From I won’t let you go by Rabindranath Tagore
From I Won’t let you go
by Rabindranath Tagore *
Beside the door, wrapped in her thoughts, there sat
My daughter, four years old. On other days
She’d have had her bath before this, and her eyes,
Before she’d swallowed scarce two mouthfuls of
Her mid-day rice, been shut in sleep. Today
Her mother had not seen to her: even now
She had not bathed or eaten, but like a shadow
hugged my steps all this time, watching each move
With mute unblinking eyes. Worn out at last,
She now sat silently beside the door
With who knows what intent: and when I said
‘I’m leaving, little mother,’ with sad eyes
And pale look answered, ‘I won’t let you go.’
She sat where she was, neither clutched my hand
Nor shut the door; only declared the right
Born of her hearts’s love: ‘I won’t let you go.’
Yet the time came to an end, and she, alas,
Could not but let me.
O my foolish girl,
Who are you? Where could you have drawn such strength
To say so boldly, ‘I won’t let you go’?
Whom in this universe, O arrogant one,
Will you hold back with two small arms, with whom
Grapple, sitting beside the homestead door
With that tired tiny body, only the store
Of that little love-filled breast? Here on this earth
It befits the wounded spirit, with fear and shame,
Only to utter its heart’s prayer, to say
‘I do not want to let you go.’ Who’ll say
‘I will not’? Hearing from your infant lips
Your love’s proud vaunt, the world, taken with mirth,
Snatched me away; only you, vanquished, sat
Like a painted figure tearfully by the door.
I saw and left, dabbing at my own eyes.
*Translated from Bengali by Sukanta Chaudhuri
** Taken from Indian Love Poems. Edited by Meena Alexander. Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets.