Coleman Barks, female mystic, Kashmiri language, Lalla, Lalleshwari, poems, Poetry, Richard Temple, Shiva, translations, vatsun
These are two translations of the same poem:
Dance, Lalla, with nothing on
but air. Sing, Lalla,
wearing the sky.
Look at this glowing day! What clothes
could be so beautiful, or
Barks, Coleman. Naked Song. Lalla. Athens, GA: Maypop, (1992)
Dance then, Lalla, clothed but by the
Sing, thou, Lalla, clad but in the sky.
Air and sky: what garment is more fair?
Dance then Lalla, clothed by the air;
Sing then Lalla, clad but by the sky.
Air and sky; what garmant is more fair?
‘Cloth’, saith custom; ’ doth that
Temple, Sir Richard Carnac. The
words of Lalla, The Prophetess: Being the sayings of Lal Ded or Lal
Diddhi of Kashmir. Cambridge University Press (1924)
Lalleshwari (1320–1392) was a female mystic of the Kashmiri Shaivite sect. She was a creator of the mystic poetry called vatsun or Vakhs, literally “divine speech.” As a child she was married at the age of 12 into a family that was reported to have regularly mistreated her. After becoming a disciple of Sidh Srikanth, she renounced her material life and marriage to become a devotee of the god Shiva. As a mystic, she wandered naked, reciting her proverbs and quatrain-based poems. Her verses are the earliest compositions in the Kashmiri language and are an important part in history of Kashmiri literature.