AGI Poetry Spotlight: Waterfall by Amarjit Chandan

Amarjit Chandan (1946, Nairobi) lives and works in London.

e has published six collections of poetry, and four books of essays in Panjabi. Four of his books are also published in Farsi script from Lahore, West Panjab. Chandan has edited and translated over thirty anthologies of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction by, among others, Brecht, Neruda, Ritsos, Hikmet, Vallejo, Cardenal and John Berger in Panjabi.

English versions of his poems have appeared in England in various collections including Being Here (1995, 1999, 2005), Sonata for Four Hands prefaced by John Berger (2010); and in magazines such as Atlas, Artrage, Bazaar, Brand, Critical Quarterly, Modern Poetry in Translation and Poetry Review (England), Akköy and Papirus (Turkey), Defkalion o Thessalos, Erismus, Odos Panos and Ombrela (Greece), and Lettre Internationale (Romania).

NB Panjabi is the second most spoken language in the UK

WATERFALL by Amarjit Chandan

At last
the rock surrendered
and gave way to the water

who came first
the rock or the water?
the roots which
tore open the rock
or was it the seed?

Why is water so wet
how long will it keep flowing?

Bathing girls and boys
bob up and down and scream
as the water falls
upon their heads
and lovingly sings
love and live and celebrate
for youth is  yours.

The young shrug off
all questions
and left on the banks
this moment of liberation
from why and how and where
this fleeting falling moment
is beyond question and thought

swirling in the waterfall
flowing with its zest
this is the moment of life
this is the moment of youth
this celebration

at last
the rock surrendered
and gave way to the water

  — Ingleton, England

In the original Gurmukhi:


[Translated from the original in Panjabi by the author and Shashi Joshi]

Sonata for Four Hands, Amarjit Chandan (Arc Publications) prefaced by John Berger. 2010.