Karmafal15. Poem: Karmafal (Recompense) of the book Kshanika (Momentary) written at the beginning of the 20th Century.

(Translator’s note: It seems this poem was written well before the Poet had been a Nobel Laureate when there was no dearth of his critics who had to beat a retreat after the Poet had the accolade of the Nobel in 1913. However, in the later part of the twenties of the 20th Century some young scribes ‘revolted’ against Tagore’s hegemony in Bengali literature and tried a ‘coup’ to dislodge the Poet from his supreme position. They declared that Tagore’s time had ended and that it was their turn to hold the rein of the Bengali literature to re-vitalize it with their ‘new’ contributions. Tagore foiled their move simply with a big laughter and affection towards this group through his brilliant novel “Shesher Kabita” (The Last Poem). I read this novel in early fifties in my college life as it became essential for a Bengali young man to be ranked ‘intelligentsia’ which all of them aspired. Later I read its wonderful English translation by Krishna Kripalani captioned as “Farewell My Friend”. I do not know if Kripalani’s book is still available in the market but, I believe, some translation of “Shesher Kabita” must be available. I would suggest any Tagorephile not knowing Bengali to read translation of “Shesher Kabita”. Seemingly, it is a story of a triangular love, the theme on which numerous novels/stories have been written all over the world in good many languages. But none adapts the theme into the mould of the concept of Finite and Infinite of Upanishad as ‘Shesher Kabita’ does. I am not going into further evaluation of this superb novel with all my literary/philosophical naiveté. However, in the poem translated below, one may see how the Poet always took all invectives against him in good humour. (Also refer my notes on poems Daymochan, Antardhan, Asru & Achena from ‘Shesher Kabita’ Sl. 32, 35,34 & 33.)

If reincarnation be true
I’ve my clue
Again I’ll have my fall
In this capital of Bengal.
All my prose and poetry
I wrote, will trap me.
All my sin
Of the messes therein
To purge, I’ll have to do
My own work’s review.
If a few till then
Support to me will maintain,
Their ears will blush
As my vitriol I’ll flush
Any book of my own
I’ll lash to the bone
A destined critic I’ll be
For unflattering me.

Thus will be my critique“
“All these are antique
And plagiarism seem
I too might write like this, so I deem.”
And all else I’ll write
Their stings now I fright
In this life I gruel
How in the next I’ll be cruel
On my own literature
In the Review feature.
You, whose words I don’t relish
If be critics too hellish
In your next birth
Only to mar my polemic mirth
By penning your protest
To counter my views to rest
While I shall have to review
My own work for the reprimands due.

Write I will
“Indeed I feel
In the Poets’ meet
He is a misfit
A crane amidst the ducks
How an entry there he lucks?”
You’ll write, “Which monster
Does such shits utter?”
I’ll say, “You fool, don’t speak”
You’ll retort, “A damned rustic!”
Rest of the acrimonious modes
Will be remoter from the civil codes.
My diatribes I’ll blurt
Your retorts to follow curt.

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