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SCENT -MOON



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(ABiNDRANATH -TAGORE




THE-MACMILLAN'CO



REFERENCE \

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THE CRESCENT MOON




THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

NEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO
DALLAS ATLANTA SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED

LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA
MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN CO. OP CANADA, LTD.

TORONTO




FRONTISPIECE.

/vvw (i drawing by Nandalall Base.



THE

CRESCENT MOON



CHILD-POEMS



BY

RABINDRANATH TAGORE



TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL BENGALI

BY THE AUTHOR



WITF EIGHT ^LLUSTllATIONS

IN ooLoua



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

1914



COPYRIGHT. 1913
B* THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

Set up and electrotyped. Published November, 1913,
Reprinted December. 1911 January, February, 1914.
April. 1014.



Ntw YORK
PUBLIC LIBRARY



ASTQft LENOX AND
TILOEM FOUHDATIONS



T



TO
T. STURGE MOORE



CONTENTS



PAGE



THE HOME - 1

ON THE SEASHORE - - - 3

THE SOURCE 5

BABY'S WAY 7

THE UNHEEDED PAGEANT - 9

SLEEP- STEALER 12

THE BEGINNING - - 15

BABY'S WORLD 17

WHEN AND WHY - 18

DEFAMATION - 20

THE JUDGE 22

PLAYTHINGS - 23

THE ASTRONOMER 25

CLOUDS AND WAVES 27

THE CHAMPA FLOWER 29



vn



viii Contents



PAGE



FAIRYLAND ... 31

THE LAND OF THE EXILE - 33

THE RAIN YD AY- - - - - - 36

PAPER BOATS - 38

THE SAILOR - 40

THE FURTHER BANK 42

THE FLOWER-SCHOOL - 45

THE MERCHANT 47

SYMPATHY 49

VOCATION - 50

SUPERIOR - 52

THE LITTLE BIG MAN 54

TWELVE O'CLOCK- 57

AUTHORSHIP - 58

THE WICKED POSTMAN 60

THE HERO 62

THE END 66

THE RECALL 68

THE FIRST JASMINES 70



Contents ix



PAGE



THE BANYAN TREE 72

BENEDICTION - .... 74

THE GIFT 76

MY SONG 78

THE CHILD- ANGEL 79

THE LAST BARGAIN 81



LIST OF
COLOURED ILLUSTRATIONS

FRONTISPIECE

THE HOME To face p. 1

THE BEGINNING 15

FAIRYLAND 31

PAPER BOATS - 38

THE MERCHANT 47

THE HERO 62

f

BENEDICTION - - - - 74



INDEX OF THE FIRST LINES

PAGE

Ah, these jasmines 70

Ah, who was it coloured that little frock .... 9

Bless this little heart 74

Child, how happy you are sitting in the dust ... 23

Come and hire me 81

Day by day I float my paper boats 38

I am small because I am a little child . ... 54

If baby only wanted to, he could fly 7

If I were only a little puppy 49

If people came to know where my King's palace is 31

I long to go over there 42

Imagine, mother 47

I only said, "When in the evening" 25

I paced alone 1

It is time for me to go, mother 66

I want to give you something, my child . . . . 76

I wish I could take a quiet corner 17

Mother, I do want to leave off my lessons ... 57

Mother, let us imagine we are travelling .... 62

Mother, the folk who live up in the clouds ... 27

Mother, the light has grown grey S3

xi



xii Index of the First Lines

PAGE

Mother, your baby is silly 52

On the seashore of endless worlds $

O you shaggy-headed banyan tree 72

Say of him what you please 22

Sullen clouds are gathering 36

Supposing I became a champa flower 29

The boat of the boatman Madhu 40

The night was dark when we went away ... 68

The sleep that flits on baby's eyes 5

They clamour and fight 79

This song of mine 78

When I bring you coloured toys 18

When storm clouds 45

When the gong sounds ten 50

Where have I come from 15

Who stole sleep from baby's eyes . . . . . . . 12

Why are those tears in your eyes, my child ... 20

Why do you sit there on the floor 60

You say that father writes a lot of books . . . . 58



THE CRESCENT MOON




THE HOME.

From a drawing by Nandalall Bosc.



THE HOME

I PACED alone on the road across the
field while the sunset was hiding its
last gold like a miser.

The daylight sank deeper and deeper into
the darkness, and the widowed land, whose
harvest had been reaped, lay silent.

Suddenly a boy's shrill voice rose into the
sky. He traversed the dark unseen, leaving
the track of his song across the hush of the
evening.

