Rabindranath Tagore

Fireflies

My fancies are fireflies, — Specks of living light twinkling in the dark. he voice of wayside pansies, that do not attract the careless glance, murmurs in these desultory lines. In the drowsy dark caves of the mind dreams build their nest with fragments dropped from day's caravan. Spring scatters the petals of flowers that are not for the fruits of the future, but for the moment's whim. Joy freed from the bond of earth's slumber rushes into numberless leaves, and dances in the air for a day. My words that are slight my lightly dance upon time's waves when my works heavy with import have gone down. Mind's underground moths grow filmy wings and take a farewell flight in the sunset sky. The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. My thoughts, like sparks, ride on winged surprises, carrying a single laughter. The tree gazes in love at its own beautiful shadow which yet it never can grasp. Let my love, like sunlight, surround you and yet give you illumined freedom. Days are coloured bubbles that float upon the surface of fathomless night. My offerings are too timid to claim your remembrance, and therefore you may remember them. Leave out my name from the gift if it be a burden, but keep my song. April, like a child, writes hieroglyphs on dust with flowers, wipes them away and forgets. Memory, the priestess, kills the present and offers its heart to the shrine of the dead past. From the solemn gloom of the temple children run out to sit in the dust, God watches them play and forgets the priest. My mind starts up at some flash on the flow of its thoughts like a brook at a sudden liquid note of its own that is never repeated. In the mountain, stillness surges up to explore its own height; in the lake, movement stands still to contemplate its own depth. The departing night's one kiss on the closed eyes of morning glows in the star of dawn. Maiden, thy beauty is like a fruit which is yet to mature, tense with an unyielding secret. Sorrow that has lost its memory is like the dumb dark hours that have no bird songs but only the cricket's chirp. Bigotry tries to keep truth safe in its hand with a grip that kills it. Wishing to hearten a timid lamp great night lights all her stars. Though he holds in his arms the earth-bride, the sky is ever immensely away. God seeks comrades and claims love, the Devil seeks slaves and claims obedience. The soil in return for her service keeps the tree tied to her, the sky asks nothing and leaves it free. Jewel-like immortal does not boast of its length of years but of the scintillating point of its moment. The child ever dwells in the mystery of ageless time, unobscured by the dust of history. Alight laughter in the steps of creation carries it swiftly across time. One who was distant came near to me in the morning, and still nearer when taken away by night. White and pink oleanders meet and make merry in different dialects. When peace is active swepping its dirt, it is storm. The lake lies low by the hill, a tearful entreaty of love at the foot of the inflexible. There smiles the Divine Child among his playthings of unmeaning clouds and ephemeral lights and shadows. The breeze whispers to the lotus, "What is thy secret?" "It is myself," says the lotus, "Steal it and I disappear!" The freedom of the storm and the bondage of the stem join hands in the dance of swaying branches. The jasmine's lisping of love to the sun is her flowers. The tyrant claims freedom to kill freedom and yet to keep it for himself. Gods, tired of their paradise, envy man. Clouds are hills in vapour, hills are clouds in stone, — a phantasy in time's dream. While God waits for His temple to be built of love, men bring stones. I touch God in my song as the hill touches the far-away sea with its waterfall. Light finds her treasure of colours through the antagonism of clouds. My heart to-day smiles at its past night of tears like a wet tree glistening in the sun after the rain is over. I have thanked the trees that have made my life fruitflul, but have failed to remember the grass that has ever kept it green. The one without second is emptiness, the other one makes it true. Life's errors cry for the merciful beauty that can modulate their isolation into a harmony with the whole. They expect thanks for the banished nest because their cage is shapely and secure. In love I pay my endless debt to thee for what thou art. The pond sends up its lyrics from its dark in lilies, and the sun says, they are good. Your calumny against the great is impious, it hurts yourself; against the small it is mean, for it hurts the victim. The first flower that blossomed on this earth was an invitation to the unborn song. Dawn—the many-coloured flower—fades, and then the simple light-fruit, the sun appears. The muscle that has a doubt if its wisdom throttles the voice that would cry. The wind tries to take the flame by storm only to blow it out. Life's play is swift, Life's playthings fall behind one by one and are forgotten. My flower, seek not thy paradise in a fool's buttonhole. Thou hast risen late, my crescent moon, but my night bird is still awake to greet thee. Darkness is the veiled bride silently waiting for the errant light to return to her bosom. Trees are the earth's endless effort to speak to the listening heaven. The burden of self is lightened when I laugh at myself. The weak can be terrible because they try furiously to appear strong. The wind of heaven blows, The anchor desperately clutches the mud, and my boat is beating its breast against the chain. The spirit of death is one, the spirit of life is many, Whe God is dead