Meet us on:
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "What children take from us, they give -- We become people who feel more deeply, question more deeply, hurt more deeply, and love more deeply."

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter


    by Rabindranath Tagore
    • Rate it:
    Launch Reading Mode

    Song Offerings

    A collection of prose
    translations made by the
    author from the original

    With an introduction by
    W. B. YEATS




    A few days ago I said to a distinguished Bengali doctor of
    medicine, 'I know no German, yet if a translation of a German
    poet had moved me, I would go to the British Museum and find
    books in English that would tell me something of his life, and of
    the history of his thought. But though these prose translations
    from Rabindranath Tagore have stirred my blood as nothing has for
    years, I shall not know anything of his life, and of the
    movements of thought that have made them possible, if some Indian
    traveller will not tell me.' It seemed to him natural that I
    should be moved, for he said, 'I read Rabindranath every day, to
    read one line of his is to forget all the troubles of the world.'
    I said, 'An Englishman living in London in the reign of Richard
    the Second had he been shown translations from Petrarch or from
    Dante, would have found no books to answer his questions, but
    would have questioned some Florentine banker or Lombard merchant
    as I question you. For all I know, so abundant and simple is
    this poetry, the new renaissance has been born in your country
    and I shall never know of it except by hearsay.' He answered,
    'We have other poets, but none that are his equal; we call this
    the epoch of Rabindranath. No poet seems to me as famous in
    Europe as he is among us. He is as great in music as in poetry,
    and his songs are sung from the west of India into Burma wherever
    Bengali is spoken. He was already famous at nineteen when he
    wrote his first novel; and plays when he was but little older,
    are still played in Calcutta. I so much admire the completeness
    of his life; when he was very young he wrote much of natural
    objects, he would sit all day in his garden; from his twenty-fifth
    year or so to his thirty-fifth perhaps, when he had a great
    sorrow, he wrote the most beautiful love poetry in our language';
    and then he said with deep emotion, 'words can never express what
    I owed at seventeen to his love poetry. After that his art grew
    deeper, it became religious and philosophical; all the
    inspiration of mankind are in his hymns. He is the first among
    our saints who has not refused to live, but has spoken out of
    Life itself, and that is why we give him our love.' I may have
    changed his well-chosen words in my memory but not his thought.
    'A little while ago he was to read divine service in one of our
    churches--we of the Brahma Samaj use your word 'church' in
    English--it was the largest in Calcutta and not only was it
    crowded, but the streets were all but impassable because of the

    Other Indians came to see me and their reverence for this man
    sounded strange in our world, where we hide great and little
    things under the same veil of obvious comedy and half-serious
    depreciation. When we were making the cathedrals had we a like
    reverence for our great men? 'Every morning at three--I know,
    for I have seen it'--one said to me, 'he sits immovable in
    contemplation, and for two hours does not awake from his reverie
    upon the nature of God. His father, the Maha Rishi, would
    sometimes sit there all through the next day; once, upon a river,
    he fell into contemplation because of the beauty of the
    landscape, and the rowers waited for eight hours before they
    could continue their journey.' He then told me of Mr. Tagore's
    family and how for generations great men have come out of its
    cradles. 'Today,' he said, 'there are Gogonendranath and
    Abanindranath Tagore, who are artists; and Dwijendranath,
    Rabindranath's brother, who is a great philosopher. The
    squirrels come from the boughs and climb on to his knees and the
    birds alight upon his hands.' I notice in these men's thought a
    sense of visible beauty and meaning as though they held that
    doctrine of Nietzsche that we must not believe in the moral or
    intellectual beauty which does not sooner or later impress itself
    upon physical things. I said, 'In the East you know how to keep
    a family illustrious. The other day the curator of a museum
    pointed out to me a little dark-skinned man who was arranging
    their Chinese prints and said, ''That is the hereditary
    connoisseur of the Mikado, he is the fourteenth of his family to
    hold the post.'' 'He answered, 'When Rabindranath was a boy he
    had all round him in his home literature and music.' I thought
    of the abundance, of the simplicity of the poems, and said, 'In
    your country is there much propagandist writing, much criticism?
    We have to do so much, especially in my own country, that our
    minds gradually cease to be creative, and yet we cannot help it.
    If our life was not a continual warfare, we would not have taste,
    we would not know what is good, we would not find hearers and
    readers. Four-fifths of our energy is spent in the quarrel with
    bad taste, whether in our own minds or in the minds of others.'
    'I understand,' he replied, 'we too have our propagandist
    writing. In the villages they recite long mythological poems
    adapted from the Sanskrit in the Middle Ages, and they often
    insert passages telling the people that they must do their

    I have carried the manuscript of these translations about with me
    for days, reading it in railway trains, or on the top of
    omnibuses and in restaurants, and I have often had to close it
    lest some stranger would see how much it moved me. These lyrics--
    which are in the original, my Indians tell me, full of subtlety
    of rhythm, of untranslatable delicacies of colour, of metrical
    invention--display in their thought a world I have dreamed of all
    my live long. The work of a supreme culture, they yet appear as
    much the growth of the common soil as the grass and the rushes.
    A tradition, where poetry and religion are the same thing, has
    passed through the centuries, gathering from learned and
    unlearned metaphor and emotion, and carried back again to the
    multitude the thought of the scholar and of the noble. If the
    civilization of Bengal remains unbroken, if that common mind
    which--as one divines--runs through all, is not, as with us,
    broken into a dozen minds that know nothing of each other,
    something even of what is most subtle in these verses will have
    come, in a few generations, to the beggar on the roads. When
    there was but one mind in England, Chaucer wrote his _Troilus
    and Cressida_, and thought he had written to be read, or to be
    read out--for our time was coming on apace--he was sung by
    minstrels for a while. Rabindranath Tagore, like Chaucer's
    forerunners, writes music for his words, and one understands at
    every moment that he is so abundant, so spontaneous, so daring in
    his passion, so full of surprise, because he is doing something
    which has never seemed strange, unnatural, or in need of defence.
    These verses will not lie in little well-printed books upon
    ladies' tables, who turn the pages with indolent hands that they
    may sigh over a life without meaning, which is yet all they can
    know of life, or be carried by students at the university to be
    laid aside when the work of life begins, but, as the generations
    pass, travellers will hum them on the highway and men rowing upon
    the rivers. Lovers, while they await one another, shall find, in
    murmuring them, this love of God a magic gulf wherein their own
    more bitter passion may bathe and renew its youth. At every
    moment the heart of this poet flows outward to these without
    derogation or condescension, for it has known that they will
    understand; and it has filled itself with the circumstance of
    their lives. The traveller in the read-brown clothes that he
    wears that dust may not show upon him, the girl searching in her
    bed for the petals fallen from the wreath of her royal lover, the
    servant or the bride awaiting the master's home-coming in the
    empty house, are images of the heart turning to God. Flowers and
    rivers, the blowing of conch shells, the heavy rain of the Indian
    July, or the moods of that heart in union or in separation; and a
    man sitting in a boat upon a river playing lute, like one of
    those figures full of mysterious meaning in a Chinese picture, is
    God Himself. A whole people, a whole civilization, immeasurably
    strange to us, seems to have been taken up into this imagination;
    and yet we are not moved because of its strangeness, but because
    we have met our own image, as though we had walked in Rossetti's
    willow wood, or heard, perhaps for the first time in literature,
    our voice as in a dream.

