Poem – The Vulgar Little Lady

“But, mamma, now, ” said Charlotte, “pray, don’t you believe
That I’m better than Jenny, my nurse?
Only see my red shoes, and the lace on my sleeve;
Her clothes are a thousand times worse.

“I ride in my coach, and have nothing to do,
And the country folks stare at me so;
And nobody dares to control me but you
Because I’m a lady, you know.

“Then, servants are vulgar, and I am genteel;
So really, ’tis out of the way,
To think that I should not be better a deal
Than maids, and such people as they. ”

“Gentility, Charlotte,” her mother replied,
“Belongs to no station or place;
And there’s nothing so vulgar as folly and pride,
Though dress’d in red slippers and lace.

Not all the fine things that fine ladies possess
Should teach them the poor to despise;
For ’tis in good manners, and not in good dress,
That the truest gentility lies.”

Poem – The Gaudy Flower

WHY does my Anna toss her head,
And look so scornfully around,
As if she scarcely deign’d to tread
Upon the daisy-dappled ground?

Does fancied beauty fire thine eye,
The brilliant tint, the satin skin?
Does the loved glass, in passing by,
Reflect a graceful form and thin?

Alas! that form, and brilliant fire,
Will never win beholder’s love;
It may, indeed, make fools admire,
But ne’er the wise and good can move.

So grows the tulip, gay and bold,
The broadest sunshine its delight;
Like rubies, or like burnish’d gold,
It shows its petals, glossy bright.

But who the gaudy floweret crops,
As if to court a sweet perfume!
Admired it blows, neglected drops,
And sinks unheeded to its doom.

The virtues of the heart may move
Affections of a genial kind;
While beauty fails to stir our love,
And wins the eye, but not the mind.

Poem – The Holidays

‘AH! don’t you remember, ’tis almost December,
And soon will the holidays come;
Oh, ’twill be so funny, I’ve plenty of money,
I’ll buy me a sword and a drum. ‘

Thus said little Harry, unwilling to tarry,
Impatient from school to depart;
But we shall discover, this holiday lover
Knew little what was in his heart.

For when on returning, he gave up his learning,
Away from his sums and his books,
Though playthings surrounded, and sweetmeats abounded,
Chagrin still appear’d in his looks.

Though first they delighted, his toys were now slighted,
And thrown away out of his sight;
He spent every morning in stretching and yawning,
Yet went to bed weary at night.

He had not that treasure which really makes pleasure,
(A secret discover’d by few).
You’ll take it for granted, more playthings he wanted;
Oh no–it was something to do.

We must have employment to give us enjoyment
And pass the time cheerfully away;
And study and reading give pleasure, exceeding
The pleasures of toys and of play.

To school now returning–to study and learning
With eagerness Harry applied;
He felt no aversion to books or exertion,
Nor yet for the holidays sigh’d.

Poem – Little Girls must not Fret

WHAT is it that makes little Emily cry? 

Come then, let mamma wipe the tear from her eye: 

There–lay down your head on my bosom–that’s right,

And now tell mamma what’s the matter to-night. 
What! Emmy is sleepy, and tired with play? 

Come, Betty, make haste then, and fetch her away; 

But do not be fretful, my darling; you know

Mamma cannot love little girls that are so. 
She shall soon go to bed and forget it all there–

Ah! here’s her sweet smile come again, I declare:

That’s right, for I thought you quite naughty before. 

Good night, my dear child, but don’t fret any more. 

Poem – A True Story

Little Ann and her mother were walking one day

Through London’s wide city so fair,

And business obliged them to go by the way

That led them through Cavendish Square. 

And as they pass’d by the great house of a Lord,

A beautiful chariot there came,

To take some most elegant ladies abroad, 

Who straightway got into the same. 
The ladies in feathers and jewels were seen,

The chariot was painted all o’er, 

The footmen behind were in silver and green,

The horses were prancing before. 
Little Ann by her mother walk’d silent and sad,

A tear trickled down from her eye, 

Till her mother said, “Ann, I should be very glad

To know what it is makes you cry. ” 
“Mamma,” said the child, “see that carriage so fair, 

All cover’d with varnish and gold, 

Those ladies are riding so charmingly there

While we have to walk in the cold. 
“You say GOD is kind to the folks that are good,

But surely it cannot be true; 

Or else I am certain, almost, that He would

Give such a fine carriage to you. ” 
“Look there, little girl,” said her mother, “and see

What stands at that very coach door;

A poor ragged beggar, and listen how she

A halfpenny tries to implore. 
“All pale is her face, and deep sunk is her eye,

And her hands look like skeleton’s bones;

She has got a few rags, just about her to tie,

And her naked feet bleed on the stones. ” 
‘Dear ladies,’ she cries, and the tears trickle down, 

‘Relieve a poor beggar, I pray;

I’ve wander’d all hungry about this wide town,

And not ate a morsel to-day. 
‘My father and mother are long ago dead,

My brother sails over the sea, 

And I’ve scarcely a rag, or a morsel of bread,

As plainly, I’m sure, you may see. 
‘A fever I caught, which was terrible bad, 

But no nurse or physic had I; 

An old dirty shed was the house that I had,

And only on straw could I lie. 
‘And now that I’m better, yet feeble and faint, 

And famish’d, and naked, and cold,

I wander about with my grievous complaint, 

And seldom get aught but a scold. 
‘Some will not attend to my pitiful call,

Some think me a vagabond cheat;

