Monday, August 15, 2011

Love Songs of Vidyapati

Love Songs of Vidyapati

Here are some of my favourites...

1. Signs of youth

Radha's glances dart from side to side.
Her restless body and clothes are heavy with dust.
Her glistening smile shines again and again.
Shy, she raises her skirt to her lips.
Startled, she stirs and once again is calm,
As now she enters the ways of love.
Sometimes she gazes at her blossoming breasts
Hiding them quickly, then forgetting they are there.
Childhood and girlhood melt in one
And young and old are both forgotten.
Says Vidyapati: O Lord of life,
Do you not know the signs of youth?[63]

2. Tangled tresses

Each day the breasts of Radha swelled.
Her hips grew shapely, her waist more slender.
Love's secrets stole upon her eyes.
Startled her childhood sought escape.
Her plum-like breasts grew large,
Harder and crisper, aching for love.
Krishna soon saw her as she bathed
Her filmy dress still clinging to her breasts,
Her tangled tresses falling on her heart,
A golden image swathed in yak's tail plumes.

Says Vidyapati: O wonder of women,
Only a handsome man can long for her.

3. First rapture

There was a shudder in her whispering voice.
She was shy to frame her words.
What has happened tonight to lovely Radha?
Now she consents, now she is scared.
When asked for love, she closes up her eyes,
Eager to reach the ocean of desire.
He begs her for a kiss.
She turns her mouth away
And then, like a night lily, the moon seized her.
She felt his touch startling her girdle.
She knew her love treasure was being robbed.
With her dress she covered up her breasts.
The treasure was left uncovered.

Vidyapati wonders at the neglected bed.
Lovers are busy in each other's arms.

4. Dawn

Awake, Radha, awake
Calls the parrot and its love
For how long must you sleep,
Clasped to the heart of your Dark-stone?
Listen. The dawn has come
And the red shafts of the sun
Are making us shudder...

5. The necklace snake

Listen, O lovely lady
Cease your anger
I promise by the golden pitchers of your breasts
And by your necklace snake
Which now I gather in my hands
If ever I touch anyone but you
May your necklace bite me;
And if my words do not ring true,
Punish me as I deserve.
Bind me in your arms, bruise me with your thighs
Choke my heart with your milk-swollen breasts
Lock me day and night in the prison of your heart.

(see how much tighter the above is, compared to this version by Azfar
Hussain perhaps, at )

For heaven's sake, listen, listen, O my darling:
Do not dart your cruel, angry glances at me,
For I swear by the lovely pitchers of your breasts,
And by your golden, glittering, snake-like necklace:
If ever on earth I dare touch anyone except you,
Let your necklace turn into a real snake, and bite me;
And if ever my promise and words prove false,
Chastise me, O darling, in the way you want to.
But, now, don't hesitate to take me in your arms,
Bind, bind my thirsty body with yours; bruise me
With your thighs, and bite, bite me with your teeth.
Let your fingernails dig deep, deep into my skin!
Strangle me, for heaven's sake, with your breasts,
And lock me in the prison of your body forever!

6. River and sky

Oh friend, I cannot tell you
Whether he was near or far, real or a dream.
Like a vine of lightning,
As I chained the dark one,
I felt a river flooding in my heart.
Like a shining moon,
I devoured that liquid face.
I felt stars shooting around me.
The sky fell with my dress,
leaving my ravished breasts.
I was rocking like the earth.
In my storming breath
I could hear my ankle-bells,
sounding like bees.
Drowned in the last waters of dissolution,
I knew that this was not the end.

Says Vidyapati:
How can I possibly believe such nonsense?

9. Brooding Love

Your moon-faced love
Had never guessed
That parting hurts.
Radha is tortured,
Dreading you will leave.
Love has robbed her of all power,
She sinks clasping the ground.

Kokilas call,
Startled, she wakes
Only to brood again.
Tears wash the make-up
From her breasts.
Her arms grow thin,
Her bracelets slide to the ground.
Radha's head droops in grief.
Her fingers scar the earth
Bleeding your name.

10. Tomorrow

He left me saying that he would return tomorrow,
I covered the floor of my home
Writing repeatedly ‘Tomorrow’.
When dawn returned, they all enquired:
Tell us, friend,
When will your tomorrow come?
My beloved never returned.
Says Vidyapati: Listen beautiful one,
Other women lured him away.

