Gold and Bracelet, Water and Wave': Signature and Translation in the Indian Poetry of Adela Cory Nicolson - (Part 1)

Gold and Bracelet, Water and Wave': Signature and Translation in the Indian Poetry of Adela Cory Nicolson - (Part 1)

Anindyo Roy

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ARTICLE TITLE: 'Gold and Bracelet, Water and Wave': Signature and Translation in the Indian Poetry of Adela Cory Nicolson


VOLUME: 13 ISSUE: 2 MONTH: 6 YEAR: 2002 PAGES: 140-160 ISSN: 0957-4042

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To cite this article: Anindyo Roy (2002) 'Gold and Bracelet, Water and Wave': Signature and Translation in the Indian Poetry of Adela Cory Nicolson, Women: A Cultural Review, 13:2, 140-160, DOI: 10.1080/09574040210122995 To link to this article:

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'Gold and Bracelet, Water and Wave': Signature and Translation in the Indian Poetry of Adela Cory Nicolson

Written By: Anindyo Roy

Sweet! On the daisies of your English grave

I lay this wreath of Indian flowers,

Fragrant for me, because the scent they have

Breathes of the memory of our wedded bows. -Edwin Arnold, 1866

See in my songs how women love. -Adela Cory Nicolson, 'The Masters'

There is no knowledge of the Other which is not also a temporal, historical, a political act -Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object

THE poetry of Adela Cory Nicolson, who wrote under the male pseudonym T 'Laurence Hope', is considered to be little more than a late Victorian curiosity. Long ignored on grounds that it was merely part of the enormous left-over corpus of colonial exotica produced and consumed with unprecedented eagerness in the age of empire, Nicolson's poetry invites a reappraisal on the grounds that it constituted a significant act of translation: a practice aimed at reconceptualizing notions of national poetic legacy under colonialism and at reworking gender and identity in relation to poetic voice. In this context, the term 'translation' signifies a radical cultural practice, one that simultaneously emerges from a long discursive colonial terrain and transforms its dominant relations of power by animating the power of language to work through and open spaces beyond that terrain. By deploying forms of poetic signature derived from non-western traditions, Nicolson pushes many of the established boundaries of nineteenth-century colonial practices of translation to new limits. To this extent, Nicolson's efforts can be rightly called revisionist; such an endeavour also encompasses a feminist production of voice, making her poetry part of a significant historical moment in the cultural production of India in the colonial imagination.

Originating a century ago in the work of the eighteenth-century orientalists and continuing through the nineteenth century in the works of major translators such as Edward FitzGerald, Richard Burton, Edwin Arnold and less well-known figures such as Ella Haggar, Ebenezer Pocock, G. S. Davie and J. Atkinson (the translator of the eleventh-century Persian poet Firdausi's Shah Namuh), the work of translating 'India' had circumscribed and made possible a entire range of textual and discursive practices that helped constitute British national identity. Nicolson's translations depart from traditional colonial practices of representing the Other that Tejaswini Niranjana claims always 'reinforce[d] hegemonic versions of the colonized' (Niranjana 1992:3). Drawing from feminist and postcolonial cultural theory, I will elaborate on the specific textual modes by which Nicolson adopted the language of local poetic traditions to sign herself into poetic verse, working simultaneously to disrupt and reorganize the dominant specular relations authorized by late Victorian conventions of gender. At the heart of the present analysis is a consideration of the larger discursive context of her poetry as a means to an exploration of the intersection between the textual and intertextual nodes in Nicolson's poetic oeuvre.

