Mesocosm

"A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us." – Franz Kafka

Kālidāsa’s Kumārasambhava

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Apsara, Madhya Pradesh, 10th Century
Image (C) Barnaby Thieme

Still sat Umā though scorched by various flame
    Of solar fire and fires of kindled birth,
Until at summer’s end the waters came.
    Steam rose from her body as it rose from earth.

With momentary pause the first drops rest
    Upon her lash then strike her nether lip,
Fracture upon the highland of her breast,
    Across the ladder of her waist then trip
And slowly at her navel come to rest.

5.23–24, trans. D. Ingalls

Update: I’ve written reviews of two superb translations of Kālidāsa’s work, The Origin of the Young God: Kalidasa’s Kumarasambhava by Hank Heifetz, and Chandra Rajan’s The Loom of Time, which includes a wonderful translation of his masterpiece “The Recognition of Shakuntala.” Barbara Stoller Miller’s Theater of Memory also includes a translation of that play, and translations of his other dramatic work as well. All three are terrific.

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Written by Mesocosm

February 10, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Posted in Poetry

Tagged with ,

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