Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Gardener #1


SERVANT . Have mercy upon your servant, my queen !

QUEEN . The assembly is over and my servants are all gone. Why do you come at his late hour?

SERVANT . When you have finished with others, that is my time.

I come to ask what remains for your last servant to do.

QUEEN . What can you expect when it is too late ?

SERVANT . Make me the gardener of you flower garden.

QUEEN . What folly is this ?

SERVANT . I will give up my other work.

I throw my swords and lances down in the dust. Do not send me to distant courts; do not bid me undertake new conquests. But make me the gardener of you flower garden.

QUEEN . What will you duties be ?

SERVANT . The service of you idle days.

I will keep fresh the grassy path where you walk in the morning, where your feet will be greeted with praise at every step by the flowers eager for death.

I will swing you in a swing among the branches of the saptaparna, where the early evening moon will struggle to kiss your skirt through the leaves.

I will replenish with scented oil the lamp that burns by your bedside, and decorate your footstool with sandal and saffron paste in wondrous designs.

QUEEN . What will you have for your reward ?

SERVANT . To be allowed to hold your little fists like tender lotus-buds and slip flower chains over your wrists; to tinge the soles of your feet with the red juice of ashoka petals and kiss away the speck of dust that may chance to linger there.

QUEEN . Your prayers are granted, my servant, you will be the gardener of my flower garden.




A poem translated from the original Bengali by the author in 1915
Rabindranath Tagore
1861-1941
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