And scarcely a creature relieves me, of all

The thousands that traverse the street. 
‘Then ladies, dear ladies, your pity bestow:’­

Just then a tall footman came round,

And asking the ladies which way they would go,

The chariot turn’d off with a bound. 
“Ah! see, little girl,” then her mother replied,

“How foolish those murmurs have been;

You have but to look on the contrary side,

To learn both your folly and sin. 
“This poor little beggar is hungry and cold,

No mother awaits her return;

And while such an object as this you behold,

Your heart should with gratitude burn. 
“Your house and its comforts, your food and your friends,

‘Tis favour in GOD to confer, 

Have you any claim to the bounty He sends, 

Who makes you to differ from her? 
“A coach, and a footman, and gaudy attire,

Give little true joy to the breast; 

To be good is the thing you should chiefly desire,

And then leave to GOD all the rest. ” 

Poem – Meddlesome Matty

One ugly trick has often spoil’d

The sweetest and the best; 

Matilda, though a pleasant child, 

One ugly trick possess’d, 

Which, like a cloud before the skies, 

Hid all her better qualities. 
Sometimes she’d lift the tea-pot lid, 

To peep at what was in it, 

Or tilt the kettle, if you did 

But turn your back a minute. 

In vain you told her not to touch,

Her trick of meddling grew so much. 
Her grandmamma went out one day,

And by mistake she laid

Her spectacles and snuff-box gay

Too near the little maid; 

“Ah! well,” thought she, “I’ll try them on, 

As soon as grandmamma is gone. ” 
Forthwith she placed upon her nose

The glasses large and wide; 

And looking round, as I suppose, 

The snuff-box too she spied: 

“Oh! what a pretty box is that; 

I’ll open it,” said little Matt. 
“I know that grandmamma would say,

‘Don’t meddle with it, dear;’

But then, she’s far enough away, 

And no one else is near: 

Besides, what can there be amiss

In opening such a box as this? ” 
So thumb and finger went to work 

To move the stubborn lid,

And presently a mighty jerk

The mighty mischief did; 

For all at once, ah! woful case, 

The snuff came puffing in her face. 
Poor eyes, and nose, and mouth, beside

A dismal sight presented; 

In vain, as bitterly she cried, 

Her folly she repented. 

In vain she ran about for ease; 

She could do nothing now but sneeze. 
She dash’d the spectacles away, 

To wipe her tingling eyes, 

And as in twenty bits they lay, 

Her grandmamma she spies. 

“Heyday! and what’s the matter now?”

Says grandmamma, with lifted brow. 
Matilda, smarting with the pain, 

And tingling still, and sore,

Made many a promise to refrain

From meddling evermore. 

And ’tis a fact, as I have heard, 

She ever since has kept her word. 

Poem – The Baby’s Dance

Dance little baby, dance up high,
Never mind baby, mother is by;

Crow and caper, caper and crow,

There little baby, there you go;

Up to the ceiling, down to the ground,

Backwards and forwards, round and round;

Dance little baby, and mother shall sing,

With the merry coral, ding, ding, ding. 

Poem – To A Dead Poet

I knew not if to laugh or weep;
They sat and talked of you–

“‘Twas here he sat; ’twas this he said!

‘Twas that he used to do. 
“Here is the book wherein he read,

The room wherein he dwelt;

And he” (they said) “was such a man,

Such things he thought and felt.”
I sat and sat, I did not stir;

They talked and talked away.

I was as mute as any stone,

I had no word to say.
They talked and talked; like to a stone

My heart grew in my breast–

I, who had never seen your face

Perhaps I knew you best. 

Poem – To Clementina Black 

More blest than was of old Diogenes,
I have not held my lantern up in vain.

Not mine, at least, this evil–to complain:

“There is none honest among all of these.”
Our hopes go down that sailed before the breeze;

Our creeds upon the rock are rent in twain;

Something it is, if at the last remain

One floating spar cast up by hungry seas.
The secret of our being, who can tell?

To praise the gods and Fate is not my part;

Evil I see, and pain ; within my heart

There is no voice that whispers: “All is well.”
Yet fair are days in summer; and more fair

The growths of human goodness here and there. 

Poem – To E 

The mountains in fantastic lines
Sweep, blue-white, to the sky, which shines

Blue as blue gems; athwart the pines

The lake gleams blue.
We three were here, three years gone by;

Our Poet, with fine-frenzied eye,

You, stepped in learned lore, and I,

A poet too.
Our Poet brought us books and flowers,

He read us Faust; he talked for hours

Philosophy (sad Schopenhauer’s),

Beneath the trees:
And do you mind that sunny day,

When he, as on the sward he lay,

Told of Lassalle who bore away

The false Louise?
Thrice-favoured bard! to him alone

That green and snug retreat was shown,

Where to the vulgar herd unknown,

Our pens we plied.
(For, in those distant days, it seems,

We cherished sundry idle dreams,

And with our flowing foolscap reams

The Fates defied.)
And after, when the day was gone,

And the hushed, silver night came on,

He showed us where the glow-worm shone;–

We stooped to see.
There, too, by yonder moon we swore

Platonic friendship o’er and o’er;

No folk, we deemed, had been before

So wise and free.


