Foolish, not Social

Returning home do you feel you talked too much?
Cleverness, do you feel very tired?

Do you feel like sitting quiet in the blue cottage
Burning incense, after a bath, on return?

Do you feel like wearing a human body at last
After taking off the demon’s dress?

Liquid time carries moisture into the room.
Do you feel like an ananta-shayana on her floating raft?

If you feel like that, come back. Cleverness, go away.
Does it really matter?
Let them say foolish, let them say unsocial.

Sankha Ghosh

Note: ananta-shayana: Vishnu sleeping on the cosmic serpent Ananta.

I received this poem on the Minstrels mailing list, to which I had subscribed recently. The original is in Bengali, but this English translation is quite delightful too. Of late, I have tended to rhyme and metre far more than I used to, partly influenced by my fondess for Vikram Seth’s poetry, and partly because I have started to enjoy it anyway. But this poem comes as a timely reminder that metre and rhyme aren’t all. It paints quite a picture, doesn’t it? Something utterly graceful about it, I can’t quite put a finger on.

What is the bengali word for cleverness?


Posted on September 23, 2005, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Hi, I am Lakshmi and I have been subscribed to Minstrels for more than 2-2.5 years now. They’re great, aren’t they? It’s funny how people love reading all the Minstrel poems that I post on my journal but no one really wants to subscribe to the mailing list themself!

    • Hi there!

      Oh yes, the Minstrels are great. I just discovered them recently though. I suppose most people prefer reading poetry now and then, not one a day 🙂 I wonder if there’s a poem that’s not on their site!

      Thanks for dropping by!

  2. interesting!

    u still have the original?

    many bengali words for cleverness (my sis is named after one of them!)

    • Re: interesting!

      if i had the original why would i ask? 😉 No, i just got this. What’s your sister’s name?

      • Re: interesting!

        Sorry, I mis-understood. In bengali we have many words for everything, shades of clever. Most commnly chalaak. ‘Chatur’ is more shrewd. Pragnya (pronounced prog-ga) is wise. could go on and on

        My sisters name is Procheta: intelligent but bright, as opposed to bookish. Or thats how it had been explained to me.


      • Re: interesting!

        ah…thank you. Procheta is a beautiful name. Procheta sounds like just the word that could be in a poem too. 🙂

      • Re: interesting!

        Actually, the original word is “chatur”, which actually means a bit more than clever, with connotations of shrewdness and slyness thrown in.

        –sm (

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