Adela Cory Nicolson is perhaps best known today as the poet who penned the famous opening lines to the poem 'Kashmiri Song': 'Pale hands I loved beside the Shalimar'. In the absence of an authorized biography, one is necessarily compelled to rely on a few sketchy details about her life culled primarily from secondary sources.' (1- Notes) The daughter of Colonel Cory, a colonial man who was once the co-editor of the Civil and Military Gazette and later took up the editorship of the Sind Gazette in Karachi, India. Adela Cory Nicolson was born in 1865 in England. In 1889 she married Colonel Malcolm Hassels Nicolson, a commander of a native regiment in the Bombay Army, veteran of the Second Afghan War and also an expert linguist. Colonel Nicolson served as CO of Mhow, the headquarters of the Western Command in India, whence he led a series of military campaigns in Afghanistan (MacMillan 1988:206-7). According to Margaret MacMillan, Nicolson routinely followed her husband to the military camps situated along the north-west frontiers dressed as a young Afghan groom; this experience of gender and cultural cross-dressing finds a special place in many of Nicolson's love poems, particularly those that are set against the background of war and military campaigns. As far as Nicolson's knowledge of, and familiarity with, indigenous Indian poetic traditions is concerned, it is worthwhile to point out that, in the nineteenth century, the work of translating Hindu 'bhakti' and Islamic Sufi poetry had not only been completed but these translations had been fairly widely disseminated in Anglo-Indian circles. Published simultaneously in the metropolis and the colony, some of these translations had also been introduced as texts into the regular curriculum for the colonial civil service examinations. (2 Notes) Nicolson's familiarity with some of the North Indian languages has been affirmed by those who knew her personally; for example, in her diary written in India, Violet Jacob notes that Nicolson spoke the North Indian language Urdu fluently (Jacob 199098). Furthermore, the linguist Colonel Nicolson could have been a key source of her knowledge of Indian languages; travelling extensively throughout India, she would have also encountered Indian poetry during public performances of Indian devotional 'bhakti' poetry-in the form of 'Krishna lilas' or dramatic performances based on the life of the Hind god Krishna-or heard it in the songs of itinerant Islamic Sufi singers and storytellers common in nineteenth-century India.

Perhaps the most marked aspect of Nicolson's poetry is that it is set

exclusively against the background of the nineteenth-century British Empire

in India, with some poems set in the Far East and North Africa. The

presence of the empire is marked indirectly through oblique references to

military campaigns and battles in many of the poems that are otherwise

located in ideal or imaginary settings. Originally written in the mid- to late

1890s, her poems were published in three consecutive volumes only at the

beginning of the twentieth century: The Garden of Kam (1901), Stars of the

Desert (1903) and Indian Love (1905), the last appearing a year after her death

in 1904. The first collection of poems, Garden of Kama, published by

Heinemann, sold well in England and was immediately picked up by John

Lane for publication in the United States. Later Amy Woodforde-Finden

used Nicolson's verses as the basis for her musical arrangements entitled

'Four Indian Love Lyrics', which was followed by two cinematic adaptations:

Less Than Dust (1916, starring Mary Pickford and David Powell) and The

Indian Love Lyrics (1923). Nicolson's popularity among the reading public in

the first two decades of the twentieth century has been attributed to the fact

that she had successfully created for herself what James Elroy Flecker writing in 1907-called 'a world of admirers, a multitude of initiants-a

Public' (quoted in Marx 1998:476). Flecker's use of the term 'initiants' to

characterize her readers and admirers is significant because it evokes a

particular history of the relationship, in the metropolis, between the

reading public and the 'Orient'. Since the publication of Edward FitzGerald's

Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam and Richard Burton's Kama Shastra in the

late 1870s, the Orient had been constructed as the source of new knowledge about sexual practices and norms previously unknown in the metropolis.

The construction of this Orient as the object of erotic discourse also

made the colonial experience the source of new desire and delight for the

metropolitan subject, which explains the initial popularity of Nicolson's

poetry. For a Victorian orientalist like Edwin Arnold, who translated the

poetry of the sixteenth-century divine and erotic poet Jayadeva, this delight

had its source in what he called 'a real reverence of the antique wisdom to

which the West owes so much' (Arnold 1860:28).(3 Notes) The necessity to hold on

to this binary Eastmest paradigm as a way to explain the charm of India was,

of course, a characteristic feature of nineteenth-century colonial discourse,

and can be discerned in many colonial writers. Henry Sumner Maine, who

like Arnold was closely associated with educational administration, observed

that it was not hard to understand 'why India is on the whole so differently

regarded among ourselves.. . It is at once too far and too near' (Maine 1875:6).

This awareness of India's simultaneous proximity and remoteness was crucial

to maintaining the sovereignty of the metropolitan will to knowledge, a

knowledge exercised over the colony that often authorized certain forms of

colonial desire to be articulated through the act of translation. Furthermore,

although the practical consequences of colonial rule were never far from

colonial considerations, a man like Edwin Arnold was clearly cognizant of

the temporary nature of British rule: 'we [the English] are clearly a transitory

race in India, though we may make our influence permanent' (Arnold

1860:lO). Translation was one of the means adopted to make this influence

palpable, as evident in the entire debate between the 'orientalists' and the

'anglicists' conducted during the reign of Lord Bentinck. (4- Notes) Th e history of

translation therefore represents one of the most significant markers of the

changing profile of Britain's political power in India. While earlier in the

century British utilitarians had sought to justify colonial authority by

concentrating solely on the power of the metropolitan government to

shape and change what had been perceived as an 'unchanging' India, a late

nineteenth-century orientalist like Edwin Arnold, while supporting the

agenda of the 1854 Charter of Indian Education and advocating the spread

of 'European knowledge throughout all classes of people', continued to

translate important Indian works and promote the cause of Indian literature.