And do I sigh or smile to-day?

Dead love or dead ambition, say,

Which mourn we most? Not much we weigh

Platonic friends.
On you the sun is shining free;

Our Poet sleeps in Italy,

Beneath an alien sod; on me

The cloud descends. 

Poem – To Lallie

UP those Museum steps you came, 
And straightway all my blood was flame,

O Lallie, Lallie !

The world (I had been feeling low)

In one short moment’s space did grow

A happy valley.

There was a friend, my friend, with you;

A meagre dame in peacock blue

Apparelled quaintly:

This poet-heart went pit-a-pat;

I bowed and smiled and raised my hat;

You nodded–faintly.

My heart was full as full could be;

You had not got a word for me,

Not one short greeting;

That nonchalant small nod you gave

(The tyrant’s motion to the slave)

Sole mark’d our meeting.

Is it so long ? Do you forget

That first and last time that we met?

The time was summer.

The trees were green; the sky was blue;

Our host presented me to you–

A tardy comer.

You look’d demure, but when you spoke

You made a little, funny joke,

Yet half pathetic.

Your gown was grey, I recollect,

I think you patronized the sect

They call “æsthetic.”

I brought you strawberries and cream,

And plied you long about a stream

With duckweed laden ;

We solemnly discussed the — heat.

I found you shy and very sweet,

A rosebud maiden.

Ah me, to-day! You passed inside

To where the marble gods abide:

Hermes, Apollo,

Sweet Aphrodite, Pan; and where,

For aye reclined, a headless fair

Beats all fairs hollow.

And I, I went upon my way,

Well — rather sadder, let us say;

The world looked flatter.

I had been sad enough before,

A little less, a little more,

What does it matter? 

Poem – To Sylvia 

“O love, lean thou thy cheek to mine,

And let the tears together flow”–

Such was the song you sang to me

Once, long ago.
Such was the song you sang; and yet

(O be not wroth!) I scarcely knew

What sounds flow’d forth; I only felt

That you were you.
I scarcely knew your hair was gold,

Nor of the heavens’ own blue your eyes.

Sylvia and song, divinely mixt,

Made Paradise.
These things I scarcely knew; to-day,

When love is lost and hope is fled,

The song you sang so long ago

Rings in my head.
Clear comes each note and true; to-day,

As in a picture I behold

Your tur’d-up chin, and small, sweet head

Misty with gold.
I see how your dear eyes grew deep,

How your lithe body thrilled and swayed,

And how were whiter than the keys

Your hands that played. . .
Ah, sweetest! cruel have you been,

And robbed my life of many things.

I will not chide; ere this I knew

That Love had wings.
You’ve robbed my life of many things–

Of love and hope, of fame and pow’r.

So be it, sweet. You cannot steal

One golden hour. 

Poem – To Vernon Lee 

On Bellosguardo, when the year was young,
We wandered, seeking for the daffodil

And dark anemone, whose purples fill

The peasant’s plot, between the corn-shoots sprung.
Over the grey, low wall the olive flung

Her deeper greyness ; far off, hill on hill

Sloped to the sky, which, pearly-pale and still,

Above the large and luminous landscape hung.
A snowy blackthorn flowered beyond my reach;

You broke a branch and gave it to me there;

I found for you a scarlet blossom rare.
Thereby ran on of Art and Life our speech;

And of the gifts the gods had given to each–

Hope unto you, and unto me Despair. 

Poem – Translated from Geibel

O say, thou wild, thou oft deceived heart,
What mean these noisy throbbings in my breast?

After thy long, unutterable woe

Wouldst thou not rest?
Fall’n from Life’s tree the sweet rose-blossom lies,

And fragrant youth has fled. What made to seem

This earth as fair to thee as Paradise,

Was all a dream.
The blossom fell, the thorn was left to me;

Deep from the wound the blood-drops ever flow,

All that I have are yearnings, wild desires,

And wrath and woe.
They brought me Lethe’s water, saying, ‘Drink!’

‘Drink, for the draught is sweet,’ I heard them say,

‘Shalt learn how soft a thing forgetting is.’

I answered : ‘Nay.’
What tho’ indeed it were an idle cheat,

Nathless to me ’twas very fair and blest:

With every breath I draw I know that love

Reigns in my breast.
Let me go forth,–and thou, my heart, bleed on:

A lonely spot I seek by night and day,

That love and sorrow I may there breathe forth

In a last lay. 

Poem – Twilight 

So Mary died last night! To-day
The news has travelled here.

And Robert died at Michaelmas,

And Walter died last year.
I went at sunset up the lane,

I lingered by the stile;

I saw the dusky fields that stretched

Before me many a mile.
I leaned against the stile, and thought

Of her whose soul had fled–

I knew that years on years must pass

Or e’er I should be dead. 

Poem – A Wall Flower

I lounge in the doorway and languish in vain
While Tom, Dick and Harry are dancing with Jane

My spirit rises to the music’s beat;

There is a leaden fiend lurks in my feet!

To move unto your motion, Love, were sweet.
Somewhere, I think, some other where, not here,

In other ages, on another sphere,

I danced with you, and you with me, my dear.
In perfect motion did our bodies sway,

To perfect music that was heard alway;

Woe’s me, that am so dull of foot to-day!
To move unto your motion, Love, were sweet;

My spirit rises to the music’s beat–

But, ah, the leaden demon in my feet! 

