This week’s Saturday Woman Poet is Sarojini Naidu. I have been reading quite recently Indian Poets from both the pre and post-independence period in India . The shatter of language that occurred and that is collated neatly in a variety of collections does not contain the simplicity of Naidu’s engagement with her poetics and with her cultural history. I do not believe that post-independence volumes of poetry can attain to canonical status without the inclusion of a poet such as Naidu, who though primarily working in the English language like many contemporary writers of her Indian heritage or indeed of intellectual diaspora encapsulated the language struggle. In my opinion she has the weight of a Tagore but the sure simplicity of pre-independence classicism.
I am including a brief link to the Wikipedia page of Sarojini Nadiu and two short poems by the writer at the base of this post. I will add in later a brief edit which will include the titles of current reading in Contemporary and Pre-independence poets.
Alabaster by Sarojini Naidu
“Like this alabaster box whose art
Is frail as a cassia-flower, is my heart,
Carven with delicate dreams and wrought
With many a subtle and exquisite thought.
Therein I treasure the spice and scent
Of rich and passionate memories blent
Like odours of cinnamon, sandal and clove,
Of song and sorrow and life and love.”
Harvest Hymn . By Sarojini Naidu
“Lord of the lotus, lord of the harvest,
Bright and munificent lord of the morn!
Thine is the bounty that prospered our sowing,
Thine is the bounty that nurtured our corn.
We bring thee our songs and our garlands for tribute,
The gold of our fields and the gold of our fruit;
O giver of mellowing radiance, we hail thee,
We praise thee, O Surya, with cymbal and flute.
Lord of the rainbow, lord of the harvest,
Great and beneficent lord of the main!
Thine is the mercy that cherished our furrows,
Thine is the mercy that fostered our grain.
We bring thee our thanks and our garlands for tribute,
The wealth of our valleys, new-garnered and ripe;
O sender of rain and the dewfall, we hail thee,
We praise thee, Varuna, with cymbal and pipe.
Queen of the gourd-flower, queen of the har- vest,
Sweet and omnipotent mother, O Earth!
Thine is the plentiful bosom that feeds us,
Thine is the womb where our riches have birth.
We bring thee our love and our garlands for tribute,
With gifts of thy opulent giving we come;
O source of our manifold gladness, we hail thee,
We praise thee, O Prithvi, with cymbal and drum.
Lord of the Universe, Lord of our being,
Father eternal, ineffable Om!
Thou art the Seed and the Scythe of our harvests,
Thou art our Hands and our Heart and our Home.
We bring thee our lives and our labours for tribute,
Grant us thy succour, thy counsel, thy care.
O Life of all life and all blessing, we hail thee,
We praise thee, O Bramha, with cymbal and prayer.”