Basanta Panchami

translated from the Bengali by Lilian M. Whitehouse

To-day, after a year, on the sacred fifth day, Nature has flung away her worn raiment, and with new jewels, see, with fresh buds and new shoots she has begemmed herself and smiles. The birds wing their way, singing with joy; ah, how lovely! The black bee hums as if with sound of “Ulu! ulu!” he wished good fortune to Nature. The south breeze seems to say as it flits from house to house, “To-day Bīnāpāni comes here to Bengal.” Arrayed in guise that would enrapture even sages, maid Nature has come to worship thy feet, O propitious one! See, O India, at this time all pay no heed to fear of plague, famine, earthquake; all put away pain and grief and gloom; to-day all are drunk with pleasure. For a year Nature was waiting in hope for this day to come. Many folk in many a fashion now summon thee, O white-armed one; I also have a mind to worship. Thy two feet are red lotuses; but, say, with what gift shall we worship thee, O mother Bināpāni? Ever sorrowful, ever ill-starred are we women of Bengal, all of us. Yet if thou have mercy, this utterly dependent one will worship thee with the gift of a single tear of devotion shed on thy lotus feet. Graciously accept that, and in mercy, O white-armed one, grant this blessing on my head on this propitious, sacred day, that this life may be spent in thy worship, Mother.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 13, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.