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“Song Offerings”

Rabindranath Tagore


Mind Without Fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;

Where the world has not been broken up

into fragments by narrow domestic walls;

Where words come out from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason

has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action—

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Little Flute

Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail

vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.

This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales,

and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.

At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limits in

joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.

Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine.

Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.


Life of my life, I shall ever try to keep my body pure, knowing

that thy living touch is upon all my limbs.

I shall ever try to keep all untruths out from my thoughts, knowing

that thou art that truth which has kindled the light of reason in my mind.

I shall ever try to drive all evils away from my heart and keep my

love in flower, knowing that thou hast thy seat in the inmost shrine of my heart.

And it shall be my endeavour to reveal thee in my actions, knowing it

is thy power gives me strength to act.

Moment’s Indulgence

I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by thy side. The works

that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.

Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest nor respite,

and my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of toil.

Today the summer has come at my window with its sighs and murmurs; and

the bees are plying their minstrelsy at the court of the flowering grove.

Now it is time to sit quite, face to face with thee, and to sing

dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure.


Pluck this little flower and take it, delay not! I fear lest it

droop and drop into the dust.

I may not find a place in thy garland, but honour it with a touch of

pain from thy hand and pluck it. I fear lest the day end before I am

aware, and the time of offering go by.

Though its colour be not deep and its smell be faint, use this flower

in thy service and pluck it while there is time.


O Fool, try to carry thyself upon thy own shoulders!

O beggar, to come beg at thy own door!

Leave all thy burdens on his hands who can bear all,

and never look behind in regret.

Thy desire at once puts out the light from the lamp it touches with its breath.

It is unholy—take not thy gifts through its unclean hands.

Accept only what is offered by sacred love.

Leave This

Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads!

Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut?

Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee!

He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground

and where the pathmaker is breaking stones.

He is with them in sun and in shower,

and his garment is covered with dust.

Put off thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil!


Where is this deliverance to be found?

Our master himself has joyfully taken upon him the bonds of creation;

he is bound with us all for ever.

Come out of thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and incense!

What harm is there if thy clothes become tattered and stained?

Meet him and stand by him in toil and in sweat of thy brow.

Journey Home

The time that my journey takes is long and the way of it long.

I came out on the chariot of the first gleam of light, and pursued my

voyage through the wildernesses of worlds leaving my track on many a star and planet.

It is the most distant course that comes nearest to thyself,

and that training is the most intricate which leads to the utter simplicity of a tune.

The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own,

and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.

My eyes strayed far and wide before I shut them and said `Here art thou!’

The question and the cry `Oh, where?’ melt into tears of a thousand

streams and deluge the world with the flood of the assurance `I am!’

Song Unsung

The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day.

I have spent my days in stringing and in unstringing my instrument.

The time has not come true, the words have not been rightly set;

only there is the agony of wishing in my heart.

The blossom has not opened; only the wind is sighing by.

I have not seen his face, nor have I listened to his voice;

only I have heard his gentle footsteps from the road before my house.

The livelong day has passed in spreading his seat on the floor;

but the lamp has not been lit and I cannot ask him into my house.

I live in the hope of meeting with him; but this meeting is not yet.

Strong Mercy

My desires are many and my cry is pitiful,

but ever didst thou save me by hard refusals;

and this strong mercy has been wrought into my life through and through.

Day by day thou art making me worthy of the simple,

great gifts that thou gavest to me unasked—this sky and the light, this body and the

life and the mind—saving me from perils of overmuch desire.

There are times when I languidly linger

and times when I awaken and hurry in search of my goal;

but cruelly thou hidest thyself from before me.

Day by day thou art making me worthy of thy full acceptance by

refusing me ever and anon, saving me from perils of weak, uncertain desire.


If thou speakest not I will fill my heart with thy silence and endure it.

I will keep still and wait like the night with starry vigil

and its head bent low with patience.

The morning will surely come, the darkness will vanish,

and thy voice pour down in golden streams breaking through the sky.

Then thy words will take wing in songs from every one of my birds’ nests,

and thy melodies will break forth in flowers in all my forest groves.


On the day when the lotus bloomed, alas, my mind was straying,

and I knew it not. My basket was empty and the flower remained unheeded.

