with desire-dreams.

But who is the deep

And white wide sleep?

The giant hushed with intoxication

Is drinking the dreams of his bubbling creation.

Sealed to Silence

The night is sealed to silence: on lonely seat

I feel One motionless mute in my heart; deep

In inexpressible thoughts, the white moon-lit

Omniscient dreams in his wide illumined sleep.

Songs curve like slow billows on a soundless sea,

The profound and solemn call of a face unseen

Opens veils of unfathomable mystery,

And the fire-bosomed visions of eternity lean

To the nude and flaming beauty of a new world;

Time’s charioteer wheels on with wordless force.

A myriad virgin fancies have flowered and pearled

In the poet, — the moment-moulder; the crystal source

Of the Creator flows through the stillness of burning stars

And my soul drowned in their silence his numberless creations bears.

Violet Drink

A blind background of nothingness; a bare

Horizonless desert covered up by a vast

Skyless mist: with a sudden violent blast

It cracked; and the leap of a red, fiery glare

Revealed from the dense mist a blazing mountain

Of crimsoned snow and ranges of purple light

Kissed by a cobalt firmament; leaving the height

A violet river streamed from its luminous fountain.

Through the valleys’ labyrinth of emerald green

There rose a form of beauty and immaculate grace—

A silver halo round the moon-white face—

And towards me slowly came. With her hands of sheen

She held the violet drink in a golden cup before

My yearning lips. I drank; the vision was no more!


Poems translated into English

The King of Kings

The King of kings has made you a king,

Your sceptre gave, your throne of gold,

Men and fair maids for retinue,

Your swords of sheen, your warriors bold,

Your crown, your flag, your victor-pomps,

High elephants and steeds of pride,

The wise to counsel, the strong to serve,

And queens of beauty at your side.

To me He gave His alms of grace,

My little wallet full of songs,

His azure heavens for my robe,

His earth, my seat, to me belongs.

My sleeping room is His wide world,

Planet and star for bulb and lamp:

The King of kings who beggared me

Walks by my side, a comrade tramp.

Translations, Sri Aurobindo p.571