Beyond The Beaten Track: Offbeat Poems From Gujarat (Heritage Collection)

Poet, How Can You Relish This! (Zaverchand Meghani)

Across the land at every step
children die for want of grains,
from the ungodly sky fire rains:
day and night the lives of the myriad poor are at the rich's mercy -
then, oh woe! Poet, how can you songs of earth and water relish!

Staggering along
women in millions roam the streets
labour all night hungry:
‘My children will wake at dawn and ask for food'
so thinking torment flesh –
then, oh woe! Poet, how can you songs of stars and sunset relish!

Mind! Stop gazing at the stars,
see the bars of dark jails –
haven't you heard their sobbing?
Behind them mute and lonely thousands die tortured deaths –
then, oh woe! Poet, how can you the songs of the seashore relish!

In the ocean of epidemic and death
amidst million screams and sighs,
on the earth burning from oppression:
all this romantic poetry is but a golden snare for the famished;
then, oh woe! Poet, how can you weaving clever word-plays relish!

Night and day in their veins
pours the cacophony of dire machinery
inhale they deadly fumes while breathing,
what to them the poet or poetry! Can they frisk among
flowers and stars ?
Then, oh woe! Poet, how can you the flute of Krishna relish!

When the world's hunger is quenched,
when hungry children have their fill,
every adult has a square meal:
poet, that day the beauty of blue sky and stars will earn sense;
burn your warbling, soul! How can you singing of cant relish!

કવિ તને કેમ ગમે ! (ઝવેરચંદ મેઘાણી)

ધરતીને પટે પગલે પગલે
મૂઠી ધાન વિના નાનાં બાળ મરે,
પ્રભુહીન આકાશેથી આગ ઝરે :
અહોરાત કરોડ કરોડ ગરીબોના પ્રાણ ધનિકોને હાથ રમે-
ત્યારે હાય રે હાય, કવિ ! તને પૃથ્વી ને પાણીતણાં શેણે ગીત ગમે !

લથડી લથડી ડગલાં ભરતી,
લાખો નાર ગલીગલીએ ફરતી,
સારી રાત ભૂખે મજૂરી કરતી :
'મારાં બાળ પરોઢિયે જાગીને માગશે ભાત' વિચારી એ દેહ દમે-
ત્યારે હાય રે હાય, કવિ ! તને સંધ્યા ને તારકનાં શેણે ગીત ગમે !

મન ! છોડ નિહાળવા તારલિયા,
કાળાં કેદખાનાં કેરા જો સળિયા-
એનાં ક્રન્દન શું નથી સાંભળિયાં ?
એની ભીતર મૌન એકાકી રિબાઈ રિબાઈ હજારોના પ્રાણ શમે-
ત્યારે હાય રે હાય, કવિ ! તુંને સાગરતીર કેરાં શેણે ગીત ગમે !

મહારોગ ને મૃત્યુના સાગરમાં
લાખો ચીસ નિ:શ્વાસભર્યા જગમાં,
સિતમ સળગંત ધરા-તલમાં;
રસ-સુંદરતા કેરી શાયરી છે બધી જાળ સુનેરી ભૂખ્યાં જનને,
ત્યારે હાય રે હાય, કવિ ! તું ને શબ્દોની ચાતુરી ગૂંથવી કેમ ગમે !

દિનરાત જેઓની નસેનસમાં
પડે ઘોષ ભયંકર યંત્રતણા,
પીએ ઝેરી હવા જે દમેદમમાં,
એને શાયર શું ! કવિતા શું ! ફૂલો અને તારલિયામાં એ કેમ રમે ?
ત્યારે હાય રે હાય, કવિ ! તુંને કૃષ્ણકનૈયાની બંસરી કેમ ગમે !

સારા વિશ્વની જે દી ક્ષુધા શમશે,
ભૂખ્યાં બાળુડાં પેટ ભરી જમશે,
પૂરી રોટી પ્રતિજનને જડશે:
કવિ ! તે દિન નીલ આકાશ તારા કેરી સુંદરતા સહુ સાર્થ બને,
તારાં કૂજન આજ જલાવી દે, પ્રાણ ! રે દંભ ગાવા તને કેમ ગમે !

Category in Beyond The Beaten Track

Protest Poems

Appreciation

So rich are the agonies and the ecstasies of the sensitive mind, that most poets are not able to emancipate themselves from their narcissism. Meghani, schooled in the Gandhian era and the struggle for independence, has tried in this poem to hold the poet by the scruff of the neck and make the poet hear the silent screams of a suffering humanity.

About The Author

Zaverchand Meghni, B.A.(1897 – 1947) was born in Chotila, a town in the district of Surendranagar, North Gujarat, although his native place was Bagasara, district Amreli in Saurashtra. After a stint as a teacher, he started his career after graduation in Kolkata as a private secretary in an aluminium factory, and visited Britain with the owner of the factory. Later he returned to Saurashtra and joined the editorial board of a periodical. He joined the freedom struggle, and was sentenced. He had a career as a journalist and he was associated with one periodical after another in Mumbai and Gujarat. Meghani married twice. His first wife died tragically; his second wife was from Nepal. Meghani had an affinity with nature on account of visits to his father’s place near the Gir forest. He also roamed widely in Saurashtra and gathered a vast amount of folk stories, songs and other materials. Meghani’s poetic adventure began in school, but regular writing began when he was around 25. During his stay in Bengal he got exposed to Tagore’s poetry and to the Baul folk songs. He was also influenced by Kalapi, a romantic poet of Saurashtra, and by Mahatma Gandhi. Meghani published many volumes of stories, novels, folk tales, poems, children’s songs, and translations. He was a recipient of the Ranjitram Gold Medal. He came to be known as ‘Saurashtri Litterateur’ and also as ‘National Shayar’.