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Stray Birds   By: (1861-1941)

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First Page:

Stray Birds

By Rabindranath Tagore

[translated from Bengali to English by the author]

New York: The Macmillan Company, 1916

[Frontispiece in color by Willy Pogány]

To T. HARA of Yokohama

1 Stray birds of summer come to my window to sing and fly away. And yellow leaves of autumn, which have no songs, flutter and fall there with a sigh.

2 O troupe of little vagrants of the world, leave your footprints in my words.

3 The world puts off its mask of vastness to its lover. It becomes small as one song, as one kiss of the eternal.

4 It is the tears of the earth that keep her smiles in bloom.

5 The mighty desert is burning for the love of a blade of grass who shakes her head and laughs and flies away.

6 If you shed tears when you miss the sun, you also miss the stars.

7 The sands in your way beg for your song and your movement, dancing water. Will you carry the burden of their lameness?

8 Her wistful face haunts my dreams like the rain at night.

9 Once we dreamt that we were strangers. We wake up to find that we were dear to each other.

10 Sorrow is hushed into peace in my heart like the evening among the silent trees.

11 Some unseen fingers, like idle breeze, are playing upon my heart the music of the ripples.

12 "What language is thine, O sea?"

"The language of eternal question."

"What language is thy answer, O sky?

"The language of eternal silence."

13 Listen, my heart, to the whispers of the world with which it makes love to you.

14 The mystery of creation is like the darkness of night it is great. Delusions of knowledge are like the fog of the morning.

15 Do not seat your love upon a precipice because it is high.

16 I sit at my window this morning where the world like a passer by stops for a moment, nods to me and goes.

17 These little thoughts are the rustle of leaves; they have their whisper of joy in my mind.

18 What you are you do not see, what you see is your shadow.

19 My wishes are fools, they shout across thy songs, my Master. Let me but listen.

20 I cannot choose the best. The best chooses me.

21 They throw their shadows before them who carry their lantern on their back.

22 That I exist is a perpetual surprise which is life.

23 "We, the rustling leaves, have a voice that answers the storms, but who are you so silent?"

"I am a mere flower."

24 Rest belongs to the work as the eyelids to the eyes.

25 Man is a born child, his power is the power of growth.

26 God expects answers for the flowers he sends us, not for the sun and the earth.

27 The light that plays, like a naked child, among the green leaves happily knows not that man can lie.

28 O Beauty, find thyself in love, not in the flattery of thy mirror.

29 My heart beats her waves at the shore of the world and writes upon it her signature in tears with the words, "I love thee."

30 "Moon, for what do you wait?"

"To salute the sun for whom I must make way."

31 The trees come up to my window like the yearning voice of the dumb earth.

32 His own mornings are new surprises to God.

33 Life finds its wealth by the claims of the world, and its worth by the claims of love.

34 The dry river bed finds no thanks for its past.

35 The bird wishes it were a cloud. The cloud wishes it were a bird.

36 The waterfall sings, "I find my song, when I find my freedom."

37 I cannot tell why this heart languishes in silence. It is for small needs it never asks, or knows or remembers.

38 Woman, when you move about in your household service your limbs sing like a hill stream among its pebbles.

39 The sun goes to cross the Western sea, leaving its last salutation to the East.

40 Do not blame your food because you have no appetite.

41 The trees, like the longings of the earth, stand a tiptoe to peep at the heaven.

42 You smiled and talked to me of nothing and I felt that for this I had been waiting long... Continue reading book >>

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