An Anthology of Contemporary Nepali Poetry

Shrawan Mukarung


Children are warming up themselves
beside a fire under the lamppost. 

It's cold, all through the ages.

In the distant past
It is said they used to warm themselves up
by burning firewood
They say, they used to burn water and air 
And we burnt tires of the wrecked minibuses
We also burnt
Newspapers and pamphlets of political leaders
and today, the children are burning
The last pages of scriptures,
film magazines and modern poetry. 

...what would the children of the future burn?
To warn themselves up
what would they burn...?

It's cold all through the ages.

Children are warming up themselves
Beside a fire, under the lamppost.
		(Translated from Nepali by Tirtha Bhattaraee)

The Antique Man

One needs the newest thing
to wipe the most antique man out.

What thing of this class
do you posses at present?

Rectified democracy?
The republic?

Sophisticated guns
tanks, missiles, rocket-launchers
an international anthem?

You set his house on fire,
and with it -
his children burned.
His wife, siblings and friendly neighbors perished in the fire too.
His wears - bhangra, bhoto and gado burned;
and along with them, bakkhu, dhoti and hakupatasi burned.
But, he did not.
Do you know, why?

You called him a terrorist,
and government's spy.
Your heinous torture severed his submissive hands;
innocent eyes and tongue were plugged out,
neck, and legs hacked into pieces.

You pierced his heart, as big as the earth
with insidious lance of your gun,
and bellowed out your victory.
But do you know
how he resisted death?

You need the newest thing
to kill the most antique man.

What thing of this class
do you posses at present?

Culture, cult, nationality
human rights
or else,
supreme America?

What do you have,
left in your hand
capable of undoing
the most antique man on earth?
Can you-
undo the smell of paddy from the field?
Can you -
eliminate the smell of breeze on the hills?
Can you-
annihilate the odor of water in the sea?
What is that you have
what is that you have
that can
undo the fair odor of sweat from the earth?

		(Translated from Nepali by Mahesh Poudyal)