Melody of Body is an anthology of forty-four short free-verse poems from prolific and renowned Bengali poet, Mr. Quazi Johirul Islam. Both the original and the English translation of each poem have been published side by side. The essence of the poems is conveyed through the translations. However the reader of the English version might wonder what is lost in translation? Perhaps, the poetic music of the Bengali language.
At first glance, the erotic yet subtle esquisses of sensual women, display a fleshy aspect of this compilation. By all means, the reader might choose to feel the longing of touch. However, diving into the poems with all God-given senses might be more fulfilling. After all, the book’s title juxtaposes the tangible body to the abstract harmony of our universe.
In this universe, women take center stage. Not only they are sexy like the mermaid who swims without clothes (Melody of Body 39) but are, most of all, like Goddesses from Greek and Hindu mythologies such as Aphrodite, Persephone, Droupadi and Sita. They represent Love, Beauty, Pleasure, Passion and Fertility.
Melody of Body celebrates the body through all five senses. It also celebrates the entire universe with its known elements: earth, space, wind, fire and water. The elements are majestic but they are not always kind to the body. Woman is the eternal mother-earth (Melody of Body 21). Woman represents the universe and all its elements.
In Melody of Body 2, a naked woman stands behind a frosted glass. Lust is palpable. But just like fire, you may not touch her, lest be burned. The desire to touch is omnipresent but the gratification of touch tends to be at best ephemeral or improbable and sometimes even forbidden (Melody of Body 13).
Smell the Hasnuhena (Jasmine) aroma in Melody of Body 6 & 30 or enjoy the bloom of hundreds of roses (Melody of Body 3) but don’t restrain yourself; get wild and drunk with the cologne of the blooming flowers (Melody of Body 15).
Water is in abundance whether it falls from the sky to make the naked river smile or it is in the form of a turbulent torrent (Melody of Body 44). In Melody of Body 3, the body is like a canister of water. It is a blaze of purity.
Throughout the book there is an opposition or rivalry between night and day, between darkness and light. In Melody of Body 42, the night is split into two to give birth to Dawn. Imagine a kaleidoscope of colours (Melody of Body 5). Melody of Body 19 ventures into enlightenment which is ignited through profound contemplation. The light has the potential of illuminating the body; however darkness remains likely. What is the eternal truth? Is it that our senses will perish with our body but love is immortal (Melody of Body 9)?
Melody of Body is beautifully written and some verses could easily be lyrics from songs or should I say, from sensual melodies. It is a unique opportunity for English speaking readers to smell the aroma of eastern poetry as this book has been translated into English, so a very special thanks to the translator Siddique Mahmudur Rahman. The body, especially the women body, pictured in this anthology as a gateway to reach the universe. Though the immediate feelings of readers is erotic but eventually the poems take readers to a huge mystery of spirit. After reading 44 poems of Quazi Johirul Islam my thirst has multiplied to read him more.