His village home lay there at the end of
the waste land, beyond the sugar-cane field,
hidden among the shadows of the banana
and the slender areca palm, the cocoa-nut and
the dark green jack- fruit trees.

I stopped for a moment in my lonely way
under the starlight, and saw spread before

1



2 The Crescent Moon

me the darkened earth surrounding with her

arms countless homes furnished with cradles
and beds, mothers' hearts and evening lamps,

and young lives glad with a gladness that
knows nothing of its value for the world.



Child-Poems 3



ON THE SEASHORE

ON the seashore of endless worlds children
meet.

The infinite sky is motionless overhead
and the restless water is boisterous. On the
seashore of endless worlds the children meet
with shouts and dances.

They build their houses with sand, and
they play with empty shells. With withere^
leaves they weave their boats and smilingly
float them on the vast deep. Children have
their play on the seashore of worlds.

They know not how to swim, they know
not how to cast nets. Pearl-fishers dive for
pearls, merchants sail in their ships, while
children gather pebbles and scatter them



4 The Crescent Moon

again. They seek not for hidden treasures,
they know not how to cast nets.

The sea surges up with laughter, and pale
gleams the smile of the sea-beach. Death-
dealing waves sing meaningless ballads to the
children, even like a mother while rocking
her baby's cradle. The sea plays with chil-
dren, and pale gleams the smile of the sea-
beach.

On the seashore of endless worlds children
meet. Tempest roams in the pathless sky,
ships are wrecked in the trackless water,
death is abroad and children play. On the
seashore of endless worlds is the great meeting
of children.



Child-Poems 5



THE SOURCE

THE sleep that flits on baby's eyes does
anybody know from where it comes?
Yes, there is a rumour that it has its dwelling
where, in the fairy village among shadows of
the forest dimly lit with glow-worms, there
hang two shy buds of enchantment. From
there it comes to kiss baby's eyes.

The smile that flickers on baby's lips when
he sleeps does anybody know where it was
born? Yes, there is a rumour that a young
pale beam of a crescent moon touched the
edge of a vanishing autumn cloud, and there
the smile was first born in the dream of a
dew-washed morning the smile that flickers
on baby's lips when he sleeps.

The sweet, soft freshness that blooms on
baby's limbs does anybody know where it



6 The Crescent Moon

was hidden so long? Yes, when the mother
was a young girl it lay pervading her heart
in tender and silent mystery of love the
sweet, soft freshness that has bloomed on
baby's limbs.



Child-Poems



BABY'S WAY

IF baby only wanted to, he could fly up to
heaven this moment.

It is not for nothing that he does not
leave us.

He loves to rest his head on mother's bosom,
and cannot ever bear to lose sight of her.

Baby knows all manner of wise words,
though few on earth can understand their
meaning.

It is not for nothing that he never wants
to speak.

The one thing he wants is to learn mother's
words from mother's lips. That is why he
looks so innocent.

Baby had a heap of gold and pearls, yet
he came like a beggar on to this earth.



8 The Crescent Moon

It is not for nothing he came in such a
disguise.

This dear little naked mendicant pretends
to be utterly helpless, so that he may beg
for mother's wealth of love.

Baby was so free from every tie in the land
of the tiny crescent moon.

It was not for nothing he gave up his
freedom.

He knows that there is room for endless
joy in mother's little corner of a heart, and
it is sweeter far than liberty to be caught
and pressed in her dear arms.

Baby never knew how to cry. He dwelt
in the land of perfect bliss.

It is not for nothing he has chosen to shed
tears.

Though with the smile of his dear face he
draws mother's yearning heart to him, yet his
little cries over tiny troubles weave the double
bond of pity and love,



Child-Poems 9



THE UNHEEDED PAGEANT

AH, who was it coloured that little frock,
my child, and covered your sweet limbs
with that little red tunic?

You have come out in the morning to
play in the courtyard, tottering and tumbling

as you run.

But who was it coloured that little frock,

my child?

What is it makes you laugh, my little life-
bud?

Mother smiles at you standing on the
threshold.

She claps her hands and her bracelets
jingle, and you dance with your bamboo
stick in your hand like a tiny little shep-
herd,



10 The Crescent Moon

But what is it makes you laugh, my little
life-bud?

O beggar, what do you beg for, clinging
to your mother's neck with both your
hands ?

O greedy heart, shall I pluck the world
like a fruit from the sky to place it on your
little rosy palm?

O beggar, what are you begging for?

-,

The wind carries away in glee the tinkling
of your anklet bells.

The sun smiles and watches your toilet.

The sky watches over you when you sleep
in your mother's arms, and the morning
comes tiptoe to your bed and kisses your eyes.

