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  • Day by Day Goes Past
  • Anonymous
    Translated by Andrew Schelling (bio)

dine dine gacchati nātha yauvanamyabhasva nityaṃ yadi śaktirasti cedmṛtasya ko dāsyati piṇḍasannidhautilodakaiḥ sārdham alomaśaṃ bhagam

  • dine dine. (loc. abs.) day after day

  • gacchati. (loc. abs.) is going past

  • na. nor

  • atha. again (will there be)

  • yauvanam. youth

  • yabhasva. fuck (me) (second-person imp.)

  • nityaṃ. (indeclinable) now, by all means

  • yadi. if

  • śaktir. power, capability

  • asti. there is (for you)

  • ced. if

  • mṛtasya. in death

  • ko. who

  • dāsyati. will give

  • piṇḍa-sannidhau. rice ball (traditionally a corpse is cremated with a rice ball in its mouth)

  • tilodakaiḥ. with sesame seeds

  • sa-ardhaṃ. along with (literally, with the other half)

  • a-lomaśaṃ. hairless (shaved)

  • bhagam. (f.) sex organ [End Page 86]

Day by day goes past, and youth too.Fuck me nowif you can—Dead, who will give youalong with thesesame-rice balla sweetly shavedcunt?

This poem is inexcusably direct for Sanskrit. Official rules, for a tradition that valued suggestion or indirection over direct statement, forbade the use of sexually explicit words in poetry. The terms in question—yabhasva (fuck me), and bhaga (“the bestower” of pleasure, or of birth)—won’t appear too raw if you look them up in a dictionary. To find them in a Sanskrit poem, though, would be more troubling than any words I could use to translate them. The poem is so outside the tradition of Indian poetry that it was probably never written down. The editors of A Poem at the Right Moment therefore transcribed the oral version. [End Page 87]

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. 86-87
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