In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Slim-Waisted Friend
  • Translated by Andrew Schelling (bio)

lekhāmanaṅgapuratoraṇakāntibhājamindor vilokaya tanūdari nūtanasyadeśāntarapraṇayinor api yatra yūnor nūnaṃ mithaḥ sakhi milanti vilokitāni

  • lekhām. faintly discernible streak of the new crescent moon

  • anaṅga. bodiless, incorporeal, phantom

  • pura. city

  • toraṇa. arch

  • kānti. lovely

  • bhājam. place, receptacle, desire

  • indoḥ. at the moon

  • vilokaya. (second-person imp.) look

  • tanūdari. (f.) (voc.) O slim-waisted woman

  • nūtanasya. young, fresh, new (adj. with moon)

  • deśāntara. (in a) far-off country, abroad

  • praṇayinoḥ. of two lovers

  • api. indeed

  • yatra. where

  • yūnoḥ. bound; a cord or connection (adj. with lovers)

  • nūnaṃ. surely, right now

  • mithaḥ. mutually, separately

  • sakhi. (voc.) friend

  • milanti. meet, come together

  • vilokitāni. the gazes [End Page 70]

Slim-waisted friend,look—spreading its archover Love’sphantom city,the faint crescent moon—where the separategazes of loversparted to separatecountries meet.

Rājaśekhara, writing in the ninth and tenth centuries, shows up repeatedly (113 poems) in Vidyākara’s Subhāṣitaratnakoṣa. Rājaśekhara composed a handbook of poetic training, the Kāvyamimāṃsā, giving detailed instruction on how poets might use language. The book also outlines how a poet maintains rigorous discipline: which hours of the day should be dedicated to study, writing, hygiene, and practice in the martial arts; and what hours should be set aside for lovemaking and sleep. All this presumes a carefully regulated domestic life. Nothing could be further from, say, Yogeśvara’s penchant for travel in out-of-the-way locales or his searches for old ritual.

Wikipedia notes that “Rājaśekhara wrote the play [Karpuramañjari] to please his wife, Avantisundarī, a woman of taste and accomplishment. He is perhaps the only ancient Indian poet to acknowledge a woman for her contributions to his literary career.”

The seven-word compound at the beginning of this poem refers to the induḥ (moon). Anaṅga means disembodied, incorporeal, and characterizes pura (city). The word is also an epithet for Kāma, lord of carnal desire. [End Page 71]

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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