Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Epigrams
By Rabindranath Tagore
 
I WILL close my door to shut out all possible errors.
“But how am I to enter in?” cried Truth.
 
“I obey not law, I am free!”—this is the boast of Dream.
Truth says sadly to him, “That is why thou art false.”
Dream says, “Truth is bound in an endless chain of necessity.”        5
Truth says, “That is why I am perfectly true.”
 
Favor complains, “I give but never receive.”
Mercy says, “I give, but never ask.”
 
Thou in the ditch hast an unlimited supply of mud,
But what has he who walks above thee?        10
 
  The wasp murmured in contempt: “How ludicrously small are the honeycombs the bees make!” “Try to make a honeycomb still smaller,” said the bee.
 
  “What costly preparations are for me,” says the canal; “rivers come rushing without ever being asked.” “Sir Canal,” say his courtiers to him, “The poor rivers are made only to supply you with water.”
 
  The First takes the hand of the Last in a frank friendship. The Second keeps proudly aloof.
 
  The echo always mocks the sound—to conceal that she is his debtor.
 
  Love walks with empty hands and smiling face. Prudence asks her, “What have you got for your wages?” Love says, “It is in my heart, I can not show it.” Prudence says, “Whatever I get is in my hands.”        15
 
  In the chink of the garden wall blossomed a tiny nameless flower. The rosebush was ashamed to own it as its kindred. The sun rose and smiled on it, saying, “Are you well, my darling?”
 
“How far are you from me, O fruit?”
“I am hidden in your heart, O flower.”
 
  “Who is there to take up my duties?” asked the setting sun. The world remained dark and silent. With joined palms said the earthern lamp, “I will do what I can, my master!”
 
“What language is this of yours, O deep sea?”        20
“It is the language of eternal question.”
“What language is this in which you answer, O high mountain?”
“It is the language of eternal silence.”
 
  The arrow thinks it is free, for it moves, and the bow is bound, for it is still. The bow says to the arrow, “Your freedom depends on me.”
 
  The world speaks truth. We take its meaning wrong and call it a liar.        25
 
  The infant flower opened its eyes and found the world sweet and it said to the world, “My love, I hope you will last as long as I live.”
 
  The flute knows it is the breath that gives birth to its music. The breath knows it is nothing. And he who plays on the flute is not known.
 
  The night comes secretly to open the buds in the forest, and disappears in silence. Flowers wake up and whisper, “We are of the morning!” The morning smiles and says, “Yes.”
 
  Death threatens to take his son, the thief his wealth, and his detractors his reputation. “But who is there to take away my joy?” asks the poet.
 
  The night kisses the face of the fading day and gently says, “I am death, your mother. Do not fear me, I am to give you fresh birth.”        30
 
  Death belongs to life as birth does, even as walking contains the raising of the foot as much as the laying of it down.
 
  Death, hadst thou been but emptiness, in a moment the world would have faded away. Thou art Beauty: the world like a child rests on thy bosom for ever and ever.
 
 
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