    Since the Renaissance the writing of European saints--however
    familiar their metaphor and the general structure of their
    thought--has ceased to hold our attention. We know that we must
    at last forsake the world, and we are accustomed in moments of
    weariness or exaltation to consider a voluntary forsaking; but
    how can we, who have read so much poetry, seen so many paintings,
    listened to so much music, where the cry of the flesh and the cry
    of the soul seems one, forsake it harshly and rudely? What have
    we in common with St. Bernard covering his eyes that they may
    not dwell upon the beauty of the lakes of Switzerland, or with
    the violent rhetoric of the Book of Revelations? We would, if we
    might, find, as in this book, words full of courtesy. 'I have
    got my leave. Bid me farewell, my brothers! I bow to you all
    and take my departure. Here I give back the keys of my door--and
    I give up all claims to my house. I only ask for last kind words
    from you. We were neighbours for long, but I received more than
    I could give. Now the day has dawned and the lamp that lit my
    dark corner is out. A summons has come and I am ready for my
    journey.' And it is our own mood, when it is furthest from 'a
    Kempis or John of the Cross, that cries, 'And because I love this
    life, I know I shall love death as well.' Yet it is not only in
    our thoughts of the parting that this book fathoms all. We had
    not known that we loved God, hardly it may be that we believed in
    Him; yet looking backward upon our life we discover, in our
    exploration of the pathways of woods, in our delight in the
    lonely places of hills, in that mysterious claim that we have
    made, unavailingly on the woman that we have loved, the emotion
    that created this insidious sweetness. 'Entering my heart
    unbidden even as one of the common crowd, unknown to me, my king,
    thou didst press the signet of eternity upon many a fleeting
    moment.' This is no longer the sanctity of the cell and of the
    scourge; being but a lifting up, as it were, into a greater
    intensity of the mood of the painter, painting the dust and the
    sunlight, and we go for a like voice to St. Francis and to
    William Blake who have seemed so alien in our violent history.

    We write long books where no page perhaps has any quality to make
    writing a pleasure, being confident in some general design, just
    as we fight and make money and fill our heads with politics--all
    dull things in the doing--while Mr. Tagore, like the Indian
    civilization itself, has been content to discover the soul and
    surrender himself to its spontaneity. He often seems to contrast
    life with that of those who have loved more after our fashion,
    and have more seeming weight in the world, and always humbly as
    though he were only sure his way is best for him: 'Men going home
    glance at me and smile and fill me with shame. I sit like a
    beggar maid, drawing my skirt over my face, and when they ask me,
    what it is I want, I drop my eyes and answer them not.' At
    another time, remembering how his life had once a different
    shape, he will say, 'Many an hour I have spent in the strife of
    the good and the evil, but now it is the pleasure of my playmate
    of the empty days to draw my heart on to him; and I know not why
    this sudden call to what useless inconsequence.' An innocence, a
    simplicity that one does not find elsewhere in literature makes
    the birds and the leaves seem as near to him as they are near to
    children, and the changes of the seasons great events as before
    our thoughts had arisen between them and us. At times I wonder
    if he has it from the literature of Bengal or from religion, and
    at other times, remembering the birds alighting on his brother's
    hands, I find pleasure in thinking it hereditary, a mystery that
    was growing through the centuries like the courtesy of a Tristan
    or a Pelanore. Indeed, when he is speaking of children, so much
    a part of himself this quality seems, one is not certain that he
    is not also speaking of the saints, 'They build their houses with
    sand and they play with empty shells. With withered leaves they
    weave their boats and smilingly float them on the vast deep.
    Children have their play on the seashore of worlds. They know
    not how to swim, they know not how to cast nets. Pearl fishers
    dive for pearls, merchants sail in their ships, while children
    gather pebbles and scatter them again. They seek not for hidden
    treasures, they know not how to cast nets.'

    W.B. YEATS, September 1912.



    Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail
    vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with
    fresh life.

    This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and
    dales, and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.

    At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its
    limits in joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.

    Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of
    mine. Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room
    to fill.

    When thou commandest me to sing it seems that my heart would
    break with pride; and I look to thy face, and tears come to my

    All that is harsh and dissonant in my life melts into one sweet
    harmony--and my adoration spreads wings like a glad bird on its
    flight across the sea.

    I know thou takest pleasure in my singing. I know that only as a
    singer I come before thy presence.

    I touch by the edge of the far-spreading wing of my song thy feet
    which I could never aspire to reach.

    Drunk with the joy of singing I forget myself and call thee
    friend who art my lord.

    I know not how thou singest, my master! I ever listen in silent

    The light of thy music illumines the world. The life breath of
    thy music runs from sky to sky. The holy stream of thy music
    breaks through all stony obstacles and rushes on.

    My heart longs to join in thy song, but vainly struggles for a
    voice. I would speak, but speech breaks not into song, and I cry
    out baffled. Ah, thou hast made my heart captive in the endless
    meshes of thy music, my master!

    Life of my life, I shall ever try to keep my body pure, knowing
    that thy living touch is upon all my limbs.

    I shall ever try to keep all untruths out from my thoughts,
    knowing that thou art that truth which has kindled the light of
    reason in my mind.

    I shall ever try to drive all evils away from my heart and keep
    my love in flower, knowing that thou hast thy seat in the inmost
    shrine of my heart.

    And it shall be my endeavour to reveal thee in my actions,
    knowing it is thy power gives me strength to act.

    I ask for a moment's indulgence to sit by thy side. The works
    that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.

    Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest nor
    respite, and my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea
    of toil.

    Today the summer has come at my window with its sighs and
    murmurs; and the bees are plying their minstrelsy at the court of
    the flowering grove.

    Now it is time to sit quite, face to face with thee, and to sing
    dedication of live in this silent and overflowing leisure.

    Pluck this little flower and take it, delay not! I fear lest it
    droop and drop into the dust.

    I may not find a place in thy garland, but honour it with a touch
    of pain from thy hand and pluck it. I fear lest the day end
    before I am aware, and the time of offering go by.

    Though its colour be not deep and its smell be faint, use this
    flower in thy service and pluck it while there is time.

    My song has put off her adornments. She has no pride of dress
    and decoration. Ornaments would mar our union; they would come
    between thee and me; their jingling would drown thy whispers.

    My poet's vanity dies in shame before thy sight. O master poet,
    I have sat down at thy feet. Only let me make my life simple and
    straight, like a flute of reed for thee to fill with music.

    The child who is decked with prince's robes and who has jewelled
    chains round his neck loses all pleasure in his play; his dress
    hampers him at every step.

    In fear that it may be frayed, or stained with dust he keeps
    himself from the world, and is afraid even to move.

    Mother, it is no gain, thy bondage of finery, if it keep one
    shut off from the healthful dust of the earth, if it rob one of
    the right of entrance to the great fair of common human life.

    O Fool, try to carry thyself upon thy own shoulders! O beggar,
    to come beg at thy own door!

    Leave all thy burdens on his hands who can bear all, and never
    look behind in regret.

    Thy desire at once puts out the light from the lamp it touches
    with its breath. It is unholy--take not thy gifts through its
    unclean hands. Accept only what is offered by sacred love.

    Here is thy footstool and there rest thy feet where live the
    poorest, and lowliest, and lost.

    When I try to bow to thee, my obeisance cannot reach down to the
    depth where thy feet rest among the poorest, and lowliest, and

    Pride can never approach to where thou walkest in the clothes of
    the humble among the poorest, and lowliest, and lost.

    My heart can never find its way to where thou keepest company
    with the companionless among the poorest, the lowliest, and the

    Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads! Whom dost
    thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors
    all shut? Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee!

    He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where
    the pathmaker is breaking stones. He is with them in sun and in
    shower, and his garment is covered with dust. Put of thy holy
    mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil!

    Deliverance? Where is this deliverance to be found? Our master
    himself has joyfully taken upon him the bonds of creation; he is
    bound with us all for ever.

    Come out of thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and
    incense! What harm is there if thy clothes become tattered and
    stained? Meet him and stand by him in toil and in sweat of thy

    The time that my journey takes is long and the way of it long.

    I came out on the chariot of the first gleam of light, and
    pursued my voyage through the wildernesses of worlds leaving my
    track on many a star and planet.

    It is the most distant course that comes nearest to thyself, and
    that training is the most intricate which leads to the utter
    simplicity of a tune.

    The traveller has to knock at every alien door to come to his
    own, and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach
    the innermost shrine at the end.

    My eyes strayed far and wide before I shut them and said 'Here
    art thou!'

    The question and the cry 'Oh, where?' melt into tears of a
    thousand streams and deluge the world with the flood of the
    assurance 'I am!'

    The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day.

    I have spent my days in stringing and in unstringing my

    The time has not come true, the words have not been rightly set;
    only there is the agony of wishing in my heart.

    The blossom has not opened; only the wind is sighing by.

