Poem – In Praise of Henna 

A KOKILA called from a henna-spray: 

Lira! liree! Lira! liree! 

Hasten, maidens, hasten away 

To gather the leaves of the henna-tree. 

Send your pitchers afloat on the tide, 

Gather the leaves ere the dawn be old, 

Grind them in mortars of amber and gold, 

The fresh green leaves of the henna-tree.

A kokila called from a henna-spray: 

Lira! liree! Lira! liree! 

Hasten maidens, hasten away 

To gather the leaves of the henna-tree. 

The tilka’s red for the brow of a bride, 

And betel-nut’s red for lips that are sweet; 

But, for lily-like fingers and feet, 

The red, the red of the henna-tree. 

Poem – In The Bazaars of Hyderabad 

What do you sell O ye merchants ?

Richly your wares are displayed.

Turbans of crimson and silver,

Tunics of purple brocade,

Mirrors with panels of amber,

Daggers with handles of jade.
What do you weigh, O ye vendors?

Saffron and lentil and rice.

What do you grind, O ye maidens?

Sandalwood, henna, and spice.

What do you call , O ye pedlars?

Chessmen and ivory dice.
What do you make,O ye goldsmiths?

Wristlet and anklet and ring,

Bells for the feet of blue pigeons

Frail as a dragon-fly’s wing,

Girdles of gold for dancers,

Scabbards of gold for the king.
What do you cry,O ye fruitmen?

Citron, pomegranate, and plum.

What do you play ,O musicians?

Cithar, sarangi and drum.

what do you chant, O magicians?

Spells for aeons to come.
What do you weave, O ye flower-girls

With tassels of azure and red?

Crowns for the brow of a bridegroom,

Chaplets to garland his bed.

Sheets of white blossoms new-garnered

To perfume the sleep of the dead. 

Poem – Coromandel Fishers

Rise, brothers, rise; the wakening skies pray to the morning light, 
The wind lies asleep in the arms of the dawn like a child that has cried all night. 

Come, let us gather our nets from the shore and set our catamarans free, 

To capture the leaping wealth of the tide, for we are the kings of the sea! 
No longer delay, let us hasten away in the track of the sea gull’s call, 

The sea is our mother, the cloud is our brother, the waves are our comrades all. 

What though we toss at the fall of the sun where the hand of the sea-god drives? 

He who holds the storm by the hair, will hide in his breast our lives. 
Sweet is the shade of the cocoanut glade, and the scent of the mango grove, 

And sweet are the sands at the full o’ the moon with the sound of the voices we love; 

But sweeter, O brothers, the kiss of the spray and the dance of the wild foam’s glee; 

Row, brothers, row to the edge of the verge, where the low sky mates with the sea. 

Poem – Krishna Complains About His Older Brother 

O mother mine, Dau (Balram)forever teases me.
you never gave birth to me,

and I was bought in the market.

this is what he tells me

o mother mihne, Dau forever teases me.

fed up of his teasing ways,

I don’t go out to play.

who is your mother?

and who is your father?

again and again he says.

Yasoda’s fair, so also Nanda,

how come you’re so dark?

Dau provokes, the gopas laugh,

and all have such a lark.

me, mother, you want to beat,

but Dau you never even scold,

seeing the anger on Mohan’s face

Yasoda’s joy was untold,

listen Kanha, Balbhadra is naughty,

wicked from his birth,

you’re my son, and I your mother,

I swear by mother cows worth! 

Poem – Krishna Denying He Stole The Butter

O mother mine, I did not eat the butter

come dawn, with the herds,

you send me to the jungle,

o, mother mine, I did not eat the butter.

all day long with my flute in the jungles

at dusk do I return home.

but a child, younger than my friends

how could I reach up to the butter?

all the gopas are against me

on my face they wipe the butter,

you mother, are much too innocent,

you believe all their chatter.

there is a flaw in your behaviour,

you consider me not yours,

take you herd-stick and the blanket

I’ll dance to your tune no longer.

Surdas, Yasoda then laughed,

and took the boy in her arms,

mother mine I did not eat the butter.