Edict in Stone

traditions of truth
carried on shoulders – of
messengers with words

We, the successors of Kabir
unflinched by terror,
Babar or Akbar.

lamps of worship
not extinguished – by
conspiratorial talent.

our voice not traded
for Houses of Power
at mercy of grants.

What did you gain by
turning what we stood against
into armour and tools?

What did you gain by
making a tabloid
of what could have been
an edict in stone?

You marched for freedom
under auspices of the Sun
you flicker in fading shadows
of fireflies in darkness

We fought together
to instal truth in power
you let others teach you
petty politics

What did you gain by
installing self-deceiving dwarfs
as trusted courtiers?

What did you gain by
making a tabloid
of what could have been
an edict in stone?

 

This is a translation of a famous poem by Kumar Vishwas from Hindi. Those who can read Hindi can read the original here.

हम शब्द-वंश के हरकारे
सच कहना अपनी परम्परा
हम उस कबीर की पीढ़ी
जो बाबर-अकबर से नहीं डरा
पूजा का दीप नहीं डरता
इन षड्यंत्री आभाओं से
वाणी का मोल नहीं चुकता
अनुदानित राज्य सभाओं से.
जिसके विरुद्ध था युद्ध उसे
हथियार बना कर क्या पाया?
जो शिलालेख बनता उसको
अख़बार बना कर क्या पाया?

तुम निकले थे लेने स्वराज
सूरज की सुर्ख़ गवाही में
पर आज स्वयं टिमाटिमा रहे
जुगनू की नौकरशाही में
सब साथ लड़े, सब उत्सुक थे
तुमको आसन तक लाने में
कुछ सफल हुए निर्वीय तुम्हें
यह राजनीति समझाने में !
इन आत्मप्रवंचित बौनों का
दरबार बना कर क्या पाया?
जो शिलालेख बनता उसको
अख़बार बना कर क्या पाया

4 thoughts on “Edict in Stone

  1. I love the refrain:

    What did you gain by
    making a tabloid
    of what could have been
    an edict in stone?

    I know its a political poem, but the political is the personal just as the personal is the political. For me it speaks to the way we cheapen and trivialize wisdom in our commercial culture and in our own lives- everything becomes an ad, – the mere hint of profound concepts used to easily manipulate because they evoke feelings we will not bother to examine or understand, tweeting them away with of flick of flying fingers and fickle attention!

    Your poet got to me!!

    On a different note – this writing is so lovely to look at does it read left to right or right to left? I feel I should know this makes me sad that I don’t.

    Did you translate it yourself? If so I can’t thank you for taking the time with this. I’m very appreciative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I concur with your views on trivialization of concepts. Perhaps, use-throw-forget attitudes help commercial interests, so those are propagated as ‘cool’.

      The language is Hindi, and the script Devnagari. It reads from left to right. I translated it myself.

      Like

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