"The Conch" by Rabindranath Tagore
How can we bear to see your conch lying there in the dirt?
The tragedy of it cuts off air and blocks out light.
Warriors, rise, brandish your banners!
Singers, get up and sing! Doers,
Charge into action! Do not falter!
How can we let your inspiring conch stare up at us from the dirt?
I came to the prayer-room with an offering of flowers neatly laid out,
Longing to end my long day's labours with heavenly quiet.
I thought this time my heart's lacerations
Would heal; I thought my ablutions
Would purge me - till I saw the degradation
Of your great conch lying on the path, lying in the dirt.
What am I doing with this prayer-lamp, what do I mean by this prayer?
Must I drop my flowers of peace - weave scarlet garlands of war?
I hoped for a calm end to my struggles;
I thought my debts had been paid, my battles
Won, and now I could thankfully settle
In your lap: but suddenly your mute conch seemed to sound in my ear
0 change me, touch me with youth, alchemize me! Let fiery melody
Blaze and twirl in my breast, life-fire leap into ecstasy!
Let night's ribs crack; let skies,
As they fill with dawning enlightenment, raise
Terror in remotest dark. From today -
I shall fight to seize and carry aloft your conch of victory.
Now I know I can no more close my eyes in slumber.
Now I know that monsoon showers of arrows must batter
My heart. Some people will rush to my side;
Others will weep and sigh in dread;
Horrifying nightmares will rock the beds
Of sleeping hearers: but today your conch will joyously thunder.
When I looked to you for rest I received nothing but shame;
But dress me for battle now, let armour cover each limb.
Let new obstructions chafe and challenge me;
I shall take all blows and hurts unflinchingly;
My heart shall drum redress for your injuries;
I shall give all my strength, win back your conch and make it BOOM.
From 'Selected Poems' Trans William Radice
Allspirit Website: http://www.allspirit.co.uk