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She Did Nothing to Bar the Door
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She Did Nothing to Bar the Door

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nāntaḥpraveśam aruṇad vimukhī na cāsīd    ācaṣṭa roṣaparuṣāṇi na cākṣarāṇisā kevalaṃ saralapakṣmabhir akṣipātaiḥkāntaṃ vilokitavatī jananirviśeṣam

  • na. not

  • antaḥpraveśam. entry

  • aruṇat. she blocked

  • vimukhī. (adj.) face averted

  • na. not

  • ca. and, either

  • asīt. was

  • ācaṣṭa. spoken

  • roṣa. angry

  • paruṣāṇi. harsh, severe

  • na ca. nor

  • akṣarāṇi. words, sounds

  • . she

  • kevalaṃ. only

  • sarala. artless, straight ahead

  • pakṣmabhir. through (her) eyelashes

  • akṣi-pātaiḥ. with a gaze, with glances

  • kāntaṃ. (her) lover

  • vilokitavatī. (a ktavatu, a verb turned into an adj.) she looked at, regarded

  • jana. (as a) person, man

  • nirviśeṣam. not different; ordinary [End Page 20]

She did nothing tobar the doordid not turn her face awaythere were no brittle words.She just gazed with indifferent eyes throughsteady lashes.He could have been anyone.

An example of Sanskrit’s lapidary style; a more talkative tradition would construct a novella around this scene. The old poets valued restraint, understatement, or suggestion: emotion conveyed through few words. Here the feeling is vivid even if we know none of the dramatic details. Certain Sanskrit poems—not dressed up; free of adornment—were prized for using no figures of speech. Avoidance of ornament, though, was itself considered a poetic figure, an alaṃkāra. [End Page 21]

Andrew Schelling

Andrew Schelling, born in 1953 at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, D.C., has written, edited, or translated twenty books. Early opposition to American involvement in Vietnam, plus an encounter with India’s texts, set him on a lifelong engagement with Asian literature. He studied Sanskrit at the University of California at Berkeley, and began to translate from its classical poetry tradition around 1978. His first book, Dropping the Bow: Poems of Ancient India, received the Academy of American Poets translation award in 1992, the first time the Academy had honored work done from an Asian language. Schelling’s own poetry and essays emerge from the Southern Rocky Mountain bioregion in which he lives. Recent books of poetry wrangle with the Arapaho language as a way of reading landscape and the natural cycles; they include From the Arapaho Songbook and A Possible Bag. He has edited The Oxford Anthology of Bhakti Literature and Love and the Turning Seasons: India’s Poetry of Spiritual and Erotic Longing (forthcoming from Counterpoint Press). Living on the Front Range of Colorado, he is active on land-use issues and teaches at Naropa University. He also teaches regularly at Deer Park Institute, in India’s Himalayan foothills.

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