Excerpts From The Gardener

by Rabindranath Tagore

Contributed by: Sushmita Bolisetty

(Excerpts from The Gardener by Ravindranath Tagore)

I try to wreath all the morning, but the flowers slip and they drop out.
You sit there watching me in secret through the corner of your prying eyes.
Ask those eyes, darkly planning mischief, whose fault it was.

I try to sing a song, but in vain.
A hidden smile trembles on your lips; ask of it the reason of my failure.
Let your smiling lips say on oath
how my voice lost itself in silence like a drunken bee in the lotus

It is evening, and the time for the flowers to close their petals.
Give me leave to sit by your side,
and bid my lips to do the work that can be done in silence
and in the dim light of stars.

Do not keep to yourself the secret of your heart, my friend!
Say it to me, only to me in secret.
You who smile so gently, softly whisper, my heart will hear it, not my ears.

The night is deep, the house is silent, the birds' nests are shrouded with sleep.
Speak to me through hesitating tears, through faltering smiles,
through sweet shame and pain, the secret of your heart!

Speak to me, my love! Tell me in words what you sang.
The night is dark. The stars are lost in clouds. The
wind is sighing through the leaves.
I will let loose my hair. My blue cloak will cling round me like night. I
will clasp your head to my bosom; and there in the sweet loneliness murmur
on your heart. I will shut my eyes and listen. I will not look in your face.
When your words are ended, we will sit still and silent. Only the trees will whisper
in the dark.
The night will pale. The day will dawn. We shall look at each other's eyes and go
on our different paths.
Speak to me, my love! Tell me in words what you sang

Love, my heart longs day and night for the meeting with you
-for the meeting that is all-devouring death.
Sweep me away like a storm; take everything I have;
break open my sleep and plunder my dreams. Rob me of my world.
In that devastation, in the utter nakedness of spirit, let us become one in beauty.
Alas for my vain desire! Where is this hope for union except in thee, my God?

Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.
Let it not be a death but completeness.
Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.
Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest.
Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.
Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.
I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.

Then finish the last song and let us leave.
Forget this night when the night is no more.
Whom do I try to clasp in my arms? Dreams can never be made captive.
My eager hands press emptiness to my heart and it bruises my heart.

Hands cling to hands and eyes linger on eyes: thus
begins the record of our hearts.
It is the moonlight night of March; the sweet smell of henna
is in the air; my flute lies on the earth neglected and your garland of flowers
is unfinished.
This love between you and me is simple as a song.

Your veil of the saffron colour makes my eyes drunk.
The jasmine wreath that you wove me thrills to my heart like praise.
It is a game of giving and withholding, revealing and screening again; some
smiles and some little shyness, and some sweet useless struggles.
This love between you and me is simple as a song.

No mystery beyond the present; no striving for the impossible;
no shadow behind the charm; no groping in the depth of the dark.
This love between you and me is simple as a song.

We do not stray out of all words into the ever silent; we do not raise our
hands to the void for things beyond hope.
It is enough what we give and we get.
We have not crushed the joy to the utmost to wring from it the wine of pain.
This love between you and me is simple as a song.

Your questioning eyes are sad. They seek to know my meaning
as the moon would fathom the sea.
I have bared my life before your eyes from end to end, with
nothing hidden or held back. That is why you know me not.
If it were only a gem, I could break it into a hundred pieces
and string them into a chain to put on your neck.
If it were only a flower, round and small and sweet, I could pluck it
from its stem and set it in your hair.
But it is a heart, my beloved. Where are its shores and its bottom?
You know not the limits of this kingdom, still you are its queen.
If it were only a moment of pleasure it would flower in an easy smile,
and you could see it and read it in a moment.
If it were merely a pain it would melt in limpid tears, reflecting its
inmost secret without a word.
But it is love, my beloved.
Its pleasure and pain are boundless, and endless its wants and wealth.
It is as near to you as your life, but you can never wholly know it

Do not go, my love, without asking my leave.
I have watched all night, and now my eyes are heavy with sleep
I fear lest I lose you when Iam sleeping.
Do not go, my love, without asking my leave.

I start up and stretch my hands to touch you.
I ask myself, "Is it a dream?"
Could I but entangle your feet with my heart and hold them
fast my breast!
Do not go, my love, without asking my leave.

I have plucked your flower, O world!
I pressed it to my heart and the thorn pricked.
When the day waned and it darkened, I found that
the flower had faded, but the pain remained.

More flowers will come to you with perfume and pride, O world!
But my time for flower-gathering is over, and through the dark night
I have not my rose, only the pain remains.

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