#ReadIntl2020 Adult Books Lifespan of a Reader Poetry Poetry Friday Reading Themes

[Poetry Friday] The Translations or Versions of Mirabai’s Poetry

Ecstatic poems of Indian mystic poet Mirabai.

Myra here.

Thank you to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of The Poem Farm for hosting this week.


Mirabai: Ecstatic Poems (Amazon | Book Depository)

Poetry by: Mirabai Versions by Robert Bly and Jane Hirshfield Afterword by John Stratton Hawley
Published by Beacon Press (2004)
ISBN: 080706386X (ISBN13: 9780807063866). Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me and edited using an iPhone app.

Last week, I shared two of Mirabai’s poetry which I read while my family and I were staycationing at Ras Al Khaimah here at the United Arab Emirates. This week, I am sharing two more poems that speak quite strongly of Mira’s love to Krishna.

It is worth noting as well that the translated poems are called versions of Bly and Hirshfield because they are not literal translations. Both poets have taken liberties with the original poems to make them more accessible to an international audience. John Stratton Hawley explained it in this manner:

Translating for a world that doesn’t command that sort of ease with images, Bly and Hirshfield have paved a new road. It involves some innovation, no doubt, and readers who wonder what it took to create such bypasses will have to compare these versions with other, more literal translations. But the result, I would argue, is faithful to the way that Mira has very often been understood in India itself: totally in love, utterly devoted, single-minded in her speech, simple in tone, straighter than straight.

There is something about plain-spoken poetry that speaks to me so, as I hope it does to you too. Which of the poems here resonated with you most?


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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

8 comments on “[Poetry Friday] The Translations or Versions of Mirabai’s Poetry

  1. Kay Mcgriff

    These are stunning. The heartbreak in the first one hit home (but fortunately, no current heartbreak for me).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. laurashovan222

    “Let those whose Beloved is absent write letters. Mine dwells in the heart.” When so many of us are separated from those we love, these lines speak to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. amyludwigvanderwater

    Oh….”mad with love.” So beautiful. Thank you for these. They take us to heights and depths. All health and love to you and yours. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These are intense, in a good way. The first one spoke to me, knowing that intense pain of separation, though luckily not from a broken heart at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Whoa, there are some hard core emotions exposed in both these poems. Thanks for sharing them. Be well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow. Mira Is Mad with Love is the one that most sliced through me, though both are just stunning. Thanks, Myra!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Poem 1 resonates with me- mad with love is an intense statement.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: [Poetry Friday] Kabir’s Irreverent Divinity – Gathering Books

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