Narsinh Mehta: Poem 7 in English: Let Go

This time I give you two versions with some translation thoughts:

Let Go

Let go, yellow-garbed one, my garment, the sun is up, how can we still lie a-bed?

At home, mother-in-law and sister-in-law are quick to take offense,

when my husband asks, what do I say?


The lion roars ravishingly, the lamp-light dims,

Flower-garlands fade at neck, the air fills with pancham raga chants.


In love thou sleepest in thy temple, far must I go to my temple.

The lord of Lakshmi stole my modesty, now I shall not return.


Cows need milking, calves call piteously, it is my day for buttermilk churning.

Kamala’s consort, Let go your arm from my neck, who will now come to you again?


Our love-battle has brought me peace, I stayed unsleeping with head bowed.

Narsinh’s lord is the ocean of peace, separation sorrow in Him does cease.


June 3, 2009, Trans. Meena Desai

Friday, February 11, 2011 11:34am

No. 7 Let Go

Let go my garment, yellow-garbed lover,

The sun is up, how can we still lie-a-abed?

At home, my in-law offend easily,

What answer to my husband’s asking?


Wild animal calls entice,

But the lamp-light dims,

Our flower garlands fade,

Morning raga fills the air.


Thou sleepest peacefully in thy temple,

I must go far to my place of rest.

Laksmi’s lord lays me open to slander,

No more will I now return.


Cows need milking, calves call piteously,

It’s my day for butter churning.

Kamala’s consort, let go your arm around my neck,

Who will return to a lover like you?


Our love battle grows peaceful,

Sleepless, my head stays bowed to you,

Naarsahinyaa’s lord is the ocean of joy,

In that, my separation pain melts away.

Translation notes:

I reviewed this after a year and a half and the new version results from the whole range of my reading and hearing discussion related to translation. I consciously made the decision to make this readable in English and not retain the flavor of the original language structure or word order. In the 2009 translation I realized that I was deliberately inverting word order to give a sense of a remoter time period even where the line in the original had a word order similar to English if I had done a word for word translation to start.


This version reads better but what’s missing is the context that allows the images to give meaning. Would a careful reading such as all poems deserve in and of itself provide sufficient information for most of this to come across successfully? In other words, if I know that this is in the context of worship of someone as important in that culture as Christ is in Christianity, is that enough for me to see and appreciate the deliberate shift from the physical and human to the spiritual and philosophical in the last verse?


About meenapoetartisan

word lover, meaning maniac, bilingual with metalingual interests, sometimes potter, poet, playwright, writer, mover to music, always a pontificator.
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