11. Shattered Desire

Swelling breasts, hard, like golden cups.
Those wanton glances have stolen my heart,
O beautiful one, protest no longer.
I am eager as a bee, let me take your honey.
Darling, I beg you, holding your hands,
Do not be cruel, have pity on me.
I shall say that again and again,
No more can I suffer the agony of love.

Says Vidyapati:
Shattered desire is death.

13. Returning Lover

O friend, there is no end to my joy!
mAdhava is home for ever.
The pain I suffered for the heartless moon
Ended in bliss
My eyes live on his face.

Lift up my dress, fill it with gold
Yet never will I let him go again.
He is my shelter in the rains,
Ferry boat on the river.
He is my warmth when the winter is hard,
Cool breeze in the summer months.
Nothing else I need.

O friend, there is no end to my joy!

O friend, there is no end to my joy!
My lover is home forever.
The pain I suffered for the heartless moon
ended in bliss
my eyes live on his face.

You may fill my pockets with gold
but I will never let him go again.
He is my shelter in the rain,
my ferry boat on the river.
He is my warmth when the winter is hard,
my cool breeze in the summer.
Nothing else I need.

14. Night of love

A fateful night I spent
Gazing at the moon
Like the face of my love.
Now are my life and youth fulfilled.
The air about me is free.
Home is home, My body is my body.
My god is kind to me.
All doubts are gone.
Kokila, you may sing a million times, [conventional excitant]
A million moons may shine now.
Love's five arrows may become a million spears.
The southern breeze may gently blow.
So long as he is close to me,
My body shines as mine.

Radha's submission

[Alternate version, from
Sacred Sex: Erotic Writings from the Religions of the World by Robert Bates (1994)

"All doubts are gone.
The birds may sing a million songs,
A million moons may shine now.
When he is close to me,
My heart sings and my body shines.
Lift up my dress, beautiful lover,
And fill me with pure gold.
You are my shelter in the rain,
My ferry-boat across the river,
My warm fire in the cold weather,
My southern breeze in the summer heat.
Nobody else I need
Only you."]

16. Twin hills

Her hair dense as darkness,
Her face rich as the full moon:
Unbelievable contrasts
Couched in a seat of love.
Her eyes rival lotuses.
Seeing that girl today,
My eager heart
Is driven by desire.

Innocence and beauty
Adore her fair skin.
Her gold necklace
Is lightning.
On the twin hills,
Her breasts ….,

17. Scarred Moon

I cannot guess your heart,
O madhava
The treasures of another man
I offered to you:
I was wrong
To bring a she-elephant to a lion.
Relinquish then the wife of another.

Your kisses have wiped clean
The mascara of her eyes.
Her lips are torn by your teeth.
Her full-grown breasts
Are scarred by your nails:
The autumn moon is scratched by Siva's peak...

[treasures of another man: radaha is married
she-elephant: graceful movement is more relevant than her bulk
Siva's peak: kailasa; as moon rises behind it, it is scratched by the icy
The maid was wrong not only because she brought a married woman to Krishna,
but also because his reckless lovemaking has left so many marks on her. ]

18. Night of rain

How the rain falls
In deadly darkness
O gentle girl, the rain
Pours on your path
And roaming spirits straddle the wet night
She is afraid
Of loving for the first time
O mAdhava,
Cover her with sweetness.

How will she cross the fearful fear
In her path?
Enraptured with love,
Beloved rAdhA is careless of the rest.

Knowing so much,
O shameless one,
How can you be so cold towards her?
Whoever saw
Honey fly to the bee?

21. As the autumn moon

The darkness of separation is over,
Your face glows as the autumn moon.
Raise your eyes, O lovely darling,
Listen to my words,
This is no time for shyness.

O mAlati,
My flower of fragrant honey,
Your lover is here.
Let the bee take
His fill of sweetness.
King of the season,
Spring, too, is here.
Fulfil your promise...

[AM: King of season? shd it be "seasons"? ]

22. Night of spring

Flowers in groves...

As death's agent, the moon shines
For women parted from their lovers.
More delicate than a lotus
How can their fragile forms
Endure such pain?

