Emperor Shahjahan, this you well knew
Time sweeps away youth, riches, life itself from view.
And yet didn”t you want to render visible
The grief that consumed your heart and soul?
Like a clap of thunder, the might of empire
Fades into the evening sky”s crimson attire.
Nevertheless, you fervently wished to see
Your sigh rending the sky eternally!
Diamonds, rubies, and pearls, things incandescent
Are all like rainbows - illusions though resplendent,
Destined in the end to disappear.
And yet you wanted to allow one teardrop to fall
And adorn Time”s cheek - white, gleaming Tajmahal!
O human heart,
Again and again you depart
Without looking back at anyone,
Since there is never any time
Swept away by life”s strongly flowing river
In this world you float from port to port -
Loading cargo in one wharf only to unload it at another!
The moment the murmuring of the south wind
Mesmerizes madhabi creepers in your garden
Blossoming its border,
Dusk sets in, scattering petals in the dust.
But because there is no time;
In the dew-dropping night
You dress up your garden again
With new jasmine
In late autumn”s tear-filled loveliness!
O human heart
All that you saved with your art
Has to be thrown away
At the end of night or day
To the edge of a pathway
Since there is never any time
O Mighty Emperor, that”s why your anxious heart
Wanted to abduct time”s heart
By seducing it with a thing of beauty.
You welcomed it with a wonderful garland
Woven from formless death”s immortal garment.
But because grief doesn”t last forever
And one can”t bewail one”s misfortune year after year.
Your restless tears
Wove an everlasting net of eloquent silence.
You left behind here
The name you would whisper in your beloved”s ear
In a secret temple in a moonlit night
So that it will sound eternally
And love”s delicate moan
Find expression in serene stone.
This is the image of your heart
Your equivalent of Kalidas”s Meghadootam
Superb, stunning In rhythm and tone
Where your beloved remains
Mingled with dawn”s first light
And weary dusk”s sorrow-filled breath.
And the impalpable beauty of chameli flowers in moonlight -
From the margins of words once spoken
Thresholds from which ardent eyes return
Again and again.
Your loveliness will be proclaimed everlastingly
By an envoy who eludes time”s warden
And who conveys this message wordlessly: ‘Dearest, I haven”t forgotten, haven”t forgotten!”
With your departure, O Emperor,
Your empire, like dreams, disappeared,
Your throne lay shattered,
Your armies, which had once made earth tremble,
Became as intangible as Delhi road dust.
Prisoners no longer sang your praises,
Musicians no longer strummed tunes
That mingled with Jamuna”s waves
Anklets of dancing beauties no longer tinkled in your palaces.
Dying crickets made the night sky moan.
But your envoy stayed unstained and unwearied,
Slighting the rise and fall of empires
Slighting the seesaw of life and death
Uttering through the ages the one refrain ‘Dearest, I haven”t forgotten, haven”t forgotten!”
But that”s a lie - who says you haven”t forgotten?
Who says you didn”t keep the lid of memory”s cage open?
Has your heart been able to confine
The ever-receding darkness of the past?
Hasn”t it managed by now to break away,
Moving across oblivion”s freeway?
Tombs stay solemn forever
The world”s dust set in Shrouding death in memory”s casing.
But who can keep life from moving on?
Each star of the sky keeps calling,
Sending invitations everywhere
In the light of breaking day.
Crossing the barriers of memory In the paths of the world
Freely it speeds away, Emperor, no empire could ever contain you
O Mighty One, not even earth
Nourished though it is endlessly by oceans,
Could cover you up
And so when life”s festival concluded
You abandoned earth as if it was a mere pot of clay!
Because you are mightier than your fame
Your soul journeys on again and again
Leaving behind the deeds that made your name
And so your remnants remain
Though you are gone.
The love that knows not how to go on
The love that blocks its path with its throne
For all its extravagant address
Would no more stick to your dress
Than would dust on a pathway
And you would let it end up as dust.
And thus you let it spread behind you
And let grief”s seed sprout skyward
Singing solemnly - ‘As far as I can see
That traveller is gone His beloved couldn”t hold him back
His empire has let him go
Neither mountains nor oceans barred his way.
And to this day his chariot speeds on.
At night”s invitation and the music of the stars
Towards the portals of dawn.
And with the weight of memory
I lie So that unburdened he can fly.”
- Rabindranath Tagore