Erotic Love Poems from India: 101 Classics on Desire and Passion by Anonymous, Translated by Andrew Schelling
English | 2019 | General Fiction | ePUB | 1.8 Mb
Erotic Love: The poets of classical India regarded love as the first and deepest of passions. Translator and scholar Andrew Schelling perfectly encapsulates the history and passion of eighth-century India in this collection.
“A single stanza of the poet Amaru,” declared a ninth-century poetry critic, “may provide the taste of love equal to what’s found in whole volumes.” Graceful and yet remarkably playful, intensely passionate, and at times hinting of divine transcendence, the poems translated here offer poignant glimpses into the many faces of erotic love. This collection, known in Sanskrit as the Amarushataka (“One Hundred Poems of Amaru”), was compiled in the eighth century and remains to this day one of India’s finest collections of love poetry. Legend connects the poetry’s authorship to King Amaru of Kashmir, while present-day scholars generally consider it an anthology of the verses of many poets.
The world of India’s art is a topsy-turvy place. It comfortably holds contradictions that pale moralizing or humorless logic find intolerable most everywhere else. Religious texts use erotic language with blazing specificity; erotic poems come couched in precise theological terms. Sandstone and chlorite sculptures of teeming figures—human and animal, in pairs or in groups—enjoying explicit physical love, mount the towers of the holiest temples at Khajuraho, Konarak, and many other sites. With complex, coded language, spiritual adepts protect the most advanced erotic practices. So who is to say that profound spiritual insights may not be woven into the heartbreak and humor of the Amarushataka?
Or might humor and heartbreak themselves be insight enough? Amaru, the elusive eighth-century poet, is said to have been a warlord in the strategic valley of Kashmir, with Pathan warriors to the west, Rajput warriors to the south, and tough mountain tribes north and east. He ruled a notable dynasty in his day; he may have fought hand-to-hand in combat; and with cold military precision he could have sent obedient soldiers to their deaths. The centuries have swallowed what military or political success this ruler achieved. Yet the volume of poetry he sculpted survives—as though delivered into the twenty-first century by the ghost-hands of a warrior