Two birds

Rabindranath Tagore

Translated from the original Bengali by

Palash Baran Pal

The pet bird was in a golden cage,
The wild bird in the woods.
And yet one day they met each other,
How strange are Lord God's moods.
The wild bird said, "O cage-bird, come
Fly to the woods with me."
The pet bird said, "Wild bird, my friend,
We can live here happily."
The wild bird said, "No no!
I'll hate life inside a jail."
The pet bird said, "Dear me!
If I try to go out, I'll fail."

The wild bird sang many songs from the woods
Sitting outside the cage,
The pet bird chirped some words memorized
In a different language.
The wild bird said, "O cage-bird, come,
I'll teach you a few wild songs."
The pet bird said, "Why don't you learn
Cage tunes, and sing along."
The wild bird said, "No no!
I don't sing songs that are taught."
The pet bird said, "Dear me!
Your wild songs I know not."

The wild bird said, "The sky's deep blue,
It bounds you nowhere, ever."
The pet bird said, "This cage is nice,
How cosy is its cover."
The wild bird said, "Among the clouds
You can let yourself be free."
The pet bird said, "In your own little home
Your heart will fill with glee."
The wild bird said, "No no!
In a cage I can't fly!"
The pet bird said, "Dear me!
There's no perch in the sky."

Thus the two birds felt a deep love,
Yet could not be together.
Across the rails they touched their beaks,
And sadly viewed each other.
None could follow the other's words,
Or voice own feelings clearly.
They flapped their wings, and told each other,
"Please, come closer to me."
The wild bird said, "No no!
What if they shut the cage door?"
The pet bird said, "Dear me!
I can't fly anymore."

19 AshaRh, BE 1299

The original poem is included in the collection 'Sonar Tori' (সোনার তরী)

The translator wants to thank Sukanta Chaudhuri for his comments on an earlier draft.

Translated by Palash Baran Pal.

Illustrated by Nilanjana Basu. Nilanjana has been regularly illustrating for Parabaas. She is currently based in California.


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