Near its throne and beyond
The regime that proudly proclaims
The distance between the ruler and the ruled
Is forever fixed
Keeps its ruin in wait at its feet.
By all round destitution it breeds
Its kingly crown is always disgraced
If it isn’t touched by the miseries it causes
It is cursed by God.
In the midst of its wealth
Starving or half-fed
Hunger smoulders like fire
The water to quench the thirst
Is polluted and dry
The body is bare in winter’s cold
In death all sufferings cease
Suffering from endless diseases
Without any hope of recovery or redress
Crueller is a skeleton’s half dead lingering life
Here the dying wretch
Is more a handicap than help.
A bird that flies high
With one of its wings broken
In perilous storm
Will fall down from the sky
It will lose its limb and become lame
The day will come
For the settlement of the last account.
When in dust and debris
This sky-high pride of wealth will crumble down
Reduced to a skeleton
It will become a decayed nest of impoverishment.
Translation of poem 22 from the collection Janmadine by Rabindranath Tagore. It was written in the afternoon of 24th February, exactly six months before the poet’s death in early August, 1941. Though it is an obvious indictment of the British, it is true for all misrules. A few months after the poet’s death Gandhiji launched the Quit India movement in 1942. The original poem in Bengali script may be viewed at