Who are you, reader, reading my poems an hundred years hence? I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one single streak of gold from yonder clouds. Open your doors and look abroad. From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the vanished flowers of an hundred years before. In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning, sending its glad voice across a hundred years.
It is perhaps the most faithful of the three translations, and yet succeeds with a fine balance. Five stanzas of 4, 7, 14, 5, and 10 lines; 242 words.
Five stanzas of 7, 12, 4, and 6 lines. At 189 words, rather more economical.
Who be you, I wonder,
Reading my poems with such keenness?
My verses about flowers and birdsong,
And the multiple hues of nature,
– Will they affect you a hundred years later
With the same intensity I felt?
Please open the window to the south,
And sit there gazing at the far horizon;
Slip out of the present and imagine …
A time, a hundred years ago;
Be transported there, imperceptibly,
For then, I'm sure you'll discover
The same feelings I had on a beautiful spring morn,
When the south wind wafted a sultry fragrance of flowers,
And nature seemed so intoxicating,
So youthful in its variegated attire,
Frolicking in the breeze!
The poet, working passionately,
To set down the tenor of this fleeting moment,
A hundred years ago …
Joe was influenced by James Elroy Flecker's Poem To A Poet A Thousand Years Hence, written in ballad meter, quatrains of iambic tetrameter rhyming ABAB. Stanza 1 in the original by Rabindranath is translated into 3 quatrains, stanza 2 into 4 quatrains, and stanza 3 into 3 quatrains. Joe claims: “While one is free to create another poem in another language, if it is to be considered, in some sense, a translation, the original poet's word choices and images should not be ignored. What's below is still a free translation.” 232 words to render the sense and convey the music.
And gaze at the horizon