Poems of Nilomani Phookan


(Nilomani Phookan (b.1933) is an Indian poet in Assamese language. He was a recipient of 1981 Sahitya Akademi Award in Assamese for his poetry collection ‘Kobita’. Given poems are translated from ‘Golapi Jamur Lagna’ one of the notable collections of poems. The poems are taken from the complete works Nilomani Phookanar xampurna kabita, AANK BAANK, Guwahati-3, 2013.)

A Face

I saw

a face like a thirsty swallow of Dipor lake 

was gurgling under the brighten sky

a row of teak woods stood in a place off

Dews on date leaves were shining in moon-beam winter


I saw the face on the bank of afternoon  

or in the dusky track either

A pearl turned to be fallen in anon

A face like shadow woods of spring

appeared like a dark bay

on which soft petals tingle

This face is not a face

but a fresh leaf of Japanese pam

shoots in a tub of my sitting room

I’m listening to

a sunbaked voice of distant swallow 

(Ekhoni mukh, p.51)


Smoky Time

Fallen leaves 

get buried in chest

Sun beam 

in the shell of dead cicada

Smoke hangs solitude 

on the tip of bamboo grass

Sunlit face 

falls off in mist 

Spatial river 

flows in smoky time 

(Dhowar samoy, p.53)


A Lonely Man


they all screamed out 

they beckoned me from under water

Trees were bended in air

 as if to fall flatways

A deep-set flagpole

just has risen up from the river below

I can see

a tight cluster of unyielded ropes fastened with the mast

Facing up

a desolated man is standing

(Ejon nisango manuh, p.55)


Some Snapshots of Summer 

The air is opened up 

in lush green 

Sun becomes hazy

in the mirror of distant horizon

Carrying a stingy luminosity on its body

 a buffalo is grazing in the perennial bush

In snake’s mouth  

a stunned frog is wailing 

An island of marshy plant

is floating in Brahmaputra

A diffused moment

in the distant mirror

(Grismar keitaman khudrakai drishya, p.57) 


Our Grievous Grief upon Your Emptiness

You roam 

in our emptiness

Your being 

is like short lived blooming flower

A drop of tear 

as if was fallen from deceased eyes

Despair of being dried like raw leather

a tanner and a bluish tint sky

We all are like wax statue

moulded in quiescence

A bunch of snowflakes hangs on the nooses

of the herd

A buried snail in sand

your emptiness

On your extreme void

our grievous grief

(Tumar sunnotat amar dukhbhar, p.66)


Swinging Rose Apple in an Auspicious Moment

Some unvoiced words 

have hand gesture

An auspicious moment of blooming rose apple

on a broken heart’s bough

A sea bird just has flown over the city

which is set on fire

A stream is freezing slowly

a finger is dying

Lava flows  

scorching the heart setting aside the river Pagladiya

A song 

just has sunken in sea deep to gorge

An auspicious moment of rose apple is hung on

the broken heart’s bough

Night flutters like flute 

in hollow wind

Some words which are not voiced ever

are anciently cold

(Olomi thoka golapi jamur logno, p.67)  


He is Looking Still to our Faces

He is looking still to our faces

He wished to open up his arm like a flying crane

He stares at the bloomed sun flower

and light up a lamp wick at forepart of banana leaf

extending the awning over

A clean, pure-bright awning

Children are looking at us

Our face is like mountain cavern

(Thor hoi teo amar mukholoi chai asey, p.68)


With a Child 

I was travelling with a child

on a train

Darkness rolled up the shadowed route

which I left behind

An illusionary germinated plant unknown

crossing over between us

The evening earth was going on

on the pair of parallel bars  

while I was travelling with the child on train

The seized intimate heart breathed 

on the cold parallel bars of stairs

(Eti sishur satey, p.71)


Have Flown after Dark

Stars were flown after dark

and hung upon the branches like birds

killed by a hunter

An astound morning 

burning like a dawn in my heart

An aromatic clean floated in the air

(Andharey andharey uri aahil, p.75)


It seemed like I’m hearing for the first time 

It seemed

I’m hearing for the first time

Ay, boatman! Where are you from

I hold out myself 

on prunus leaf

having rudimentary burned in wild fire

Forfeiting your pain

the boat went to down stream 

It seemed like I’ve heard his voice

for the first time

the voice – so quiet

of his own within

(Ai jen prothom sunilo, p.77)


You liked to be sesamum flower

To hold you in bed was a vain expedition

Down in the mountain plain

You bloomed 

You were swinging like a sesamum flower

(Tumi j tilful hoi, p.50)


The past

We were going by the side of the burning forest

A flock took flight after having bath in mist water of the smoky sea

A range of snakes was floating away 

When it was to be dusk

We moored the boat near a hut

There was none in the hut

The hut started to smoulder from one side

 The enslaved sky like a helpless beggar was sobbing

We started rowing leisurely amidst smoke and darkness



An Evening Writeup

Flesh is coiled up 

like roots of dead tree

Fingers have worn emaciation

The fogs of winter bit 

the evening stridulation 

A shoal of porpoise and crocodile in river water

An eternal smell

in the open mouth of the dead person

(Gadhuli likha,p.54)


The Sunset on the Bank of Brahmaputra

A gold vessel was brightened like the day

fell down from an empty hand

It fell at our quiet and drowned

Red desire of the vessel was rising up in water bubbles:

What a majestic brightness of men’s last desire

Each of the spectator went back with same relapse of pain

A kind of void came down from the shelf of smoky dark

(Brahmaputrat surjastya,p.59)


Amitabh Ranjan Kanu teaches English literature at PB College, Gauripur, Dhubri