By Amaru, Bhartṛhari & Bilhaṇa
Translated by Greg Bailey & Richard Gombrich
Ámaru’s sophisticated seventh-century CE “Hundred Poems” are as much about the social aspects of courting, betrayal, feminine indignance and masculine self-pity as about sensuality. Bhartri·hari’s anthology “Love, Politics, Disenchantment” is the oldest of the three, from the fourth century. Interwoven throughout his three hundred idiosyncratic stanzas is a constant sense of skepticism about sensuality and love, economic and social power, and rejection of society and culture. In the eleventh century, Bílhana composed his intense “Fifty Stanzas of a Thief,” a thief’s rhythmic remembrance, in the moments before his execution, of robbing a princess’s affections, and the clandestine pleasures of their love in both separation and enjoyment. The flavor of all these poems is the universalized aesthetic experience of love.
Still when alone I recollect the smile
Which tasted nectar-sweet upon her lip;
I see the fastenings of her braided hair
Slip from their place, and see the garlands slip;
The wandering gaze, the string of pearls which rests
Kissing a pair of full uplifted breasts.
—“The Love Thief”
327 pp. | ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-9938-3 |
ISBN-10: 0-8147-9938-8 |
Co-published by New York University Press and JJC Foundation
About the Translator
Greg Bailey is Reader in Sanskrit at La Trobe University, Melbourne.
Richard Gombrich is Boden Professor Emeritus of Sanskrit at Oxford University. He is General Editor Emeritus of the Clay Sanskrit Library.