Translation: Niruddesh Jatra

Niruddesh Jatra by Rabindranath Tagore

A translation of Tagore’s poem “Niruddesh Jatra” from his collection, “Shonar Toree” (The Golden Boat). The original can be found here.

Voyage into the Unknown

How farther shall you take me,
O beautiful maiden?
Your boat of gold will be moored
In the harbour of which eden?
Whenever I ask, you only reply
With your sweet smile, O Fair One. Why,
What lurks in your mind I cannot fathom.

In silence, towards the distance you point
Where the anxious sea is joined
With the setting sun in the west.
What lies there – what is the object
Of our quest?

Tell me, O Stranger, I wish to know
There, where the day’s pyre in the dusk does glow,
Like liquid fire the waters sparkle
The sky melts down in a circle,
Is that where your hut is, at the foot of the cloud-kissed hill?
You simply smile, your gaze on my face, your lips as still.

Niruddesh Jatra

The wind’s sighs are loud as a howl
In blind fury the seas do growl.
The dark waters with doubts abound
The shores are nowhere to be seen around
As if the entire earth is flooded in endless tears.

On it floats the golden ship,
On it the evening sunbeams drip,
Amidst all this, why do you smile this silent smile?
What is thy pleasure that does so beguile!

When you called out,“Who would like to come with me?”
And pointed your arms towards the western sea
I glanced at your eyes in the young morning’s light
Restless rays of sun, like very desire’s invite
Shimmered in the waters arcane.

On board the boat, I asked you,
“What awaits us there? A life all new?
Do dreams of hope bloom there in golden hues?”
You still just smiled and our boat did cruise.

Both thunders and calm we have since seen
Stormy nights and days serene.
The sail catches wind, we know not where the gleaming boat floats on
Night follow day and dusk follows dawn
In the distant west, the sun climbs down.

I implore you now once more,
Tell me what lies there in store?
Is it gentle death? Is it peace?
Is it sleep in which this darkness shall cease?
Yet you lift your eyes and smile at me.

Soon shall the dark of the night across us spread
The evening sky will swallow the golden red
Only your sweet fragrance does float,
The only sound are the waves against the boat,
Your tresses beat against me in the random winds.

When the spirit will tire and the body will lose its zeal
To you in eagerness shall I appeal,
To draw near, touch me, help me feign
You won’t speak, your silent smile shall no longer be seen.



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