The wind carries away in glee the tinkling
of your anklet bells.

The fairy mistress of dreams is coming
towards you, flying through the twilight sky.



Child-Poems 11

The world-mother keeps her seat by you
in your mother's heart.

He who plays his music to the stars is
standing at your window with his flute.

And the fairy mistress of dreams is coming
towards you, flying through the twilight sky.



12 The Crescent Moon



SLEEP-STEALER

WHO stole sleep from baby's eyes? I
must know.

Clasping her pitcher to her waist, mother
went to fetch water from the village near by.

It was noon. The children's playtime
was over; the ducks in the pond were
silent.

The shepherd boy lay asleep under the
shadow of the banyan tree.

The crane stood grave and still in the swamp
near the mango grove.

In the meanwhile the Sleep-stealer came
and, snatching sleep from baby's eyes, flew
away.

When mother came back she found baby
travelling the room over on all fours.



Child-Poems 13

Who stole sleep from our baby's eyes? I
must know. I must find her and chain
her up.

I must look into that dark cave, where,
through boulders and scowling stones, trickles
a tiny stream.

I must search in the drowsy shade of the
bakula grove, where pigeons coo in their
corner, and fairies' anklets tinkle in the still-
ness of starry nights.

In the evening I will peep into the whisper-
ing silence of the bamboo forest, where fire-
flies squander their light, and will ask every
creature I meet, "Can anybody tell me where
the Sleep-stealer lives?"

Who stole sleep from baby's eyes? I must
know.

Shouldn't I give her a good lesson if I could
only catch her!

I would raid her nest and see where she
hoards all her stolen sleep.



14 The Crescent Moon

I would plunder it all, and carry it home.

I would bind her two wings securely, set
her on the bank of the river, and then let
her play at fishing with a reed among the

rushes and water-lilies.

When the marketing is over in the evening,

and the village children sit in their mothers'
laps, then the night birds will mockingly din
her ears with :

"Whose sleep will you steal now?"




THE BEGINNING.

'From a dnwing I'y A sit Kinaar llaldar,



Child-Poems 15



W



THE BEGINNING

HERE have I come from, where did
you pick me up?" the baby asked
its mother.

She answered half crying, half laughing,
and clasping the baby to her breast,

"You were hidden in my heart as its
desire, my darling.

You were in the dolls of my childhood's
games; and when with clay I made the
image of my god every morning, I made and
unmade you then.

You were enshrined with our household
deity, in his worship I worshipped you.

In all my hopes and my loves, in my life,
in the life of my mother you have lived.

In the lap of the deathless Spirit who rules
our home you have been nursed for ages.



16 The Crescent Moon

When in girlhood my heart was opening
its petals, you hovered as a fragrance about
it.

Your tender softness bloomed in my youth-
ful limbs, like a glow in the sky before the
sunrise.

Heaven's first darling, twin-born with the
morning light, you have floated down the
stream of the world's life, and at last you
have stranded on my heart.

As I gaze on your face, mystery over-
whelms me; you who belong to all have
become mine.

For fear of losing you I hold you tight to
my breast. What magic has snared the
world's treasure in these slender arms of
mine?"



Child-Poems 17



BABY'S WORLD

I WISH I could take a quiet corner in the
heart of my baby's very own world.
I know it has stars that talk to him, and
a sky that stoops down to his face to amuse
him with its silly clouds and rainbows.

Those who make believe to be dumb, and
look as if they never could move, come creep-
ing to his window with their stories and with
trays crowded with bright toys.

I wish I could travel by the road that crosses
baby's mind, and out beyond all bounds ;

Where messengers run errands for no cause
between the kingdoms of kings of no history;

Where Reason makes kites of her laws and
flies them, and Truth sets Fact free from its
fetters.



18 The Crescent Moon



WHEN AND WHY

WHEN I bring you coloured toys, my
child, I understand why there is such
a play of colours on clouds, on water, and
why flowers are painted in tints when I give
coloured toys to you, my child.

When I sing to make you dance, I truly
know why there is music in leaves, and why
waves send their chorus of voices to the heart
of the listening earth when I sing to make
you dance.

When I bring sweet things to your greedy
hands, I know why there is honey in the cup
of the flower, and why fruits are secretly
filled with sweet juice when I bring sweet
things to your greedy hands.

When I kiss your face to make you smile,
my darling, I surely understand what pleasure



Child-Poems 19

streams from the sky in morning light, and
what delight the summer breeze brings to my
body when I kiss you to make you smile.



20 The Crescent Moon



DEFAMATION

WHY are those tears in your eyes, my
child?

How horrid of them to be always scolding
you for nothing!