Only now and again a sadness fell upon me, and I started up from my

dream and felt a sweet trace of a strange fragrance in the south wind.

That vague sweetness made my heart ache with longing and it seemed to

me that is was the eager breath of the summer seeking for its completion.

I knew not then that it was so near, that it was mine, and that this

perfect sweetness had blossomed in the depth of my own heart.


I must launch out my boat.

The languid hours pass by on the

shore—Alas for me!

The spring has done its flowering and taken leave.

And now with the burden of faded futile flowers I wait and linger.

The waves have become clamorous, and upon the bank in the shady lane

the yellow leaves flutter and fall.

What emptiness do you gaze upon!

Do you not feel a thrill passing through the air

with the notes of the far-away song

floating from the other shore?


Art thou abroad on this stormy night

on thy journey of love, my friend?

The sky groans like one in despair.

I have no sleep tonight.

Ever and again I open my door and look out on

the darkness, my friend!

I can see nothing before me.

I wonder where lies thy path!

By what dim shore of the ink-black river,

by what far edge of the frowning forest,

through what mazy depth of gloom art thou threading

thy course to come to me, my friend?

When Day Is Done

If the day is done,

if birds sing no more,

if the wind has flagged tired,

then draw the veil of darkness thick upon me,

even as thou hast wrapt the earth with the coverlet of sleep

and tenderly closed the petals of the drooping lotus at dusk.

From the traveler,

whose sack of provisions is empty before the voyage is ended,

whose garment is torn and dust-laden,

whose strength is exhausted,

remove shame and poverty,

and renew his life like a flower under the cover of thy kindly night.


In the night of weariness

let me give myself up to sleep without struggle,

resting my trust upon thee.

Let me not force my flagging spirit into a poor preparation for thy worship.

It is thou who drawest the veil of night upon the tired eyes of the day

to renew its sight in a fresher gladness of awakening.

Lamp of Love

Light, oh where is the light?

Kindle it with the burning fire of desire!

There is the lamp but never a flicker of a flame—is such thy fate, my heart?

Ah, death were better by far for thee!

Misery knocks at thy door,

and her message is that thy lord is wakeful,

and he calls thee to the love-tryst through the darkness of night.

The sky is overcast with clouds and the rain is ceaseless.

I know not what this is that stirs in me—I know not its meaning.

A moment’s flash of lightning drags down a deeper gloom on my sight,

and my heart gropes for the path to where the music of the night calls me.

Light, oh where is the light!

Kindle it with the burning fire of desire!

It thunders and the wind rushes screaming through the void.

The night is black as a black stone.

Let not the hours pass by in the dark.

Kindle the lamp of love with thy life.


He whom I enclose with my name is weeping in this dungeon.

I am ever busy building this wall all around; and as this wall goes up into

the sky day by day I lose sight of my true being in its dark shadow.

I take pride in this great wall, and I plaster it with dust and sand

lest a least hole should be left in this name;

and for all the care I take I lose sight of my true being.

Who is This?

I came out alone on my way to my tryst.

But who is this that follows me in the silent dark?

I move aside to avoid his presence but I escape him not.

He makes the dust rise from the earth with his swagger;

he adds his loud voice to every word that I utter.

He is my own little self, my lord, he knows no shame;

but I am ashamed to come to thy door in his company.


`Prisoner, tell me, who was it that bound you?’

`It was my master,’ said the prisoner.

`I thought I could outdo everybody in the world in wealth and power,

and I amassed in my own treasure-house the money due to my king.

When sleep overcame me I lay upon the bed that was for my lord,

and on waking up I found I was a prisoner in my own treasure-house.’

`Prisoner, tell me, who was it that wrought this unbreakable chain?’

`It was I,’ said the prisoner, `who forged this chain very carefully.

I thought my invincible power would hold the world captive

leaving me in a freedom undisturbed.

Thus night and day I worked at the chain

with huge fires and cruel hard strokes.

When at last the work was done

and the links were complete and unbreakable,

I found that it held me in its grip.’

Free Love

By all means they try to hold me secure who love me in this world.

But it is otherwise with thy love which is greater than theirs,

and thou keepest me free.

Lest I forget them they never venture to leave me alone.

But day passes by after day and thou art not seen.

