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NAIDU, Sarojini


Nightfall in the City of Hyderabad

SEE how the speckled sky burns like a pigeon's throat,

Jewelled with embers of opal and peridote.


See the white river that flashes and scintillates,

Curved like a tusk from the mouth of the city-gates.


Hark, from the minaret, how the muezzin's call

Floats like a battle-flag over the city wall.


From trellised balconies, languid and luminous

Faces gleam, veiled in a splendour voluminous.


Leisurely elephants wind through the winding lanes,

Swinging their silver bells hung from their silver chains.


Round the high Char Minar sounds of gay cavalcades

Blend with the music of cymbals and serenades.


Over the city bridge Night comes majestical,

Borne like a queen to a sumptuous festival.


In Salutation to the Eternal Peace

Men say the world is full of fear and hate,

And all life's ripening harvest-fields await

The restless sickle of relentless fate.


But I, sweet Soul, rejoice that I was born,

When from the climbing terraces of corn

I watch the golden orioles of Thy morn.


What care I for the world's desire and pride,

Who know the silver wings that gleam and glide,

The homing pigeons of Thine eventide?


What care I for the world's loud weariness,

Who dream in twilight granaries Thou dost bless

With delicate sheaves of mellow silences?


Say, shall I heed dull presages of doom,

Or dread the rumoured loneliness and gloom,

The mute and mythic terror of the tomb?


For my glad heart is drunk and drenched with Thee,

O inmost wind of living ecstasy!

O intimate essence of eternity!


The Song Of Princess Zeb-Un-Nissa In Praise Of Her Own Beauty

O YOUNG through all thy immemorial years!

Rise, Mother, rise, regenerate from thy gloom,

And, like a bride high-mated with the spheres,

Beget new glories from thine ageless womb!


The nations that in fettered darkness weep

Crave thee to lead them where great mornings break . . . .

Mother, O Mother, wherefore dost thou sleep?

Arise and answer for thy children's sake!


Thy Future calls thee with a manifold sound

To crescent honours, splendours, victories vast;

Waken, O slumbering Mother and be crowned,

Who once wert empress of the sovereign Past.


To India

O YOUNG through all thy immemorial years!

Rise, Mother, rise, regenerate from thy gloom,

And, like a bride high-mated with the spheres,

Beget new glories from thine ageless womb!


The nations that in fettered darkness weep

Crave thee to lead them where great mornings break . . . .

Mother, O Mother, wherefore dost thou sleep?

Arise and answer for thy children's sake!


Thy Future calls thee with a manifold sound

To crescent honours, splendours, victories vast;

Waken, O slumbering Mother and be crowned,

Who once wert empress of the sovereign Past.


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.


Indian Love song

She

LIKE a serpent to the calling voice of flutes,

Glides my heart into thy fingers, O my Love!

Where the night-wind, like a lover, leans above

His jasmine-gardens and sirisha-bowers;

And on ripe boughs of many-coloured fruits

Bright parrots cluster like vermilion flowers.


He

Like the perfume in the petals of a rose,

Hides thy heart within my bosom, O my love!

Like a garland, like a jewel, like a dove

That hangs its nest in the asoka-tree.

Lie still, O love, until the morning sows

Her tents of gold on fields of ivory.