Theme: India


From my boyhood days
I have heard its call again and again -
The land that lies in the west
Where India's fate
Has danced the dance of death
From age to age
In wild orgies
Resonant with vultures' cries.
At Delhi and Agra
From the foams of churning time
In arrogance and immense pride
Palaces have sprung up to kiss the skies.

Good and evil standing face to face
Have woven in utter confusion
Of dust and debris
A confusing pattern indeed.
New armies under new flags
Have written stories afresh
Tearing the threads of earlier stories.
In the dead of night
Brigands have crossed its walls
And broken its gates
Amid the anguished cries
Of those whom they raped
They have fought for the place
And plundered the hungry.

With flaming torches of their treasury of spoils
They have lighted their nights
Now here at last
A vast burial ground spreads
Where the oppressor and the oppressed
Like pawns, black and white,
Once played a game of chess.
Both the victors and the vanquished
Have here buried
Centuries of their victories and defeats
In one common grave.

Now leaning on its broken knees
The shadow of power
Passes over dying Jamuna's flow
Leaving a ghostly message
That says -
There gathers yet ahead
A deeper gloom of degenerate days.

Translation of the poem Hindusthan from the collection Nabajatak by Rabindranath Tagore. It was written at Delhi on 19th April, 1937, when after the 1935 Government of India Act and the infamous communal award, wrangling between the Congress and the Muslim League began. Here 'shadow of power' is obviously the British. A prophetic poem indeed!
The original poem is at


More By  :  Kumud Biswas

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