Poem – The Birth of the War God 

The Address to Brahma 

While impious Tárak in resistless might 

Was troubling heaven and earth with wild affright,

To Brahmá’s high abode, by Indra led,

The mournful deities for refuge fled.

As when the Day-God’s loving beams awake

The lotus slumbering on the silver lake,

So Brahmá deigned his glorious face to show,

And poured sweet comfort on their looks of woe.

Then nearer came the suppliant Gods to pay

Honour to him whose face turns every way.

They bowed them low before the Lord of Speech,

And sought with truthful words his heart to reach:

‘Glory to Thee! before the world was made,

One single form thy Majesty displayed.

Next Thou, to body forth the mystic Three,

Didst fill three Persons: Glory, Lord, to Thee!

Unborn and unbegotten! from thy hand

The fruitful seed rained down; at thy command

From that small germ o’er quickening waters thrown

All things that move not, all that move have grown.

Before thy triple form in awe they bow:

Maker, preserver, and destroyer, Thou!

Thou, when a longing urged thee to create,

Thy single form in twain didst separate.

The Sire, the Mother that made all things be

By their first union were but parts of Thee.

From them the life that fills this earthly frame,

And fruitful Nature, self-renewing, came.

Thou countest not thy time by mortals’ light;

With Thee there is but one vast day and night.

When Brahmá slumbers fainting Nature dies,

When Brahmá wakens all again arise.

Creator of the world, and uncreate!

Endless! all things from Thee their end await.

Before the world wast Thou! each Lord shall fall

Before Thee, mightiest, highest, Lord of all.

Thy self-taught soul thine own deep spirit knows;

Made by thyself thy mighty form arose;

Into the same, when all things have their end,

Shall thy great self, absorbed in Thee, descend.

Lord, who may hope thy essence to declare?

Firm, yet as subtile as the yielding air:

Fixt, all-pervading; ponderous, yet light,

Patent to all, yet hidden from the sight.

Thine are the sacred hymns which mortals raise,

Commencing ever with the word of praise,

With three-toned chant the sacrifice to grace,

And win at last in heaven a blissful place.

They hail Thee Nature labouring to free

The Immortal Soul from low humanity;

Hail Thee the stranger Spirit, unimpressed,

Gazing on Nature from thy lofty rest.

Father of fathers, God of gods art thou,

Creator, highest, hearer of the vow!

Thou art the sacrifice, and Thou the priest,

Thou, he that eateth; Thou, the holy feast.

Thou art the knowledge which by Thee is taught,

The mighty thinker, and the highest thought!’

Pleased with their truthful praise, his favouring eye

He turned upon the dwellers in the sky,

While from four mouths his words in gentle flow

Come welling softly to assuage their woe:

‘Welcome! glad welcome, Princes! ye who hold

Your lofty sovereignties ordained of old.

But why so mournful? what has dimmed your light?

Why shine your faces less divinely bright?

Like stars that pour forth weaker, paler gleams,

When the fair moon with brighter radiance beams.

O say, in vain doth mighty Indra bear

The thunderbolt of heaven, unused to spare?

Vritra, the furious fiend, ’twas strong to slay:

Why dull and blunted is that might to-day?

See, Varun’s noose hangs idly on his arm,

Like some fell serpent quelled by magic charm.

Weak is Kuvera’s hand, his arm no more

Wields the dread mace it once so proudly bore;

But like a tree whose boughs are lopped away,

It tells of piercing woe, and dire dismay.

In days of yore how Yama’s sceptre shone!

Fled are its glories, all its terrors gone;

Despised and useless as a quenched brand,

All idly now it marks the yielding sand.

Fallen are the Lords of Light, ere now the gaze

Shrank from the coming of their fearful blaze;

So changed are they, the undazzled eye may see

Like pictured forms, each rayless deity.

Some baffling power has curbed the breezes’ swell:

Vainly they chafe against the secret spell.

We know some barrier checks their wonted course,

When refluent waters seek again their source.

The Rudras too—fierce demigods who bear

The curved moon hanging from their twisted hair—

Tell by their looks of fear, and shame, and woe,

Of threats now silenced, of a mightier foe.

Glory and power, ye Gods, were yours of right:

Have ye now yielded to some stronger might,

Even as on earth a general law may be

Made powerless by a special text’s decree?

Then say, my sons, why seek ye Brahmá’s throne?

‘Tis mine to frame the worlds, and yours to guard your own.’

Then Indra turned his thousand glorious eyes,

Glancing like lilies when the soft wind sighs,

And in the Gods’ behalf, their mighty chief

Urged the Most Eloquent to tell their grief.

Then rose the heavenly Teacher, by whose side

Dim seemed the glories of the Thousand-eyed,

And with his hands outspread, to Brahmá spake,

Couched on his own dear flower, the daughter of the lake:

‘O mighty Being! surely thou dost know

The unceasing fury of our ruthless foe;

For thou canst see the secret thoughts that lie

Deep in the heart, yet open to thine eye.

The vengeful Tárak, in resistless might,

Like some dire Comet, gleaming wild affright,

O’er all the worlds an evil influence sheds,

And, in thy favour strong, destruction spreads.

