The poems (to use the word loosely) of the Irish writer and lawyer Edward Kenealy contain this alleged translation from the Bengali:

Song in the Metre of the Original

A maid there is more bright than light
   Whose charms my soul inflame ;
Her father's only child she is,
   And Veedya is her name.
In vain my lyre, that form, all fire
   And beauty, would portray ;
But, oh ! my heart is sad and lone,
   While she is far away.

They say that Love has ne'er revealed
   His form to mortal eye ;
But he who views my Veedya's charms,
   Sees Cama's self stand by.
Ye gods, forbid that he should see
   That maid so choice, so fair ;
For Love may then my rival prove,
   And sink me to despair.

I'll chant in song her matchless grace,
   And breathe it in her ear ;
The sacred hymns of Noodyia
   My Veedya oft shall hear.
How blest were I, if, changed by spells
   Into a bird-like shape,
I sang to her in Vrindabor,
   'Mid lily, rose, and grape.

My Veedya's beauty fills my soul ;
   I murmur still her name ;
She brightens every hope and thought,
   And is my being's aim.
At night, at dawn, in star and sun
   I see her ever shine ;
My life must be one cheerless waste,
   Till Veedya's heart be mine.

Kenealy, Edward Vaughn. "From the Bengali: Song in the Metre of the Original." Poems and Translations. London: Reeves and Turner, 1864. pp. 455–456. Accessed at archive.org 7 April 2024.

This is of course marvelous fun, particularly when sung to the tune of There was a farmer had a dog; one can substitute V-E-E-D-Y-A for B-I-N-G-O without breaking meter. That said, it purports to be a translation, but Kenealy provides no information about what the original might be. Is this really a translation, or just Orientalist guff like Lalla Rookh? If the former, what is the Bengali original?


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.