    I have not seen his face, nor have I listened to his voice; only
    I have heard his gentle footsteps from the road before my house.

    The livelong day has passed in spreading his seat on the floor;
    but the lamp has not been lit and I cannot ask him into my house.

    I live in the hope of meeting with him; but this meeting is not

    My desires are many and my cry is pitiful, but ever didst thou
    save me by hard refusals; and this strong mercy has been wrought
    into my life through and through.

    Day by day thou art making me worthy of the simple, great gifts
    that thou gavest to me unasked--this sky and the light, this body
    and the life and the mind--saving me from perils of overmuch

    There are times when I languidly linger and times when I awaken
    and hurry in search of my goal; but cruelly thou hidest thyself
    from before me.

    Day by day thou art making me worthy of thy full acceptance by
    refusing me ever and anon, saving me from perils of weak,
    uncertain desire.

    I am here to sing thee songs. In this hall of thine I have a
    corner seat.

    In thy world I have no work to do; my useless life can only break
    out in tunes without a purpose.

    When the hour strikes for thy silent worship at the dark temple
    of midnight, command me, my master, to stand before thee to sing.

    When in the morning air the golden harp is tuned, honour me,
    commanding my presence.

    I have had my invitation to this world's festival, and thus my
    life has been blessed. My eyes have seen and my ears have heard.

    It was my part at this feast to play upon my instrument, and I
    have done all I could.

    Now, I ask, has the time come at last when I may go in and see
    thy face and offer thee my silent salutation?

    I am only waiting for love to give myself up at last into his
    hands. That is why it is so late and why I have been guilty of
    such omissions.

    They come with their laws and their codes to bind me fast; but I
    evade them ever, for I am only waiting for love to give myself up
    at last into his hands.

    People blame me and call me heedless; I doubt not they are right
    in their blame.

    The market day is over and work is all done for the busy. Those
    who came to call me in vain have gone back in anger. I am only
    waiting for love to give myself up at last into his hands.

    Clouds heap upon clouds and it darkens. Ah, love, why dost thou
    let me wait outside at the door all alone?

    In the busy moments of the noontide work I am with the crowd, but
    on this dark lonely day it is only for thee that I hope.

    If thou showest me not thy face, if thou leavest me wholly aside,
    I know not how I am to pass these long, rainy hours.

    I keep gazing on the far-away gloom of the sky, and my heart
    wanders wailing with the restless wind.

    If thou speakest not I will fill my heart with thy silence and
    endure it. I will keep still and wait like the night with starry
    vigil and its head bent low with patience.

    The morning will surely come, the darkness will vanish, and thy
    voice pour down in golden streams breaking through the sky.

    Then thy words will take wing in songs from every one of my
    birds' nests, and thy melodies will break forth in flowers in all
    my forest groves.

    On the day when the lotus bloomed, alas, my mind was straying,
    and I knew it not. My basket was empty and the flower remained

    Only now and again a sadness fell upon me, and I started up from
    my dream and felt a sweet trace of a strange fragrance in the
    south wind.

    That vague sweetness made my heart ache with longing and it
    seemed to me that is was the eager breath of the summer seeking
    for its completion.

    I knew not then that it was so near, that it was mine, and that
    this perfect sweetness had blossomed in the depth of my own

    I must launch out my boat. The languid hours pass by on the
    shore--Alas for me!

    The spring has done its flowering and taken leave. And now with
    the burden of faded futile flowers I wait and linger.

    The waves have become clamorous, and upon the bank in the shady
    lane the yellow leaves flutter and fall.

    What emptiness do you gaze upon! Do you not feel a thrill
    passing through the air with the notes of the far-away song
    floating from the other shore?

    In the deep shadows of the rainy July, with secret steps, thou
    walkest, silent as night, eluding all watchers.

    Today the morning has closed its eyes, heedless of the insistent
    calls of the loud east wind, and a thick veil has been drawn over
    the ever-wakeful blue sky.

    The woodlands have hushed their songs, and doors are all shut at
    every house. Thou art the solitary wayfarer in this deserted
    street. Oh my only friend, my best beloved, the gates are open
    in my house--do not pass by like a dream.

    Art thou abroad on this stormy night on thy journey of love, my
    friend? The sky groans like one in despair.

    I have no sleep tonight. Ever and again I open my door and look
    out on the darkness, my friend!

    I can see nothing before me. I wonder where lies thy path!

    By what dim shore of the ink-black river, by what far edge of the
    frowning forest, through what mazy depth of gloom art thou
    threading thy course to come to me, my friend?

    If the day is done, if birds sing no more, if the wind has
    flagged tired, then draw the veil of darkness thick upon me, even
    as thou hast wrapt the earth with the coverlet of sleep and
    tenderly closed the petals of the drooping lotus at dusk.

    From the traveller, whose sack of provisions is empty before the
    voyage is ended, whose garment is torn and dustladen, whose
    strength is exhausted, remove shame and poverty, and renew his
    life like a flower under the cover of thy kindly night.

    In the night of weariness let me give myself up to sleep without
    struggle, resting my trust upon thee.

    Let me not force my flagging spirit into a poor preparation for
    thy worship.

    It is thou who drawest the veil of night upon the tired eyes of
    the day to renew its sight in a fresher gladness of awakening.

    He came and sat by my side but I woke not. What a cursed sleep
    it was, O miserable me!

    He came when the night was still; he had his harp in his hands,
    and my dreams became resonant with its melodies.

    Alas, why are my nights all thus lost? Ah, why do I ever miss
    his sight whose breath touches my sleep?

    Light, oh where is the light? Kindle it with the burning fire of

    There is the lamp but never a flicker of a flame--is such thy
    fate, my heart? Ah, death were better by far for thee!

    Misery knocks at thy door, and her message is that thy lord is
    wakeful, and he calls thee to the love-tryst through the darkness
    of night.

    The sky is overcast with clouds and the rain is ceaseless. I
    know not what this is that stirs in me--I know not its meaning.

    A moment's flash of lightning drags down a deeper gloom on my
    sight, and my heart gropes for the path to where the music of the
    night calls me.

    Light, oh where is the light! Kindle it with the burning fire of
    desire! It thunders and the wind rushes screaming through the
    void. The night is black as a black stone. Let not the hours
    pass by in the dark. Kindle the lamp of love with thy life.

    Obstinate are the trammels, but my heart aches when I try to
    break them.

    Freedom is all I want, but to hope for it I feel ashamed.

    I am certain that priceless wealth is in thee, and that thou art
    my best friend, but I have not the heart to sweep away the tinsel
    that fills my room

    The shroud that covers me is a shroud of dust and death; I hate
    it, yet hug it in love.

    My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy;
    yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my
    prayer be granted.

    He whom I enclose with my name is weeping in this dungeon. I am
    ever busy building this wall all around; and as this wall goes up
    into the sky day by day I lose sight of my true being in its dark

    I take pride in this great wall, and I plaster it with dust and
    sand lest a least hole should be left in this name; and for all
    the care I take I lose sight of my true being.

    I came out alone on my way to my tryst. But who is this that
    follows me in the silent dark?

    I move aside to avoid his presence but I escape him not.

    He makes the dust rise from the earth with his swagger; he adds
    his loud voice to every word that I utter.

    He is my own little self, my lord, he knows no shame; but I am
    ashamed to come to thy door in his company.

    'Prisoner, tell me, who was it that bound you?'

    'It was my master,' said the prisoner. 'I thought I could outdo
    everybody in the world in wealth and power, and I amassed in my
    own treasure-house the money due to my king. When sleep overcame
    me I lay upon the bed that was for my lord, and on waking up I
    found I was a prisoner in my own treasure-house.'

    'Prisoner, tell me, who was it that wrought this unbreakable

    'It was I,' said the prisoner, 'who forged this chain very
    carefully. I thought my invincible power would hold the world
    captive leaving me in a freedom undisturbed. Thus night and day
    I worked at the chain with huge fires and cruel hard strokes.
    When at last the work was done and the links were complete and
    unbreakable, I found that it held me in its grip.'