All bow before him: on his palace wall

The sun’s first ray and parting splendour fall;

Ne’er could he waken with a lovelier glance

His own dear lotus from her nightly trance.

For him, proud fiend, the moon no waning knows,

But with unminished full-orbed lustre glows.

Too faint for him the crescent glory set

Amid the blaze of Śiva’s coronet.

How fair his garden, where the obedient breeze

Dares steal no blossom from the slumbering trees!

The wild wind checks his blustering pinions there,

And gently whispering fans the balmy air;

While through the inverted year the seasons pour,

To win the demon’s grace, their flowery store.

For him, the River-god beneath the stream,

Marks the young pearl increase its silver gleam,

Until, its beauty and its growth complete,

He bears the offering to his master’s feet.

The Serpents, led by Vásuki, their king,

Across his nightly path their lustre fling;

Bright as a torch their flashing jewels blaze,

Nor wind, nor rain, can dim their dazzling rays.

E’en Indra, sovereign of the blissful skies,

To gain his love by flattering homage tries,

And sends him oft those flowers of wondrous hue

That on the heavenly tree in beauty grew.

Yet all these offerings brought from day to day,

This flattery, fail his ruthless hand to stay.

Earth, hell, and heaven, beneath his rage must groan,

Till force can hurl him from his evil throne.

Alas! where glowed the bright celestial bowers,

And gentle fair ones nursed the opening flowers,

Where heavenly trees a heavenly odour shed,

O’er a sad desert ruin reigns instead.

He roots up Meru’s sacred peaks, where stray

The fiery coursers of the God of Day,

To form bright slopes, and glittering mounds of ease,

In the broad gardens of his palaces.

There, on his couch, the mighty lord is fanned

To sweetest slumber by a heavenly band;

Poor captive nymphs, who stand in anguish by,

dropp the big tear, and heave the ceaseless sigh.

And now have Indra’s elephants defiled

The sparkling stream where heavenly Gangá smiled,

And her gold lotuses the fiend has taken

To deck his pools, and left her all forsaken.

The Gods of heaven no more delight to roam

O’er all the world, far from their glorious home.

They dread the demon’s impious might, nor dare

Speed their bright chariots through the fields of air.

And when our worshippers in duty bring

The appointed victims for the offering,

He tears them from the flame with magic art,

While we all powerless watch with drooping heart.

He too has stolen from his master’s side

The steed of heavenly race, great Indra’s pride.

No more our hosts, so glorious once, withstand

The fierce dominion of the demon’s hand,

As herbs of healing virtue fail to tame

The sickness raging through the infected frame.

Idly the discus hangs on Vishṇu’s neck,

And our last hope is vain, that it would check

The haughty Tárak’s might, and flash afar

Ruin and death—the thunderbolt of war.

E’en Indra’s elephant has felt the might

Of his fierce monsters in the deadly fight,

Which spurn the dust in fury, and defy

The threatening clouds that sail along the sky.

Therefore, O Lord, we seek a chief, that he

May lead the hosts of heaven to victory,

Even as holy men who long to sever

The immortal spirit from its shell for ever,

Seek lovely Virtue’s aid to free the soul

From earthly ties and action’s base control.

Thus shall he save us: proudly will we go

Under his escort ‘gainst the furious foe;

And Indra, conqueror in turn, shall bring

Fortune, dear captive, home with joy and triumphing.’

Sweet as the rains—the fresh’ning rains—that pour

On the parched earth when thunders cease to roar,

Were Brahmá’s words: ‘Gods, I have heard your grief;

Wait ye in patience: time will bring relief.

‘Tis not for me, my children, to create

A chief to save you from your mournful fate.

Not by my hand the fiend must be destroyed,

For my kind favour has he once enjoyed;

And well ye know that e’en a poisonous tree

By him who planted it unharmed should be.

He sought it eagerly, and long ago

I gave my favour to your demon-foe,

And stayed his awful penance, that had hurled

Flames, death, and ruin o’er the subject world.

When that great warrior battles for his life,

O, who may conquer in the deadly strife,

Save one of Śiva’s seed? He is the light,

Reigning supreme beyond the depths of night.

Nor I, nor Vishṇu, his full power may share,

Lo, where he dwells in solitude and prayer!

Go, seek the Hermit in the grove alone,

And to the God be Umá’s beauty shown.

Perchance, the Mountain-child, with magnet’s force,

May turn the iron from its steadfast course,

Bride of the mighty God; for only she

Can bear to Him as water bears to me.

Then from their love a mighty Child shall rise,

And lead to war the armies of the skies.

Freed by his hand, no more the heavenly maids

Shall twine their glittering hair in mournful braids.’

He spake, and vanished from their wondering sight;

And they sped homeward to their world of light.

But Indra, still on Brahmá’s words intent,

To Káma’s dwelling-place his footsteps bent.

Swiftly he came: the yearning of his will

Made Indra’s lightning course more speedy still.

The Love-God, armed with flowers divinely sweet,

In lowly homage bowed before his feet.

Around his neck, where bright love-tokens clung,

Arched like a maiden’s brow, his bow was hung,

And blooming Spring, his constant follower, bore

The mango twig, his weapon famed of yore.    

Poem – Keep Your Mind Intend Upon 

Keep your mind intent upon 
the path that leads to immortality. 

