I thought I should ask of thee–but I dared not–the rose wreath
thou hadst on thy neck. Thus I waited for the morning, when thou
didst depart, to find a few fragments on the bed. And like a
beggar I searched in the dawn only for a stray petal or two.
Ah me, what is it I find? What token left of thy love? It is no
flower, no spices, no vase of perfumed water. It is thy mighty
sword, flashing as a flame, heavy as a bolt of thunder. The
young light of morning comes through the window and spreads itself
upon thy bed. The morning bird twitters and asks, ‘Woman, what
hast thou got?’ No, it is no flower, nor spices, nor vase of
perfumed water–it is thy dreadful sword.
I sit and muse in wonder, what gift is this of thine. I can find
no place to hide it. I am ashamed to wear it, frail as I am, and
it hurts me when I press it to my bosom. Yet shall I bear in my
heart this honour of the burden of pain, this gift of thine.
From now there shall be no fear left for me in this world, and
thou shalt be victorious in all my strife. Thou hast left death
for my companion and I shall crown him with my life. Thy sword
is with me to cut asunder my bonds, and there shall be no fear
left for me in the world.
From now I leave off all petty decorations. Lord of my heart, no
more shall there be for me waiting and weeping in corners, no
more coyness and sweetness of demeanour. Thou hast given me thy
sword for adornment. No more doll’s decorations for me!
Beautiful is thy wristlet, decked with stars and cunningly
wrought in myriad-coloured jewels. But more beautiful to me thy
sword with its curve of lightning like the outspread wings of the
divine bird of Vishnu, perfectly poised in the angry red light of
It quivers like the one last response of life in ecstasy of pain
at the final stroke of death; it shines like the pure flame of
being burning up earthly sense with one fierce flash.
Beautiful is thy wristlet, decked with starry gems; but thy
sword, O lord of thunder, is wrought with uttermost beauty,
terrible to behold or think of.
From: GITANJALI – ‘Song Offerings’
Tagore Short Poems
Tagore Stray Birds