A fine fragrance comes forth from my heart barren and dry,
now wet with the fresh tears of grief,
as from the summer-scorched dust
soaked in the first draughts of the rain of May.
“Unchanged art thou, O young green grass!
when thou standest fearlessly in the wild forest-paths,
though venomous snakes oft creep and crawl over thee:
but why dost thou fade away so soon
at the tender touch of the feet of men?”
“Venom resides in men, not in snakes;
and it makes me fade and fall!”
Trust not this will west wind, O dust!
Pray, rise not from thy seat to honour him.
With the lashes of rain-showers will he whip thee,
and send thee back unto the earth.
In the hot heavy sigh of the poor
hides a dangerous storm
that will destroy the high peaks of wealth and power;
in the small tear-drop of the oppressed
is concealed an angry sea
that will deluge the whole world.
As the petals of a white lotus fall,
scattered by a nymph from heaven,
these cranes alight on the green rice-field.
Dawn comes from the east,
laden with heaps of golden glow,
like a shy village-girl
carrying bundles of newly-reaped ripe yellow corn on her head.
* Selected and translated into English prose from various original Malayalam lyrics published by the author.