If I call not thee in my prayers, if I keep not thee in my heart,

thy love for me still waits for my love.

Little of Me

Let only that little be left of me

whereby I may name thee my all.

Let only that little be left of my will

whereby I may feel thee on every side,

and come to thee in everything,

and offer to thee my love every moment.

Let only that little be left of me

whereby I may never hide thee.

Let only that little of my fetters be left

whereby I am bound with thy will,

and thy purpose is carried out in my life—and that is the fetter of thy love.

Give Me Strength

This is my prayer to thee, my lord—strike,

strike at the root of penury in my heart.

Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.

Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.

Give me the strength never to disown the poor

or bend my knees before insolent might.

Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.

And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love.

Closed Path

I thought that my voyage had come to its end

at the last limit of my power,—that the path before me was closed,

that provisions were exhausted

and the time come to take shelter in a silent obscurity.

But I find that thy will knows no end in me.

And when old words die out on the tongue,

new melodies break forth from the heart;

and where the old tracks are lost,

new country is revealed with its wonders.

Only Thee

That I want thee, only thee—let my heart repeat without end.

All desires that distract me, day and night,

are false and empty to the core.

As the night keeps hidden in its gloom the petition for light,

even thus in the depth of my unconsciousness rings the cry

—`I want thee, only thee’.

As the storm still seeks its end in peace

when it strikes against peace with all its might,

even thus my rebellion strikes against thy love

and still its cry is

—`I want thee, only thee’.

Beggarly Heart

When the heart is hard and parched up,

come upon me with a shower of mercy.

When grace is lost from life,

come with a burst of song.

When tumultuous work raises its din on all sides shutting me out from

beyond, come to me, my lord of silence, with thy peace and rest.

When my beggarly heart sits crouched, shut up in a corner,

break open the door, my king, and come with the ceremony of a king.

When desire blinds the mind with delusion and dust, O thou holy one,

thou wakeful, come with thy light and thy thunder.

Sail Away

Early in the day it was whispered that we should sail in a boat,

only thou and I, and never a soul in the world would know of this our

pilgrimage to no country and to no end.

In that shoreless ocean,

at thy silently listening smile my songs would swell in melodies,

free as waves, free from all bondage of words.

Is the time not come yet?

Are there works still to do?

Lo, the evening has come down upon the shore

and in the fading light the seabirds come flying to their nests.

Who knows when the chains will be off,

and the boat, like the last glimmer of sunset,

vanish into the night?

Signet of Eternity

The day was when I did not keep myself in readiness for thee;

and entering my heart unbidden even as one of the common crowd,

unknown to me, my king, thou didst press the signet of eternity upon

many a fleeting moment of my life.

And today when by chance I light upon them and see thy signature,

I find they have lain scattered in the dust mixed with the memory of

joys and sorrows of my trivial days forgotten.

Thou didst not turn in contempt from my childish play among dust,

and the steps that I heard in my playroom

are the same that are echoing from star to star.

Where Shadow Chases Light

This is my delight,

thus to wait and watch at the wayside

where shadow chases light

and the rain comes in the wake of the summer.

Messengers, with tidings from unknown skies,

greet me and speed along the road.

My heart is glad within,

and the breath of the passing breeze is sweet.

From dawn till dusk I sit here before my door,

and I know that of a sudden

the happy moment will arrive when I shall see.

In the meanwhile I smile and I sing all alone.

In the meanwhile the air is filling with the perfume of promise.

Silent Steps

Have you not heard his silent steps?

He comes, comes, ever comes.

Every moment and every age,

every day and every night he comes, comes, ever comes.

Many a song have I sung in many a mood of mind,

but all their notes have always proclaimed,

`He comes, comes, ever comes.’

In the fragrant days of sunny April through the forest path he comes,

comes, ever comes.

In the rainy gloom of July nights on the thundering chariot of clouds

he comes, comes, ever comes.

In sorrow after sorrow it is his steps that press upon my heart,

and it is the golden touch of his feet that makes my joy to shine.

Distant Time

I know not from what distant time

thou art ever coming nearer to meet me.

Thy sun and stars can never keep thee hidden from me for aye.

In many a morning and eve thy footsteps have been heard

and thy messenger has come within my heart and called me in secret.

