Banyan Tree by Ezhilvendhan is the English version of his Tamil Poem ஆலமரம்; which was recited in the ‘Republic Day Multi lingual Poets Symposium 1995’ held in New Delhi, translated into 18 languages by eminent poets and broadcast by All India Radio immediately after Presidential Address to the Nation on the eve of Republic Day 1995.
A Banyan tree I am,
A marvelous one at that.
This gigantic form have I taken,
Out of a very tiny seed
Like an atom’s mighty power.
Grown on the bloody mire of sacrifice
And watered by human tears,
My branches leap boundaries
And extend as my vision goes on.
I am the refuge for birds longing for shade
From my ever-green branches and
The exquisite taste of my fruit.
Varied indeed are the languages
Of the varied species of birds of many a hue,
But the thought that inspires the song
Is the same for ever and ever.
I’m the tent,
Where birds that toil and moil all day revel.
On my branches gets inaugurated
Each season of festivity.
My Veda of eternal relevance is Truth;
I preach Love and Peace,
The time-tested ideals.
The branches of my ideals do not allow
The birds of prey even to sit on me;
Not to speak of them
Building nests on me.
Strictly, no permission for the birds
Even if they pay a fee.
Having a never-drying milk-spring in me,
I grow even on barren soil,
I am the gift of this soil.
Some birds that taste my fruit
Drop their excrement elsewhere.
Some try to find fault,
With my lisp of fledglings;
Clip their wings,
Just beginning to grow.
Praise the charm of birds,
A little nature,
Tell them temptingly thus:
“Let us sit on tall branches of other trees and be gay and carefree.”
I am unable to excuse the woodpeckers;
Do they not rejoice in disrobing me?
Creating holes in me,
Only invite vicious vipers to settle in me.
A poor, pitiable tree I am,
Giving away fruit only to songbirds.
My roots labor without rest
Going deep down
Into the soil seeking water.
Bitter may be my seeds
But sweet are my fruits.
My body suffers a thousand wounds
From head to foot.
Don’t you notice my eyes watering?
As the pungent smell of Sulfur affects me
Inexplicable are my trials and tribulations
In the cycle of time;
In the annals of history
I am a tree of achievements.
I have no chance of being flexible
Like a plantain tree.
Storms wail to me
That they are unable to uproot me.
My roots are only aerial roots
Which are not being closed?
Allow light to pass through them.
They will soon take root
And stand majestically!
A Banyan tree I am,
A marvelous tree.