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NAIDU, Sarojini


The Bird of Time

O Bird of Time on your fruitful bough
What are the songs you sing? ...
Songs of the glory and gladness of life,
Of poignant sorrow and passionate strife,
And the lilting joy of the spring;
Of hope that sows for the years unborn,
And faith that dreams of a tarrying morn,
The fragrant peace of the twilight's breath,
And the mystic silence that men call death.

O Bird of Time, say where did you learn
The changing measures you sing? ...
In blowing forests and breaking tides,
In the happy laughter of new-made brides,
And the nests of the new-born spring;
In the dawn that thrills to a mother's prayer,
And the night that shelters a heart's despair,
In the sigh of pity, the sob of hate,
And the pride of a soul that has conquered fate


Autumn song

Like a joy on the heart of a sorrow,
   The sunset hangs on a cloud;
A golden storm of glittering sheaves,
Of fair and frail and fluttering leaves,
   The wild wind blows in a cloud.

Hark to a voice that is calling
   To my heart in the voice of the wind:
My heart is weary and sad and alone,
For its dreams like the fluttering leaves have gone,
   And why should I stay behind?


An Indian Love Song

He
Lift up the veils that darken the delicate moon
of thy glory and grace,
Withhold not, O love, from the night
of my longing the joy of thy luminous face,
Give me a spear of the scented keora
guarding thy pinioned curls,
Or a silken thread from the fringes
that trouble the dream of thy glimmering pearls;
Faint grows my soul with thy tresses' perfume
and the song of thy anklets' caprice,
Revive me, I pray, with the magical nectar
that dwells in the flower of thy kiss.

She
How shall I yield to the voice of thy pleading,
how shall I grant thy prayer,
Or give thee a rose-red silken tassel,
a scented leaf from my hair?
Or fling in the flame of thy heart's desire the veils that cover my face,
Profane the law of my father's creed for a foe
of my father's race?
Thy kinsmen have broken our sacred altars and slaughtered our sacred kine,
The feud of old faiths and the blood of old battles sever thy people and mine.

He
What are the sins of my race, Beloved,
what are my people to thee?
And what are thy shrines, and kine and kindred,
what are thy gods to me?
Love recks not of feuds and bitter follies,
of stranger, comrade or kin,
Alike in his ear sound the temple bells
and the cry of the muezzin.
For Love shall cancel the ancient wrong
and conquer the ancient rage,
Redeem with his tears the memoried sorrow
that sullied a bygone age.