Sarojini Naidu was an Indian political activist and poet. A proponent of civil rights, women’s emancipation, and anti-imperialistic ideas, she was an important figure in India’s struggle for independence from colonial rule. Naidu’s work as a poet earned her the sobriquet Nightingale of India.
Famous Sarojini Naidu Poems
LORD of the lotus, lord of the harvest,
Bright and munificent lord of the morn!
Thine is the bounty that prospered our sowing,
Thine is the bounty that nurtured our corn.
We bring thee our songs and our garlands for tribute,
The gold of our fields and the gold of our fruit;
O giver of mellowing radiance, we hail thee,
We praise thee, O Surya, with cymbal and flute.
Lord of the rainbow, lord of the harvest,
Great and beneficent lord of the main!
Thine is the mercy that cherished our furrows,
Thine is the mercy that fostered our grain.
We bring thee our thanks and our garlands for tribute,
The wealth of our valleys, new-garnered and ripe;
O sender of rain and the dewfall, we hail thee,
We praise thee, Varuna, with cymbal and pipe.
Queen of the gourd-flower, queen of the har- vest,
Sweet and omnipotent mother, O Earth!
Thine is the plentiful bosom that feeds us,
Thine is the womb where our riches have birth.
We bring thee our love and our garlands for tribute,
With gifts of thy opulent giving we come;
O source of our manifold gladness, we hail thee,
We praise thee, O Prithvi, with cymbal and drum.
Lord of the Universe, Lord of our being,
Father eternal, ineffable Om!
Thou art the Seed and the Scythe of our harvests,
Thou art our Hands and our Heart and our Home.
We bring thee our lives and our labours for tribute,
Grant us thy succour, thy counsel, thy care.
O Life of all life and all blessing, we hail thee,
We praise thee, O Bramha, with cymbal and prayer
O YOUNG through all thy immemorial years!
Rise, Mother, rise, regenerate from thy gloom,
And, like a bride high-mated with the spheres,
Beget new glories from thine ageless womb!
The nations that in fettered darkness weep
Crave thee to lead them where great mornings break . . . .
Mother, O Mother, wherefore dost thou sleep?
Arise and answer for thy children’s sake!
Thy Future calls thee with a manifold sound
To crescent honours, splendours, victories vast;
Waken, O slumbering Mother and be crowned,
Who once wert empress of the sovereign Past.
The Pardah Nashin
HER life is a revolving dream
Of languid and sequestered ease;
Her girdles and her fillets gleam
Like changing fires on sunset seas;
Her raiment is like morning mist,
Shot opal, gold and amethyst.
From thieving light of eyes impure,
From coveting sun or wind’s caress,
Her days are guarded and secure
Behind her carven lattices,
Like jewels in a turbaned crest,
Like secrets in a lover’s breast.
But though no hand unsanctioned dares
Unveil the mysteries of her grace,
Time lifts the curtain unawares,
And Sorrow looks into her face . . .
Who shall prevent the subtle years,
Or shield a woman’s eyes from tears?
The Soul’s Prayer
In childhood’s pride I said to Thee:
‘O Thou, who mad’st me of Thy breath,
Speak, Master, and reveal to me
Thine inmost laws of life and death.
‘Give me to drink each joy and pain
Which Thine eternal hand can mete,
For my insatiate soul can drain
Earth’s utmost bitter, utmost sweet.
‘Spare me no bliss, no pang of strife,
Withhold no gift or grief I crave,
The intricate lore of love and life
And mystic knowledge of the grave.’
Lord, Thou didst answer stern and low:
‘Child, I will hearken to thy prayer,
And thy unconquered soul shall know
All passionate rapture and despair.
‘Thou shalt drink deep of joy and fame,
And love shall burn thee like a fire,
And pain shall cleanse thee like a flame,
To purge the dross from thy desire.
‘So shall thy chastened spirit yearn
To seek from its blind prayer release,
And spent and pardoned, sue to learn
The simple secret of My peace.
