Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Time Before Death by Kabir, Translated by Rabindranath Tagore

As a youth, I read the Kurt Vonnegut novel Slaughterhouse-Five.  In this novel, there was a race of beings called Tralfamadorians, who perceived time in the same way as we perceived space.  When they looked at a human being, they saw a many-legged creature with a baby's legs at one end, and an old man's lets at the other end.  I mention this because this is the first part of another two-post exercise, giving a Kabir poem in the 1915 Rabindranath Tagore translation, and then giving it in the 1993 Robert Bly translation.  I consider such an exercise to be a Tralfamadorian presentation of the poem.

O FRIEND!  hope for Him whilst you live, know whilst you live, understand whilst you live: for in live deliverance abides.
If your bonds be not broken whilst living, what hope of deliverance in death?
It is but an empty dream, that the soul shall have union with Him, because it has passed from the body:
If He is found now, He is found then,
If not, we do but go to dwell in the City of Death.
If you have union now, you shall have it hereafter.
Bathe in the truth, know the true Guru, have faith in the true Name!
Kabir says: "It is the Spirit of the quest which helps; I am the slave of this Spirit of the quest."

Again, this poem can be found in the book Songs of Kabir, free from Amazon on Kindle.

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What's Going On Here?

Pretty much what the tagline says. I'm reciting poems I like, and making mashups of poems I like with the music for which my ear hungers when I read and think of these poems. It is my sincere hope that other lovers of these poems will do likewise.