    By all means they try to hold me secure who love me in this
    world. But it is otherwise with thy love which is greater than
    theirs, and thou keepest me free.

    Lest I forget them they never venture to leave me alone. But day
    passes by after day and thou art not seen.

    If I call not thee in my prayers, if I keep not thee in my heart,
    thy love for me still waits for my love.

    When it was day they came into my house and said, 'We shall only
    take the smallest room here.'

    They said, 'We shall help you in the worship of your God and
    humbly accept only our own share in his grace'; and then they
    took their seat in a corner and they sat quiet and meek.

    But in the darkness of night I find they break into my sacred
    shrine, strong and turbulent, and snatch with unholy greed the
    offerings from God's altar.

    Let only that little be left of me whereby I may name thee my

    Let only that little be left of my will whereby I may feel thee
    on every side, and come to thee in everything, and offer to thee
    my love every moment.

    Let only that little be left of me whereby I may never hide thee.

    Let only that little of my fetters be left whereby I am bound
    with thy will, and thy purpose is carried out in my life--and
    that is the fetter of thy love.

    Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

    Where knowledge is free;

    Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow
    domestic walls;

    Where words come out from the depth of truth;

    Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

    Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the
    dreary desert sand of dead habit;

    Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought
    and action--

    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

    This is my prayer to thee, my lord--strike, strike at the root of
    penury in my heart.

    Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.

    Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.

    Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees
    before insolent might.

    Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.

    And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will
    with love.

    I thought that my voyage had come to its end at the last limit of
    my power,--that the path before me was closed, that provisions
    were exhausted and the time come to take shelter in a silent

    But I find that thy will knows no end in me. And when old words
    die out on the tongue, new melodies break forth from the heart;
    and where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with
    its wonders.

    That I want thee, only thee--let my heart repeat without end.
    All desires that distract me, day and night, are false and empty
    to the core.

    As the night keeps hidden in its gloom the petition for light,
    even thus in the depth of my unconsciousness rings the cry--'I
    want thee, only thee'.

    As the storm still seeks its end in peace when it strikes against
    peace with all its might, even thus my rebellion strikes against
    thy love and still its cry is--'I want thee, only thee'.

    When the heart is hard and parched up, come upon me with a shower
    of mercy.

    When grace is lost from life, come with a burst of song.

    When tumultuous work raises its din on all sides shutting me out
    from beyond, come to me, my lord of silence, with thy peace and

    When my beggarly heart sits crouched, shut up in a corner, break
    open the door, my king, and come with the ceremony of a king.

    When desire blinds the mind with delusion and dust, O thou holy
    one, thou wakeful, come with thy light and thy thunder.

    The rain has held back for days and days, my God, in my arid
    heart. The horizon is fiercely naked--not the thinnest cover of
    a soft cloud, not the vaguest hint of a distant cool shower.

    Send thy angry storm, dark with death, if it is thy wish, and
    with lashes of lightning startle the sky from end to end.

    But call back, my lord, call back this pervading silent heat,
    still and keen and cruel, burning the heart with dire despair.

    Let the cloud of grace bend low from above like the tearful look
    of the mother on the day of the father's wrath.

    Where dost thou stand behind them all, my lover, hiding thyself
    in the shadows? They push thee and pass thee by on the dusty
    road, taking thee for naught. I wait here weary hours spreading
    my offerings for thee, while passers-by come and take my flowers,
    one by one, and my basket is nearly empty.

    The morning time is past, and the noon. In the shade of evening
    my eyes are drowsy with sleep. Men going home glance at me and
    smile and fill me with shame. I sit like a beggar maid, drawing
    my skirt over my face, and when they ask me, what it is I want, I
    drop my eyes and answer them not.

    Oh, how, indeed, could I tell them that for thee I wait, and that
    thou hast promised to come. How could I utter for shame that I
    keep for my dowry this poverty. Ah, I hug this pride in the
    secret of my heart.

    I sit on the grass and gaze upon the sky and dream of the sudden
    splendour of thy coming--all the lights ablaze, golden pennons
    flying over thy car, and they at the roadside standing agape,
    when they see thee come down from thy seat to raise me from the
    dust, and set at thy side this ragged beggar girl a-tremble with
    shame and pride, like a creeper in a summer breeze.

    But time glides on and still no sound of the wheels of thy
    chariot. Many a procession passes by with noise and shouts and
    glamour of glory. Is it only thou who wouldst stand in the
    shadow silent and behind them all? And only I who would wait and
    weep and wear out my heart in vain longing?

    Early in the day it was whispered that we should sail in a boat,
    only thou and I, and never a soul in the world would know of this
    our pilgrimage to no country and to no end.

    In that shoreless ocean, at thy silently listening smile my songs
    would swell in melodies, free as waves, free from all bondage of

    Is the time not come yet? Are there works still to do? Lo, the
    evening has come down upon the shore and in the fading light the
    seabirds come flying to their nests.

    Who knows when the chains will be off, and the boat, like the
    last glimmer of sunset, vanish into the night?

    The day was when I did not keep myself in readiness for thee; and
    entering my heart unbidden even as one of the common crowd,
    unknown to me, my king, thou didst press the signet of eternity
    upon many a fleeting moment of my life.

    And today when by chance I light upon them and see thy signature,
    I find they have lain scattered in the dust mixed with the memory
    of joys and sorrows of my trivial days forgotten.

    Thou didst not turn in contempt from my childish play among dust,
    and the steps that I heard in my playroom are the same that are
    echoing from star to star.

    This is my delight, thus to wait and watch at the wayside where
    shadow chases light and the rain comes in the wake of the summer.

    Messengers, with tidings from unknown skies, greet me and speed
    along the road. My heart is glad within, and the breath of the
    passing breeze is sweet.

    From dawn till dusk I sit here before my door, and I know that of
    a sudden the happy moment will arrive when I shall see.

    In the meanwhile I smile and I sing all alone. In the meanwhile
    the air is filling with the perfume of promise.

    Have you not heard his silent steps? He comes, comes, ever

    Every moment and every age, every day and every night he comes,
    comes, ever comes.

    Many a song have I sung in many a mood of mind, but all their
    notes have always proclaimed, 'He comes, comes, ever comes.'

    In the fragrant days of sunny April through the forest path he
    comes, comes, ever comes.

    In the rainy gloom of July nights on the thundering chariot of
    clouds he comes, comes, ever comes.

    In sorrow after sorrow it is his steps that press upon my heart,
    and it is the golden touch of his feet that makes my joy to

    I know not from what distant time thou art ever coming nearer to
    meet me. Thy sun and stars can never keep thee hidden from me
    for aye.

    In many a morning and eve thy footsteps have been heard and thy
    messenger has come within my heart and called me in secret.

    I know not only why today my life is all astir, and a feeling of
    tremulous joy is passing through my heart.

    It is as if the time were come to wind up my work, and I feel in
    the air a faint smell of thy sweet presence.

    The night is nearly spent waiting for him in vain. I fear lest
    in the morning he suddenly come to my door when I have fallen
    asleep wearied out. Oh friends, leave the way open to him--
    forbid him not.

    If the sounds of his steps does not wake me, do not try to rouse
    me, I pray. I wish not to be called from my sleep by the
    clamorous choir of birds, by the riot of wind at the festival of
    morning light. Let me sleep undisturbed even if my lord comes of
    a sudden to my door.

    Ah, my sleep, precious sleep, which only waits for his touch to
    vanish. Ah, my closed eyes that would open their lids only to
    the light of his smile when he stands before me like a dream
    emerging from darkness of sleep.

    Let him appear before my sight as the first of all lights and all
    forms. The first thrill of joy to my awakened soul let it come
    from his glance. And let my return to myself be immediate return
    to him.

    The morning sea of silence broke into ripples of bird songs; and
    the flowers were all merry by the roadside; and the wealth of
    gold was scattered through the rift of the clouds while we busily
    went on our way and paid no heed.

    We sang no glad songs nor played; we went not to the village for
    barter; we spoke not a word nor smiled; we lingered not on the
    way. We quickened our pace more and more as the time sped by.