His works span a wide gamut of Indian materials, from the study of Sanskrit

and Pali to translations of Buddhist religious dogma. Clearly, by the end of

the nineteenth century, the absolute polarization of 'orientalists' and

'anglicists', which had marked the 1830s and 1840s (in the wake of

Macaulay's Minutes on Education), had been replaced by a more synthetic,

yet hegemonic, approach to literary language and translation.

Like the work of translators, Nicolson's Indian poetry was clearly aimed

at a metropolitan audience, its popularity evident from the many editions it

went through in the early years of the century. Its appeal lay in the fact that

its early twentieth-century audience was beginning to see itself in new ways:

as metropolitan imperial subjects who were also key consumers and affective

shapers of the market. Domestic desire for the Orient was therefore

consolidated by the proliferation of this market, leading to the increasing

consumption of this constructed Orient in the form of translations, poetry,

romances and, later, film. (5- Notes) At a time when the British Empire, despite its

claims to unchallenged supremacy, seemed beleaguered by internal inconsistencies

and the rise of nationalist movements in the colony, as well as by the

constant peril of real or imagined external threats from other imperial

powers, Nicolson's poetry presents a world that is simultaneously idyllic

and troubled, often demonstrating an acute awareness of an imperial

subjectivity caught between the desire to reclaim an idyllic past and the

consciousness of present reality marked by conflict and dissent. In its

rendition of loss and the search for the missing object-often represented

by the figure of the elusive beloved-that had been adopted from Indian

poetical traditions, her poetry gave voice to the inner contradictions and

dualities of the imperial historical experience. Often re-imagining that loss

by reconstructing its sites, Nicolson's poetry engages in recursive enactments

of desire directed at, received or displaced by its object. It is possible to argue

that her initial appeal may have resulted from this ability simultaneously to

present the Orient as an ideal object and also to express those contradictions

within imperial subjectivity that were linked to that idealizing impulse,

contradictions that were rehearsed time and again in the ambiguous

positioning of voice and in the poems' sadomasochistic undercurrents

suggesting exhaustion, death, loss, violence and even dismemberment.

In his A History of Modern Poetry: From the 1890s to the High Modernist

Mode, David Perkins characterized Nicolson's poems as 'lyrics of erotic

passion' that were read, he alleges, 'with an almost pornographic interest'

(Perkins 1976:194). As indicated earlier, throughout the late Victorian age,

the production and reception of the 'erotic Orient' depended on the

simultaneous processes of incitement and interdiction, seen, for example,

in the popularity of a work like the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and in the

proscription of a work such as Oscar Wilde's Salomk. Writing in 1907, James

Elroy Flecker's imaginative rendering of the public as an 'initiant' (See MacKenzie 1984) had suggested that in many ways the public who read Nicolson's poetry had been familiarized with the sexual codes of the Orient through the erotically

tantalizing power of poetic verse. This certainly had been the dominant

perception in nineteenth-century colonial works of pornography such as

Venus in India, works that often dealt with the sexual initiation of young

Englishmen in the colonies. These works, often restricted to strict underground

circulation, achieved a level of notoriety in reading circles that

matched the popularity of other forms of mainstream fiction (6- Note missing in original) On the other hand, the eroticism of some works translated from Indian languages (primarily Sanskrit) were often seen to 'teach lechery in its most seductive forms' (Clive 1987:355). Perkins follows Flecker in seeing Nicolson's appeal in

purely orientalist terms-he observes that in Nicolson's poetry one 'hears

much of peacocks, temples, monkeys, sword fights, palms trees' (Perkins

1976:193) - but, departing from Flecker, ascribes to it a kind of prurience that

the latter had avoided in describing Nicolson's work. Furthermore, dismissing

her as a 'decadent, female Kipling', Perkins seeks to invent a masculine

genealogy, one that other modern critics have drawn on in order to locate

her within a more resolutely defined masculine European poetic heritage

drawn from Swinburne and the Symbolists, both associated with an European

fin-de-siecle decadent eroticism. For example, Harold Williams contends

that her antecedents are the writers of the Yellow Book and Savoy,

observing that 'in psychological subtlety and frankness she was nearer to Mr

Arthur Symonds than any other modern poet' (Williams 1918:142).