I know not only why today my life is all astir,

and a feeling of tremulous joy is passing through my heart.

It is as if the time were come to wind up my work,

and I feel in the air a faint smell of thy sweet presence.

The Journey

The morning sea of silence broke into ripples of bird songs;

and the flowers were all merry by the roadside;

and the wealth of gold was scattered through the rift of the clouds

while we busily went on our way and paid no heed.

We sang no glad songs nor played;

we went not to the village for barter;

we spoke not a word nor smiled;

we lingered not on the way.

We quickened our pace more and more as the time sped by.

The sun rose to the mid sky and doves cooed in the shade.

Withered leaves danced and whirled in the hot air of noon.

The shepherd boy drowsed and dreamed in the shadow of the banyan tree,

and I laid myself down by the water

and stretched my tired limbs on the grass.

My companions laughed at me in scorn;

they held their heads high and hurried on;

they never looked back nor rested;

they vanished in the distant blue haze.

They crossed many meadows and hills,

and passed through strange, far-away countries.

All honor to you, heroic host of the interminable path!

Mockery and reproach pricked me to rise,

but found no response in me.

I gave myself up for lost

in the depth of a glad humiliation

—in the shadow of a dim delight.

The repose of the sun-embroidered green gloom

slowly spread over my heart.

I forgot for what I had traveled,

and I surrendered my mind without struggle

to the maze of shadows and songs.

At last, when I woke from my slumber and opened my eyes,

I saw thee standing by me, flooding my sleep with thy smile.

How I had feared that the path was long and wearisome,

and the struggle to reach thee was hard!


Light, my light, the world-filling light,

the eye-kissing light,

heart-sweetening light!

Ah, the light dances, my darling, at the center 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.

Passing Breeze

Yes, I know, this is nothing but thy love,

O beloved of my heart—this golden light that dances upon the leaves,

these idle clouds sailing across the sky,

this passing breeze leaving its coolness upon my forehead.

The morning light has flooded my eyes—this is thy message to my heart.

Thy face is bent from above, thy eyes look down on my eyes,

and my heart has touched thy feet.


On the seashore of endless worlds children meet.

The infinite sky is motionless overhead

and the restless water is boisterous.

On the seashore of endless worlds

the children meet with shouts and dances.

They build their houses with sand

and they play with empty shells.

With withered leaves they weave their boats

and smilingly float them on the vast deep.

Children have their play on the seashore of worlds.

They know not how to swim, they know not how to cast nets.

Pearl fishers dive for pearls, merchants sail in their ships,

while children gather pebbles and scatter them again.

They seek not for hidden treasures, they know not how to cast nets.

The sea surges up with laughter

and pale gleams the smile of the sea beach.

Death-dealing waves sing meaningless ballads to the children,

even like a mother while rocking her baby’s cradle.

The sea plays with children,

and pale gleams the smile of the sea beach.

On the seashore of endless worlds children meet.

Tempest roams in the pathless sky,

ships get wrecked in the trackless water,

death is abroad and children play.

On the seashore of endless worlds is the

great meeting of children.

Baby secrets

The sleep that flits on baby’s eyes- does

anybody know from where it comes?

there is a rumour that it has its dwelling

where, in the fairy village among shadows

of the forest dimly lit with glow-worms,

there hang two timid buds of enchantment,

From there it comes to kiss baby’s eyes.

The smile that flickers on bay’s lips

when he sleeps-does anybody know where

it was born? Yes, there is a rumour that

a young pale beam of a crescent moon

touched the edge of vanishing autumn

cloud, and there the smile was first born

in the dream of a dew-washed morning

the smile that flickers on baby’s lips he sleeps.

The sweet, soft freshness that blooms on

baby’s limbs-does anybody know where

it was hidden so long? Yes, when the

mother was a young girl it lay pervading

her heart in tender and silent mystery of

love-the sweet, soft freshness that has

bloomed on baby’s limbs.

Colored Toys

When I bring to you colored toys, my child,

I understand why there is such a play of colors on clouds, on water,

and why flowers are painted in tints

—when I give colored toys to you, my child.

When I sing to make you dance

I truly now why there is music in leaves,

and why waves send their chorus of voices to the heart of the listening earth

—when I sing to make you dance.

