The Gardener

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A wandering madman was seeking
the touchstone, with matted locks,
tawny and dust-laden, and body worn
to a shadow, his lips tight-pressed,
like the shut-up doors of his heart,
his burning eyes like the lamp of a
glow-worm seeking its mate.
Before him the endless ocean
roared.

The garrulous waves ceaselessly
talked of hidden treasures, mocking
the ignorance that knew not their
meaning.

Maybe he now had no hope remaining,
yet he would not rest, for
the search had become his life,–
Just as the ocean for ever lifts its
arms to the sky for the unattainable–
Just as the stars go in circles, yet
seeking a goal that can never be
reached–

Even so on the lonely shore the
madman with dusty tawny locks still
roamed in search of the touchstone.
One day a village boy came up and
asked, “Tell me, where did you come
at this golden chain about your
waist?”

The madman started–the chain
that once was iron was verily gold;
it was not a dream, but he did not
know when it had changed.
He struck his forehead wildly–
where, O where had he without know-
ing it achieved success?

It had grown into a habit, to pick
up pebbles and touch the chain, and
to throw them away without looking
to see if a change had come; thus the
madman found and lost the touchstone.
The sun was sinking low in the west,
the sky was of gold.

The madman returned on his foot-
steps to seek anew the lost treasure,
with his strength gone, his body bent,
and his heart in the dust, like a tree
uprooted.

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Links

- Rabindranath Tagore

- Tagore’s Poems

- Tagore Short Poems