Daily Archives: January 16, 2011

Sunday Poem 71

Sarojini Chattopadhyay was born in Hyderabad in1879 the eldest of a large family, all of whom were taught English at an early age.

When she was 14 she fell in love with Dr. Govindurajulu Naidu who, though of an old and honourable family, was not a Brahmin. The difference of caste aroused huge opposition from both their families, and in 1895 she was sent to England, against her will. She remained in England until 1898, studying first at King’s College, London, then, till her health broke down, at Girton.  She returned to Hyderabad in September 1898, and in the December of that year, to the scandal of all India, broke through the bonds of caste, and married Dr. Naidu.

During her stay in England she met Arthur Symons, a poet and critic. They corresponded after her return to India and he persuaded her to publish some of her poems in 1905 under the title “Golden Threshold”.  Her poems had English words, but an Indian soul.

Then in 1916, she met Mahatma Gandhi, and the independence of India became the heart and soul of her work.  She directed a lot of her energies into improving the plight of Indian women, and campaigning for their rights in much the same way as was happening in England.

In 1928, she went to the USA with the message of the non-violence movement from Gandhi and when in 1930 he was arrested, she carried on his work.  She was jailed in 1942 during the “Quit India” protest.  After independence she became the first ever woman governor of Uttar Pradesh.  She died in 1949.

Song Of A Dream – by Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949)

Once in the dream of a night I stood
Lone in the light of a magical wood,
Soul-deep in visions that poppy-like sprang;
And spirits of Truth were the birds that sang,
And spirits of Love were the stars that glowed,
And spirits of Peace were the streams that flowed
In that magical wood in the land of sleep.

Lone in the light of that magical grove,
I felt the stars of the spirits of Love
Gather and gleam round my delicate youth,
And I heard the song of the spirits of Truth;
To quench my longing I bent me low
By the streams of the spirits of Peace that flow
In that magical wood in the land of sleep.

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