When I bring sweet things to your greedy hands

I know why there is honey in the cup of the flowers

and why fruits are secretly filled with sweet juice

—when I bring sweet things to your greedy hands.

When I kiss your face to make you smile, my darling,

I surely understand what pleasure streams from the sky in morning light,

and what delight that is that is which the summer breeze brings to my body

—when I kiss you to make you smile.

Old and New

Thou hast made me known to friends whom I knew not.

Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own.

Thou hast brought the distant near and made a brother of the stranger.

I am uneasy at heart when I have to leave my accustomed shelter;

I forget that there abides the old in the new,

and that there also thou abidest.

Through birth and death, in this world or in others,

wherever thou leadest me it is thou, the same,

the one companion of my endless life

who ever linkest my heart with bonds of joy to the unfamiliar.

When one knows thee, then alien there is none, then no door is shut.

Oh, grant me my prayer that I may never lose

the bliss of the touch of the one

in the play of many.


She who ever had remained in the depth of my being,

in the twilight of gleams and of glimpses;

she who never opened her veils in the morning light,

will be my last gift to thee, my God, folded in my final song.

Words have wooed yet failed to win her;

persuasion has stretched to her its eager arms in vain.

I have roamed from country to country keeping her in the core of my heart,

and around her have risen and fallen the growth and decay of my life.

Over my thoughts and actions, my slumbers and dreams,

she reigned yet dwelled alone and apart.

Many a man knocked at my door and asked for her

and turned away in despair.

There was none in the world who ever saw her face to face,

and she remained in her loneliness waiting for thy recognition.

Stream of Life

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day

runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth

in numberless blades of grass

and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth

and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.

And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.


That I should make much of myself and turn it on all sides,

thus casting colored shadows on thy radiance

—such is thy Maya.

Thou settest a barrier in thine own being

and then callest thy severed self in myriad notes.

This thy self-separation has taken body in me.

The poignant song is echoed through all the sky in many-coloued tears

and smiles, alarms and hopes; waves rise up and sink again,

dreams break and form.

In me is thy own defeat of self.

This screen that thou hast raised is painted with innumerable figures

with the brush of the night and the day.

Behind it thy seat is woven in wondrous mysteries of curves,

casting away all barren lines of straightness.

The great pageant of thee and me has overspread the sky.

With the tune of thee and me all the air is vibrant,

and all ages pass with the hiding and seeking of thee and me.

Innermost One

He it is, the innermost one,

who awakens my being with his deep hidden touches.

He it is who puts his enchantment upon these eyes

and joyfully plays on the chords of my heart

in varied cadence of pleasure and pain.

He it is who weaves the web of this maya

in evanescent hues of gold and silver, blue and green,

and lets peep out through the folds his feet,

at whose touch I forget myself.

Days come and ages pass,

and it is ever he who moves my heart in many a name,

in many a guise, in many a rapture of joy and of sorrow.


Deliverance is not for me in renunciation.

I feel the embrace of freedom in a thousand bonds of delight.

Thou ever pourest for me the fresh draught of thy wine of various

colours and fragrance, filling this earthen vessel to the brim.

My world will light its hundred different lamps with thy flame

and place them before the altar of thy temple.

No, I will never shut the doors of my senses.

The delights of sight and hearing and touch will bear thy delight.

Yes, all my illusions will burn into illumination of joy,

and all my desires ripen into fruits of love.

Face to Face

Day after day, O lord of my life,

shall I stand before thee face to face.

With folded hands, O lord of all worlds,

shall I stand before thee face to face.

Under thy great sky in solitude and silence,

with humble heart shall I stand before thee face to face.

In this laborious world of thine, tumultuous with toil

and with struggle, among hurrying crowds

shall I stand before thee face to face.

And when my work shall be done in this world,

O King of kings, alone and speechless

shall I stand before thee face to face.

Lost Star

When the creation was new and all the stars shone in their first

splendor, the gods held their assembly in the sky and sang

`Oh, the picture of perfection! the joy unalloyed!’

But one cried of a sudden

—`It seems that somewhere there is a break in the chain of light

and one of the stars has been lost.’

