ABOUT THE POEMS A leading light of the so-called “Hungry Generation” that remade Bengali poetry in the 1960s and 1970s, Shakti Chattopadhyay produced some of the most striking images and lyric phrases of modern Bengali verse. In poems like ‘Jete pari kintu keno jabo’ (translated here as ‘I Could Go, But Why Should I?’ ) and ‘Hemanter aranye ami postman dekhecchi’ (‘I have seen a postman in an autumn forest’), Chattopadhyay’s lyric sensibility offers a resounding example of how poetry makes meaning in a manner that is elliptical, ambiguous, autonomous—and, from the evidence of these poems, contagious. (Consider, for instance, the perfection of how earth, sky and human subject are all suddenly brought together in the opening of his poem ‘The Donkey and The Moon’, in Aditi Nath Sarkar’s 1974 translation: “Once I had only to lift my eyes/ To see Donkey and Moon go walking/ Silently through the woods/ Neither even/ Turning to see the other.”)
For these new translations of some of Chattopadhyay’s best-known poems, the prolific translator of modern Bengali literature Arunava Sinha says, “Shakti Chattopadhyay is a poet whom every generation can discover afresh to their delight. And his poetry is luminous in the language of every generation.”
I Could Go, But Why Should I?