Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > The New Poetry: An Anthology
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  The New Poetry: An Anthology.  1917.
 
358. From “The Gardener”
 
By Rabindranath Tagore
 
 
I
OVER the green and yellow rice fields sweep the shadows of the autumn clouds, followed by the swift-chasing sun.
The bees forget to sip their honey; drunken with the light they foolishly hum and hover; and the ducks in the sandy riverbank clamor in joy for mere nothing.
None shall go back home, brothers, this morning, none shall go to work.
We will take the blue sky by storm and plunder the space as we run.
Laughters fly floating in the air like foams in the flood.        5
Brothers, we shall squander our morning in futile songs.
 
II
Keep me fully glad with nothing. Only take my hand in your hand.
In the gloom of the deepening night take up my heart and play with it as you list. Bind me close to you with nothing.
I will spread myself out at your feet and lie still. Under this clouded sky I will meet silence with silence. I will become one with the night clasping the earth in my breast.
Make my life glad with nothing.        10
The rains sweep the sky from end to end. Jasmines in the wet untamable wind revel in their own perfume. The cloud-hidden stars thrill in secret. Let me fill to the full of my heart with nothing but my own depth of joy.
 
III
My soul is alight with your infinitude of stars. Your world has broken upon me like a flood. The flowers of your garden blossom in my body. The joy of life that is everywhere burns like an incense in my heart. And the breath of all things plays on my life as on a pipe of reeds.
 
IV
Leave off your works, bride. Listen, the guest has come.
Do you hear, he is gently shaking the fastening chain of the door?
Let not your anklets be loud, and your steps be too hurried to meet him.        15
Leave off your works, bride; the guest has come, in the evening.
No, it is not the wind, bride. Do not be frightened.
It is the full-moon night of April, shadows are pale in the courtyard, the sky overhead is bright.
Draw your veil over your face if you must, take the lamp from your room if you fear.
No, it is not the wind, bride; do not be frightened.        20
 
Have no word with him if you are shy, stand aside by the door when you meet him.
If he asks, you questions, lower your eyes in silence, if you wish.
Do not let your bracelets jingle, when, lamp in hand, you lead him in.
Have no word with him if you are shy.
 
Have you not finished your works yet, bride? Listen, the guest has come.        25
Have you not lit the lamp in the cowshed?
Have you not got ready the offering basket for the evening service?
Have you not put the auspicious red mark at the parting of your hair, and done your toilet for the night?
O bride, do you hear, the guest has come?
Have you not finished your works yet?        30
 
V
Come as you are, tarry not over your toilet.
If your braiding has come loose, if the parting of your hair be not straight, if the ribbons of your bodice be not fastened, do not mind.
Come as you are, tarry not over your toilet.
 
Come with quick steps over the grass.
If your feet are pale with the dew, if your anklets slacken, if pearls drop out of your chain, do not mind.        35
Come with quick steps over the grass.
 
Do you see the clouds wrapping the sky?
Flocks of cranes fly up from the further riverbank and fitful gusts of wind rush over the heath.
The anxious cattle run to their stalls in the village.
Do you see the clouds wrapping the sky?        40
 
In vain you light your toilet lamp; it flickers and goes out in the wind.
Surely, who would know that with lamp-black your eyelids are not touched? For your eyes are darker than rain clouds.
In vain you light your toilet lamp; it goes out.
 
Come as you are, tarry not over your toilet.
If the wreath is not woven, who cares? If the wrist-chain has not been tied, leave it by.        45
The sky is overcast with clouds; it is late.
Come as you are, tarry not over your toilet.
 
VI
Lest I should know you too easily, you play with me.
You blind me with flashes of laughter to hide your tears.
I know, I know your art;        50
You never say the word you would.
 
Lest I should prize you not, you elude me in a thousand ways.
Lest I should mix you with the crowd, you stand aside.
I know, I know your art;
You never walk the path you would.        55
 
Your claim is more than others; that is why you are silent.
With a playful carelessness you avoid my gifts.
I know, I know your art;
You never accept what you would.
 
VII
Amidst the rush and roar of life, O beauty, carved in stone, you stand mute and still, alone and aloof.
        60
Great Time sits enamoured at your feet and repeats to you:
“Speak, speak to me, my love; speak, my mute bride!”
But your speech is shut up in stone, O you immovably fair!
 
VIII
Tell me if this is all true, my lover?
    tell me if it is true.        65
When the eyes of me flash their lightning on you,
    dark clouds in your breast make stormy answer;
Is it then true
    that the dew drops fall from the night when I am seen,
    and the morning light is glad when it wraps my body?        70
 
Is it true, is it true, that your love
    travelled alone through ages and worlds in search of me?
    that when you found me at last, your age-long desire
    found utter peace in my gentle speech, and my eyes and lips and flowing hair?
 
Is it then true        75
    that the mystery of the Infinite is written on this little brow of mine?
Tell me, my lover, if all this is true!
 
IX
With a glance of your eyes you could plunder all the wealth of songs struck from poets’ harps, fair woman!
But for their praises you have no ear; therefore do I come to praise you
You could humble at your feet the proudest heads of all the world;        80
But it is your loved ones, unknown to fame, whom you choose to worship; therefore I worship you.
Your perfect arms would add glory to kingly splendor with their touch;
But you use them to sweep away the dust, and to make clean your humble home; therefore I am filled with awe.
 

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