The golden string of their harp snapped,

their song stopped, and they cried in dismay

—`Yes, that lost star was the best,

she was the glory of all heavens!’

From that day the search is unceasing for her,

and the cry goes on from one to the other

that in her the world has lost its one joy!

Only in the deepest silence of night the stars smile

and whisper among themselves

—`Vain is this seeking! unbroken perfection is over all!’

Let Me Not Forget

If it is not my portion to meet thee in this life

then let me ever feel that I have missed thy sight

—let me not forget for a moment,

let me carry the pangs of this sorrow in my dreams

and in my wakeful hours.

As my days pass in the crowded market of this world

and my hands grow full with the daily profits,

let me ever feel that I have gained nothing

—let me not forget for a moment,

let me carry the pangs of this sorrow in my dreams

and in my wakeful hours.

When I sit by the roadside, tired and panting,

when I spread my bed low in the dust,

let me ever feel that the long journey is still before me

—let me not forget a moment,

let me carry the pangs of this sorrow in my dreams

and in my wakeful hours.

When my rooms have been decked out and the flutes sound

and the laughter there is loud,

let me ever feel that I have not invited thee to my house

—let me not forget for a moment,

let me carry the pangs of this sorrow in my dreams

and in my wakeful hours.

Roaming Cloud

I am like a remnant of a cloud of autumn

uselessly roaming in the sky, O my sun ever-glorious!

Thy touch has not yet melted my vapor,

making me one with thy light,

and thus I count months and years separated from thee.

If this be thy wish and if this be thy play,

then take this fleeting emptiness of mine,

paint it with colors, gild it with gold,

float it on the wanton wind and spread it in varied wonders.

And again when it shall be thy wish to end this play at night,

I shall melt and vanish away in the dark,

or it may be in a smile of the white morning,

in a coolness of purity transparent.

Lost Time

On many an idle day have I grieved over lost time.

But it is never lost, my lord.

Thou hast taken every moment of my life in thine own hands.

Hidden in the heart of things thou art nourishing seeds into sprouts,

buds into blossoms, and ripening flowers into fruitfulness.

I was tired and sleeping on my idle bed

and imagined all work had ceased.

In the morning I woke up

and found my garden full with wonders of flowers.

Endless Time

Time is endless in thy hands, my lord.

There is none to count thy minutes.

Days and nights pass and ages bloom and fade like flowers.

Thou knowest how to wait.

Thy centuries follow each other perfecting a small wild flower.

We have no time to lose,

and having no time we must scramble for a chance.

We are too poor to be late.

And thus it is that time goes by

while I give it to every querulous man who claims it,

and thine altar is empty of all offerings to the last.

At the end of the day I hasten in fear lest thy gate be shut;

but I find that yet there is time.

Chain of Pearls

Mother, I shall weave a chain of pearls for thy neck

with my tears of sorrow.

The stars have wrought their anklets of light to deck thy feet,

but mine will hang upon thy breast.

Wealth and fame come from thee

and it is for thee to give or to withhold them.

But this my sorrow is absolutely mine own,

and when I bring it to thee as my offering

thou rewardest me with thy grace.

Brink of Eternity

In desperate hope I go and search for her

in all the corners of my room;

I find her not.

My house is small

and what once has gone from it can never be regained.

But infinite is thy mansion, my lord,

and seeking her I have to come to thy door.

I stand under the golden canopy of thine evening sky

and I lift my eager eyes to thy face.

I have come to the brink of eternity from which nothing can vanish

—no hope, no happiness, no vision of a face seen through tears.

Oh, dip my emptied life into that ocean,

plunge it into the deepest fullness.

Let me for once feel that lost sweet touch

in the allness of the universe.

Untimely Leave

No more noisy, loud words from me—such is my master’s will.

Henceforth I deal in whispers.

The speech of my heart will be carried on in murmurings of a song.

Men hasten to the King’s market. All the buyers and sellers are there.

But I have my untimely leave in the middle of the day, in the thick of work.

Let then the flowers come out in my garden, though it is not their time;

and let the midday bees strike up their lazy hum.

Full many an hour have I spent in the strife of the good and the evil,

but now it is the pleasure of my playmate of the empty days to draw my heart on to him;

and I know not why is this sudden call to what useless inconsequence!


