The Golden Boat
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Poetry Book Index
translated by William Radice
"Who will buy me, who will buy me, rid me of my cares?"
Thus I shout and thus I wander through my nights and days;
And with each day that passes
My basket presses
Upon my head more heavily.
People come and go: some laugh; some watch me tearfully.
At noon I make my way along the king's great stone-paved road,
And soon he comes in his chariot, sword in hand, crown on his
"I'll buy by force," he says
And grabs me, tries
To drag me off. I wriggle free
With ease; the king climbs into his golden chariot and rides
In small back lanes I wander past bolted and shuttered doors.
A door opens; an old man with a money-bag appears.
He examines what I have
And Says, "I'll give
You gold." He returns again and again,
Empties his purse. With far-off thoughts I carry my basket
At evening over the richly blossoming florest moonbeams fall.
Near to the base of a bakul-tree I meet a beautiful girl.
She edges close: "My smile
Will make you sell,"
She says. Her smile soon turns to weeping.
Slowly, softly she moves away into the woodland gloaming.
Along the sea-shore the sun shines, the sea breaks and rolls.
A child is on the sandy beach: he sits playing with shells.
He seems to know me; he says,
"I'll buy your cares
For nothing." Suddenly I am released
From my heavy load; his playful face has won me free of cost.
translated by William Radice
Clouds rumbling in th sky; teeming rain.
I sit on the river bank, sad and alone.
The sheaves lie gathered, harvest
The river is swollen and fierce in its flow.
As we cut the paddy it started to rain.
One small paddy-field, no one but me -
Flood-waters twisting and swirling everywhere.
Trees on the far bank smear
shadows like ink
On a village painted on deep morning grey.
On this side a paddy-field, no one but me.
Who is this, steering close to the shore
Singing? I feel that she is someone I know.
The sails are filled wide, she
Waves break helplessly against the boat each side.
I watch and feel I have seen her face before.
Oh to what foreign land do you sail?
Come to the bank and moor your boat for a while.
Go where you want to, give
where you care to,
But come to the bank a moment, show your smile -
Take away my golden paddy when you sail.
Take it, take as much as you can load.
Is there more? No, none, I have put it aboard.
My intense labour here
by the river -
I have parted with it all, layer upon layer;
Now take me as well, be kind, take me aboard.
No room, no room, the boat is too small.
Loaded with my gold paddy, the boat is full.
Across the rain-sky clouds
heave to and fro,
On the bare river-bank, I remain alone -
What had has gone: the golden boat took all.
This song of mine will wind its
music around you,
my child, like the fond arms of love.
The song of mine will touch your
like a kiss of blessing.
When you are alone it will sit
by your side and
whisper in your ear, when you are in the crowd
it will fence you about with aloofness.
My song will be like a pair of
wings to your dreams,
it will transport your heart to the verge of the unknown.
It will be like the faithful
when dark night is over your road.
My song will sit in the pupils
of your eyes,
and sill carry your sight into the heart of things.
And when my voice is silenced
my song will speak in your living heart.
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