poem – the bangle sellers

Bangle sellers are we who bear
Our shining loads to the temple fair…
Who will buy these delicate, bright
Rainbow-tinted circles of light?
Lustrous tokens of radiant lives,
For happy daughters and happy wives.

Some are meet for a maiden’s wrist,
Silver and blue as the mountain mist,
Some are flushed like the buds that dream
On the tranquil brow of a woodland stream,
Some are aglow wth the bloom that cleaves
To the limpid glory of new born leaves

Some are like fields of sunlit corn,
Meet for a bride on her bridal morn,
Some, like the flame of her marriage fire,
Or, rich with the hue of her heart’s desire,
Tinkling, luminous, tender, and clear,
Like her bridal laughter and bridal tear.

Some are purple and gold flecked grey
For she who has journeyed through life midway,
Whose hands have cherished, whose love has blest,
And cradled fair sons on her faithful breast,
And serves her household in fruitful pride,
And worships the gods at her husband’s side.

poem – the soul’s prayer

In childhood’s pride I said to Thee:
‘O Thou, who mad’st me of Thy breath,
Speak, Master, and reveal to me
Thine inmost laws of life and death.

‘Give me to drink each joy and pain
Which Thine eternal hand can mete,
For my insatiate soul can drain
Earth’s utmost bitter, utmost sweet.

‘Spare me no bliss, no pang of strife,
Withhold no gift or grief I crave,
The intricate lore of love and life
And mystic knowledge of the grave.’

Lord, Thou didst answer stern and low:
‘Child, I will hearken to thy prayer,
And thy unconquered soul shall know
All passionate rapture and despair.

‘Thou shalt drink deep of joy and fame,
And love shall burn thee like a fire,
And pain shall cleanse thee like a flame,
To purge the dross from thy desire.

‘So shall thy chastened spirit yearn
To seek from its blind prayer release,
And spent and pardoned, sue to learn
The simple secret of My peace.

I, bending from my sevenfold height,
Will teach thee of My quickening grace,
Life is a prism of My light,
And Death the shadow of My face.’

poem – alabaster

LIKE this alabaster box whose art
Is frail as a cassia-flower, is my heart,
Carven with delicate dreams and wrought
With many a subtle and exquisite thought.

Therein I treasure the spice and scent
Of rich and passionate memories blent
Like odours of cinnamon, sandal and clove,
Of song and sorrow and life and love.

poem – in the forest

HERE, O my heart, let us burn the dear dreams that are dead,
Here in this wood let us fashion a funeral pyre
Of fallen white petals and leaves that are mellow and red,
Here let us burn them in noon’s flaming torches of fire.

We are weary, my heart, we are weary, so long we have borne
The heavy loved burden of dreams that are dead, let us rest,
Let us scatter their ashes away, for a while let us mourn;
We will rest, O my heart, till the shadows are gray in the west.

But soon we must rise, O my heart, we must wander again
Into the war of the world and the strife of the throng;
Let us rise, O my heart, let us gather the dreams that remain,
We will conquer the sorrow of life with the sorrow of song.

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 – To the God of Pain – Sarojini Naidu 

UNWILLING priestess in thy cruel fane, 

Long hast thou held me, pitiless god of Pain, 

Bound to thy worship by reluctant vows, 

My tired breast girt with suffering, and my brows 

Anointed with perpetual weariness. 

Long have I borne thy service, through the stress 

Of rigorous years, sad days and slumberless nights, 

Performing thine inexorable rites. 
For thy dark altars, balm nor milk nor rice, 

But mine own soul thou’st ta’en for sacrifice: 

All the rich honey of my youth’s desire, 

And all the sweet oils from my crushed life drawn, 

And all my flower-like dreams and gem-like fire 

Of hopes up-leaping like the light of dawn. 
I have no more to give, all that was mine 

Is laid, a wrested tribute, at thy shrine; 

Let me depart, for my whole soul is wrung, 

And all my cheerless orisons are sung; 

Let me depart, with faint limbs let me creep 

To some dim shade and sink me down to sleep.

Poem – Leili – Sarojini Naidu 

The serpents are asleep among the poppies, The fireflies light the soundless panther’s way 

To tangled paths where shy gazelles are straying, 

And parrot-plumes outshine the dying day. 

O soft! the lotus-buds upon the stream 

Are stirring like sweet maidens when they dream. 

A caste-mark on the azure brows of Heaven, 

The golden moon burns sacred, solemn, bright 

The winds are dancing in the forest-temple, 

And swooning at the holy feet of Night. 

Hush! in the silence mystic voices sing 

And make the gods their incense-offering.

Poem – In Praise Of Henna – Sarojini Naidu 

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 – Nightfall in the City of Hyderabad – Sarojini Naidu

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.

Poem – Transcience  – Sarojini Naidu 

Nay, do not grieve tho’ life be full of sadness, Dawn will not veil her spleandor for your grief, 

Nor spring deny their bright, appointed beauty 

To lotus blossom and ashoka leaf. 

Nay, do not pine, tho’ life be dark with trouble, 

Time will not pause or tarry on his way; 

To-day that seems so long, so strange, so bitter, 

Will soon be some forgotten yesterday. 

