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  • You, My Messenger
  • Translated by Andrew Schelling (bio)

dūtī tvaṃ taruṇī yuvā sa capalaḥ śyāmastamobhir diśaḥsaṃdeśas sarahasya eṣa vipine saṃketakāvāsakaḥbhūyo bhūya ime vasantamarutaś ceto nayanty anyathāgaccha kṣemasamāgamāya nipuṇaṃ rakṣantu te devatāḥ

  • dūtī. messenger-girl

  • tvaṃ. you (are)

  • taruṇī. slender, young

  • yuvā. (m.) youth

  • sa. he (is)

  • capalaḥ. inconstant, wandering

  • śyāmas. dark

  • tamobhir. (inst.) torpor, darkness (in this case, clouds)

  • diśaḥ. sky

  • saṃdeśas. message, dispatch

  • sarahasya. secret

  • eṣa. this man

  • vipine. in the forest

  • saṃketakāvāsakaḥ. (bv. cmpd. with eṣa)

  • saṃketaka. tryst, assignation

  • āvāsakaḥ. making love

  • bhūyo bhūya. blows, blows (of the wind)

  • ime. these

  • vasanta-marutaḥ. spring winds

  • ceto. heart

  • nayanti. they lead

  • anyathā. elsewhere, astray

  • gaccha. (second-person imp.) go

  • kṣema. quickly, easily

  • samāgamāya. to the meeting

  • nipuṇaṃ. craft, art

  • rakṣantu. may they protect

  • te. the

  • devatāḥ. gods, guardian deities [End Page 76]

You, my messengerare a tender sprigbut I trust you with a secret dispatch.Go to the wind-tossed forestwhere that dark manawaits me.Black clouds trouble the heavens,spring breezes stir and the heartalso stirs.But go to him safely.May the gods keep a closewatchover your art.

The winds blow the heart anyathā (elsewhere or astray). Still, the woman must send her dūtī (messenger) to set up the tryst, however much anxiety it causes her. She dispatches the girl with a blessing that her nipuṇaṃ (craft or skill) be supernaturally protected. The protectors invoked are the devatā: not the big gods (deva), but the local spirits who come out of the land, the ones who watch over this patch of forest, these fields, the nearby creeks or springs.

Waiting in the woods, the lover could be śyāmaḥ (dark), as the sky is dark (the adjective could go with both), reminding her of Krishna, whose straying is legendary and who bears the epithet Śyāma (Dark One). Certainly the unnamed lover is capala (inconstant or wandering), at the mercy of the winds that are bhūyo bhūya (blowing, blowing), continuously tossing this way and that. [End Page 77]

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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pp. 76-77
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