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 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 thee.
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
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 spread 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 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 awaken!
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 pain?
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,
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
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
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 beach.
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
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 where, 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 hands.
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
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 unfamiliar.
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
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
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
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
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
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 joy?
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 maya.
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
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 pain.
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 sorrow.