> Creative > Poem  
Date of Publish: 2015-07-18

Navakanta Barua (b. Dec 29, 1926, d. July 14, 2002) was an eminent modern poet, novelist, lyricist, dramatist and a popular writer of children's literature. He enriched the modern Assamese poetry with his unique style, aesthetic consciousness and bold expression. His collection of poems-He Aranya, He Mahangar (1951), EtiDuti Egharati Tara (1957), Yati Aru Keitaman Sketch (1960), Samrat (1962), Ravan (1963), Mor Aru Prithibir (1973), Ratnakar (1986), Ekhon Swachha Mukhare (1990) carry this signature.

Barua received several awards including the Sahitya Akademi Award (1975) for his novel Kakadeutar Har, Assam Publication Board Award (1974) for his collection of poems Mor Aru Prithivir and the Assam Valley Literary Award (1993), the Soviet Land Nehru Award (1980) for translation of Pushkin's The Wounded Swan. As a Tagore Scholar he travelled to erstwhile USSR in 1962. In 1973 he participated in Fifth Afro-Asian Writers' Conference in Kazakhastan. He visited Poland and Yugoslavia in 1975 on a cultural exchange programme.

The lyrical flow in his books for children, which include Akarara Jakahala, Syali Palegoi Ratanpur, Makhonor Kukura Puwali, Golap Aru Beliphul, leave lasting impression on children.

"He was one of the first to introduce surrealism in modern Assamese poetry. His collection established him as an eminent poet and a visionary. His poetic expressions are lucid and symbolic. His poems were a revolt against the traditional poetic norms and hence he could be regarded as one as one of the pioneers of modern Assamese poetry. He could depict in his poems the gradual destruction of modern society and torture of human mind and soul..." (Lilabati Saikia, Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature, Volume I published by Sahitya Akademi).

  • Arindam Borkataki, Literary Editor, nezine.com



It is evening now,

Let’s go to the tailor’s, to get measured.

Measurement of neck chest hands and arms

Measurements of the thumb.

We shall give measurements of the palm and the heart,

The entrails, the spleen and the liver,

Give count of hormones and love.

Let us give measurements of life

Of this and that and various things.

Only give the measurements.

We shall think of the stitching later on.

For the time being let’s just give measurements;

We can only give measurements.

We can only take reckonings.

We shall record the suicides have

Swelled considerably.

We shall give count of Christians in Arabia.

Just give measurements.

We shall think of stitching later on.

Only think.

Someone after us will measure anew

Saying that our measurements were wrong.

Fresh new measurements.

When will someone stitch the garment to fit Man.

(Translated from Assamese by Dhirendra Nath Bezboruah )


The First Code of Life

Offerings to the mother have been washed

With brother’s blood;

To satisfy the mother earth

Offspring’s flesh has been cooked in her breast’s milk!

Please, no more

Distribute those horrible offerings!


I am a poet, my shelter made of only words

Words only from my bridge

Through the incisive bridge of words I have crossed

The dark caves of disbelief

What is the use of calling he word as Brahma

Thinkingof it as The God Incarnate.

When man wants to protect its dignity

With men’s blood?


Only a few accused, condemned words

(So easily can one juggle with the words!)

From which erupts deadly hatred,

Suicidal, fratricidal smoke, and

From which originate rivers of blood

Of the confused poor

Ye my people, the incarnations of the Great Ashoka,

With your tears of repentance

Have your hands washed of

The stains of your brother’s blood.

Purify yourselves. Not with the split incantations

But with the stable unity of

Thought, Love and Sweat.

Ye Ashoka the Terrible, transform yourself

The Ashoka the Just.

( Translated from Assamese by Ritu Raj Kalita )


The Belt Of The Spinning Wheel

The corded belt of my mother’s spinning wheel
was a mystery to me
spool after spool is used up
the distended bobbins pile up in the basket
the empty reel takes a spin or two and stops

But the belt of the spinning wheel is unending
I don’t see its ends, just see it move
spelling it out carefully, I write on my slate

One day the cord of the spinning wheel
became quite another thing
I saw a bare string lying on the cement floor
And, after that
We bore mother to the grounds and burnt her

Now the spinning wheel turns
but the bobbins won’t,
In the reel a knotted skein of thread ...
Sitting in the dark of my mind
gingerly, in Rabindric charactery
entered in the ledger:
in the morning light,
the stammering poet, me, read

( Translated from Assamese by Pradip Acharya )

God Gave Gray Cells

God gave man brains
To achieve lunacy therewith.
With his body plenished with blood
The heart took on the task of mistrust.
Speech he had
Wherewith cunningly to obscure truth.

The only truth left to Man
Is the work-moist hands of his own woman
Clasped in his weary hands of an evening
And the smile of this his child.

(Translated from Assamese by Pradip Acharya )


Two poems translated by the poet himself


The fossil heaved its stony sigh
God’s failures have caused,
All his tears to helpless man.

(First published in 1970)


The Gloom

Last night
Someone poured ink into Umiam
How the streetlights emitted darkness!
The whole day the sky blotted
It with the clouds.

And now, just now
Mixing the gulmar and
The golden cassia hues
The sun prepared
A tiny speck of an orange light.

(First published in 1970)


The translators:

Dhirendra Nath Bezboruah is a veteran journalist, author and columnist. A former president of The Editors’ Guild of India, Mr Bezboruah was a former editor of The Sentinel, an English daily published from Guwahati.

Pradip Acharya is a renowned translator in Assamese and English, literary critic and author. He taught English in Cotton College.

Ritu Raj Kalita teaches Chemistry in Cotton College. An essayist, poet and a translator, he is the Associate Editor of Natun Padatik- a socio-political quarterly published from Assam. He writes extensively on social justice, peace, social harmony and secular values.

frame frameborder="0" height="315" scrolling="no" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WHx67MDy7QU" width="560">


China, India must both review Himalayan region dams
Manipur holds the key to 'Look East'
Role of Media and Tribal Societies in Assam - Issues, Challenges and Alternatives
A sight to behold
Twisted- 27
A few poems of Manoj Barpujari