I, bending from my sevenfold height,
Will teach thee of My quickening grace,
Life is a prism of My light,
And Death the shadow of My face.’
The Poet To Death
TARRY a while, O Death, I cannot die
While yet my sweet life burgeons with its spring;
Fair is my youth, and rich the echoing boughs
Where dhadikulas sing.
Tarry a while, O Death, I cannot die
With all my blossoming hopes unharvested,
My joys ungarnered, all my songs unsung,
And all my tears unshed.
Tarry a while, till I am satisfied
Of love and grief, of earth and altering sky;
Till all my human hungers are fulfilled,
O Death, I cannot die!
To My Fairy Fancies
NAY, no longer I may hold you,
In my spirit’s soft caresses,
Nor like lotus-leaves enfold you
In the tangles of my tresses.
Fairy fancies, fly away
To the white cloud-wildernesses,
Nay, no longer ye may linger
With your laughter-lighted faces,
Now I am a thought-worn singer
In life’s high and lonely places.
Fairy fancies, fly away,
To bright wind-inwoven spaces,
To My Children
GOLDEN sun of victory, born
In my life’s unclouded morn,
In my lambent sky of love,
May your growing glory prove
Sacred to your consecration,
To my heart and to my nation.
Sun of victory, may you be
Sun of song and liberty.
Lotus-maiden, you who claim
All the sweetness of your name,
Lakshmi, fortune’s queen, defend you,
Lotus-born like you, and send you
Balmy moons of love to bless you,
Gentle joy-winds to caress you.
Lotus-maiden, may you be
Fragrant of all ecstasy.
Little lord of battle, hail
In your newly-tempered mail!
Learn to conquer, learn to fight
In the foremost flanks of right,
Like Valmiki’s heroes bold,
Rubies girt in epic gold.
Lord of battle, may you be,
Lord of love and chivalry.
Limpid jewel of delight
Severed from the tender night
Of your sheltering mother-mine,
Leap and sparkle, dance and shine,
Blithely and securely set
In love’s magic coronet.
Living jewel, may you be
Laughter-bound and sorrow-free.
Ode To H.H. The Nizam Of Hyderabad
DEIGN, Prince, my tribute to receive,
This lyric offering to your name,
Who round your jewelled scepter bind
The lilies of a poet’s fame;
Beneath whose sway concordant dwell
The peoples whom your laws embrace,
In brotherhood of diverse creeds,
And harmony of diverse race:
The votaries of the Prophet’s faith,
Of whom you are the crown and chief
And they, who bear on Vedic brows
Their mystic symbols of belief;
And they, who worshipping the sun,
Fled o’er the old Iranian sea;
And they, who bow to Him who trod
The midnight waves of Galilee.
Sweet, sumptuous fables of Baghdad
The splendours of your court recall,
The torches of a Thousand Nights
Blaze through a single festival;
And Saki-singers down the streets,
Pour for us, in a stream divine,
From goblets of your love-ghazals
The rapture of your Sufi wine.
Prince, where your radiant cities smile,
Grim hills their sombre vigils keep,
Your ancient forests hoard and hold
The legends of their centuried sleep;
Your birds of peace white-pinioned float
O’er ruined fort and storied plain,
Your faithful stewards sleepless guard
The harvests of your gold and grain.
God give you joy, God give you grace
To shield the truth and smite the wrong,
To honour Virtue, Valour, Worth.
To cherish faith and foster song.
So may the lustre of your days
Outshine the deeds Firdusi sung,
Your name within a nation’s prayer,
Your music on a nation’s tongue.
To The God Of Pain
UNWILLING priestess in thy cruel fane,
Long hast thou held me, pitiless god of Pain,
Bound to thy worship by reluctant vows,
My tired breast girt with suffering, and my brows
Anointed with perpetual weariness.
Long have I borne thy service, through the stress
Of rigorous years, sad days and slumberless nights,
Performing thine inexorable rites.
