The Bride’s Palanquin


The other day, Sri Ganeswara Rao garu remembered and paid homage to Sri Ronanki Appalaswamy (1909-87), one of the greatest connoisseurs of literature and a torch-bearer of modern Telugu poetry. He did not get due recognition from the later generations as his body of work remained inaccessible. People talked about his translations but till I stumbled upon a rare treasure, I was not sure about his competence as a translator.

Recently I could come across a copy of ‘India Love Poems ‘(Peter Pauper Press, 1967) in a second hand book store. A collection of poems from Indian literatures and mostly from Telugu. It carries 11 translations from Telugu literature also jointly done by Sri Appalaswamy and Tambimuttu. All of them are extra ordinary. The choice of words, the cadence, the rhythm and the felicity are of the highest order. I have not seen such a quality in translating Telugu poetry into English so far.

They translated the poem ‘Purnamma’ by Gurajada also. A friend is compiling a Gurazada reader for a prestigious publishing concern and I suggested this translation to her to include in her collection. When we contacted the Peter Pauper Press for permission, we were surprised to be told that the Press no longer remembers to have brought out such a book (even though the book was first published in 1967 only). We are also equally delighted as the publishers gave permission to reprint the poem as part of the intended collection from the writings of Gurazada.

I would like to share with you the poem ‘The Bride’s Palanaquin ‘. A translation of one of the most celebrated poems of Devulapalli Venkata Krishnasastry. The palanquin acquired a mystic significance in the poetry of the Indian Bhakti poets such as Kabir. It evocates suggestions of farewell as well as union. It denotes the message from the beloved and all hope and consummation associated with the bridal dreams.

Please read the translation and the original. The original stands as one of the greatest poems in the history of Telugu poetry for its beauty, craftsmanship and melodious swaying of the language in sync with the theme it depicts. The extra ordinary acumen of the poet in ending the poem abruptly was well discussed and I need to explain it in detail, but later.


When the word came that the master of my life
Had sent a palanquin to fetch me to his arms
My heart leapt for joy;
The dry creeper of my body
Woke to life in a riot of softest flowers-
Garlands of sweetest-smelling flowers;
With trembling hands I worked through the toilet.
My bridal robes caressed me like folds of a cloud:
My ornaments rivaled the sun raising East:
My heart a torch flaring with delight:
Strange weights of ecstasy lifted me up:
Light as a spirit I felt, the freedom I knew was O,
A fruition past bearing!
I rocked, I soared to the palanquin’s light swaying;
With myriads of flowers it was decked
And I a fragrant garland of blooms within.
‘O , and O ho ho ‘chanted the bearers, Heaven’s messengers-
In endless vistas we left leagues and leagues behind.
This day of my glory can never know forgetting-
Village after village emptied to gaze in wonder at Heaven’s own bride.
And as we neared my husband’s enchanted place,
‘O, and O ho ho ‘sang the limber swaying bearers.
The street came in to view-as we sped the orchard woke
And the stream that slept tight turned once round its sleep.
The palanquin was at once love’s veena and a
Creeper shining with a springful of flowers;
It was Indra’s bent bow-many tinged,
A bough stretching heaven wards out of a honied dream;
Was the palanquin, which bore me to my husband’s arms.
Translated by Tambimuttu and R.Appalaswamy


ప్రాణసఖుడె నా కోసమై పంపినాడు
పల్లకీ అన హృదయమ్ము జల్లుమనియె!
వీడని వియోగమున వేగు మ్రోడు మేను
తలిరు తోరణమై సుమదామమాయె!
చెదరు చేతులనెటొ కయి సేసుకుంటి
మొయులు వసనమ్ములో ప్రొద్దుపొడుపు నగలొ!
ఏదొ కాలుచు హాయియో ఏదొ తేల్చు
భారమో యేదొ సైరింప నేరనైతి!
కొసరు నడల తూగాడుచు కూరుచుంటి
పూలపల్లకిలో పూలమాల నేను!
‘ఓ ‘యనగ ‘ఓహొహో ‘యన బోయవాండ్రు
దారిబడి నిలిచిచూచె ఊరూరు నాడు!
‘ఓ’ యనగ ‘ఓహొ హో ‘ యన బోయవాండ్రు
వీటి వెలుపల మేల్కొనె తోట తెరువు
‘ఓ ‘యనగ ‘ఓహొ హో ‘యన బోయవాండ్రు
తోట పొలిమేర కాలువ తొణకె నిదుర!
ప్రణయ వల్లకి పల్లకీ! ప్రసవభర
సంతవల్లిక పల్లకీ! శక్రచాప
వక్రరేఖ పల్లకీ! మధుస్వప్నశాఖ

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