Tagore, Rabindranath - Song XXXXXII to XXXXXIX, Gitanjali
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The night darkened. Our day's works had been done. We thought
that the last guest had arrived for the night and the doors in
the village were all shut. Only some said the king was to come.
We laughed and said 'No, it cannot be!'
It seemed there were knocks at the door and we said it was
nothing but the wind. We put out the lamps and lay down to
sleep. Only some said, 'It is the messenger!' We laughed and
said 'No, it must be the wind!'
There came a sound in the dead of the night. We sleepily thought
it was the distant thunder. The earth shook, the walls rocked,
and it troubled us in our sleep. Only some said it was the sound
of wheels. We said in a drowsy murmur, 'No, it must be the
rumbling of clouds!'
The night was still dark when the drum sounded. The voice came
'Wake up! delay not!' We pressed our hands on our hearts and
shuddered with fear. Some said, 'Lo, there is the king's flag!'
We stood up on our feet and cried 'There is no time for delay!'
The king has come--but where are lights, where are wreaths?
Where is the throne to seat him? Oh, shame! Oh utter shame!
Where is the hall, the decorations? Someone has said, 'Vain is
this cry! Greet him with empty hands, lead him into thy rooms
Open the doors, let the conch-shells be sounded! in the depth of
the night has come the king of our dark, dreary house. The
thunder roars in the sky. The darkness shudders with lightning.
Bring out thy tattered piece of mat and spread it in the
courtyard. With the storm has come of a sudden our king of the
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.
I asked nothing from thee; I uttered not my name to thine ear.
When thou took'st thy leave I stood silent. I was alone by the
well where the shadow of the tree fell aslant, and the women had
gone home with their brown earthen pitchers full to the brim.
They called me and shouted, 'Come with us, the morning is wearing
on to noon.' But I languidly lingered awhile lost in the midst
of vague musings.
I heard not thy steps as thou camest. Thine eyes were sad when
they fell on me; thy voice was tired as thou spokest low--'Ah, I
am a thirsty traveller.' I started up from my day-dreams and
poured water from my jar on thy joined palms. The leaves rustled
overhead; the cuckoo sang from the unseen dark, and perfume of
_babla_ flowers came from the bend of the road.
I stood speechless with shame when my name thou didst ask.
Indeed, what had I done for thee to keep me in remembrance? But
the memory that I could give water to thee to allay thy thirst
will cling to my heart and enfold it in sweetness. The morning
hour is late, the bird sings in weary notes, _neem_ leaves
rustle overhead and I sit and think and think.
Languor is upon your heart and the slumber is still on your eyes.
Has not the word come to you that the flower is reigning in
splendour among thorns? Wake, oh awaken! let not the time pass
At the end of the stony path, in the country of virgin solitude,
my friend is sitting all alone. Deceive him not. Wake, oh
What if the sky pants and trembles with the heat of the midday
sun--what if the burning sand spreads its mantle of thirst--
Is there no joy in the deep of your heart? At every footfall of
yours, will not the harp of the road break out in sweet music of
Thus it is that thy joy in me is so full. Thus it is that thou
hast come down to me. O thou lord of all heavens, where would be
thy love if I were not?
Thou hast taken me as thy partner of all this wealth. In my
heart is the endless play of thy delight. In my life thy will is
ever taking shape.
And for this, thou who art the King of kings hast decked thyself
in beauty to captivate my heart. And for this thy love loses
itself in the love of thy lover, and there art thou seen in the
perfect union of two.
Light, my light, the world-filling light, the eye-kissing light,
Ah, the light dances, my darling, at the centre of my life; the
light strikes, my darling, the chords of my love; the sky opens,
the wind runs wild, laughter passes over the earth.
The butterflies spread their sails on the sea of light. Lilies
and jasmines surge up on the crest of the waves of light.
The light is shattered into gold on every cloud, my darling, and
it scatters gems in profusion.
Mirth spreads from leaf to leaf, my darling, and gladness without
measure. The heaven's river has drowned its banks and the flood
of joy is abroad.