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Song of the Nightingale

What says this nightingale?
Well-formed downs of tear cover the skies,
Undulating like waves that billow within the heart 
towards the queen-moon of loveliness.
With grief-laden youths in mind the nightingale sings
the essence of their plight;
She cleaves the silence with her voice,
a heart-ravisher with her song.

Like gods who churned nectar from the ocean,
annihilating the essence of all words
To create an universal sound, tremulous and rhythmic,
causing sweet sadness of the lonely heart to surge,
Opening her calyx-beak she sings, O tearful softness!
emitting subtle fluid fragrance,
Awakening something within each heart,
rendering the earth into a globe of feeling.

While flowers speak through fragrance, 
the colourful language of passion is thirst;
This is the song of the air-borne weeping bumble-bee,
this is the story of life.
This is indeed the laconic language of Prakriti and Purusha,
this is the reverberating youth,
This is a drop of Sruti essence, a poet's emotion,
a vase of love.

This is the murmur of water, 
its woeful flow towards the ocean,
This is the language of night addressed to the moon,
the shimmering of the dew,
The fluttering of the moth toward the flame,
the flickering of the flame toward the moth,
This is the bubbling heart of the tidal wave
recalling a dream.

Light embraces shadow and plays on the water,
memory on nothingness,
A sense of something being somewhere else but not with me
distresses me somewhat.
"Come, come," a glimmer seems to call, how unforgettably elusive 
is this touch of imagination!
Deep imbedded impressions quicken each aching cell,
nourishing only the desire to weep.

Beautiful creation, Nature, or she,
who, watchful at the crossroads,
Having well-adorned herself, waiting restlessly,
with lowered head, not united with her lover as yet,
Weeps within some deep spot of her heart
beyond a cloud of tears;
The bird echoes and scatters around
the language-transcending song of that heart.

Young queens of all times and places weep
cleansing their loneliness;
The soul shatters the clod to express itself,
triumphant over the fragrance of the flower.
What mellifluence is this? The passion in the nightingale's voice
revivified in death!
Speak, speak, sweet nightingale! I too am with you
having transcended meaning, enjoying myself.

Opening the calyx is designing a cup
that will contain the water drops;
The flowers that bloom will weep, their hearts brimming 
with tears that glisten, poor souls!
This bird, answering the sadness of the flower's heart, 
Emits just two syllables,
And governs the fine art of happiness and of sorrow
of the entire world.

Where the clod touched by the sun's rays
commenced the procreation of love, 
Seeking language the grass grew into a flower,
singing a lachrymatory song;
Turning into a bird, it spilled into the ears,
expressing acute grief:
Language is the awakening of all times in the heart, 
a divine boon, a curse.

"Plee-plee-plee" is the first word of the yet unexpressed heart,
the thirst and water at birth;
This is the language of love when earthlings dream of the moon
which, poised in the apex of the sky,
Draws the heart with the essence of all loveliness;
the nightingale begins to sing:
With what anguish she recalls all who have existed
since the beginning of the earth.

Usha wept longingly, twisting her white limbs
on a bed of velvet flowers,
Nostalgic for the meaningful dream, bereaved by the sunrise,
having lost her heaven, poor girl!
All the flowers of the forest wept
surveying the daughter of Banasura;
You must have learnt the song of sadness there,
O say, sweet bird!

Even as the sweet breezes scattered and dropped
the blossoming white and peanut-coloured flowers,
Profusely shedding tears of sorrow on the breast,
expressive with the moonlight,
Becoming someone's Radha in her heart,
this young and divine Samyogita
Bubbled up a flood of tears in a solitary murmur
lost in this enchantment.

Janaki chanted these very tunes to herself,
lost in the memory of Lord Rama;
Krishna's flute sounded the same melody
as it echoed on the banks of Yamuna.
Helene probably weeps similar sad tunes
that turn love into tragedy
Shedding very lovely drops of sadness
beyond the vapours of war.

This is a pang, a sweet pang, of the greatest sorrow,
this is a luxurious grief,
A globe, sweet and voiceless, which, if difficult to bear,
may yet be rewarded with paradise.
This is the golden tinge of the body, this is the emotion,
this is the holy abode of Gauri and Bhola,
Sing your plee-plee-plee O nightingale! each heart must express
its inner world of tribulations.

This is the graceful murmur of the calyx, 
the pupil drowned in a life of emotion;
This is the voice of thirst, the ancient story
of Prakriti and Purusha, the dual creative forces;
This is sad youth, self-expressing love,
the primal queen of lyrics;
This is the snowy peak, the refuge of the world,
this is the heart-beat within.

The shadow of the densely clouded sky may descend,
pour, O pour profusely!
Lightning may flash, O start!
with intermittent memories in the heart.
Drops may fall, trees and vines undulate,
the air will carry the vapour,
Thus the world may continue, weighed down hearts
may again utter the same grief-laden songs.

Hearts may invite hearts, water water drops,
youth may invite youth,
The thirsty ones may speak, transcending time and cage,
finding an outlet in music.
The grass-cutter's girl may sprinkle the water of her heart
even as the sickle flashes,
Whistling a new dream of the heart, someone may ascend the slope, 
a love-worshipping grass cutter.

Pour, pour your full-throated voice forever,
O nightingale in the cage!
The Vedas say as much—longing souls
turned to the exquisite dawn;
Enmeshing the heart here with argent moonlight,
giving a little indication,
Thirstily have I also uttered my song beyond meaning
slightly transcending this clod.

Laxmi Prasad Devkota
Translation: Padma Devkota