Singing to the Goddess: Poems to Kali and Uma from Bengal by Rachel Fell McDermott

By Rachel Fell McDermott

This vivid assortment provides one hundred forty five short Bengali lyric poems devoted to the Hindu goddesses Kali and Uma. those poems-many of that are awarded right here for the 1st time in English translation-were written from the early eighteenth century as much as the modern interval. They signify the original Bengali culture of goddess worship (Saktism) because it built over this era. integrated are 40 poems by means of the main well-known of all Sakta poets, Ramprasad Sen (c.1718-1775) and ten lyrics via the well known 20th-century poet Kaji Najrul Islam. McDermott's lucid creation locations those works of their historic context and exhibits how photographs of the goddesses developed over the centuries. Her full of life translations of those poetic lyrics evoke the fervour and devotion of the fans of Kali and Uma and make clear the historical past and perform of goddess worship.

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Extra resources for Singing to the Goddess: Poems to Kali and Uma from Bengal

Example text

And why, when the cream of Your skin bewitches the world, do You arrive here plastered with soot? With tears from my eyes I'll wash off Your smut; come, Ma, to my lap. Yet even when I holdYou to my chest, still I die of pain; that's why I abuse You, Ma. Najrul Islam 15 Kali is every thing You do misleading? Your beloved has thrown Himself under Your feet! Mother I beg You with folded hands: don't dance on top of Siva! I know how Tripura's Enemy feels. Beautiful Tripura, Kind Wo man, just this once, stop.

It is I reflecting on the divisions of the one Brahman who makes the mischief! Ramdulal Nandi 29 Ma,You are Brahman! in the world of Brahma, Sarvamangala inVaikuntha, Gayesvarl in Gaya, and AmaravatT in Indra's world. In Daksa's home You are Sati, at Siva's place His wife Parvatl. I hear they caUYouVimala in Puri. But Mother of the World, show mercy to sad and dejected me and tell me this: if at the bridge You are Ramesvari and Ksemahkarl, and as RajesvariYou hold a skull-topped staff in Your hand, where do You manifest as all-pervading Vis'ves'vari?

Syama,You stream of nectar, through Your deluding power You forge a horrible face and adorn Yourself with a necklace of skulls. The earth quakes under Your leaps and bounds. You are frightful with that sword in Your hand. 40 At other times You take a flirtatious pose, and then, Mother, even the God of Love is undone! Your form is inconceivable and undecaying. Narayam, Tripura, Tara— You are beyond the three qualities yet composed of them. You are terrifying, You are black, You are beautiful. Thus assuming various forms, You fulfill the wishes of Your worshipers.

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