The Fallen Flower


(Translated from MALAYALAM by Manjeri S. Isvaran)

Translator’s Note: -

(Born April, 1870 in Kayikkara, Trivandrum, the Poet received his early education in the village school; he studied for a while in the Sanskrit College, Mysore, and later in the Sanskrit College, Calcutta. An ardent social reformer, he was a member of the Sri Mulam Popular Assembly and Secretary for over fifteen years of the S. N. D. P. Yogam. During this time he edited Vivekodayam. In recognition of his greatness as a poet he was presented with a silk shawl and a gold medal by H. R. H. the Prince of Wales. He died in January 1924, in the Redeemer boat disaster in Pallana off Cochin. Kumaran Asan is pre-eminently a poet of the cultured few. He shares with one or two other poets of Kerala the credit of bringing the "Romantic School" in Malayalam Poetry to a high level of excellence. For their haunting melody, calm intensity and deep austerity of thought his poems are unique. They include: The Flower Garden, The Fallen Flower, The Nightingale, Leela, Seeta, and Nalini).

Ah, lovely bloom! once thou didst shine

High like a Queen!

How sad thou liest now in dust

Shorn of thy sheen!

Inconstant is Fortune on earth,

Impermanent is Loveliness.

Dearly the creeper gave thee birth

And tended thee

Within its leafy bosom soft

So lovingly,

An’ stirred by the gentle gale the leaves

Lisp’d low and long thy lullaby.

Bathing in the milky moon-light

Full heartily,

And sporting in the morning sun

Serene, care-free,

Daily thy childhood thou didst spend

Amid the blithesome buds and bright.

Thou learnt'st the songs of birds of morn

With deep delight,

Thou learnt'st Life's secret upon earth,

During the night

Lifting thy eager little head

Toward the twinkling crowd of stars.

And growing thus thy features showed

Charms exquisite;

Thy countenance did slowly change,

Thy cheeks were lit

O Flower! with a new-born light,

A new-born smile through them did flit.

Lovesome loveliness, purity,

Meekness and sheen,–

Such fleckless attributes of Youth

To things terrene

Do they compare? ’twas a sight to see

Thy glorious state of golden prime.


Alas! alas! my darling bloom,

Upon thee Death

He placed His pitiless hands and froze

Thy perfumed breath;

Doth a hunter i’ the wood-land reck

A vulture or a dove he kills?

The lustre of thy lovely limbs

Grew faint and fled,

And o'er thy shining visage sweet

A pallor spread;

Life's oil dried, fast wither'd thou

Life's flame in thee fticker'd and died.

Blown by the morning breeze adown

The spiry stem

O Flower, thou fell! O couldst thou be

A bright star-gem?

Or a Being come upon earth.

Content with drinking bliss divine?


Thy soul that boundless greatness holds

Though it lay low

Upon the dust like to a pearl

Void of its glow,

Thy beauty's glorious gloriole

Unshorn did seem to shine alway.

And soon small spiders wove thy white

Soft silken shroud,

And Dawn with tender hands did deck

(In death yet proud),–

Thee with a chaplet gaily strung

With dew-drops like to peerless pearls.

And grief-struck at thy fall the stars

I’ dewy tears rain,

Whilst from the densely-leafed trees

Sparrows in pain

Do drop on earth and clust'ring thee

They chirp a shrill continual wail.


Behold! what dread disaster dire

Has come apace;

And dolour that would melt a stone

Bedims Day's face;

The Sun slides down the mountain slope

Pale sorrowing; the Wind sighs deep.

O why wert thou so rich-bestowed

With virtues great?

O why shouldst thou be smitten thus

By baleful Fate?

Who could fathom the mystery

Of Creation? the good die soon.


To grieve is vain: upon the earth

Misfortune kills

All joy sometimes; and deathless Soul

The Body fills

And whatsoe'er a Shape assumes

Through the Infinite Power of God.

Like as a star that slowly sets

In th’ Western Sea

And rises o'er the Eastern Mount

I’ white jubilee,

O Flower! thou may'st on Meru great

Bloom on the Kalpak branch again.


The Vedic utterances wise

To us give peace;

Only to people ignorant

Self-torture is

Solace in sooth. Keep faith in such;

The rest as God ordains will be.

O Eye-lids! fold on humid eyes

For soon this bloom

Will shrivel, rot and turn to dust;

This is the doom

For all; and what can tears avail?

Alas! our life is but a dream.