The Meghaduta or Cloud Messenger is a
masterpiece of Sanskrit literature, and was composed by the court poet
Kalidasa some time before AD 634 in northern India. A Yaksha or nature
deity begs a passing cloud to carry a message across the subcontinent
to his grieving consort in the fabled city of Alaká. Under this
fiction, Kalidasa presents a sympathetic portrait of northern India,
and weaves in the various moods of love traditional in classical
Early translations sacrificed the meaning to the exigencies of English
verse. Later translations are close to the prose sense of the Sanskrit,
but employ free-verse styles that give no hint of Kalidasa's elevated
and harmonious language. The version here by the poet Colin John
Holcombe is taken from the standard 1912 Hultzsch text, and employs
accomplished English verse to render the simple magnificence of the
original while remaining faithful to the meaning.
The translation is for the general reader, and includes a brief
treatments of alternative readings, metrical issues, the aims of
Sanskrit poetry, and a glossary of unfamiliar words and allusions.
A free e-book
in pdf format.