The question remains: why was she forgotten? The reasons for Nicolson's

fall into literary obscurity can be attributed to her growing mass appeal that

made these modern critics suspicious of her poetry's literary merit. By the

beginning of the twentieth century-at that precise historical juncture when

the market came to play a regulative role in establishing authorial credibility

and when the institutionalization of modern 'criticism' led to the formation

of literary value through canonicity (itself a patriarchal construct)-notions

of aesthetic value came to be gradually dissociated from market appeal.

Nicolson is one of the many women writers and poets of this period to have

fallen prey to the politics of canon formation. Calling her poetry 'raw and

savage', the Times Litevavy Supplement of 25 August 1905 also acknowledged

that it had 'character and force', but stated there was 'of beauty nothing, of

suggestion, or (shall we say) of the suggestive too much' ('Some Recent

Verses' 1905). David Perkins, whose main purpose was to establish a literary

genealogy for modern poetry, relegated Nicolson to the margins, seeing her

exoticism as being unredeemed by originality or genius. Needless to say,

Perkins failed to acknowledge the powerful effects of translation in Nicolson,

effects achieved through the use of non-western poetic traditions, as opposed

to the canonized modern poets he assesses, male poets who worked almost

exclusively within European traditions. If her exoticism continued to provide

inspiration for a host of other artistic productions in the early decades of the

century-in music and film, for instance-that exoticism was inextricably

linked to the very experimental forces that were shaping literature and

cultural production as a whole during the era of the fin de sikle. Perkins,

however, fails to note this fact.

Attempts to identify the source of Nicolson's verses have not yet been

successful and, as Lesley Blanch admitted in 1964 in her bookeUnder a Lilac

Bleeding Star, 'the mainspring of Laurence Hope's verses itill elude us'

(Blanch 1964:200). Despite the male pseudonym she assumed in signing

her poetry, Adela Cory Nicolson's gender, along with her official gender

identity, was made public as early as 1902 by the periodical Critic; so there

was hardly any doubt that the male writer of these erotic verses was a

'woman'. Nonetheless, the name 'Laurence Hope' continued to be resolutely

subjected to a form of gendered hyphenation by critics such as Perkins who

produced a genealogy of origins by cathecting her signature 'Laurence Hope'

in the name of a European masculinist literary order. Like Harold Williams,

who placed her in the 'tradition of Swinburne and the younger English poets

influenced by the French Romantics and Symbolists' (Williams 1918:143),

Perkins named her as a belated female Kipling, thereby casting her as a

hybrid figure who was not quite 'Kipling'. The comparison with Kipling is

indeed noteworthy. Nicolson, like Kipling, often adopted the form of the

ballad, and a poem like 'On the City Wall', a name deliberately taken from

Kipling, directly evokes his theme of the 'East/West' divide, if only to

question and interrupt Kipling's masculinist world-view. While Williams had

noted, with a perspicacity missing from the later generation of scholars, that

'the fragments of Sappho recur to mind as we read her verse' (Williams

1918:143)-a view that had been endorsed by Thomas Hardy in the obituary

he wrote for her in the Athenaeum ('Sapphic fervour7)-Perkins ignored the

Sapphic resonances in her poetry by appropriating her name under the

master sign of 'Kipling'. Assigning her a derivative status as a 'decadent'