    The sun rose to the mid sky and doves cooed in the shade.
    Withered leaves danced and whirled in the hot air of noon. The
    shepherd boy drowsed and dreamed in the shadow of the banyan
    tree, and I laid myself down by the water and stretched my tired
    limbs on the grass.

    My companions laughed at me in scorn; they held their heads high
    and hurried on; they never looked back nor rested; they vanished
    in the distant blue haze. They crossed many meadows and hills,
    and passed through strange, far-away countries. All honour to
    you, heroic host of the interminable path! Mockery and reproach
    pricked me to rise, but found no response in me. I gave myself
    up for lost in the depth of a glad humiliation--in the shadow of
    a dim delight.

    The repose of the sun-embroidered green gloom slowly spread over
    my heart. I forgot for what I had travelled, and I surrendered
    my mind without struggle to the maze of shadows and songs.

    At last, when I woke from my slumber and opened my eyes, I saw
    thee standing by me, flooding my sleep with thy smile. How I had
    feared that the path was long and wearisome, and the struggle to
    reach thee was hard!

    You came down from your throne and stood at my cottage door.

    I was singing all alone in a corner, and the melody caught your
    ear. You came down and stood at my cottage door.

    Masters are many in your hall, and songs are sung there at all
    hours. But the simple carol of this novice struck at your love.
    One plaintive little strain mingled with the great music of the
    world, and with a flower for a prize you came down and stopped at
    my cottage door.

    I had gone a-begging from door to door in the village path, when
    thy golden chariot appeared in the distance like a gorgeous dream
    and I wondered who was this King of all kings!

    My hopes rose high and methought my evil days were at an end, and
    I stood waiting for alms to be given unasked and for wealth
    scattered on all sides in the dust.

    The chariot stopped where I stood. Thy glance fell on me and
    thou camest down with a smile. I felt that the luck of my life
    had come at last. Then of a sudden thou didst hold out thy right
    hand and say 'What hast thou to give to me?'

    Ah, what a kingly jest was it to open thy palm to a beggar to
    beg! I was confused and stood undecided, and then from my wallet
    I slowly took out the least little grain of corn and gave it to

    But how great my surprise when at the day's end I emptied my bag
    on the floor to find a least little gram of gold among the poor
    heap. I bitterly wept and wished that I had had the heart to
    give thee my all.

    The night darkened. Our day's works had been done. We thought
    that the last guest had arrived for the night and the doors in
    the village were all shut. Only some said the king was to come.
    We laughed and said 'No, it cannot be!'

    It seemed there were knocks at the door and we said it was
    nothing but the wind. We put out the lamps and lay down to
    sleep. Only some said, 'It is the messenger!' We laughed and
    said 'No, it must be the wind!'

    There came a sound in the dead of the night. We sleepily thought
    it was the distant thunder. The earth shook, the walls rocked,
    and it troubled us in our sleep. Only some said it was the sound
    of wheels. We said in a drowsy murmur, 'No, it must be the
    rumbling of clouds!'

    The night was still dark when the drum sounded. The voice came
    'Wake up! delay not!' We pressed our hands on our hearts and
    shuddered with fear. Some said, 'Lo, there is the king's flag!'
    We stood up on our feet and cried 'There is no time for delay!'

    The king has come--but where are lights, where are wreaths?
    Where is the throne to seat him? Oh, shame! Oh utter shame!
    Where is the hall, the decorations? Someone has said, 'Vain is
    this cry! Greet him with empty hands, lead him into thy rooms
    all bare!'

    Open the doors, let the conch-shells be sounded! in the depth of
    the night has come the king of our dark, dreary house. The
    thunder roars in the sky. The darkness shudders with lightning.
    Bring out thy tattered piece of mat and spread it in the
    courtyard. With the storm has come of a sudden our king of the
    fearful night.

    I thought I should ask of thee--but I dared not--the rose wreath
    thou hadst on thy neck. Thus I waited for the morning, when thou
    didst depart, to find a few fragments on the bed. And like a
    beggar I searched in the dawn only for a stray petal or two.

    Ah me, what is it I find? What token left of thy love? It is no
    flower, no spices, no vase of perfumed water. It is thy mighty
    sword, flashing as a flame, heavy as a bolt of thunder. The
    young light of morning comes through the window and spreads itself
    upon thy bed. The morning bird twitters and asks, 'Woman, what
    hast thou got?' No, it is no flower, nor spices, nor vase of
    perfumed water--it is thy dreadful sword.

    I sit and muse in wonder, what gift is this of thine. I can find
    no place to hide it. I am ashamed to wear it, frail as I am, and
    it hurts me when I press it to my bosom. Yet shall I bear in my
    heart this honour of the burden of pain, this gift of thine.

    From now there shall be no fear left for me in this world, and
    thou shalt be victorious in all my strife. Thou hast left death
    for my companion and I shall crown him with my life. Thy sword
    is with me to cut asunder my bonds, and there shall be no fear
    left for me in the world.

    From now I leave off all petty decorations. Lord of my heart, no
    more shall there be for me waiting and weeping in corners, no
    more coyness and sweetness of demeanour. Thou hast given me thy
    sword for adornment. No more doll's decorations for me!

    Beautiful is thy wristlet, decked with stars and cunningly
    wrought in myriad-coloured jewels. But more beautiful to me thy
    sword with its curve of lightning like the outspread wings of the
    divine bird of Vishnu, perfectly poised in the angry red light of
    the sunset.

    It quivers like the one last response of life in ecstasy of pain
    at the final stroke of death; it shines like the pure flame of
    being burning up earthly sense with one fierce flash.

    Beautiful is thy wristlet, decked with starry gems; but thy
    sword, O lord of thunder, is wrought with uttermost beauty,
    terrible to behold or think of.

    I asked nothing from thee; I uttered not my name to thine ear.
    When thou took'st thy leave I stood silent. I was alone by the
    well where the shadow of the tree fell aslant, and the women had
    gone home with their brown earthen pitchers full to the brim.
    They called me and shouted, 'Come with us, the morning is wearing
    on to noon.' But I languidly lingered awhile lost in the midst
    of vague musings.

    I heard not thy steps as thou camest. Thine eyes were sad when
    they fell on me; thy voice was tired as thou spokest low--'Ah, I
    am a thirsty traveller.' I started up from my day-dreams and
    poured water from my jar on thy joined palms. The leaves rustled
    overhead; the cuckoo sang from the unseen dark, and perfume of
    babla flowers came from the bend of the road.

    I stood speechless with shame when my name thou didst ask.
    Indeed, what had I done for thee to keep me in remembrance? But
    the memory that I could give water to thee to allay thy thirst
    will cling to my heart and enfold it in sweetness. The morning
    hour is late, the bird sings in weary notes, neem leaves
    rustle overhead and I sit and think and think.

    Languor is upon your heart and the slumber is still on your eyes.

    Has not the word come to you that the flower is reigning in
    splendour among thorns? Wake, oh awaken! let not the time pass
    in vain!

    At the end of the stony path, in the country of virgin solitude,
    my friend is sitting all alone. Deceive him not. Wake, oh

    What if the sky pants and trembles with the heat of the midday
    sun--what if the burning sand spreads its mantle of thirst--

    Is there no joy in the deep of your heart? At every footfall of
    yours, will not the harp of the road break out in sweet music of

    Thus it is that thy joy in me is so full. Thus it is that thou
    hast come down to me. O thou lord of all heavens, where would be
    thy love if I were not?

    Thou hast taken me as thy partner of all this wealth. In my
    heart is the endless play of thy delight. In my life thy will is
    ever taking shape.

    And for this, thou who art the King of kings hast decked thyself
    in beauty to captivate my heart. And for this thy love loses
    itself in the love of thy lover, and there art thou seen in the
    perfect union of two.

    Light, my light, the world-filling light, the eye-kissing light,
    heart-sweetening light!

    Ah, the light dances, my darling, at the centre of my life; the
    light strikes, my darling, the chords of my love; the sky opens,
    the wind runs wild, laughter passes over the earth.

    The butterflies spread their sails on the sea of light. Lilies
    and jasmines surge up on the crest of the waves of light.

    The light is shattered into gold on every cloud, my darling, and
    it scatters gems in profusion.

