Some Unquenchable Desire

by Bhartrihari
translation by Andrew Schelling
Shambhala Publications, 2018

schelling1schelling2Although little is known about his life, the Indian poet Bhartrihari’s poetry shows himself “torn between sexual desire and a hunger to be free of failed love affairs and turbulent karma.” Bhartrihari was a linguist, courtier, and hermit, and he used poetry to look at themes of love, desire, impermanence, despair, anger, and fear. Some Unquenchable Desire covers themes of love, sex, and disappointment, as well as Hindu mythology, and Buddhist philosophical concepts to recall ancient India through the voice of one of its most celebrated poets.

Schelling has also translated Erotic Love Poems from India: 101 Classics on Desire and Passion. The poems in this collection were compiled in the eighth century, and it offers different perspectives of erotic love that range from graceful to playful and intensely passionate while hinting at divine transcendence. (Adapted from publisher’s description)

Andrew Schelling is poet, translator, essay writer, and editor. He edited for a samizdat literary journal and studied Sanskrit and Zen Buddhism. His translation for Dropping the Bow: Poems from Ancient India received the Academy of American Poets award in translation in 1992. Schelling teaches at Naropa University.

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Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling

4ac656cc6cd94f862d478f7a03748991-w204@1xby Carole Satyamurti
W. W. Norton & Company, 2015

British poet Satyamurti works from scholarly versions—such as K.M. Ganguli’s unabridged 5,000-page English prose translation—to condense all 18 books of the Mahabharata into this single volume of blank verse. The task is formidable and many would say impossible, yet Satyamurti moves smoothly between episodes with a consistent, understated rhythm. Inevitably, many of the core episodes and events are overly simplified; moreover, the bloody, cataclysmic battle at the end of cosmic time and the struggle for virtue—both human and divine—are unfortunately made to seem far more tame than in the original.  

Carol Satyamurti is a poet, sociologist, and translator. The author of many books of poetry, she has taught regularly for the Arvon Foundation and for the Poetry Society (UK). She lives in London.