To a Dead Crow

Original Text: 
The Golden Treasury of Indo-Anglian Poetry 1828-1965, ed. Vinayak Kristna Gokak (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1970): 7-9. PR 1174 G6 1970 Robarts Library
1Gay minstrel of the Indian clime!
2How oft at morning's rosy prime
3When thou didst sing in caw, caw numbers,
4Vexed I've awoke from my sweet slumbers,
5And to avoid that hateful sound,
6That plagues a head howe'er profound,
7Have walked out in my garden, where
9Sweet lilies, jasmines, roses bloom,
10Far from those trees within whose gloom
11Of foliage thick, thou hadst thy nest
12From daily toil at night to rest.
13Now lifeless on the earth, cold, bare,
14Devoid alike of joy and care,
15The offals of my meal no more
16Attract thee as they did before.
17There's rubbish scattered round thee, but
18Thy heart is still, thine eyes are shut.
19No more that blunt yet useful beak
20From carcases thy food can seek,
21Or catch the young unheeding mouse,
22Which from the flooring of my house
23Urged by its hapless luck, would stray
24And bask beneath the solar ray.
25Gay minstrel! ne'er had Death before
26Its dart destructive, sharpened more
27To pierce a gayer, mortal heart
28Than thine, which ah! hath felt the smart!
29Though life no more is warm in thee,
30Yet thou dost look as though 't may be
31That life in thee is full and warm;
32Not cruel death could mar thy form:
33Thy features, one and all, possess
34Still, still their former ugliness.
35They are in truth the very same
37Oh! may when death hath closed these eyes,
38And freed from earthly bondage, flies
39The spirit to eternity,
40Stretched at full length I lie like thee,
41On mother earth's cold lap, so ne'er
42To spin such verses out I'll dare,
43And please the public ear again
44With such discordant, silly strain,
45As thou didst once delight to pour
46At morn or noon, or evening hour.
47In sooth I promise this shall be
48My last line in addressing thee.


8] tank: reservoir of drinking water. Back to Line
36] the Indian Crow (corvus splendens), a scavenger extremely common in India. In a story titled the "Baveru Jataka," Indian merchants brought a crow to Babylon and sold it to the delighted natives, who had never seen any bird. They treated it with luxuries until the merchants returned with a peacock, who immediately supplanted the crow in the favours of Babylon. No longer receiving any honour or treats, the crow flew off to sit on a dunghill. See The Jataka: or, Stories of the Buddha's Former Births, ed. E. B. Cowell (1895; London: Luzac, for Pali Text Society, 1969), III, trans. from Pali by H. T. Francis and R. A. Neil (BQ 1460 .E5C68 1969 Trinity College Library). Back to Line
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RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
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