    Mirth spreads from leaf to leaf, my darling, and gladness without
    measure. The heaven's river has drowned its banks and the flood
    of joy is abroad.

    Let all the strains of joy mingle in my last song--the joy that
    makes the earth flow over in the riotous excess of the grass, the
    joy that sets the twin brothers, life and death, dancing over the
    wide world, the joy that sweeps in with the tempest, shaking and
    waking all life with laughter, the joy that sits still with its
    tears on the open red lotus of pain, and the joy that throws
    everything it has upon the dust, and knows not a word.

    Yes, I know, this is nothing but thy love, O beloved of my heart--
    this golden light that dances upon the leaves, these idle clouds
    sailing across the sky, this passing breeze leaving its coolness
    upon my forehead.

    The morning light has flooded my eyes--this is thy message to my
    heart. Thy face is bent from above, thy eyes look down on my
    eyes, and my heart has touched thy feet.

    On the seashore of endless worlds children meet. The infinite
    sky is motionless overhead and the restless water is boisterous.
    On the seashore of endless worlds the children meet with shouts
    and dances.

    They build their houses with sand and they play with empty
    shells. With withered leaves they weave their boats and
    smilingly float them on the vast deep. Children have their play
    on the seashore of worlds.

    They know not how to swim, they know not how to cast nets. Pearl
    fishers dive for pearls, merchants sail in their ships, while
    children gather pebbles and scatter them again. they seek not
    for hidden treasures, they know not how to cast nets.

    The sea surges up with laughter and pale gleams the smile of the
    sea beach. Death-dealing waves sing meaningless ballads to the
    children, even like a mother while rocking her baby's cradle.
    The sea plays with children, and pale gleams the smile of the sea

    On the seashore of endless worlds children meet. Tempest roams
    in the pathless sky, ships get wrecked in the trackless water,
    death is abroad and children play. On the seashore of endless
    worlds is the great meeting of children.

    The sleep that flits on baby's eyes--does anybody know from where
    it comes? Yes, there is a rumour that it has its dwelling there,
    in the fairy village among shadows of the forest dimly lit with
    glow-worms, there hang two timid buds of enchantment. From there
    it comes to kiss baby's eyes.

    The smile that flickers on baby's lips when he sleeps--does
    anybody know where it was born? Yes, there is a rumour that a
    young pale beam of a crescent moon touched the edge of a
    vanishing autumn cloud, and there the smile was first born in the
    dream of a dew-washed morning--the smile that flickers on baby's
    lips when he sleeps.

    The sweet, soft freshness that blooms on baby's limbs--does
    anybody know where it was hidden so long? Yes, when the mother
    was a young girl it lay pervading her heart in tender and silent
    mystery of love--the sweet, soft freshness that has bloomed on
    baby's limbs.

    When I bring to you coloured toys, my child, I understand why
    there is such a play of colours on clouds, on water, and why
    flowers are painted in tints--when I give coloured toys to you,
    my child.

    When I sing to make you dance I truly now why there is music in
    leaves, and why waves send their chorus of voices to the heart of
    the listening earth--when I sing to make you dance.

    When I bring sweet things to your greedy hands I know why there
    is honey in the cup of the flowers and why fruits are secretly
    filled with sweet juice--when I bring sweet things to your greedy

    When I kiss your face to make you smile, my darling, I surely
    understand what pleasure streams from the sky in morning light,
    and what delight that is that is which the summer breeze brings
    to my body--when I kiss you to make you smile.

    Thou hast made me known to friends whom I knew not. Thou hast
    given me seats in homes not my own. Thou hast brought the
    distant near and made a brother of the stranger.

    I am uneasy at heart when I have to leave my accustomed shelter;
    I forget that there abides the old in the new, and that there
    also thou abidest.

    Through birth and death, in this world or in others, wherever
    thou leadest me it is thou, the same, the one companion of my
    endless life who ever linkest my heart with bonds of joy to the

    When one knows thee, then alien there is none, then no door is
    shut. Oh, grant me my prayer that I may never lose the bliss of
    the touch of the one in the play of many.

    On the slope of the desolate river among tall grasses I asked
    her, 'Maiden, where do you go shading your lamp with your mantle?
    My house is all dark and lonesome--lend me your light!' she
    raised her dark eyes for a moment and looked at my face through
    the dusk. 'I have come to the river,' she said, 'to float my
    lamp on the stream when the daylight wanes in the west.' I stood
    alone among tall grasses and watched the timid flame of her lamp
    uselessly drifting in the tide.

    In the silence of gathering night I asked her, 'Maiden, your
    lights are all lit--then where do you go with your lamp? My
    house is all dark and lonesome--lend me your light.' She raised
    her dark eyes on my face and stood for a moment doubtful. 'I
    have come,' she said at last, 'to dedicate my lamp to the sky.'
    I stood and watched her light uselessly burning in the void.

    In the moonless gloom of midnight I ask her, 'Maiden, what is
    your quest, holding the lamp near your heart? My house is all
    dark and lonesome--lend me your light.' She stopped for a minute
    and thought and gazed at my face in the dark. 'I have brought my
    light,' she said, 'to join the carnival of lamps.' I stood and
    watched her little lamp uselessly lost among lights.

    What divine drink wouldst thou have, my God, from this
    overflowing cup of my life?

    My poet, is it thy delight to see thy creation through my eyes
    and to stand at the portals of my ears silently to listen to
    thine own eternal harmony?

    Thy world is weaving words in my mind and thy joy is adding music
    to them. Thou givest thyself to me in love and then feelest
    thine own entire sweetness in me.

    She who ever had remained in the depth of my being, in the
    twilight of gleams and of glimpses; she who never opened her
    veils in the morning light, will be my last gift to thee, my God,
    folded in my final song.

    Words have wooed yet failed to win her; persuasion has stretched
    to her its eager arms in vain.

    I have roamed from country to country keeping her in the core of
    my heart, and around her have risen and fallen the growth and
    decay of my life.

    Over my thoughts and actions, my slumbers and dreams, she reigned
    yet dwelled alone and apart.

    Many a man knocked at my door and asked for her and turned away
    in despair.

    There was none in the world who ever saw her face to face, and
    she remained in her loneliness waiting for thy recognition.

    Thou art the sky and thou art the nest as well.

    O thou beautiful, there in the nest is thy love that encloses the
    soul with colours and sounds and odours.

    There comes the morning with the golden basket in her right hand
    bearing the wreath of beauty, silently to crown the earth.

    And there comes the evening over the lonely meadows deserted by
    herds, through trackless paths, carrying cool draughts of peace
    in her golden pitcher from the western ocean of rest.

    But there, where spreads the infinite sky for the soul to take
    her flight in, reigns the stainless white radiance. There is no
    day nor night, nor form nor colour, and never, never a word.

    Thy sunbeam comes upon this earth of mine with arms outstretched
    and stands at my door the livelong day to carry back to thy feet
    clouds made of my tears and sighs and songs.

    With fond delight thou wrappest about thy starry breast that
    mantle of misty cloud, turning it into numberless shapes and
    folds and colouring it with hues everchanging.

    It is so light and so fleeting, tender and tearful and dark, that
    is why thou lovest it, O thou spotless and serene. And that is
    why it may cover thy awful white light with its pathetic shadows.

    The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
    runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

    It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the
    earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous
    waves of leaves and flowers.

    It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
    and of death, in ebb and in flow.

    I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of
    life. And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my
    blood this moment.

    Is it beyond thee to be glad with the gladness of this rhythm?
    to be tossed and lost and broken in the whirl of this fearful

    All things rush on, they stop not, they look not behind, no power
    can hold them back, they rush on.

    Keeping steps with that restless, rapid music, seasons come
    dancing and pass away--colours, tunes, and perfumes pour in
    endless cascades in the abounding joy that scatters and gives up
    and dies every moment.

    That I should make much of myself and turn it on all sides, thus
    casting coloured shadows on thy radiance--such is thy

    Thou settest a barrier in thine own being and then callest thy
    severed self in myriad notes. This thy self-separation has taken
    body in me.

