The Fallen Flower
BY KUMARAN ASAN
(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
An’ stirred by the gentle gale the leaves
Lisp’d low and long thy lullaby.
Bathing in the milky moon-light
And sporting in the morning sun
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
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
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
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.