For thy dark altars, balm nor milk nor rice,
But mine own soul thou’st ta’en for sacrifice:
All the rich honey of my youth’s desire,
And all the sweet oils from my crushed life drawn,
And all my flower-like dreams and gem-like fire
Of hopes up-leaping like the light of dawn.
I have no more to give, all that was mine
Is laid, a wrested tribute, at thy shrine;
Let me depart, for my whole soul is wrung,
And all my cheerless orisons are sung;
Let me depart, with faint limbs let me creep
To some dim shade and sink me down to sleep.
The Song Of Princess Zeb-Un-Nissa In Praise Of Her Own Beauty
WHEN from my cheek I lift my veil,
The roses turn with envy pale,
And from their pierced hearts, rich with pain,
Send forth their fragrance like a wail.
Or if perchance one perfumed tress
Be lowered to the wind’s caress,
The honeyed hyacinths complain,
And languish in a sweet distress.
And, when I pause, still groves among,
(Such loveliness is mine) a throng
Of nightingales awake and strain
Their souls into a quivering song.
The Coromandel Fishers
Rise, brothers, rise; the wakening skies pray to the morning light,
The wind lies asleep in the arms of the dawn like a child that has cried all night.
Come, let us gather our nets from the shore and set our catamarans free,
To capture the leaping wealth of the tide, for we are the kings of the sea!
No longer delay, let us hasten away in the track of the sea gull’s call,
The sea is our mother, the cloud is our brother, the waves are our comrades all.
What though we toss at the fall of the sun where the hand of the sea-god drives?
He who holds the storm by the hair, will hide in his breast our lives.
Sweet is the shade of the cocoanut glade, and the scent of the mango grove,
And sweet are the sands at the full o’ the moon with the sound of the voices we love;
But sweeter, O brothers, the kiss of the spray and the dance of the wild foam’s glee;
Row, brothers, row to the edge of the verge, where the low sky mates with the sea.
The Illusion Of Love
Beloved, you may be as all men say
Only a transient spark
Of flickering flame set in loam of clay –
I care not …since you kindle all my dark
With the immortal lustres of the day.
And as all men deem, dearest, you may be
Only a common shell
Chance-winnowed by the sea-winds from the sea –
The subtle murmurs of eternity.
And tho’ you are, like men or mortal race,
Only a hapless thing
That Death may mar and destiny efface –
I care not … since unto my heart you bring
The very vision of God’s dwelling-place.
O YOUTH, sweet comrade Youth, wouldst thou be gone?
Long have we dwelt together, thou and I;
Together drunk of many an alien dawn,
And plucked the fruit of many an alien sky.
Ah, fickle friend, must I, who yesterday
Dreamed forwards to long, undimmed ecstasy,
Henceforward dream, because thou wilt not stay,
Backward to transient pleasure and to thee?
I give thee back thy false, ephemeral vow;
But, O beloved comrade, ere we part,
Upon my mournful eyelids and my brow
Kiss me who hold thine image in my heart.
The Snake Charmer
WHITHER dost thou hide from the magic of my flute-call?
In what moonlight-tangled meshes of perfume,
Where the clustering keovas guard the squirrel’s slumber,
Where the deep woods glimmer with the jasmine’s bloom?
I’ll feed thee, O beloved, on milk and wild red honey,
I’ll bear thee in a basket of rushes, green and white,
To a palace-bower where golden-vested maidens
Thread with mellow laughter the petals of delight.
Whither dost thou loiter, by what murmuring hollows,
Where oleanders scatter their ambrosial fire?
Come, thou subtle bride of my mellifluous wooing,
Come, thou silver-breasted moonbeam of de- sire!
The Gift of India
“Is there ought you need that my hands withhold,
Rich gifts of raiment or grain or gold?
Lo ! I have flung to the East and the West
Priceless treasures torn from my breast,
And yielded the sons of my stricken womb
To the drum-beats of the duty, the sabers of doom…..”