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.