    The poignant song is echoed through all the sky in many-coloured
    tears and smiles, alarms and hopes; waves rise up and sink again,
    dreams break and form. In me is thy own defeat of self.

    This screen that thou hast raised is painted with innumerable
    figures with the brush of the night and the day. Behind it thy
    seat is woven in wondrous mysteries of curves, casting away all
    barren lines of straightness.

    The great pageant of thee and me has overspread the sky. With
    the tune of thee and me all the air is vibrant, and all ages pass
    with the hiding and seeking of thee and me.

    He it is, the innermost one, who awakens my being with his deep
    hidden touches.

    He it is who puts his enchantment upon these eyes and joyfully
    plays on the chords of my heart in varied cadence of pleasure and

    He it is who weaves the web of this maya in evanescent
    hues of gold and silver, blue and green, and lets peep out
    through the folds his feet, at whose touch I forget myself.

    Days come and ages pass, and it is ever he who moves my heart in
    many a name, in many a guise, in many a rapture of joy and of

    Deliverance is not for me in renunciation. I feel the embrace of
    freedom in a thousand bonds of delight.

    Thou ever pourest for me the fresh draught of thy wine of various
    colours and fragrance, filling this earthen vessel to the brim.

    My world will light its hundred different lamps with thy flame
    and place them before the altar of thy temple.

    No, I will never shut the doors of my senses. The delights of
    sight and hearing and touch will bear thy delight.

    Yes, all my illusions will burn into illumination of joy, and all
    my desires ripen into fruits of love.

    The day is no more, the shadow is upon the earth. It is time
    that I go to the stream to fill my pitcher.

    The evening air is eager with the sad music of the water. Ah, it
    calls me out into the dusk. In the lonely lane there is no
    passer-by, the wind is up, the ripples are rampant in the river.

    I know not if I shall come back home. I know not whom I shall
    chance to meet. There at the fording in the little boat the
    unknown man plays upon his lute.

    Thy gifts to us mortals fulfil all our needs and yet run back to
    thee undiminished.

    The river has its everyday work to do and hastens through fields
    and hamlets; yet its incessant stream winds towards the washing
    of thy feet.

    The flower sweetens the air with its perfume; yet its last
    service is to offer itself to thee.

    Thy worship does not impoverish the world.

    From the words of the poet men take what meanings please them;
    yet their last meaning points to thee.

    Day after day, O lord of my life, shall I stand before thee face
    to face. With folded hands, O lord of all worlds, shall I stand
    before thee face to face.

    Under thy great sky in solitude and silence, with humble heart
    shall I stand before thee face to face.

    In this laborious world of thine, tumultuous with toil and with
    struggle, among hurrying crowds shall I stand before thee face to

    And when my work shall be done in this world, O King of kings,
    alone and speechless shall I stand before thee face to face.

    I know thee as my God and stand apart--I do not know thee as my
    own and come closer. I know thee as my father and bow before thy
    feet--I do not grasp thy hand as my friend's.

    I stand not where thou comest down and ownest thyself as mine,
    there to clasp thee to my heart and take thee as my comrade.

    Thou art the Brother amongst my brothers, but I heed them not, I
    divide not my earnings with them, thus sharing my all with thee.

    In pleasure and in pain I stand not by the side of men, and thus
    stand by thee. I shrink to give up my life, and thus do not
    plunge into the great waters of life.

    When the creation was new and all the stars shone in their first
    splendour, the gods held their assembly in the sky and sang 'Oh,
    the picture of perfection! the joy unalloyed!'

    But one cried of a sudden--'It seems that somewhere there is a
    break in the chain of light and one of the stars has been lost.'

    The golden string of their harp snapped, their song stopped, and
    they cried in dismay--'Yes, that lost star was the best, she was
    the glory of all heavens!'

    From that day the search is unceasing for her, and the cry goes
    on from one to the other that in her the world has lost its one

    Only in the deepest silence of night the stars smile and whisper
    among themselves--'Vain is this seeking! unbroken perfection is
    over all!'

    If it is not my portion to meet thee in this life then let me
    ever feel that I have missed thy sight--let me not forget for a
    moment, let me carry the pangs of this sorrow in my dreams and in
    my wakeful hours.

    As my days pass in the crowded market of this world and my hands
    grow full with the daily profits, let me ever feel that I have
    gained nothing--let me not forget for a moment, let me carry the
    pangs of this sorrow in my dreams and in my wakeful hours.

    When I sit by the roadside, tired and panting, when I spread my
    bed low in the dust, let me ever feel that the long journey is
    still before me--let me not forget a moment, let me carry the
    pangs of this sorrow in my dreams and in my wakeful hours.

    When my rooms have been decked out and the flutes sound and the
    laughter there is loud, let me ever feel that I have not invited
    thee to my house--let me not forget for a moment, let me carry
    the pangs of this sorrow in my dreams and in my wakeful hours.

    I am like a remnant of a cloud of autumn uselessly roaming in the
    sky, O my sun ever-glorious! Thy touch has not yet melted my
    vapour, making me one with thy light, and thus I count months and
    years separated from thee.

    If this be thy wish and if this be thy play, then take this
    fleeting emptiness of mine, paint it with colours, gild it with
    gold, float it on the wanton wind and spread it in varied

    And again when it shall be thy wish to end this play at night, I
    shall melt and vanish away in the dark, or it may be in a smile
    of the white morning, in a coolness of purity transparent.

    On many an idle day have I grieved over lost time. But it is
    never lost, my lord. Thou hast taken every moment of my life in
    thine own hands.

    Hidden in the heart of things thou art nourishing seeds into
    sprouts, buds into blossoms, and ripening flowers into

    I was tired and sleeping on my idle bed and imagined all work had
    ceased. In the morning I woke up and found my garden full with
    wonders of flowers.

    Time is endless in thy hands, my lord. There is none to count
    thy minutes.

    Days and nights pass and ages bloom and fade like flowers. Thou
    knowest how to wait.

    Thy centuries follow each other perfecting a small wild flower.

    We have no time to lose, and having no time we must scramble for
    a chances. We are too poor to be late.

    And thus it is that time goes by while I give it to every
    querulous man who claims it, and thine altar is empty of all
    offerings to the last.

    At the end of the day I hasten in fear lest thy gate to be shut;
    but I find that yet there is time.

    Mother, I shall weave a chain of pearls for thy neck with my
    tears of sorrow.

    The stars have wrought their anklets of light to deck thy feet,
    but mine will hang upon thy breast.

    Wealth and fame come from thee and it is for thee to give or to
    withhold them. But this my sorrow is absolutely mine own, and
    when I bring it to thee as my offering thou rewardest me with thy

    It is the pang of separation that spreads throughout the world
    and gives birth to shapes innumerable in the infinite sky.

    It is this sorrow of separation that gazes in silence all nights
    from star to star and becomes lyric among rustling leaves in
    rainy darkness of July.

    It is this overspreading pain that deepens into loves and
    desires, into sufferings and joy in human homes; and this it is
    that ever melts and flows in songs through my poet's heart.

    When the warriors came out first from their master's hall, where
    had they hid their power? Where were their armour and their

    They looked poor and helpless, and the arrows were showered upon
    them on the day they came out from their master's hall.

    When the warriors marched back again to their master's hall where
    did they hide their power?

    They had dropped the sword and dropped the bow and the arrow;
    peace was on their foreheads, and they had left the fruits of
    their life behind them on the day they marched back again to
    their master's hall.

    Death, thy servant, is at my door. He has crossed the unknown
    sea and brought thy call to my home.

    The night is dark and my heart is fearful--yet I will take up the
    lamp, open my gates and bow to him my welcome. It is thy
    messenger who stands at my door.

    I will worship him placing at his feet the treasure of my heart.

    He will go back with his errand done, leaving a dark shadow on my
    morning; and in my desolate home only my forlorn self will remain
    as my last offering to thee.

    In desperate hope I go and search for her in all the corners of
    my room; I find her not.

    My house is small and what once has gone from it can never be

    But infinite is thy mansion, my lord, and seeking her I have to
    come to thy door.

    I stand under the golden canopy of thine evening sky and I lift
    my eager eyes to thy face.