religion becomes one. The blue of the sky longs for the earth's green, the wind between them sighs, "Alas." Day's pain muffled by its own glare, burns among stars in the night. The stars crowd round the virgin night in silent awe at her loneliness that can never be touched. The cloud gives all its gold to the departing sun and greets the rising moon with only a pale smile. He who does good comes to the temple gate, he who loves reaches the shrine. Flower, have pity for the worm, it is not a bee, its love is a blunder and a burden. With the ruins of terror's triumph children build their doll's house. The lamp waits through the long day of neglect for the flame's kiss in the night. Feathers in the dust lying lazily content have forgotten their sky. The flowers which is single need not envy the thorns that are numerous. The world suffers most from the disinterested tyranny of its well-wisher. We gain freedom when we have paid the full price for our right to live. Your careless gifts of a moment, like the meteors of an autumn night, catch fire in the depth of my being. The faith waiting in the heart of a seed promises a miracle of life which it cannot prove at once. Spring hesitates at winter's door, but the mango blossom rashly runs out to him before her time and meets her doom. The world is the ever-changing foam thet floats on the surface of a sea of silence. The two separated shores mingle their voices in a song of unfathomed tears. As a river in the sea, work finds its fulfilment in the depth of leisure. I lingered on my way till thy cherry tree lost its bossom, but the azalea brings to me, my love, thy forgiveness. Thy shy little pomegranate bud, blushing to-day behind her veil, will burst into a passionate flower to-morrow when I am away. The clumsiness of power spoils the key, and uses the pickaxe. Birth is from the mystery of night into the greater mystery of day. These paper boats of mine are meant to dance on the ripples of hours, and not to reach any destination. Migratory songs wing from my heart and seek their nests in your voice of love. The sea of danger, doubt and denial around man's little island of certainty challenges him to dare the unknown. Love punishes when it forgives, and injured beauty by its awful silence. You live alone and unrecompensed because they are afraid of your great worth. The same sun is newly born in new lands in a ring of endless dawns. God is world is ever renewed by death, a Titan's ever crushed by its own existence. The glow-worm while exploring the dust never knows that stars are in the sky. The tree is of to-day, the flower is old, it brings with it the message of the immemorial seed. Each rose that comes brings me greetings from the Rose of an eternal spring. God honours me when I work, He loves me when I sing. My love of to-day finds no home in the nest deserted by yesterday's love. The fire of pain traces for my soul a luminous path across her sorrow. The grass survives the hill through its resurrections from countless deaths. Thou hast vanished from my reach leaving an impalpable touch in the blue of the sky, an invisible image in the wind moving among the shadows. In pity for the desolate branch spring leaves to it a kiss that fluttered in a lonely leaf. The shy shadow in the farden loves the sun in silence, Flowers guess the secret, and mile, while the leaves whisper. I leave no trace of wings in the air, but I am glad I have had my flight. The fireflies, twinkling among leaves, make the stars wonder. The mountain remains unmoved at its seeming defeat by the mist. While the rose said to the sun, "I shall ever remember thee," her petals fell to the dust. Hills are the earth's gesture of despair for the unreachable. Though the thorn in thy flower pricked me, O Beauty, I am grateful. The world knows that the few are more than the many. Let not my love be a burden on you, my friend, know that it pays itself. Dawn plays her lute before the gate of darkness, and is content to vanish when the sun comes out. Beauty is truth's smile when she beholds her own face in a perfect mirror. The dew-drop knows the sun only within its own tiny orb. Forlorn thoughts from the forsaken hives of all ages, swarming in the air, hum round my heart and seek my voice. The desert is imprisoned in the wall of its unbounded barrenness. In the thrill of little leaves I see the air's invisible dance, and in their glimmering the secret heart-beats of the sky. You are like a flowering tree, amazed when I praise you for your gifts. The earth's sacrifical fire flames up in her trees, scattering sparks in flowers. Forests, the clouds of earth, hold up to the sky their silence, and clouds from above come down in resonant showers. The world speaks to me in pictures, my soul answers in music. The sky tells its beads all night on the countless stars in memory of the sun. The darkness of night, like pain, is dumb, the darkness of dawn, like peace, is silent. Pride engraves his frowns in stones, loe offers her surrender in flowers. The obsequious brush curtails truth in diference to the canvas which is narrow. The hill in its longing for the far-away sky wishes to be like the cloud with its endless urge of seeking. To justify their own spilling of ink they spell the day as night. Profit smiles on goodness when the good is profitable. In its swelling pride the bubble doubts the truth of the sea, and laughs and bursts into emptiness. Love is an endless mystery, for it has nothing else to explain its. My clouds, sorrowing in the dark, forget that they themselves have hidden the sun. Man discovers his own wealth when God comes to ask gifts of him. You