Like red earth and streaming rain,
our loving hearts merged
all by themselves.
Captured in these centuries-old verses are the intoxication of new love, the romance of courtship, and the longing of separated lovers. Here are the voices of older women advising their younger friends, the words of messengers conveying secrets between lovers, and the musings of lovers to themselves. Culled from large anthologies that date from as early as the first century CE to as late as the eighth, Martha Ann Selby's masterful translations allow the poems to stand on their own in English while still maintaining the flavors of the original verses as reflected in idiom and structure. The book's 200 erotic poems are composed in India's three classical languages: Old Tamil, Maharastri Prakit, and Sanskrit, and grouped according to themes, with annotations provided whenever a brief gloss is necessary. After opening with several informative essays on the poems and how to read them, their origin, and the languages in which they were composed, the book proceeds with the delicate images, voices, and emotions of the verses themselves.
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Martha Ann Selby is Assistant Professor of South Asian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
`The translations leap from the eye to the ear, viscerally vernacular, as if newly thought in English. The notes make the most arcane problems vividly clear. And the introductory essays, not just about poetry but about sex, women, love, and gender, are in themselves a major contribution to the
study of all of these subjects. A pleasure for anyone to read, and a real eye-opener for anyone who claims to know the culture of ancient India, as well as for those who do not.'
Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago
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