J.P. DAS (born:1936) Oriya poet, playwright and short story writer was educated in Utkal and All.ahabad Universities. He is the author of nine collections of poems, five collections of short stories, four plays, a historical novel and a book of poems for childrefi. His works have been widely translated and his plays have been performed in different parts of the country, besides being broadcast on radio and television. A Ph.D. in Art History, his scholarly works on Orissan Art include Pun Paintings and Chitra-pothi.
English translation of his works include First Person, Love is a Season, Timescapes, Silences, all collections of poems; Before the Sunset and The Underdog, plays; and, The Magic Deer, The Forbidden Street, The Spiderís Web, collections of short stories.
Having given up career in the lAS to devote himself to full time research and creative writing, he works and lives in New Delhi.
translator of the these poems is a well known writer of short stories and novels of Orissa. He has published six collections of short stories and four novels in Oriya so far. His short stories have been translated into several Indian languages including Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Tamil and Malayalam. English trnn~llttionN lflClLldc Hawks and Other Stories (Select ion of short stories)and IInto and Unknown Sunset (novel)


The experiments with truth
turned into slogans.
The philosophy of life
remained stuck
to the blind eyes of statues.
Success remained delimited
to mere definitions.
The soul was taken over
by gross merchandise
of opportunism.

For the establishment of dharrna
war was declared.
For maintaining peace
bustees of dalits were burnt.
With the support
of devious scriptures
truth was asked
to prove itself.
The men of god
were made outcastes.
The lowliest
moved even further away.

There is no one now
in quest of truth;
no one is bothered
about the means any more.
Everyone has his eye
on counterfeit results.
In the profit and loss
of black markets
the last capital of goodness
was squandered away.
In search of new colonies
imperialists marched away.
Awards for peace
were bestowed on war-mongers.

The old pocket watch
cannot overstep
the lines of poverty.
The horrors of picturesque truth
cannot be seen through
the thick pair of spectacles.
The small piece of loin cloth
cannot hide the vulgarity
of limitless power.
The walking stick cannot stop
the aggressive violence
of extremists.

When the clocks fall silent
and their hands move no more,
when history takes leave,
he comes out yet again
from the confines of statues,
movies and anniversaries
and takes another brief stride
towards the raised rifles
of new assassins.

Two Birds


Standing on a heap of garbage,
he pretends as if
he would pluck the sun
from the niche of the sky,
and proclaims proudly
the arrival of the morning
with the cacophony of arrogance.

And then,
the whole day long
he keeps chasing shadows.
Wearing a red crown,
head held high
he paces up and down
with hauteur,
even though
no one turns round
to look at him.

No one stares at him,
oh no,.
no one bothers to listen.
The sun completes
its diurnal rotation.
The bird falls asleep
near the garbage heap,
satisfied and satiated,
tucking its vainglory
within its feathers.


To all and sundry
it preaches moral lessons
and the essence of knowledge.
But then,
it dashes against the lights
and retreats hastily
to the inauspicious
corners of darkness.

Behind the bowers
of thick leafy trees,
it sits silently
through the whole day,
closes its eyes
and pretends philosophy,
to hide away
its own blindness.

Quiet is the interior
of the hollow of the trees,
and there is no one about.
Yet, in a meditating gesture
it casts scholarly glances
consoling everyone
with its head
nodding knowledgeably.

When the last light
has been extinguished
from the tree-tops,
it emerges from its hole.
It gathers with its claws
all the superstitions,
and hopping from branch to branch,
it scatters them
all over the land
with scoops of darkness.



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