By strange coincidence, James Joyce, in his famous novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, wrote a few lines which Gurudev Tagore did in his poem Ekla Chalo, and perhaps about the same time. They run as follows: "Look here, Cranly, he said, you have asked me what I would do, and what I would not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it calls itself my home, my fatherland, or my church; and I will try to express myself in the same mode of life or art as freely as I can, asking for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use ó silence, exile and cunning."
Cranly seized his arm
and stared at him around so as to lead him back towards Leeson Park. He
laughed almost slyly, and pressed Stephanís arm with an elderís
affection. "Cunning, indeed!" he said; "you, poor poet,
you!" "And you made me confess to you,"Stephan said,
thrilled by his touch, "as I have confessed to you so many things,
have I not?" "Yes, my child", Cranly said, still gently.
"You made me confess the fears that I have. But I will tell you
what I do not fear. I do not fear to be alone, to be spurned for
another, or to leave whatever I have to leave. And I am not afraid to
make a mistake, even a big mistake, a life-long mistake, and perhaps as
long as eternity, too."
Attempt at translation
I was rummaging through old notebooks and scraps of papers I had preserved when I came across my first attempt to translate Urdu poetry into English. It was with the help of Manzur Qadir, my closest friend during my seven years in Lahore (1940-47). We happened to be travelling from Southampton to Karachi and Bombay. Most of the passengers were either Pakistanis or Indians. Manzur and I spent our days on the deck.
He took out his favourite verses from Diwan of Allama Iqbal, and explained what they meant. I chose one to try my hand at translating it, and showed it to Manzur to check for accuracy:
To the Creator did
beauty one day complain;
We have controlled
(Contributed by Kuldip Salil, Delhi)