Kipling, one who is both out of place in and inappropriate to the order

consolidated by Kipling's brand of brawny imperialism, Perkins ignores the

influence of other traditions in her poetry. As I have indicated, it is hard to

miss the significance of this strategic placing of names in modern criticismof

Swinburne, Kipling and Nicolson-since it simultaneously conceals and

reveals crucial aspects of the way in which her poetry has been received in

the West by literary historians seeking to establish the rule of the canon,

particularly the way in which her specific mode of signing herself into poetic

verse has been comprehended by them. It is clear, however, that when critics

called her poetry 'loose translations', they missed the way in which she

reworked the colonial discourse about translation through her use of

signature. Embodied in a series of proper (gendered) names from the

'East'-Mahomed Akram, Valgobind, Morsellin Khan, Khan Zada, Faiz

Ulla, Lilavanti, to name a few, proper names often marked by the titles of

specific poems-these names are ascribed by the poet to specific verses

through which they are made to 'speak'. For example, poems with titles such

as 'To Aziz: Song of Mahomed Akram', 'Thoughts: Mahomed Akram', 'To

the Unattainable: Lament of Mahomed Akram', 'Mahomed Akram's Appeal

to the Stars', 'Reminiscence of Mahomed Akram' and 'The Island of

Desolation: Song of Mahomed Akram' suggest an indefinable ground

between the purely lyrical, the elocutionary and the performative: in some

of these poems, the 'of' signals the hiatus between the primary lyrical 'I' and

its repetition through performance: in other words, is Mahomed Akram

merely the singer or is the poem an expression of his voice? Therefore, the

transitive move into assuming or ascribing a name, whether signalled by the

word 'of' or, as in some poems, 'by', involves the coming into play of specific

forms of a personal elocutionary 'I' in relation to the performative, and it is

through this dynamic that the 'I' or 'you', or 'we', is inscribed in the poems.

Sometimes the 'I/we' writes itself as an anonymous improvisatrice, one who

recites the song as part of her poem, sometimes in the form of a named

persona (usually Indian), with the 'you' as its Other or its interlocutor/

addressee. The relational mode established between them marks the larger

performative dynamic at one moment, which in turn defines the elocutionary

at the next. This progressive unfolding of relations between the

elocutionary and the performative is therefore linked to the ways in which

poetic 'signature' is assigned to specific verses, becoming part of an

expanding texture of gendered names arranged within specific poetic

sequences. The issue of poetic signature is further complicated if we consider

what Foucault has called the 'specific link' between the 'two poles of

description and designation'. Foucault notes that 'it is here that the particular

difficulties of the author's name arise-the links between the proper name

and the individual named and between the author's name and what it names

are not isomorphic and do not function in the same way' (Foucault

1998392-3). Carrying the hyphenated form of 'Adela Cory Nicolson/

Laurence Hope' into the body of the poetry marked by these other

'proper names' opens up the very body of the poetic oeuvre, signalling what is at its very heart: the multiplicity of voices that change in relation to the sites marked out for each of them within a translated/hyphenated continuum.

Along with this multiplicity of voices, what is also visible are the traces

of poetry drawn from non-western poetic sources, some based on the erotic

and mystical traditions of 'bhakti' and some from Islamic Sufi traditions.

Accruing around this elocutionary/performative dynamic, these traces serve

literally as verbal echoes that transform and are in turn transformed by the

movement of each poem. To this extent, Nicolson's hybrid style can be seen

to be more complex than what Williams calls a style that 'mirrors the soul of

the East' (Williams 1918:193). This is evident in her use of 'names' or

'signatures' in many of her poems: while each name clearly indicates the

religious and gender identity of the speaker/addressee, the voice is composed

of an ensemble of varying poetic languages drawn from both Islamic and

Hindu traditions (as is evident in poems like 'Farewell', 'Valgobind's Song'

and others). The poetic body is thus constructed discursively, and a specific

form of poetic economy is consolidated through this process of linking

names to specific languages. Also visible is the way in which &sire is voiced

and then mapped out in the poems. This economy is unique to Nicolson's

Indian poetry, and achieves specific effects of reconstructing traditional

Victorian notions of gendered desire and eroticism by often playing up to

and then reversing their conventional modes, especially their ocular

directionality. This pattern appears to be consistent with the experience of

many British women in colonial India, who as Indira Ghose suggests were

'multiply organized across positionalities along several axes and across

mutually contradictory discourses' (Ghose 1998:5). Translating and familiarizing

traditions that lay outside the reach of European canonicity, this

economy puts into relief the entire discourse of Victorian erotics, power and

colonialism that has been elaborated by Anne McClintock in Imperial

Leather. Leslie Blanch has noted that Nicolson's 'setting was India-Kipling's

India, part of that pattern of Empire-building in which England still believed:

the India of might and right: of Viceregal splendours imposed on Moghal

memories' (Blanch 1964:186). Yet, in many of her verses devoted to desire

and yearning, echoes of Indian poetry transform the specific location-which

is often a scene of war and military campaigns that had been led by the

British on the frontiers with Afghanistan-into a reverie wherein a form of

arrested temporality replaces the purely spatial, allowing the speaker/

interlocutor to experience a form of desire that lay outside the boundaries

of Victorian eroticism.

