Wednesday, December 28, 2011

We Nepalis

I walked past a book store today and decided to turn around and go back to check it out. I asked if they had any poetry books and the man didn't speak English but he had a sidekick who spoke pretty good English, so he helped me. He took me to the bookstore next door, explaining that they probably had a better selection. So the man behind the counter tosses a book out onto the counter saying I should buy it. It's called The Lunatic and Other Poems, by Laxmi Prasad Devkota. The man helping me explained that it is a very good book by a very important man in Nepal's history who helped found the university in Kathmandu and helped keep the Nepali written language alive in schools. The book itself has each poem in Nepali on one page and the English translation on the next. And it is translated by the author, which is a huge bonus. The man helping me flipped open the book to his favorite poem and explained why he loves it. I am only two days into Nepal and am really enjoying the people here. I also want to learn a bit of the language, both conversation and written, and downloaded a Nepali/English dictionary and phrase book before I arrived. So this book is perfect because it has both, and I can look between the two languages and try to figure it out with the resources I have. I paid my 150 rupees ($1.75) and went on my way. I stopped at a cafe for lunch and started to read the poetry while having some darn good coffee. Here is the first poem of the book, and so lovely...

We Nepalis

We are the children of Aurora,
Offspring of Asia's reawakened age,
Sons of the Himalayas, we crave
To climb the peaks wreathed with the golden rays.

We are the products of the Buddha's soil,
The honey-sweet playmates of Janaki,
                              the flower of our earth.
We are the refulgence of the fingers of Araniko,
And the ripe harvest of Prithvinarayana.

We are the golden dreams of Tribhuvana,
We are Mahendra's garden rich in flowering shrubs,
We are the rivals of the tiger,
And the sentinels of democracy.

We are the still, small voice of humanity's dove
With the Danphe's prismatic plumes of fancy,
We are the scented breath of the Himalayan flowers that grow
Out of the dust of the sages that lie in their long silence.

We are the songsters of the luxuriant wilds
That trill and warble love upon the leafy boughs of the world,
We are the mountain temples of humanity,
We are the pilots of perpetual peace.

We are the liberal liquefaction of the Himalayas,
Snow-breasts that nourish the life of India in a network of
                         serpentine rills.
We are the prophetic angels of the east
That dwell in the dominion of the first sun-beam.

We are the partners of this round home, this terrestrial sphere,
Partaking of a single plate.
We are the worshippers of self-sacrifice,
We are the citizens of the world.

-- Laxmi Prasad Devkota

Over the course of the day I read more of his poems and read about his life in more detail online, and I can't wait to find more of his writings. Such a beautiful, passionate writer.