一 束 花
MY flowers were like milk and honey and wine ; I bound them into a posy with a golden ribbon, but they escaped my watchful care and fled away, and only the ribbon remains.
My songs were like milk and honey and wine, they were held in the rhythm of my beating heart, but they spread their wings and fled away, the darlings of the idle hours, and my heart beats in silence.
The beauty I loved was like milk and honey and wine, her lips like the rose of the dawn, her eyes bee-black. I kept my heart silent lest it should startle her, but she eluded me like my flowers and like my songs, and my love remains alone.
I SHALL gladly suffer the pride of culture to die out in my house, if only in some happy future I am born a herd boy in the Brinda forest.
The herd boy who grazes his cattle sitting under the banyan tree, and idly weaves gunja flowers into gar- lands, who loves to splash and plunge in the Jamuna’s cool deep stream.
He calls his companions to wake up when morning dawns, and all the houses in the lane hum with the sound of the churn, clouds of dust are raised by the cattle, the maidens come out in the courtyard to milk the kine.
As the shadows deepen under the tomal trees, and the dusk gathers on the river-banks ; when the milkmaids, while crossing the turbulent water, tremble with fear ; and loud peacocks, with tails outspread, dance in the forest, he watches the summer clouds.
When the April night is sweet as a fresh-blown flower, he disappears in the forest with a peacock’s plume in his hair ; the swing ropes are twined with flowers on the branches ; the south wind throbs with music, and the merry shepherd boys crowd on the banks of the blue river.
No, I will never be the leader, brothers, of this new age of new Bengal ; I shall not trouble to light the lamp of culture for the benighted. If only I could be born, under the shady Asoka groves, in some village of Brinda, where milk is churned by the maidens.
I LOVED the sandy bank where, in the lonely pools, ducks clamoured and turtles basked in the sun ; where, with evening, stray fishing-boats took shelter in the shadow by the tall grass.
You loved the wooded bank where shadows were gathered in the arms of the bamboo thickets ; where women came with their vessels through the winding lane.
The same river flowed between us, singing the same song to both its banks. I listened to it, lying alone on the sand under the stars ; and you listened sitting by the edge of the slope in the early morning light. Only the words I heard from a it you did not know, and the secret it spoke to you was a mystery for ever to me.
YOUR window half -opened and veil half -raised you stand there waiting for the bangle- seller to come with his tinsel. You idly watch the heavy cart creak on in the dusty road, and the boat – mast crawling along the horizon across the far-off river.
The world to you is like an old woman’s chant at her spinning-wheel, unmeaning rhymes crowded with random images.
But who knows if he is on his way this lazy sultry noon, the Stranger, carrying his basket of strange wares ? He will pass by your door with his clear cry, and you shall fling open your window, cast off your veil, come out of the dusk of your dreams and meet your destiny.
I CLASP your hands, and my heart plunges into the dark of your eyes, seeking you, who ever evade me behind words and silence.
Yet I know that I must be content in my love, with what is fitful and fugitive. For we have met for a moment in the crossing of the roads. Have I the power to carry you through this crowd of worlds, through this maze of paths ? Have I the food that can sustain you across the dark passage gaping with arches of death ?
IF by chance you think of me, I shall sing to you when the rainy evening loosens her shadows upon the river, slowly trailing her dim light towards the west, when the day’s remnant is too narrow for work or for play.
You will sit alone in the balcony of the south, and I shall sing from the darkened room. In the growing dusk the smell of the wet leaves will come through the window ; and the stormy winds will become clamorous in the cocoa-nut grove.
When the lighted lamp is brought into the room I shall go. And then, perhaps, you will listen to the night, and hear my song when I am silent.
I FILLED my tray with whatever I had, and gave it to you. What shall I bring to your feet to-morrow, I wonder ? I am like the tree that, at the end of the flowering summer, gazes at the sky with its lifted branches bare of their blossoms.
But in all my past offerings is there not a single flower made fadeless by the eternity of tears ?
Will you remember it and thank me with your eyes when I stand before you with empty hands at the leave- taking of my summer days ?
I DREAMT that she sat by my head, tenderly ruffling my hair with her fingers, playing the melody of her touch. I looked at her face and struggled with my tears, till the agony of unspoken words burst my sleep like a bubble.I sat up and saw the glow of the Milky Way above my window, like a world of silence on fire, and I wondered if at this moment she had a dream that rhymed with mine.
I THOUGHT I had something to say to her when our eyes met across the hedge. But she passed away. And it rocks day and night, like a boat, on every wave of the hours, the word that I had to say to her. It seems to sail in the autumn clouds on an end- less quest and to bloom into evening flowers, seeking its lost moment in the sunset. It twinkles like fireflies in my heart, to find its meaning in the dusk of despair, the word that I had to say to her.
THE spring flowers break out like the passionate pain of unspoken love. With their breath comes the memory of my old day songs. My heart of a sudden has put on green leaves of desire. My love came not, but her touch is in my limbs, and her voice comes across the fragrant fields. Her gaze is in the sad depth of the sky, but where are her eyes ? Her kisses flit in the air, but where are her lips?