Should it stray from the path, 

it will fall into evil ways. 

Be firm with it and have no fear; 

For mind is like a suckling baby, 

which tosses restless even in its mother’s lap. 

Poem – Just for a Moment, Flowers Appear

Just for a moment, flowers appear
on the empty, nearly-spring tree.
Just for a second, wind

through the wild thicket thorns.
Self inside self, You are nothing but me.

Self inside self, I am only You.
What we are together

will never die.
The why and how of this?

What does it matter?

Poem – Intense Cold Makes Water Ice

Intense cold makes water ice.
Then the hard ice turns to slush

and back to water, so there are three

forms of consciousness: the individual,

the world, and God, which in the sun

of True Awareness melt to one flowing:
Lalla is that.
In meditation, I entered the love furnace,

burned impurities away, and as the sun

of a new knowing rose, I realized

that the words ‘Lalla’ and ‘God’

point to this peacefulness. 

Poem – I Treaded on the Expanse

I treaded on the expanse 
of the Void within me: 

I lost intellect, cognizance and 

The sensations external: 

A detective of self. 

I became myself; Lo and behold: from which ear 

My (Lalla’s ) lotus blossomed forth?
[Translated by P. N. Razdan (Mahanori)] 

Poem – I Searched for Myself

I searched for my Self
until I grew weary,
but no one, I know now,

reaches the hidden knowledge

by means of effort.
Then, absorbed in “Thou art This,”

I found the place of Wine.
There all the jars are filled,

but no one is left to drink.
[Taken from Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, Edited by Jane Hirshfield] 

Poem – Slay the Murderous Demons

Slay the murderous demons, 
Lust, Anger and Greed; 

Or, aiming their arrows at you, they will 

surely shoot you dead. 

Take care, feed them on self-restraint 

and discrimination of the Self; 

Thus starved these demons will become 

powerless and weak. 

Poem – Five Sayings of Lal Ded

I
By a way I came, but I went not by the way.

While I was yet on the midst of the embankment

with its crazy bridges, the day failed for me.

I looked within my poke, and not a cowry came to hand

(or, atI, was there) .

What shall I give for the ferry-fee? 

(Translated by G. Grierson) 
II 
Passionate, with longing in mine eyes,

Searching wide, and seeking nights and days,

Lo’ I beheld the Truthful One, the Wise,

Here in mine own House to fill my gaze.

(Translated by R.C. Temple) 
III 
Holy books will disappear, and then only the mystic formula will remain.

When the mystic formula departed, naught but mind was left.

When the mind disappeared naught was left anywhere,

And a voice became merged within the Void.

(Translated by G. Grierson) 
IV 
You are the heaven and You are the earth,

You are the day and You are the night,

You are all pervading air,

You are the sacred offering of rice and flowers and of water; 

You are Yourself all in all,

What can I offer You? 

With a thin rope of untwisted thread

Tow I ever my boat o’er the sea.

Will God hear the prayers that I have said? 

Will he safely over carry me? 

Water in a cup of unbaked clay,

Whirling and wasting, my dizzy soul

Slowly is filling to melt away.

Oh, how fain would I reach my goal. 

Poem – Unclaimed 

To make love with a stranger is the best.
There is no riddle and there is no test. —
To lie and love, not aching to make sense

Of this night in the mesh of reference.
To touch, unclaimed by fear of imminent day,

And understand, as only strangers may.
To feel the beat of foreign heart to heart

Preferring neither to prolong nor part.
To rest within the unknown arms and know

That this is all there is; that this is so. 

Poem – Sit 

Sit, drink your coffee here; your work can wait awhile.
You’re twenty-six, and still have some life ahead.

No need for wit; just talk vacuities, and I’ll

Reciprocate in kind, or laugh at you instead.
The world is too opaque, distressing and profound.

This twenty minutes’ rendezvous will make my day:

To sit here in the sun, with grackles all around,

Staring with beady eyes, and you two feet away. 

Poem – Across 

Across these miles I wish you well.
May nothing haunt your heart but sleep.

May you not sense what I don’t tell.

May you not dream, or doubt, or weep.

May what my pen this peaceless day

Writes on this page not reach your view

Till its deferred print lets you say

It speaks to someone else than you. 

Poem – Octet 

You don’t love me at all? O God. O Shit.
You still ‘respect me.’ Thanks. I value it

About as much as one who’s asked to use

A second hat when he’s in need of shoes.

Since, I discover, my own self-respect

Is quite enough to keep my spine erect

Why is it true my ample self-affection

Will not suffice to buoy me in rejection? 

Poem – Love Sonnet X

And then came Science with her torch red-lit
And cosmic marvels round her glowing head—
The primal cell, the worm, the quadruped—
Striving to make each to the other fit.
Tongue-trumpeting her own unchallenged wit,
She offered me the woof of Wisdom’s thread,
And Truth and Purity that hourly tread
The paths where sages in their wonder sit.

And still I smiled and kissed you with a sob.
My lips on yours, I heard, high up above
Love’s feet ring laughter on the starry sod
And felt the echo through our bosoms throb.
Beloved, Science ends in our pure love
Which shares alone the secrets of our God.

