“John Stratton Hawley miraculously manages to braid the charged erotic and divine qualities of Krishna, the many-named god, while introducing us—with subtle occasional rhyme—to a vividly particularized world of prayers and crocodile earrings, spiritual longing and love-struck bees.”
—Forrest Gander, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
An award-winning translation of Hindi verses composed by one of India’s treasured poets.
The blind poet Surdas has been regarded as the epitome of artistry in Hindi verse from the end of the sixteenth century, when he lived, to the present day. His fame rests upon his remarkable refashioning of the widely known narrative of the Hindu deity Krishna and his lover Radha into lyrics that are at once elegant and approachable. Surdas’s popularity led to the proliferation, through an energetic oral tradition, of poems ascribed to him, known collectively as the Sūrsāgar.
This award-winning translation reconstructs the early tradition of Surdas’s verse—the poems that were known to the singers of Surdas’s own time as his. Here Surdas stands out with a clarity never before achieved.
Surdas, the wildly popular sixteenth-century composer of these poems, reworked well-known stories of Krishna as a child, a butter thief, a cowherd, a heartbreaker, and a charismatic deity into a new oral literary tradition. Translated into a slightly antiquated but colloquial English that passes for contemporary speech while reminding us of the distance between our time and the time in which these poems were sung, John Stratton Hawley miraculously manages to braid the charged erotic and divine qualities of Krishna, the many-named god, while introducing us—with subtle occasional rhyme—to a vividly particularized world of prayers and crocodile earrings, spiritual longing and love-struck bees.
Sur’s Ocean is a lovingly crafted and meticulously attentive translation of the superbly beautiful corpus of devotional love poetry associated with the sixteenth-century north Indian poet Surdas. Hawley has given us a Surdas who is both perennial and speaks persuasively to the present.
Surdas’s poems are a continuation of the tradition of Krishna stories, the cosmography that has, in its many versions and variations, defined the spiritual life of the Indian subcontinent... Reading Surdas’s songs in this new translation, I am reminded, again, of how the figure of Krishna is one of the greatest achievements of the Indic imagination.
- 208 pages
- 5-1/4 x 8 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
Sorry, there was an error adding the item to your shopping bag.
Sorry, your session has expired. Please refresh your browser's tab.