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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 

 
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Waves - a Landmark

Dr. A. N. Dhar

 
Based on Shri Majboor's Kashmiri lyrics, the new­ edition contains 30 poems in English translation (6 more than the number of poems in the first edition). The translations have been very competently done by Arvind Gigoo, whose command of English is excellent besides his innate ability to compose his oven poems in English. The first edition won Majboor an award from the Poet's Foundation, Kolkata, that was presented to him at Kolkata on 20 Dec., 1999. With its publication, the original poet won great acclaim as an accomplished and seminal writer.
 
I made my critical observations on the contents of the book in my review that appeared in the July, 1999 special issue of the trilingual religio-cultural journal titled Patrika brought out bi-annually by the Bhagavan Gopinath Ji Trust (of which I happen to be the Chief Editor). The review also appeared later in the Indian Book Chronicle published from Jaipur. To the best of my knowledge, it is being reprinted in several more national journals. Reviews of the book done by other writers have also appeared in the Koshur Samachar The Brown Critique, Poetry Today, Daily Excelsior, Kashmir Times and Scoria. All this bears testimony to the great popularity enjoyed by Shri Arjan Dev Majboor as a significant Kashmiri poet of our times and to Gigoo's emergence as a competent translator who, in my view, has broken new ground as a literary craftsman in the field of translation studies.
 
I am not going to repeat here what I have said at some length in my review of the first edition of the Waves. However. I shall certainly talk briefly about my response to the new edition of the book that was recently released at Jammu. The author, the translator and the publisher deserve to be congratulated on bringing out the volume in the present shape. It carries now a foreword from the pen of an eminent teacher and scholar of En­glish Prof T.N. Raina, who is based at Pune, and also projects the translator's contribution and views in a befitting way more con­spicuously than was done in the first edition. The translator's note is a welcome feature - something that is desirable to be found in a book of poems in their translated form. The present foreword too serves a useful purpose, being a valuable write-up on the literary work in question and on the original poet. Perhaps a little more said about the translator's literary antecedents also would have been very much in place. I am gratified to note that Prof T.N. Raina has endorsed the essential content of my earlier review; he has not only incorporated direct quotations from it but also used some other portions after suitably altering or rephrasing them (as he felt it proper).
 
Both the earlier and the new edition of the Waves have attracted adequate critical attention. This is obvious from the many comments by a number of creative writers and critics that are either recorded in the new edition itself or appear as the blurbs printed on the jacket. That establishes that the new edition particularly has been very well received in literary circles and is bound to sell well. In my views among the many English translations of Kashmiri verse that I have come across in my long career, the Waves stands out as an innovative volume, which should go down as a landmark in its own right. The new edition contains translations of six more short lyrics of Majboor. These bear the titles Word, A Gamble, Loneliness, Sensuality, Longing and A Poet's Helplessness. In terms of their thematic concerns, they are in perfect accord with the poet's lyrics used in the first edition; they too reflect his inner urges as a poet & the values he cherishes most. His major con­cern with language and meaning and his aspiration for the return of peace in the valley (and for a better world order) are easily discernable in the new set of poems too. The Word brings out the significance of language as man's unique gift, which "preserves" him and his cultural riches. The poem A Gamble is replete with images of ugliness, disharmony, death and destruction. It high­lights the contrast between a 'pebble' pitted against ‘the mountain' as its adversary. In Loneliness, the poet advises us to curb the mind's "indolence", sweeten our lives with "honey", turn our gaze to the starry firmament and thus transform the feeling of "desolateness" into joy. The poem Sensuality involves an interplay of images aimed at highlighting the destructive aspect of human passions. The poem Longing expresses a romantic aspiration the poet's fancy "seeking to hover in the sky". In the sixth poem titled A Poet's Helplessness, we are given an imagistic account of what the loss of imaginative powers means to a poet.
 
Finally, I come to the translator's note. Herein Gigoo has succinctly expounded his theory and practice of literary transla­tion, trying to justify the transformation that the original poems have undergone in his hands on terms of syntax and lexis. He claims that "the life, meaning and soul of the original continue to throb and flow and vibrate" in the translations. My feeling is that while Arvind Gigoo, as a translator of Kashmiri lyrics into English, has at places not adhered to the principles of ‘equivalence' and ‘acceptability’ considered essential to a sound literary translation, he has on the whole, given proof of his genius and originality through his creative command of English and his innovativeness as a translator.

Arjan Dev Majboor

 

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