Poem – Love Sonnet XV

Love, you have brought to me my perfect soul,
More sweet than earthly things, more precious rare,
Hiding its fragrance in my loosened hair
And folding up my body like a scroll.
O, lie with me all night, and let the roll
Of Rapture’s waves wash over us, as, bare
Of anything save Love, we haply share
The joys of our first parents’ chaste control.

My Love, my piece of Heaven God has spilled
Upon my outstretched hands, O, kiss me yet.
Here, lying close to you, I feel—I know,
My being, even now, is charged and filled
With light and bliss it never will forget
Though aeons over my cold corpse should flow.

Poem – Fortune

Dame Fortune’s jade with a fanciful horn
Of silver ambitions she warns of the flame;
With pearls for the princes and tears night and morn
For poor little poets who fluttered for fame,
Who smile when she sings as she dances along;
“Come; woo me with courage and delicate song.”
I followed her once, but she wearied me soon.
All careless was I of her roseate quest.
I built a dream house, while the stars were in tune,
And slipped into silence and exquisite rest.
But she, like her sex, when my passion seemed cold,
Ran hither and offered me all of her gold.
I went to the door, and I looked at her ware
Of agate and amber and cool crysolite;
I shook my wise head with a holiday air,
And bade her good-day in a daring delight
For I am a fool, and my fortune is made;
I care not a fig for a crown or a spade;
I dwell with the elves ‘neath the odorous sky;
The dews of the dawn brush my gables with glee;
And moonlights and sunlights and lovers pass by
All humming this song as they peep upon me:
“Heigh-ho! For the fool who can pity all pelf,
And finds in his bliss that his fortune’s himself.”

Poem – Memory 

Late, late last night, when the whole world slept,
Along to the garden of dreams I crept.

And I pulled the bell of an old, old house

Where the moon dipped down like a little white mouse.

I tapped the door and I tossed my head:

“Are you in, little girl? Are you in?” I said.

And while I waited and shook with cold

Through the door tripped me—just eight years old.

I looked so sweet with my pigtails down,

Tied up with a ribbon of dusky brown,

With a dimpled chin full of childish charme,

And my old black dolly asleep in my arms.

I sat me down when I saw myself,

And I told little tales of a moonland elf.

I laughed and sang as I used to do

When the world was ruled by Little Boy Blue.

Then I danced with a toss and a twirl

And said: “Now have you been a good, good girl?

Have you had much spanking since you were Me?

And does it feel fine to be twenty-three?”

I kissed me then, and I said farewell,

For I’ve earned more spanks than I dared to tell,

And Eight must never see Twenty-three

As she peeps through the door of Memory. 

Poem – Girl Gladness

It’s holiday time on the hollyhock hills,
And I wish you would come with me laddie-love, now,
The butterfly-bells, from the Folly-fool rills,
Will ring if you listen, and drop on your brow.
So, dear come along,
I’ve a kiss and a song,
And I know where the fairies are forging a gong
To ring up the elves to a festival fair
Of snippets of sunshine and apples of air.
O laddie, my laddie, quick, run out of school,
And away with a shout and a shake of the head;
I’ll pick you a pearl from the pigeon-pink pool
Where cuddles and kisses are going to bed,
Away, come away To the lands of the fay,
For the afternoon tinkles your lassie-love’s lay.
Play truant with Time, and while Age is asleep
I’ll give you the heart of my girlhood to keep.

Poem – Sympathy 

Perched on the branch of a tree

Was a nightingale sad and lonely
‘The night has drawn near’, He was thinking

‘I passed the day in flying around and feeding
How can I reach up to the nest

Darkness has enveloped everything’? 
Hearing the nightingale wailing thus

A glow-worm lurking nearby spoke thus
‘With my heart and soul ready to help I am

Though only an insignificant insect I am
Never mind if the night is dark

I shall shed light if the way is dark
God has bestowed a torch on me

He has given a shining lamp to me
The good in the world only those are

Ready to be useful to others who are 

Poem – Spain 

Spain! You are the trustee of the Muslim

blood:

In my eyes you are sanctified like the Harem.

Prints of prostration lie hidden in your dust,

Silent calls to prayers in your morning air.

In your hills and vales were the tents of those,

The tips of whose lances were bright like the

stars.

Is more henna needed by your pretties? 

My lifeblood can give them some colour! 

How can a Muslim be put down by the straw

and grass,

Even if his flame has lost its heat and fire! 

My eyes watched Granada as well,

But the traveller’s content neither in journey

nor in rest:

I saw as well as showed, I spoke as well as

listened,

Neither seeing nor learning brings calm to the

heart! 
*

The veiled secrets are becoming manifest—

Bygone the days of you cannot see Me; 

Whosoever finds his self first,

Is Mahdi himself, the Guide of the Last Age.

Poem – Said The Coal ta a Diamond 

My stuff is so vile, I am less than dust
while your gleam rends the mirror’s heart.

My darkness lights the chafing-dish

before I am incinerated. A miner’s boot

tramples my head, covering me with ashes.
Do you know my life’s gist? 

A condensed sliver of smoke, transformed

into a single spark, in feature and nature

starlike, your every facet a splendor,

light of the king’s eye, the dagger’s jewel.
Friend, be wise, the diamond replied, assume

a bezel’s dignity! Loam strives to harden

to fill my bosom with radiance. Burn

because you are soft. Banish fear and grief.

Be hard as stone, be a diamond. 