Nay, do not weep; new hopes, new dreams, new faces,
The unspent joy of all the unborn years, 

Will prove your heart a traitor to its sorrow, 

And make your eyes unfaithful to their tears.

poem – life

CHILDREN, ye have not lived, to you it seems
Life is a lovely stalactite of dreams,
Or carnival of careless joys that leap
About your hearts like billows on the deep
In flames of amber and of amethyst.

Children, ye have not lived, ye but exist
Till some resistless hour shall rise and move
Your hearts to wake and hunger after love,
And thirst with passionate longing for the things
That burn your brows with blood-red sufferings.

Till ye have battled with great grief and fears,
And borne the conflict of dream-shattering years,
Wounded with fierce desire and worn with strife,
Children, ye have not lived: for this is life.

Poems – Wandering Singers – Sarojini Naidu 

WHERE the voice of the wind calls our wandering feet, Through echoing forest and echoing street, 

With lutes in our hands ever-singing we roam, 

All men are our kindred, the world is our home. 

Our lays are of cities whose lustre is shed, 

The laughter and beauty of women long dead; 

The sword of old battles, the crown of old kings, 

And happy and simple and sorrowful things. 

What hope shall we gather, what dreams shall we sow? 

Where the wind calls our wandering footsteps we go. 

No love bids us tarry, no joy bids us wait: 

The voice of the wind is the voice of our fate.

Autumn Song – Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu 13 February 1879 - 2 March 1949  Hyderabad, India

Sarojini Naidu
13 February 1879 – 2 March 1949 Hyderabad, India


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?

Palanquin Bearers – Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu  13 February 1879 - 2 March 1949 Hyderabad, India

Sarojini Naidu
13 February 1879 – 2 March 1949 Hyderabad, India


Lightly, O lightly we bear her along,
She sways like a flower in the wind of our song;
She skims like a bird on the foam of a stream,
She floats like a laugh from the lips of a dream.
Gaily, O gaily we glide and we sing,
We bear her along like a pearl on a string.

Softly, O softly we bear her along,
She hangs like a star in the dew of our song;
She springs like a beam on the brow of the tide,
She falls like a tear from the eyes of a bride.
Lightly, O lightly we glide and we sing,
We bear her along like a pearl on a string.

The Snake Charmer – Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu (13 February 1879 - 2 March 1949 / Hyderabad / India)

Sarojini Naidu
(13 February 1879 – 2 March 1949 / Hyderabad / India)

WHITHER dost thou hide from the magic of my flute-call?
In what moonlight-tangled meshes of perfume,
Where the clustering keovas guard the squirrel’s slumber,
Where the deep woods glimmer with the jasmine’s bloom?

I’ll feed thee, O beloved, on milk and wild red honey,
I’ll bear thee in a basket of rushes, green and white,
To a palace-bower where golden-vested maidens
Thread with mellow laughter the petals of delight.

Whither dost thou loiter, by what murmuring hollows,
Where oleanders scatter their ambrosial fire?
Come, thou subtle bride of my mellifluous wooing,
Come, thou silver-breasted moonbeam of de- sire!

Indian Weavers – Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu  (13 February 1879 - 2 March 1949 / Hyderabad / India)

Sarojini Naidu
(13 February 1879 – 2 March 1949 / Hyderabad / India)


WEAVERS, weaving at break of day,
Why do you weave a garment so gay? . . .
Blue as the wing of a halcyon wild,
We weave the robes of a new-born child.

Weavers, weaving at fall of night,
Why do you weave a garment so bright? . . .
Like the plumes of a peacock, purple and green,
We weave the marriage-veils of a queen.

Weavers, weaving solemn and still,
What do you weave in the moonlight chill? . . .
White as a feather and white as a cloud,
We weave a dead man’s funeral shroud.

A Rajput Love Song – Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu (13 February 1879 - 2 March 1949 / Hyderabad / India)

Sarojini Naidu
(13 February 1879 – 2 March 1949 / Hyderabad / India)


(Parvati at her lattice)
O Love! were you a basil-wreath to twine
among my tresses,
A jewelled clasp of shining gold to bind around my sleeve,
O Love! were you the keora’s soul that haunts
my silken raiment,
A bright, vermilion tassel in the girdles that I weave;

O Love! were you the scented fan
that lies upon my pillow,
A sandal lute, or silver lamp that burns before my shrine,
Why should I fear the jealous dawn
that spreads with cruel laughter,
Sad veils of separation between your face and mine?

Haste, O wild-bee hours, to the gardens of the sun set!
Fly, wild-parrot day, to the orchards of the west!
Come, O tender night, with your sweet,
consoling darkness,
And bring me my Beloved to the shelter of my breast!

(Amar Singh in the saddle)
O Love! were you the hooded hawk upon my hand
that flutters,
Its collar-band of gleaming bells atinkle as I ride,
O Love! were you a turban-spray or
floating heron-feather,
The radiant, swift, unconquered sword
that swingeth at my side;

O Love! were you a shield against the
arrows of my foemen,
An amulet of jade against the perils of the way,
How should the drum-beats of the dawn
divide me from your bosom,
Or the union of the midnight be ended with the day?

Haste, O wild-deer hours, to the meadows of the sunset!
Fly, wild stallion day, to the pastures of the west!
Come, O tranquil night, with your soft,
consenting darkness,
And bear me to the fragrance of my Beloved’s breast!