The night darkened. Our day’s works had been done. We thought that the last guest had arrived for the night and the doors in the village were all shut. Only some said, The king was to come. We laughed and said “No, it cannot be!”
It seemed there were knocks at the door and we said it was nothing but the wind. We put out the lamps and lay down to sleep. Only some said, “It is the messenger!” We laughed and said “No, it must be the wind!”
There came a sound in the dead of the night. We sleepily thought it was the distant thunder. The earth shook, the walls rocked and it troubled us in our sleep. Only some said, it was the sound of wheels. We said in a drowsy murmur, “No, it must be the rumbling of clouds!”
The night was still dark when the drum sounded. The voice came “Wake up! delay not!” We pressed our hands on our hearts and shuddered with fear. Some said, “Lo, there is the king’s flag!” We stood up on our feet and cried “There is no time for delay!”
The king has come—but where are lights, where are wreaths? Where is the throne to seat him? Oh, shame! Oh utter shame! Where is the hall, the decorations? Some one has said, “Vain is this cry! Greet him with empty hands, lead him into thy rooms all bare!”
Open the doors, let the conch-shells be sounded! In the depth of the night has come the king of our dark, dreary house. The thunder roars in the sky. The darkness shudders with lightning. Bring out thy tattered piece of mat and spread it in the courtyard. With the storm has come of a sudden our king of the fearful night.
From Gitanjali (Macmillan and Company, 1916) by Rabindranath Tagore. This poem is in the public domain.