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.

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Poet Ezhilvendhan

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.

Some others,

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,

The woodpeckers,

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.

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