Monday, April 23, 2012

UPAGUPTA - A poem by Tagore


Upagupta, the disciple of Buddha, lay sleep in 
the dust by the city wall of Mathura. 
Lamps were all out, doors were all shut, and 
stars were all hidden by the murky sky of August. 
Whose feet were those tinkling with anklets, 
touching his breast of a sudden? 
He woke up startled, and a light from a woman's 
lamp fell on his forgiving eyes. 
It was dancing girl, starred with jewels, 
Wearing a pale blue mantle, drunk with the wine 
of her youth. 
She lowered her lamp and saw young face 
austerely beautiful. 
"Forgive me, young ascetic," said the woman, 
"Graciously come to my house. The dusty earth 
is not fit bed for you." 
The young ascetic answered, "Woman, 
go on your way; 
When the time is ripe I will come to you." 
Suddenly the black night showed its teeth 
in a flash of lightening. 
The storm growled from the corner of the sky, and 
The woman trembled in fear of some unknown danger.
* . * 
A year has not yet passed. 
It was evening of a day in April, 
in spring season. 
The branches of the way side trees were full of blossom. 
Gay notes of a flute came floating in the 
warm spring air from a far. 
The citizens had gone to the woods for the 
festival of flowers. 
From the mid sky gazed the full moon on the 
shadows of the silent town. 
The young ascetic was walking along the lonely street, 
While overhead the love-sick koels uttered from the 
mango branches their sleepless plaint. 
Upagupta passed through the city gates, and 
stood at the base of the rampart. 
Was that a woman lying at his feet in the 
shadow of the mango grove? 
Stuck with black prestilence, her body 
spotted with sores of small-pox, 
She had been hurriedly removed from the town 
To avoid her poisonous contagion. 
The ascetic sat by her side, took her head 
on his knees, 
And moistened her lips with water, and 
smeared her body with sandal balm. 
"Who are you, merciful one?" asked the woman. 
"The time, at last, has come to visit you, and 
I am here," replied the young ascetic.


~ Rabindranath Tagore



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