    I have come to the brink of eternity from which nothing can
    vanish--no hope, no happiness, no vision of a face seen through

    Oh, dip my emptied life into that ocean, plunge it into the
    deepest fullness. Let me for once feel that lost sweet touch in
    the allness of the universe.

    Deity of the ruined temple! The broken strings of Vina
    sing no more your praise. The bells in the evening proclaim not
    your time of worship. The air is still and silent about you.

    In your desolate dwelling comes the vagrant spring breeze. It
    brings the tidings of flowers--the flowers that for your worship
    are offered no more.

    Your worshipper of old wanders ever longing for favour still
    refused. In the eventide, when fires and shadows mingle with the
    gloom of dust, he wearily comes back to the ruined temple with
    hunger in his heart.

    Many a festival day comes to you in silence, deity of the ruined
    temple. Many a night of worship goes away with lamp unlit.

    Many new images are built by masters of cunning art and carried
    to the holy stream of oblivion when their time is come.

    Only the deity of the ruined temple remains unworshipped in
    deathless neglect.

    No more noisy, loud words from me--such is my master's will.
    Henceforth I deal in whispers. The speech of my heart will be
    carried on in murmurings of a song.

    Men hasten to the King's market. All the buyers and sellers are
    there. But I have my untimely leave in the middle of the day, in
    the thick of work.

    Let then the flowers come out in my garden, though it is not
    their time; and let the midday bees strike up their lazy hum.

    Full many an hour have I spent in the strife of the good and the
    evil, but now it is the pleasure of my playmate of the empty days
    to draw my heart on to him; and I know not why is this sudden
    call to what useless inconsequence!

    On the day when death will knock at thy door what wilt thou offer
    to him?

    Oh, I will set before my guest the full vessel of my life--I will
    never let him go with empty hands.

    All the sweet vintage of all my autumn days and summer nights,
    all the earnings and gleanings of my busy life will I place
    before him at the close of my days when death will knock at my

    O thou the last fulfilment of life, Death, my death, come and
    whisper to me!

    Day after day I have kept watch for thee; for thee have I borne
    the joys and pangs of life.

    All that I am, that I have, that I hope and all my love have ever
    flowed towards thee in depth of secrecy. One final glance from
    thine eyes and my life will be ever thine own.

    The flowers have been woven and the garland is ready for the
    bridegroom. After the wedding the bride shall leave her home and
    meet her lord alone in the solitude of night.

    I know that the day will come when my sight of this earth shall
    be lost, and life will take its leave in silence, drawing the
    last curtain over my eyes.

    Yet stars will watch at night, and morning rise as before, and
    hours heave like sea waves casting up pleasures and pains.

    When I think of this end of my moments, the barrier of the
    moments breaks and I see by the light of death thy world with its
    careless treasures. Rare is its lowliest seat, rare is its
    meanest of lives.

    Things that I longed for in vain and things that I got--let them
    pass. Let me but truly possess the things that I ever spurned
    and overlooked.

    I have got my leave. Bid me farewell, my brothers! I bow to you
    all and take my departure.

    Here I give back the keys of my door--and I give up all claims to
    my house. I only ask for last kind words from you.

    We were neighbours for long, but I received more than I could
    give. Now the day has dawned and the lamp that lit my dark
    corner is out. A summons has come and I am ready for my journey.

    At this time of my parting, wish me good luck, my friends! The
    sky is flushed with the dawn and my path lies beautiful.

    Ask not what I have with me to take there. I start on my journey
    with empty hands and expectant heart.

    I shall put on my wedding garland. Mine is not the red-brown
    dress of the traveller, and though there are dangers on the way I
    have no fear in mind.

    The evening star will come out when my voyage is done and the
    plaintive notes of the twilight melodies be struck up from the
    King's gateway.

    I was not aware of the moment when I first crossed the threshold
    of this life.

    What was the power that made me open out into this vast mystery
    like a bud in the forest at midnight!

    When in the morning I looked upon the light I felt in a moment
    that I was no stranger in this world, that the inscrutable
    without name and form had taken me in its arms in the form of my
    own mother.

    Even so, in death the same unknown will appear as ever known to
    me. And because I love this life, I know I shall love death as

    The child cries out when from the right breast the mother takes
    it away, in the very next moment to find in the left one its

    When I go from hence let this be my parting word, that what I
    have seen is unsurpassable.

    I have tasted of the hidden honey of this lotus that expands on
    the ocean of light, and thus am I blessed--let this be my parting

    In this playhouse of infinite forms I have had my play and here
    have I caught sight of him that is formless.

    My whole body and my limbs have thrilled with his touch who is
    beyond touch; and if the end comes here, let it come--let this be
    my parting word.

    When my play was with thee I never questioned who thou wert. I
    knew nor shyness nor fear, my life was boisterous.

    In the early morning thou wouldst call me from my sleep like my
    own comrade and lead me running from glade to glade.

    On those days I never cared to know the meaning of songs thou
    sangest to me. Only my voice took up the tunes, and my heart
    danced in their cadence.

    Now, when the playtime is over, what is this sudden sight that is
    come upon me? The world with eyes bent upon thy feet stands in
    awe with all its silent stars.

    I will deck thee with trophies, garlands of my defeat. It is
    never in my power to escape unconquered.

    I surely know my pride will go to the wall, my life will burst
    its bonds in exceeding pain, and my empty heart will sob out in
    music like a hollow reed, and the stone will melt in tears.

    I surely know the hundred petals of a lotus will not remain
    closed for ever and the secret recess of its honey will be bared.

    From the blue sky an eye shall gaze upon me and summon me in
    silence. Nothing will be left for me, nothing whatever, and
    utter death shall I receive at thy feet.

    When I give up the helm I know that the time has come for thee to
    take it. What there is to do will be instantly done. Vain is
    this struggle.

    Then take away your hands and silently put up with your defeat,
    my heart, and think it your good fortune to sit perfectly still
    where you are placed.

    These my lamps are blown out at every little puff of wind, and
    trying to light them I forget all else again and again.

    But I shall be wise this time and wait in the dark, spreading my
    mat on the floor; and whenever it is thy pleasure, my lord, come
    silently and take thy seat here.

    I dive down into the depth of the ocean of forms, hoping to gain
    the perfect pearl of the formless.

    No more sailing from harbour to harbour with this my weather-
    beaten boat. The days are long passed when my sport was to be
    tossed on waves.

    And now I am eager to die into the deathless.

    Into the audience hall by the fathomless abyss where swells up
    the music of toneless strings I shall take this harp of my life.

    I shall tune it to the notes of forever, and when it has sobbed
    out its last utterance, lay down my silent harp at the feet of
    the silent.

    Ever in my life have I sought thee with my songs. It was they
    who led me from door to door, and with them have I felt about me,
    searching and touching my world.

    It was my songs that taught me all the lessons I ever learnt;
    they showed me secret paths, they brought before my sight many a
    star on the horizon of my heart.

    They guided me all the day long to the mysteries of the country
    of pleasure and pain, and, at last, to what palace gate have the
    brought me in the evening at the end of my journey?

    I boasted among men that I had known you. They see your pictures
    in all works of mine. They come and ask me, 'Who is he?' I know
    not how to answer them. I say, 'Indeed, I cannot tell.' They
    blame me and they go away in scorn. And you sit there smiling.

    I put my tales of you into lasting songs. The secret gushes out
    from my heart. They come and ask me, 'Tell me all your
    meanings.' I know not how to answer them. I say, 'Ah, who knows
    what they mean!' They smile and go away in utter scorn. And you
    sit there smiling.

    In one salutation to thee, my God, let all my senses spread out
    and touch this world at thy feet.

    Like a rain-cloud of July hung low with its burden of unshed
    showers let all my mind bend down at thy door in one salutation
    to thee.

    Let all my songs gather together their diverse strains into a
    single current and flow to a sea of silence in one salutation to

    Like a flock of homesick cranes flying night and day back to
    their mountain nests let all my life take its voyage to its
    eternal home in one salutation to thee.

    If you're writing a Gitanjali essay and need some advice, post your Rabindranath Tagore essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Want to read

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?