28. Time and love

As I guard my honor,
My love in a foreign land
Ravishes beauties
Who belong to others.
Safely he will come,
But he has left me dead.

O traveler, tell him
That my youth wastes away…
If time goes on
Life too will go
And never shall we love again…

29. Moon and night

When the moon is up,
O moon-faced love,
The rays from you both
Shine all around.
Your walk has the grace
Of the gait of an elephant
Come to the tryst
While darkness is thick.

0 moon-faced love,
The night is alight.
The fragrance of your skin
Floats free in the air
From afar, the unkind
Can gaze at will.
How can I bring you there, my love?
Your eyes look everywhere.
Your body is afraid.
I dare not bring you.

30. Mountains of gold

In joyous words he spoke
In joyous words he spoke
Of the beauty of my face.
Thrilled, my body
Glowed and glowed.
My eyes that watched love spring
Were wet with joy.
In dream tonight
I met the king of honey...
He seized the end of my dress,
The strings broke loose
With all the weight of love.
My hands leapt to my breasts
But the petals of lotus could not hide
The mountains of gold.

31. Gone away love

Hearing the signal,
She went to the tryst
But you were gone.
The shape of beauty
Longed to hear your voice
But in despair
The night dissolved ...

32. The end of youth

I hide my shabby cheeks
With locks of hair,
And my grey hairs
In folds of flowers.
I paint my eyes
With black mascara.
The more I try
The more absurd I look.
My breasts loosely dangle
My curving lines are gone.
My youth is ended
And love roams wild
In all my skin and bones.
O sadness, my sadness,
Where is my youth?

[Lament by an ageing woman; or perhaps Radha . ]

33. Remembered love

Harder than diamonds,
Richer than gold,
Deeper than the sea
Was our love.
The sea still washes the shores
But our love went dry.
I wish my lover,
Who is dark as the clouds
Would come in torrents...

How I remember
Those hours of passion
When he would swear to me
That day was night.

Here the original
ending is: "This kind of love is never vyabhichAra" (misbheaviour,
adultery). Translated in Jha as "No one has ever given up his genital
characteristics", which seems like an ideal line to get rid of.


34. Grief

Her flowing tears
Made pools at her feet.
The lotus that grew on the land
Now floats on water.
Her lips have lost their colour,
Like new leaves bitten by frost. ,

35. Thinner than a crescent

Her tears carved a river
And she broods on its bank,
Hurt and confused.
You ask her one thing,
She speaks of another.
Her friends believe
That joy may come again.
At times they banish hope
And cease to care.

O Madhava,
I have run to call you.
Radha each day
Grows thinner
Thinner than the crescent in the sky…

36. Let no one be a girl

Let no one be born,
But if one must
Let no one be a girl
If one must be a girl
Then may she never fall in love,
If she must fall in love,
Free her from her family.
O make me sure of him until I end.

Should I meet my lover
And his love flow strongly
Like currents of a river,
Let his darling heart
Be free of other girls.
If he yileds to other loves,
Let him know his mind and heart...

37 Fear

My shyness left me
As he looted my clothes.
My lover's limbs became my dress.
Like a bee
Hovering on a lotus bud,
He lent across the lamp.

The god of love is never shy.
He brightens like the bird
That loves the clouds.
Yet still as I remember
My darling's wild tricks
My heart, shyly trembling
Is bruised with fear.

[chAtaka or hawk-cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius) is believed to live on
rain-water and hence to 'brighten' at the sight of clouds.

(see this poem compared with its original in [Zide/Pandey:65] review below. )

99. At the river (fragment)

I will not walk
With you, Krishna,
But at the river
By the lonely bank
There I will meet you.

Parted Love (100)

I could not suffer the least delay from fear of missing you. i could
not live without you. i could not think of our bodies parted for even
a moment. when in delight the hair of our bodies rose, it seemed like
a mountain wall between us. day and night, we lived that way.

How can I live now?

rAdhA is far away and I am in mathura. and life goes on. a lovely
city, the new city-girls and so much wealth around, yet all are
useless without rAdhA. my eyes fill with tears. in my startled
heart, i hear these girls there and the ripples on the river jamunA.