Modern Assamese Poetry

Assamese or Asomiya or Axomiya or Ôxômiya is the easternmost Indo-Aryan language, the language of the state of Assam in North-East India, spoken by over 13 million people. It has derived its phonetic character set and behaviour from Sanskrit and is written in Assamese script. The literary heritage of the Assamese language, which has changed and developed over the ages, can be traced back to the 6th century...

The modern period of Asomiya literature began 1889. Modern Assamese poetry was influenced, like elsewhere, first by the English romantic poetry and then, by the modernists, T S Eliot and his ilk. But the tone, theme and pattern of the current generation of poetry has its own heritage, firmly rooted in the land, ‘the red river and the blue hills’, the salt of its existence, the sweat of its people and the smell of its landscape...

Here’s a sampling of Modern Asomiya Poetry, translated by Dibyajyoti Sarma.

The translator understands that, at times, the rendering may not be entirely accurate; it nonetheless gives an idea of what Asomiya poetry sounds like. This is a not-for-profit personal project and the translator hasn’t sought permissions from the original poets or copyright holders.


In his introduction to the collection, Asha Bacharar Asamiya Kabita (Hundred Years of Assamese Poetry) (Guwahati: Assam Publication Board, 2000, 2008), the editor, Homen Borgohain, writes:
"...Nabakanta Barua was not even thirty then, and his best poems were still unwritten, when, inspired by youthful reckless courage and hyper-emotional, I had told him that I thought he was one of the ten best poets in the Assamese language. That was perhaps 1955. After 40 years, when I met Nabakanta Barua for some work, I mentioned to him that he actually proved to be one of the ten best poets in the Assamese Language. In other words, he made my predictions true.
"If Nabakanta Barua is one of the ten, who are the other nine?
… … … …

"According to me, these ten poets are:

Chandrakumar Agawala
Raghunath Chaudhary
Ambikagiri Rai Chaudhury
Jatindranath Duara
Debakanta Barua
Ratnakanta Barkakati
Nabakanta Barua
Ajit Barua
Nilamani Phookan
Hiren Bhattacharya."