The Gardener 66

Original Text: 
Rabindranath Tagore, The Gardener (New York: Macmillan, 1913): 111-13. PR 6039 A2G3 Robarts Library
1A wandering madman was seeking the touchstone, with matted locks, tawny and dust-laden, and body worn to a shadow, his lips tight-pressed, like the shut-up doors of his heart, his burning eyes like the lamp of a glow-worm seeking its mate.
2Before him the endless ocean roared.
3The garrulous waves ceaselessly talked of hidden treasures, mocking the ignorance that knew not their meaning.
4Maybe he now had no hope remaining, yet he would not rest, for the search had become his life, --
5Just as the ocean for ever lifts its arms to the sky for the unattainable --
6Just as the stars go in circles, yet seeking a goal that can never be reached --
7Even so on the lonely shore the madman with dusty tawny locks still roamed in search of the touchstone.
8One day a village boy came up and asked, "Tell me, where did you come at this golden chain about your waist?"
9The madman started -- the chain that once was iron was verily gold; it was not a dream, but he did not know when it had changed.
10He struck his forehead wildly -- where, O where had he without knowing it achieved success?
11It had grown into a habit, to pick up pebbles and touch the chain, and to throw them away without looking to see if a change had come; thus the madman found and lost the touchstone.
12The sun was sinking low in the west, the sky was of gold.
13The madman returned on his footsteps to seek anew the lost treasure, with his strength gone, his body bent, and his heart in the dust, like a tree uprooted.
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire