The Parrot in the Cage / Lekhnath Paudyal
(Lekhnath Paudyal's poem translated by L.P. Devkota)
A parrot called a bird, a twice-born child,
By Fate into an iron cage beguiled,
I find, O God, nor peace nor quiet rest,
For even in a dream I lie oppressed.
My parents and relations that there are,
Do in a forest corner dwell afar.
To whom shall I my agonies outpour,
From this, my iron cage, lamenting sore?
Sometimes my tears roll down my swelling eyes,
At times I feel a corpse, my spirit flies,
At other times I madden and I jump,
Recalling woodland pleasures with a lump.
A poor and little forest wanderer I,
Fed on wild fruits, delighted who did fly,
Have been by Fate allured into this cage,
Destiny, O, has strange mysterious ways.
How far might I have freely roamed and flown,
Into what different countries soared and gone!
Alas! In vain, why Fate has me beguiled,
Into this dungeon, a forest-wandering child.
Cool waters and cool shades of verdant wood,
Really delicious fruits to pick for food.
Ah! All those things are vanished dreams today,
What now remains? A fear, my mind must sway.
Delightful shades of forests, rich and green,
Affection for the dear ones that have been
Feasting on food and wandering in the wild
Have now become but dreams to this poor child.
My aged ailing parents for me pine,
Tears in their eyes, dejected, dropping brine,
They may be everyday beating their breast,
Our close ties broken, Fate has us oppressed.
I see but enemies all around me lie,
There’s not a thing on which I can rely.
What shall I do? And how effect a flight?
To whom unburden woes in this sad plight?
The bird to whom the open boundless blue
Was field for flights of pleasure to renew
Has now, alas, for his life’s single stay
A narrow cage of iron here today.
Seeking to break this dungeon open here,
Against the bars that check my free career,
The hard-struck beak is blunted, wings and feet
Are cramped. How shall I pass long days? Defeat!
Sometimes the cramping cold, sometimes the heat,
A prattling now, and then a silent seat.
After the varying whims of boys that play,
My fate changes her course perverse today.
When I recall the shows sad Fate displays,
Then like a mad thing do I pass my days,
My tears pour down, then cracks and breaks my breast,
My heart constantly wails by Fate oppressed.
Dark apprehensions in long waves arise,
Shocked and bewildered, I survey the skies.
Without Death’s call the life-breath cannot cease,
Excruciating must I end my lease.
A stinted measure of some third class rice,
That, half a fill, doth Destiny devise.
I cast a thirsty glance upon the pot
Devoid of water, such is my life’s sad lot.
Dry is my throat, my bondage sharp and tight,
A prating still compelled, I hate downright.
Should I refuse to speak, brandishing cane,
They threaten me with thrashing once again.
One says, “Look here! This is an ass’s colt!”
Another says, “He is displeased! Behold!”
A third induces me God to repeat,
Says, “Atmaram! Read on! Be famed! A wit!”
What sort of fellow is this tiny life?
How comes he here? What food and of which type,
Takes he within this cage? There’s none to know.
And so my heart must tingle in my woe.
To be a life subjected to a bond,
And to be forced to callers to respond.
Strange Fate! Thou giv’st me yet such stinted measure
Of sustenance! How hard, they cruel pleasure.
Hard Providence! Thou didst me just provide
With power of speech and reasoning, my pride,
And this has been the parent of my woes—
Scolding and threats, and a confinement close.
Man must indulge in strange and merry sport,
Anguishing me, a cage for my resort.
How sinful is this human course, this crime,
Help me escape, O Pitying God sublime!
The human race hostile to virtues fair,
Exploits the worthy till the breast dries sheer.
Till winged breath be taken not away,
How should it be content or kind today!
So long as on this wide terrestrial plain
A single human being shall remain,
O Lord! Let not a parrot’s life be given,
Suddenly comes a sense to me, O Heaven !