You have stained your fingers and face
with ink while writing is that why they
call you dirty?

O, fie! Would they dare to call the full
moon dirty because it has smudged its face
with ink?

For every little trifle they blame you, my
child. They are ready to find fault for
nothing.

You tore your clothes while playing is
that why they call you untidy?

O, fie! What would they call an autumn



Child-Poems 21

morning that smiles through its ragged
clouds ?

Take no heed of what they say to you,
my child.

They make a long list of your misdeeds.
Everybody knows how you love sweet

things is that why they call you greedy?

O, fie! What then would they call us who
love you?



The Crescent Moon



THE JUDGE

SAY of him what you please, but I know
my child's failings.

I do not love him because he is good, but
because he is my little child.

How should you know how dear he can be
when you try to weigh his merits against his
faults?

When I must punish him he becomes all the
more a part of my being.

When I cause his tears to come my heart
weeps with him.

I alone have a right to blame and punish,
for he only may chastise who loves.



Child-Poems 23




PLAYTHINGS

i

HILD, how happy you are sitting in
the dust, playing with a broken twig all
the morning.

I smile at your play with that little bit of a
broken twig.

I am busy with my accounts, adding up fig-
ures by the hour.

Perhaps you glance at me and think,
'What a stupid game to spoil your morning
with!"

Child, I have forgotten the art of being
absorbed in sticks and mud-pies.

I seek out costly playthings, and gather
lumps of gold and silver.

With whatever you find you create your
glad games, I spent both my time and
my strength over things I never can obtain*



24 The Crescent Moon

In my frail canoe I struggle to cross the
sea of desire, and forget that I too am playing

a game.



Child-Poems 25



THE ASTRONOMER

I ONLY said, "When in the evening the
round full moon gets entangled among
the branches of that Kadam tree, couldn't
somebody catch it?"

But dada 1 laughed at me and said,
"Baby, you are the silliest child I have ever
known. The moon is ever so far from us,
how could anybody catch it?"

I said, "Dada, how foolish you are!
When mother looks out of her window and
smiles down at us playing, would you call her
far away?"

Still dada said, "You are a stupid child!
But, baby, where could you find a net big
enough to catch the moon with?"

I said, "Surely you could catch it with
your hands."

1 Elder brother.



26 The Crescent Moon

But dada laughed and said, "You are the
silliest child I have known. If it came
nearer, you would see how big the moon is."

I said, "Dada, what nonsense they teach
at vour school ! When mother bends her face

V

down to kiss us does her face look very big?"
But still dada says, "You are a stupid
child."



Child-Poems 27




CLOUDS AND WAVES

OTHER, the folk who live up in the

clouds call out to me-
"We play from the time we wake till the
day ends.

We play with the golden dawn, we play

^

with the silver moon."

I ask, ''But, how am I to get up to you?"

They answer, "Come to the edge of the
earth, lift up your hands to the sky, and you
will be taken up into the clouds."

"My mother is waiting for me at home,"
I say. "How can I leave her and come?"

Then they smile and float away.

But I know a nicer game than that, mother.



I shall be the cloud and you the moon.
I shall cover you with both my hands, and
our house-top will be the blue sky.



28 The Crescent Moon

The folk who live in the waves call out to
me

"We sing from morning till night; on
and on we travel and know not where we
pass."

I ask, "But, how am I to join you?"

They tell me, "Come to the edge of the
shore and stand with your eyes tight shut,
and you will be carried out upon the waves."

I say, "My mother always wants me at
home in the evening how can I leave her
and go?"

Then they smile, dance and pass by.

But I know a better game than that.

I will be the waves and you will be a
strange shore.

I shall roll on and on and on, and break
upon your lap with laughter.

And no one in the world will know where
we both are.



Child-Poems 29



THE CHAMPA FLOWER

SUPPOSING I became a champa flower,
just for fun, and grew on a branch
high up that tree, and shook in the wind with
laughter and danced upon the newly budded
leaves, would you know me, mother?

You would call, "Baby, where are you?"

and I should laugh to myself and keep quite
quiet.

I should slyly open my petals and watch
you at your work.

When after your bath, with wet hair
spread on your shoulders, you walked through
the shadow of the champa tree to the little
court where you say your prayers, you
would notice the scent of the flower, but not
know that it came from me.

When after the midday meal you sat at the



30 The Crescent Moon

window reading Ramayana, and the tree's
shadow fell over your hair and your lap, I
should fling my wee little shadow on to the
page of your book, just \vhere you were
reading.

But would you guess that it was the tiny
shadow of your little child ?

