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Shakuntala

A setting in Sanskrit for two alto voices of one of the most beautiful passages in the Sanskrit language by fourth century playwright and poet Kalidasa. Composed in 2006.

Instrumentation: Two alto voices

Duration: 5 min.


Text:

From Kalidasa's Shakuntala:

NOTE: The story of Shakuntala (shakuntas/birds) first appeared in the Mahabharata and was later adapted into a play by Kalidasa. This passage is considered to be the most beautiful in the Sanskrit language.

ramyani viksya madhurans ca nisamya sabdan
beautiful melodious wistful of the words

paryutsuki bhavati yat sukhito'pi jantuhu
happy happening creatures [living beings]

tac cetasa smarati nunam abodhapurvam
to bind memory shapes special former births

bhavasthirani jananantara sauhrudani
will permanently all things good heart

be there waiting

Kalidasa, 4th c.

 

Even the man who is happy
glimpses something
or a hair of sound touches him

and his heart overflows with a longing
he does not recognize

then it must be that he is remembering
in a place out of reach
shapes he has loved

in a life before this
the print of them in him waiting

Translation by W.S. Merwin, 1977
Sanskrit Love Poetry
Columbia University Press

 


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