leave your memory as a flame to my lonely lamp of separation. I came to offer thee a flower, but thou must have all my garden,— It is thine. The picture—a memory of light treasured by the shadow. It is easy to make faces at the sun, He is exposed by his own light in all directions. History slowly smothers its truth, but hastily struggles to revive it in the terrible penance of pain. My work is rewarded in daily wages, I wait for my final value in love. Beauty knows to say, "Enough," barbarism clamours for still more. God loves to see in me, not his servant, but himself who serves all. The darkness of night is in harmony with day, the morning of mist is discordant. In the bounteous time of roses love is wine,— it is food in the famished hour when their petals are shed. An unknown flower in a strange land speaks to the poet: "Are we not of the same soil, my lover?" I am able to love my God because He gives me freedom to deny Him. My untuned strings beg for music in their anguished cry of shame. The worm thinks it strange and foolish that man does not eat his books. The clouded sky to-day bears the visior of the shadow of a divine sadness on the forehead of brooding eternity. The shade of my tree is for passers-by, its fruit for the one for whom I wait. Flushed with the glow of sunset earth seems like a ripe fruit ready to be harvested by night. Light accepts darkness for his spouse for the sake of creation. The reed waits for his master's breath, the Master goes seeking for his reed. To the blind pen the hand that writes is unreal, its writing unmeaning. The sea smites his own barren breast because he has no flowers to offer to the moon. The greed for fruit misses the flower. God in His temple of stars waits for man to bring him his lamp. The fire restrained in the tree fashions flowers. Released from bonds, the shameless flame dies in barren ashes. The sky sets no snare to capture the moon, it is her own freedom which binds her. The light that fills the sky seeks its limit in a dew-drop on the grass. Wealth is the burden of bigness, Welfare the fulness of being. The razor-blade is proud of its keenness when it sneers at the sun. The butterfly has leisure to love the lotus, not the bee busily storing honey. Child, thou bringest to my heart the babble of the wind and the water, the flower's speechless secrets, the clouds' dreams, the mute gaze of wonder of the morning sky. The rainbow among the clouds may be great but the little butterfly among the bushes is greater. The mist weaves her net round the morning, captivates him, and makes him blind. The Morning Star whispers to Dawn, "Tell me that you are only for me." "Yes," she answers, "And also only for that nameless flower." The sky remains infinitely vacant for earth there to build its heaven with dreams. Perhaps the crescent moon smiles in doubt at being told that it is a fragment awaiting perfection. Let the evening forgive the mistakes of the day and thus win peace for herself. Beauty smiles in the confinement of the bud, in the heart of a sweet incompleteness. Your flitting love lightly brushed with its wings my sun-flower and never asked if it was ready to surrender its honey. Leaves are silences around flowers which are their words. The tree bears its thousand years as one large majestic moment. My offerings are not for the temple at the end of the road, but for the wayside shrines that surprise me at every bend. Hour smile, my love, like the smell of a strange flower, is simple and inexplicable. Death laughs when the merit of the dead is exaggerated for it swells his store with more than he can claim. The sigh of the shore follows in vain the breeze that hastens the ship across the sea. Truth loves its limits, for there it meets the beautiful. Between the shores of Me and Thee there is the loud ocean, my own surging self, which I long to cross. The right to possess boasts foolishly of its right to enjoy. The rose is a great deal more than a blushing apology for the thorn. Day offers to the silence of stars his golden lute to be tuned for the endless life. The wise know how to teach, the fool how to smite. The centre is still and silent in the heart of an enternal dance of circles. The judge thinks that he is just when he compares The oil of another's lamp with the light of his own. The captive flower in the King's wreath smiles bitterly when the meadow-flower envies her. Its store of snow is the hill's own burden, its outpouring if streams is borne by all the world. Listen to the prayer of the forest for its freedom in flowers. Let your love see me even through the barrier of nearness. The spirit of work in creation is there to carry and help the spirit of play. To carry the burden of the insturment, count the cost of its material, and never to know that it is for music, is the tragedy of deaf life. Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. I bring to thee, night, my day's empty cup, to be cleansed with thy cool darkness for a new morning's festival. The mountain fir, in its rustling, modulates the memory of its fights with the storm into a hymn of peace. God honoured me with his fight when I was rebellious, He ignored me when I was languid. The sectarina thinks that he has the sea ladled into his private pond. In the shady depth of life are the lonely nests of memories that shrink from words. Let my love find its strength in the service of day, its peace in the union of night. Life sends up in blades of grass its silent hymn of praise to the unnamed Light. The stars of night are to me the memorials of my day's faded flowers. Open thy door to that which must go, for the loss becomes unseemly when obstructed. True end is not in the reaching of the limit, but in a completion which is limitless. The shore whispers to the sea: "Write to me what thy waves struggle to say." The sea writes in foam again and again and wipes off the lines in a boisterous despair. Let the touch of thy finger thrill my life's strings and make the music thine and mine. The inner world rounded in my life like a fruit, matured in joy and sorrow, will drop into the darkness of the orogonal soil for some further course of creation. Form is in Matter, rhythm in Force, meaning in the Person. There are seekers of wisdom and seekers of wealth, I seek thy company so that I may sing. As the tree its leaves, I shed my words on the earth, let my thoughts unuttered flower in thy silence. My faith in truth, my vision of the perfect, help thee, Master, in thy creation. All the delights that I have felt in life's fruits and flowers let me offer to thee at the end of the feast, in a perfect union of love. Some have thought deeply and explored the meaning of thy truth, and they are great; I have listened to catch the music of thy play, and I am glad. The tree is a winged spirit released from the bondage of seed, pursuing its adventure of life across the unknown. The lotus offers its beauty to the heaven, the grass its service to the earth. The sun's kiss mellows into abandonment the miserliness of the green fruit clinging to its stem. The flame met the earthen lamp in me, and what a great marvel of light! Mistakes live in the neighbourhood of truth and therefore delude us. The cloud laughed at the rainbow saying that is was an upstart gaudy in its emptiness. The rainbow calmly answered, "I am as inevitably real as that sun himself." Let me not grope in vain in the dark but keep my mind still in the faith that the day will break and truth will appear in its simplicity. Through the silent night I hear the returning vagrant hopes of the morning knock at my heart. My new love comes bringing to me the eternal wealth of the old. The earth gazes at the moon and wonders that she sould have all her music in her smile. Day with its glare of curiosity puts the stars to flight. My mind has its true union with thee, O sky, at the window which is mine own, and not in the open where thou hast thy sole kingdom. Man claims God's flowers as his own when he weaves them in a garland. The buried city, laid bare to the sun of a new age, is ashamed that is has lost all its song. Like my heart's pain that has long missed its meaning, the sun's rays robed in dark hide themselves under the ground. Like my heart'spain at love's sudden touch, they change their veil at the spring's call and come out in the carnival of colours, in flowers and leaves. My life's empty flute waits for its final music like the primal darkness before the stars came out. Emancipation from the bondage of the soil is no freedom for the tree. The tapestry of life's story is woven with the threads of life's ties ever joining and breaking. Those thoughts of mine that are never captured by words perch upon my song and dance. My soul to-night loses itself in the silent heart of a tree standing alone among the whispers of immensity. Pearl shells cast up by the sea on death's barren beach,— a magnificent wastefulness of creative life. The sunlight opens for me the word's gate, love's light its terasure. My life like the reed with its stops, has its play of colours through the gaps in its hopes and gains. Let not my thanks to thee rob my silence of its fuller homage. Life's aspirations come in the guise of children. The faded flower sighs that the spring has vanished for ever. In my life's garden my wealth has been of the shadows and lights that are never gathered and stored. The fruit that I Have gained for ever is that which thou hast accepted. The jasmine knows the sun to be her brother in the heaven. Light is young, the ancient light; shadows are of the moment, they are born old. I feel that the ferry of my songs at the day's end will bring me across to the other shore from where I shall see. The butterfly flitting from flower to flower ever remains mine, I lose the one that is netted by me. Your voice, free bird, reaches my sleeping nest, and my drowsy wings dream of a voyage to the light above the clouds. I miss the meaning of my own part in the play of life because I know not of the parts that others play. The flower sheds all its petals and finds the fruit. I leave my songs behind me to the bloom of the ever-returning honeysuckles and the joy of the wind from the south. Dead leaves when they lose themselves in soil take part in the life of the forest. The mind ever seeks its words from its sounds and silence as the sky from its darkness and light. The unseen dark plays on his flute and the rhythm of light eddies into stars and suns, into thoughts and reams. My songs are to sing that I have loved Thy singing. When the voice of the Silent touches my words I know him and therefore I know myself. My last salutations are to them who knew me imperfect and loved me. Love's gift cannot be given, it waits to be accepted. When death comes and whispers to me, "Thy days are ended," let me say to him, "I have lived in love and not in mere time." He will ask, "Will thy songs remain?" I shall say, "I know not, but this I know that often when I sang I found my eternity." "Let me light my lamp," say the star, 'and never debate if it will help to remove the darkness." Before the end of my journey may I reach within myself the one which is the all, leaving the outer shell to float away with the drifting multitude upon the current of chance and change.