Poem – Mirza Ghalib

Through you the secret was revealed to the human intellect
That innumerable enigmas are solved by human intellect
You were the complete soul, literary assembly was your body

You adorned as well as remained veiled from the assembly
Your eye is longing to witness that veiled Beauty

Which is veiled in everything as the pathos of life
The assemblage of existence is rich with your harp

As mountain’s silence by the brook’s melodious harp
The garden of your imagination bestows glory on the universe

From the field of your thought worlds grow like meadows
Life is concealed in the humor of your verse

Picture’s lips move with your command of language
Speech is very proud of the elegance of your miraculous lips

Thurayyah is astonished at your style’s elegance
Beloved of literature itself loves your style

Delhi’s bud is mocking at the rose of Shiraz
Ah! You are resting in the midst of Delhi’s ruins

Your counterpart is resting in the Weimar’s garden
Matching you in literary elegance is not possible

Till maturity of thought and imagination are combined
Ah! What has befallen the land of India! 

Ah! The inspirer of the super-critical eye! 
The lock of Urdu’s hair still craves for combing

This candle still craves for moth’s heart-felt pathos
O Jahanabad! O cradle of learning and art

Your entire super-structure is a silent lament
The sun and the moon are asleep in every speck of your dust

Though innumerable other gems are also hidden in your dust
Does another world-famous person like him also lie buried in you? 

Does another gem like him also lie concealed in you? 

Poem – Madness of Love is no More

mohabbat ka junuu.N baaqii nahii.n hai 
musalamaano.n me.n Khuun baaqii nahii.n hai 

safe.n kaj, dil pareshan, sajdaa bezuuk 

ke jazabaa-e-a.ndruun baaqii nahii.n hai 

rago.n me.n lahuu baaqii nahii.n hai 

wo dil, wo aawaaz baaqii nahii.n hai 

namaaz-o-rozaa-o-qurbaanii-o-haj 

ye sab baaqii hai tuu baaqii nahii.n hai 

Poem – Jawab E Shik 

Whatever comes out of the heart is effective
It has no wings but has the power of flight
It has holy origins, it aims at elegance

It rises from dust, but has access to the celestial world
My love was seditious, rebellious and clever

My fearless wailing rent through the sky
On hearing it the sun said, ‘Somewhere there is somebody! ‘

The planets said, ‘At the ‘Arsh-i-Bar 

Poem – Bachaey ki Duaa

lab pe aatii hai duaa banake tamannaa merii
zindagii shammaa kii surat ho Khudaayaa merii
duur duniyaa kaa mere dam a.Ndheraa no jaaye

har jagah mere chamakane se ujaalaa ho jaaye
ho mere dam se yuu.N hii mere watan kii ziinat

jis tarah phuul se hotii hai chaman kii ziinat
zindagii ho merii parawaane kii surat yaa rab

ilm kii shammaa se ho mujhako mohabbat yaa rab
ho meraa kaam Gariibo.n kii himaayat karanaa

dard-ma.ndo.n se zaiifo.n se mohabbat karanaa
mere allaah buraaii se bachaanaa mujhako

nek jo raah ho us raah pe chalaanaa mujhako 

Poem – Ahead of the Stars

sitaaro.n se aage jahaa.N aur bhii hai.

n abhii ishq ke imtihaa.N aur bhii hai.n 

taahii zindagii se nahii.n ye fazaaye.n 

yahaa.N saika.Do.n kaaravaa.N aur bhii hai.n 

kanaa’at na kar aalam-e-rang-o-bu par 

chaman aur bhii, aashiyaa.N aur bhii hai.n 

agar kho gayaa ek nasheman to kyaa Gam 

maqaamaat-e-aah-o-fugaa.N aur bhii hai.n 

tuu shahii.n hai parwaaz hai kaam teraa 

tere saamane aasmaa.N aur bhii hai.n 

isii roz-o-shab me.n ulajh kar na rah jaa 

ke tere zamiin-o-makaa.N aur bhii hai.n 

gae din kii tanhaa thaa mai.n a.njuman me.n 

yahaa.N ab mere raazadaa.N aur bhii hai.n 

Poem – The Cloud on The Mountain

Elevation bestows the sky’s nearness to my abode

I am the mountain’s cloud, my skirt sprinkles roses
Now the wilderness, now the rose garden is my abode

City and wilderness are mine, ocean is mine, forest is mine
If I want to return to some valley for the night

The mountain’s verdure is my carpet of velvet
Nature has taught me to be a pearl spreader

To chant the camel song for the camel of the Beloved of Mercy
To be the comforter of the dispirited farmer’s heart

To be the elegance of the assembly of the garden’s trees
I spread out over the face of the earth like the locks

I get arranged and adorned by the breeze’s
I tantalize the expecting eye from a distance

As I pass silently over some habitation
As I approach strolling towards a brook’s bank

I endow the brook with ear rings of whirlpools
I am the hope of the freshly grown field’s verdure

I am the ocean’s offspring, I am nourished by the sun
I gave ocean’s tumult to the mountain spring

I charmed the birds into thrilling chants
I pronounced ‘Rise’ standing by the verdure’s head

I conferred the taste for smile to the rose-bud
By my benevolence farmers’ huts on the mountain side

Are converted into bed chambers of the opulent.