When in the evening you went to the cow-
shed with the lighted lamp in your hand, I
should suddenly drop on to the earth again
and be your own baby once more, and beg
you to tell me a story.

'Where have you been, you naughty
child?"

"I won't tell you, mother." That's what
you and I would say then.




FAIRYLAND.

a dni".'ing by Abanindranath



Child-Poems 31



FAIRYLAND

IF people came to know where my king's
palace is, it would vanish into the air.

The walls are of white silver and the roof
of shining gold.

The queen lives in a palace with seven
courtyards, and she wears a jewel that cost all
the wealth of seven kingdoms.

But, let me tell you, mother, in a whisper,
where my king's palace is.

It is at the corner of our terrace where the
pot of the tulsi plant stands.

The princess lies sleeping on the far-away
shore of the seven impassable seas.

There is none in the world who can find
her but myself.

She has bracelets on her arms and pearl



32 The Crescent Moon

drops in her ears; her hair sweeps down
upon the floor.

She will wake when I touch her with my
magic wand, and jewels will fall from her
lips when she smiles.

But let me whisper in your ear, mother;
she is there in the corner of our terrace
where the pot of the tulsi plant stands.

When it is time for you to go to the river
for your bath, step up to that terrace on the
roof.

I sit on the corner where the shadows of
the walls meet together.

Only puss is allowed to come with me, for
she knows where the barber in the story
lives.

But let me whisper, mother, in your ear
where the barber in the story lives.

It is at the corner of the terrace where the
pot of the tulsi plant stands.



Child-Poems 33



THE LAND OF THE EXILE

MOTHER, the light has grown grey in
the sky; I do not know what the
time is.

There is no fun in my play, so I have come
to you. It is Saturday, our holiday.

Leave off your work, mother; sit here by
the window and tell me where the desert of
Tepantar in the fairy tale is?

The shadow of the rains has covered the
day from end to end.

The fierce lightning is scratching the sky
with its nails.

When the clouds rumble and it thunders, I
love to be afraid in my heart and cling to you.

When the heavy rain patters for hours on
the bamboo leaves, and our windows shake



34 The Crescent Moon

and rattle at the gusts of wind, I like to sit
alone in the room, mother, with you, and hear
you talk about the desert of Tepantar in the
fairy tale.

Where is it, mother, on the shore of what
sea, at the foot of what hills, in the kingdom
of what king?

There are no hedges there to mark the
fields, no footpath across it by which the
villagers reach their village in the evening,
or the woman who gathers dry sticks in
the forest can bring her load to the market.
With patches of yellow grass in the sand
and only one tree where the pair of wise
old birds have their nest, lies the desert of
Tepantar.

I can imagine how, on just such a cloud) T
day, the young son of the king is riding alone
on a grey horse through the desert, in search of
the princess who lies imprisoned in the giant's
palace across that unknown water.



Child-Poems 35

When the haze of the rain comes down in
the distant sky, and lightning starts up like
a sudden fit of pain, does he remember his
unhappy mother, abandoned by the king,
sweeping the cow-stall and wiping her eyes,
while he rides through the desert of Tepantar
in the fairy tale?

See, mother, it is almost dark before the day
is over, and there are no travellers yonder on
the village road.

The shepherd boy has gone home early
from the pasture, and men have left their
fields to sit on mats under the eaves of their
huts, watching the scowling clouds.

Mother, I have left all my books on the
shelf do not ask me to do my lessons
now.

When I grow up and am big like my father,
I shall learn all that must be learnt.

But just for to-day, tell me, mother, where
the desert of Tepantar in the fairy tale is ?



36 The Crescent Moon




THE RAINY DAY

ULLEN clouds are gathering fast over

the black fringe of the forest. .
O child, do not go out !
The palm trees in a row by the lake are
smiting their heads against the dismal sky;
the crows with their draggled wings are silent
on the tamarind branches, and the eastern
bank of the river is haunted by a deepening
gloom.

Our cow is lowing loud, tied at the fence.

O child, wait here till I bring her into the
stall.

Men have crowded into the flooded field to
catch the fishes as they escape from the over-
flowing ponds; the rain \vater is running in
rills through the narrow lanes like a laughing



Child-Poems 37

boy who has run away from his mother to
tease her.

Listen, someone is shouting for the boat-
man at the ford.

O child, the daylight is dim, and the crossing
at the ferry is closed.

The sky seems to ride fast upon the madly-
rushing rain; the water in the river is loud
and impatient; women have hastened home
early from the Ganges with their filled
pitchers.

The evening lamps must be made ready.

O child, do not go out!

The road to the market is desolate, the
lane to the river is slippery. The wind is


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