O thou the last fulfilment of life,

Death, my death, come and whisper to me!

Day after day I have kept watch for thee;

for thee have I borne the joys and pangs of life.

All that I am, that I have, that I hope and all my love

have ever flowed towards thee in depth of secrecy.

One final glance from thine eyes

and my life will be ever thine own.

The flowers have been woven

and the garland is ready for the bridegroom.

After the wedding the bride shall leave her home

and meet her lord alone in the solitude of night.

Last Curtain

I know that the day will come

when my sight of this earth shall be lost,

and life will take its leave in silence,

drawing the last curtain over my eyes.

Yet stars will watch at night,

and morning rise as before,

and hours heave like sea waves casting up pleasures and pains.

When I think of this end of my moments,

the barrier of the moments breaks

and I see by the light of death

thy world with its careless treasures.

Rare is its lowliest seat,

rare is its meanest of lives.

Things that I longed for in vain

and things that I got

—let them pass.

Let me but truly possess

the things that I ever spurned

and overlooked.


I have got my leave. Bid me farewell, my brothers!

I bow to you all and take my departure.

Here I give back the keys of my door

—and I give up all claims to my house.

I only ask for last kind words from you.

We were neighbors for long,

but I received more than I could give.

Now the day has dawned

and the lamp that lit my dark corner is out.

A summons has come and I am ready for my journey.


I was not aware of the moment

when I first crossed the threshold of this life.

What was the power that made me open out into this vast mystery

like a bud in the forest at midnight!

When in the morning I looked upon the light

I felt in a moment that I was no stranger in this world,

that the inscrutable without name and form

had taken me in its arms in the form of my own mother.

Even so, in death the same unknown will appear as ever known to me.

And because I love this life,

I know I shall love death as well.

The child cries out

when from the right breast the mother takes it away,

in the very next moment to find in the left one its consolation.

Parting Words

When I go from hence

let this be my parting word,

that what I have seen is unsurpassable.

I have tasted of the hidden honey of this lotus

that expands on the ocean of light,

and thus am I blessed

—let this be my parting word.

In this playhouse of infinite forms

I have had my play

and here have I caught sight of him that is formless.

My whole body and my limbs

have thrilled with his touch who is beyond touch;

and if the end comes here, let it come

—let this be my parting word.

Still Heart

When I give up the helm

I know that the time has come for thee to take it.

What there is to do will be instantly done.

Vain is this struggle.

Then take away your hands

and silently put up with your defeat, my heart,

and think it your good fortune to sit perfectly still

where you are placed.

These my lamps are blown out at every little puff of wind,

and trying to light them I forget all else again and again.

But I shall be wise this time and wait in the dark,

spreading my mat on the floor;

and whenever it is thy pleasure, my lord,

come silently and take thy seat here.

Ocean of Forms

I dive down into the depth of the ocean of forms,

hoping to gain the perfect pearl of the formless.

No more sailing from harbor to harbor with this my weather-beaten boat.

The days are long passed when my sport was to be tossed on waves.

And now I am eager to die into the deathless.

Into the audience hall by the fathomless abyss

where swells up the music of toneless strings

I shall take this harp of my life.

I shall tune it to the notes of forever,

and when it has sobbed out its last utterance,

lay down my silent harp at the feet of the silent.

Sit Smiling

I boasted among men that I had known you.

They see your pictures in all works of mine.

They come and ask me, `Who is he?’

I know not how to answer them. I say, `Indeed, I cannot tell.’

They blame me and they go away in scorn.

And you sit there smiling.

I put my tales of you into lasting songs.

The secret gushes out from my heart.

They come and ask me, `Tell me all your meanings.’

I know not how to answer them.

I say, `Ah, who knows what they mean!’

They smile and go away in utter scorn.

And you sit there smiling.


In one salutation to thee, my God,

let all my senses spread out and touch this world at thy feet.

Like a rain-cloud of July

hung low with its burden of unshed showers

let all my mind bend down at thy door in one salutation to thee.

Let all my songs gather together their diverse strains into a single current

and flow to a sea of silence in one salutation to thee.

Like a flock of homesick cranes flying night and day

back to their mountain nests

let all my life take its voyage to its eternal home

in one salutation to thee.