Literary Shelf

Koel (The Black Cuckoo) By Puran Singh (1881-1931)

Koel as a poem has been taken from Puran Singh’s The Sisters of the Spinning Wheel and Other Sikh Poems published in 1921. Puran Singh as a poet has a style of Tagore and is one among many others of that time aspiring after poesy like him.

Koel (The Black Cuckoo) is one of the poems which Puran Singh wrote long ago. Addressing the cuckoo, the poet tells of the impact of the bird-notes which it sings with a full-throated ease. How does the song create a flutter, a ruffle in the minds of the listeners? The black bird is really a marvel as and when we start talking about it. Wordsworth’s To the Skylark and Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale flash upon the mind’s plane the moment we sit to take it up his Koel.

Puran Singh is first a Sikh scientist and then a mystic, a poet and so on, but all assembled in one. A chemist by profession, he went to Japan for his studies, but was a devout fellow by his temperament, a disciple of Swami Ramtirtha and above all, a Sikh under the teachings of the holy Guru Granth Sahib and the Sikh teachers. He often draws from parables and precepts.

The poet talks of the bird song coming to as a divine surprise which is but so melodious and sonorous in being tuned to it. Hiding from which grove or bower, does it sing? The way it ambushes itself, plays hide and seek is really appalling.

What did it strike you that you started to keep singing? What did it stir you? What is that keeps you charred as you start singing from the orchard plots, mango groves? Your cooing touches my heart and refreshes me with the memories and reflections. A little bird, how much songful are you as sing you from your heart! The outward, exterior is black, but not is from your interior.

Hearing your song, I become reminded of my ladylove. Where is she? Can you say? How is she, I think within, as you keep raining your notes? Why are the leaves so still? The song notes of the sweet bird are so excellent that words fail to describe them. Your words set the heart on fire and it starts aching. Your song has the capacity to make one restless.

The sweet bird rains notes, song notes, melodies which but catch fire. We long for, yearn for hearing the notes.  We feel the tinge of pain. For whom does it sing? For the tired travelers or the lovelorn people?


KOEL! what lightning fell? what singed thy wings?
What keeps thee fresh, yet charred?
Concealed in the mango-leaves, thou singest!
Thy high-pitched strains wake in my soul a thousand memories! 
Why so restless that thy spark-shedding notes go forth kindling fire?
Lo! The roses are on fire which winds and waters catchI
The shades of mangoes burn! 
What a rain of sparks art thou, O little Bird!
Koel! what lightning fell? what singed thy wings?


The Fire of Love has charred my wings, and made me anew,
I am restless! Where is my Beloved? 
The sight of mango-blossoms fires me all the more! 
The greener the garden, the brighter burns my heart!
My flaming soul asks, " Where? where is my Beloved?"
"Speak! speak! why are the leaves so still?"

Image (c)


More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

Top | Literary Shelf

Views: 112      Comments: 0

Name *

Email ID

Comment *
Verification Code*

Can't read? Reload

Please fill the above code for verification.