O my love, what gift of mine
Shall I give you this dawn?
A morning song?
But morning does not last long –
The heat of the sun
Wilts it like a flower
And songs that tire
O friend, when you come to my gate
What is it you ask?
What shall I bring you?
A lamp from a secret corner of my silent house?
But will you want to take it with you
Down the crowded street?
The wind will blow it out.
Whatever gifts are in my power to give you,
Be they flowers,
Be they gems for your neck,
How can they please you
If in time they must surely wither,
All that my hands can place in yours
Will slip through your fingers
And fall forgotten to the dust
To turn into dust.
When you have leisure,
Wander idly through my garden in spring
And let an unknown, hidden flower’s scent startle you
Into sudden wondering –
Let that displaced moment
Be my gift.
Or if, as you peer your way down a shady avenue,
From the thick gathered tresses of evening
A single shivering fleck of sunset-light stops you,
Turns your daydreams to gold,
Let that light be an innocent
Truest treasure is fleeting;
It sparkles for a moment, then goes.
It does not tell its name; its tune
Stops us in our tracks, its dance disappears
At the toss of an anklet.
I know no way to it –
No hand, nor word can reach it.
Friend whatever you take of it
On your own,
Without asking, without knowing, let that
Anything I can give you is trifling –
Be it a flower, or a song.
~Rabindranath Tagore ( Selected Poems. Translated by William Radice, 1985)