Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Poems
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 clamour 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 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
O you mad, you superbly drunk!
If you kick open your doors and play the fool in public;
If you empty your bag in a night, and snap your fingers at prudence;        15
If you walk in curious paths and play with useless things;
Reck not rhyme or reason;
If you break the rudder in two unfurling your sails before the storm:
Then I will follow you, comrade, and be drunken and go to the dogs.
 
I have wasted my days and nights in the company of steady wise neighbors.        20
Much knowing has turned my hair grey, and much watching has made my sight dim.
For years I have gathered and heaped all scraps and fragments of things;
Crush them and dance upon them, and scatter them all to the winds!
For I know ’tis the height of wisdom to be drunken and go to the dogs.
 
Let all crooked scruples vanish, let me hopelessly lose my way.        25
Let a gust of wild giddiness come and sweep me away from my anchors.
The world is peopled with worthies, and workers useful and clever;
There are men who are easily the first, and men who come decently next:
Let them be happy and prosperous, and let me be foolishly futile.
For I know ’tis the end of all works to be drunken and go to the dogs.        30
I swear to surrender this moment all claim to the ranks of the sensible.
I let go my pride of learning and judgment of right and of wrong.
I’ll shatter the vessel of memory, scattering the last drop of tears;
With the foam of the ruby red wine, I’ll bathe and brighten my laughter.
The badge of the proper and prim I’ll tear into shreds for the nonce.        35
I’ll take the holy vow of being worthless, and be drunken and go to the dogs.
 
V
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.
Leave off your works, bride, the guest has come, in the evening.        40
 
No, it is not the wind, bride. Do not be frightened.
It is the full-moon night of April, shadows are pale in the court-yard, 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.
 
Have no word with him if you are shy, stand aside by the door when you meet him.        45
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.
Have you not lit the lamp in the cowshed?        50
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?
 
VI
Come as you are, tarry not over your toilet.
        55
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.
Come with quick steps over the grass.        60
 
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?
 
In vain you light your toilet lamp; it flickers and goes out in the wind.        65
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.
The sky is overcast with clouds; it is late.        70
Come as you are, tarry not over your toilet.
 
VII
Sing the song of the moment in careless carols, in the transient light of the day;
Sing of the fleeting smiles that vanish and never look back;
Sing of the flowers that bloom and fade without regret.
Weave not in memory’s thread the days that would glide into nights.        75
To the guests that must go bid God-speed, and wipe away all traces of their steps.
Let the moments end in moments with their cargo of fugitive songs.
With both hands snap the fetters you made with your own heart chords;
Take to your breast with a smile what is easy and simple and near.
Today is the festival of phantoms that know not when they die.        80
Let your laughter flush in meaningless mirth like twinkles of light on the ripples;
Let your life lightly dance on the verge of Time like a dew on the tip of a leaf.
Strike in the chords of your harp the fitful murmurs of moments.
 
VIII
Lest I should know you too easily, you play with me.
You blind me with flashes of laughter to hide your tears.        85
I know, I know your art;
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;        90
You never walk the path you would.
 
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.        95
 
IX
Amidst the rush and roar of life, O beauty, carved in stone, you stand mute and still, alone and aloof.
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!
 
X
Tell me if this is all true, my lover?
    tell me if it is true.
        100
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?
 
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
    that the mystery of the Infinite is written on this little brow of mine?
Tell me, my lover, if all this is true!        105
 
XI
I asked of Destiny, “Tell me who with relentless hand pushes me on?”
Destiny told me to look behind.
I turned and saw my own self behind pushing forward the self in front.
 
XII
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.        110
You could humble at your feet the proudest heads of all the world;
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.
 
XIII
We both live in the same village and that is our one piece of joy.
        115
The yellow bird sings in their tree and makes my heart dance with gladness.
Her pair of pet lambs come to graze near the shade of our garden.
If they stray into our barley field I take them up in my arms.
The name of our village is Khanjuna, and Anjana they call our river;
My name is known to all the village and her name is Ranjana.        120
 
Only one field lies between us.
Bees that have hived in our grove go to seek honey in theirs.
Flowers launched from their landing stairs come floating by the stream where we bathe.
Baskets of dried kusm flowers come from their fields to our market.
The name of our village is Khanjuna, and Anjana they call our river;        125
My name is known to all the village and her name is Ranjana.
 
The lane that winds to their house is fragrant in the spring with mango flowers.
When their linseed is ripe for harvest, the hemp is in bloom in our field.
The stars that smile on their cottage send us the same twinkling look.
The rain that floods their tank makes glad our Kadam forest.        130
The name of our village is Khanjuna, and Anjana they call our river;
My name is known to all the village and her name is Ranjana.
 
XIV
    I found a few old letters of mine carefully hidden in thy box—a few small toys for thy memory to play with. With a timorous heart thou didst try to steal these trifles from the turbulent stream of time which washes away planets and stars, and didst say, “These are only mine!” Alas, there is no one now who can claim them—who is able to pay their price; yet they are still here. Is there no love in this world to rescue thee from utter loss, even like this love of thine that saved these letters with such fond care?
    O woman, thou camest for a moment to my side and touched me with the great mystery of the woman that there is in the heart of creation—she who ever gives back to God his own outflow of sweetness; who is the eternal love and beauty and youth; who dances in bubbling streams and sings in the morning light; who with heaving waves suckles the thirsty earth and whose mercy melts in rain; in whom the eternal one breaks in two in joy that can contain itself no more and overflows in the pain of love.
 
 
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