During the course of the century-long colonial era, the textual and

practical modes that had helped produce 'India' gave shape to a multifaceted

discursive tradition, performing a wide range of disciplinary functions: from

the formation of legal and administrative codes and educational policies to

ethnological studies and comparative linguistics, and to the laws on censorship.

Even a cursory look at nineteenth-century colonial writings shows that

translation as cultural practice was widely discussed, and debates about

translation appeared routinely in nineteenth-century periodicals (as in the

prominent Anglo-Indian periodical Calcutta Review). The question of 'translation'

is significant because, although her reviewers described Nicolson's

poetry as 'loose translations' from the original Indian languages (Hindi or

Urdu), they were not quite certain about their 'authenticity' as translated

poetry. Although this view-that she had merely translated Indian poetryprevented

her poetry from being proscribed for its eroticism, it is not clear

how this issue of authenticity versus what Edward Marx has called the

'pretense of translation' (Marx 1998:477) played out in the considerations of

her literary genealogy. For example, commenting on 'the spell and mysterious

fascination of the blue skies and bronze shadows of the Orient, its vast

inchoate life, its silences, the age-old habits of its life and thought, its

perfumes, its passions, hates, loves and the transient swiftness of its youth',

Harold Williams ascribes the 'pervasion of her lyrics' to a 'neurosis of sex'

that he says 'is a mode of the Paris boulevard and the ballet stage of London'

(Williams 1918:143). If she was a symptom of a particular 'European'

condition-as Williams seems to suggest-the 'pretence of translation' also

brings up a new set of questions about the precise scope of her engagement

with the process of translating poetic traditions indigenous to India,

especially at a time when Richard Burton's anthropological eye had already

established a powerful mediating paradigm for constructing and comprehending

colonial alterity and when, as Yopie Prins has demonstrated, women

poets like Laetitia Elizabeth Landon and Michael Fields had introduced the

Sapphic fragment as a newly revived mode of translation.

In his famous essay, 'The Task of the Translator', Walter Benjamin

defined the cultural dynamic that he calls translatability in the following


Rejecting a simple mechanical view of translation based on the notion of

'alikeness', Benjamin seeks to place translation at the heart of a cultural

process that is defined by change, by 'the perpetual renewal of language'

(Benjamin 1968:74). Questioning the 'identity of origin' through what

Derrida calls 'the ex-appropriation of any relation of any proper or of any

last instance to itself' (Derrida 1993:205) leads Benjamin to posit the idea of

'remoteness' (Benjamin 1968:75), a conditioning factor that is potentially

present in the use and exchange of language. In other words, translation is

the very condition under which language assumes its lived and ever-changing

discursive reality, what Benjamin calls its 'afterlife'.

As indicated earlier, the traces that mark Nicolson's poetry are drawn

from Indian poetic traditions, which by the end of the nineteenth century

formed part of a significant discursive terrain. For examples, the speaker's

call in 'Khristna and His Flute' to

. . . arise and follow,

To seek, in vain pursuit,

The blueness and the distance,

The sweetness of that flute (Hope 1940:371)

clearly echo the words of the sixteenth-century woman 'bhakti' poet,

Mirabai. (7- Notes) Although the phrase 'translation by Moolchand' indicated under

the title of the poem places it in a differential textual relation with the

'original' ('Moolchand/Mirabai'), Nicolson's translation is not based on a

linear relationship between it and the derivative, but is a practice involving

the use of signature to create a specific relation between the elocutionary 'I'

and the performative persona, a dynamic sustained through this use of

Mirabai's poetry. Furthermore, this dynamic also evokes a relation between

the written and the spoken that is part of the burden of translation (which in

turn brings up related questions about literacy and orality). Poetic voice,

therefore, finds its very being in this complex intertextual mode, and is not

simply exterior to it. To track this terrain is therefore to assemble a particular

genealogy for Nicolson's work, one that lies outside the purview of western

metropolitan poetics and canonicity. It should be borne in mind that this

genealogy is not simply about the appropriation of local knowledges and

languages, but also about the historical consolidation of the 'local' under the

sign of 'translation', a practice with a wide-ranging cultural significance.

Because of space considerations, this article had to be broken into two parts. This is Part 1, click here for Part 2 which includes Notes and Bibliography.

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