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Stairs

by TheRebel2007


We are the stairs;
Trampling over us,
You rise to new heights every day,
Without even looking back at us;
Our breasts, blessed with your feet
Are ravished by your steps every day.

You know that too;
Covering the cuts of our chests with carpets,
You wish to hide the terrible bruises you've inflicted;
You dare not reveal to the world,
Your proud, thunderous, torturous feet.

Yet we know that;
It will not forever be
Hidden from the sight of the world -
Your calamitous feet on our covered chests -
And, like Emperor Humayun,
Someday, you too, shall tumble over us

A translation of a Bengali Poem (Sukanta Bhattacharya's সিঁড়ি)


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Mon Jan 23, 2023 3:21 pm
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Ravenmiss wrote a review...



I can tell that the poem is something that goes through our daily lives. Since we go through daily struggles, we know that life could be harsh, no matter what it is. No matter what you'll do, you always get back up but among the stress, it falls down upon yourself after you feel like enough is enough, I really like this poem and I appreciate the reflection it brings on throughout the world.




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Wed Jan 18, 2023 1:25 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...



Hi there! This is my first time reviewing a translation on this site (and from a language I don’t speak too) but I’ll do my best! The poem definitely caught my eye, and I always enjoy satire when it’s done well.

General Impressions

Reading this English rendition of the poem, I can definitely feel a sense of dark humor and a mocking tone towards the “you”. The speaker(s) comes across as confident despite being ‘stepped on’ by this “you”. The ending sounds prophetic and slightly hopeful.

I did some Googling to check the poet’s background and to understand the reference to Emperor Humayun. Based on that I think the intended interpretation of this piece would be that an oppressed class of people is addressing their oppressor? I like the irony in the lines:

Our breasts, blessed with your feet
Are ravished by your steps every day.

And
You dare not reveal to the world,
Your proud, thunderous, torturous feet.

In the first one, the speaker(s) points out a contradiction between the addressee’s above-it-all self-perception and the very ‘base’ destructiveness of their behaviour. And in the second one, it certainly is ironic that a “proud” person tries to conceal something.

Word Choices

I like the use of “the stairs”, which is an obvious plural form as opposed to something like “the staircase”. “stairs” to me evokes the image of a lot of people being trampled over, which makes the situation seem more extreme. It also lines up with the “we” being used. In general, I appreciate the use of specific verbs and nouns here, for example “trampling” vs “rise” is a powerful contrast and “tumble” yet another one to show the folly of the addressee.

I thought “cover” was an interesting choice. Granted, I’ve not read the original, but to me “cover” could have both good and bad connotations. Sometimes we “cover” someone with a blanket to keep them warm. Other times we “cover up” a mistake we made to other people’s detriment. I wonder how other words might work in this line, such as “conceal” (since the next line uses “hide”).

“the sights of the world” is also a little ambiguous in English. I think here it would mean something like: not hidden from the sights (of all the people) in the world? Is that what is meant there?

Rhythm

Something I appreciate about this translation is the effort you’ve put in to make it rhythmic. There’s assonance in breasts/blessed, and the line “covering . . . carpets” has the repeated sound and visual of the “c”. It makes the line sound harsher, which is fitting, as it depicts the results of violence. I also like how the “c” assonance appears again in the final stanza, where the line “Your calamitous feet . . .” echoes the second stanza. I also noticed a slight rhyme between chests/us with the “s” ending. I tend to like there being some rhyme to close off a poem – I just feel it sounds satisfying, like the final couplet in a Shakespearean sonnet does.

Overall

Thanks for the interesting read! I noticed there doesn’t seem to be many English translations of this poet’s work available online, so it’s great that you’ve created one yourself. While I’m not able to talk about the accuracy of the translation, I can just say that the poem’s effect in your English version is powerful. As mentioned, I found a few phrases or words a bit more ambiguous and so less hard-hitting, but on the whole it comes across as a witty yet also weighty protest poem.

Hope this helps – let me know if you’d like more feedback on something specific!
-Lim




TheRebel2007 says...


Thanks for the review, Liminality! I am sorry about the "sights of the world", it was a typo, I meant to write "from the sight of the world", thanks again! :D



TheRebel2007 says...


And yes, I am glad that I managed to get the true impression of the poem in English as well. To be honest, the alliterative "covering" line was the one that inspired me to write this poem. Like, while I was reading the original Bengali poem, it randomly struck me that that particular line would sound great in English, so I quickly wrote it down (while in school, mind you, when our teacher was actually reading the poem). Thanks again!



TheRebel2007 says...


And yes, I am glad that I managed to get the true impression of the poem in English as well. To be honest, the alliterative "covering" line was the one that inspired me to write this poem. Like, while I was reading the original Bengali poem, it randomly struck me that that particular line would sound great in English, so I quickly wrote it down (while in school, mind you, when our teacher was actually reading the poem). Thanks again!



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Tue Jan 17, 2023 11:04 pm
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GengarIsBestBoy wrote a review...



The way I see it, this poem is a metaphor for people who are tired of being mistreated (because stairs are constantly being walked upon). Someone attempts to cover up their problems by hiding it from the public (covering the stairs with a carpet). I think this could be interpreted as many different things (racism, ableism, or even abuse). Overall, really great poem!




TheRebel2007 says...


Thanks for the review!



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Tue Jan 17, 2023 10:41 pm
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vampricone6783 wrote a review...



Thank goodness stairs aren’t sentient, or else they would experience great pain and we would be in a lot of trouble. Could stairs lead a revolution? I don’t want to know. It could also not be literal and just be about angry people who are tired of being treated less. This was a great poem. I have enjoyed reading this. It’s humorous, but could also be looked at in more serious way.

I wish you a lovely day/night.




TheRebel2007 says...


Thanks for the review!




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