Today's Beautiful Gem: `Our Casuarina Tree' by Toru Dutt.

         Yesterday, I posted an English poem by perhaps the first
Indo-Anglian poet. Who is the first Indo-Anglian poetess? It is
one of the Dutt sisters. However, I am not sure whether it is Toru
Dutt or Aru Dutt. Aru is the elder of the two. Their father Govin
Dutt also was a writer known for his romantic poetry. Toru Dutt is
the more famous of the two sisters. The sisters had excellent
command over English and French. They translated quite a few French
poems into English, one of which was presented in these columns
earlier. They also rendered into English ballads from the Hindu epics.
Below are excerpts from one of Toru's famous poems. What an unfulfilled
promise? Had the sisters lived longer (They died in their teens or
early twenties), what brilliance they could have achieved? Alas, their
cup was measured! While abroad, like some of us, pining for the scenes
of her native land and reliving the memories of her childhood, Toru wrote
about the casuarina tree.

"...But not because of its magnificence
         Dear is the casuarina tree to my soul:
         Beneath it we have played; though years may roll
    O sweet companions, loved with love intense,
         For your sakes shall the tree be ever dear!
    Blent with your images, it shall arise
    In memory, till the hot tears blind mine eyes!
        What is that dirge-like murmur that I hear
    Like the sea breaking on a shingle-beach?
    It is the tree's lament, an eerie speech,
    That haply to the unknown land may reach.

   "Unknown, yet well-known to the eye of faith!
        Ah, I have heard that wail far, far away
        In distant lands, by many a sheltered bay,
  When slumbered in his cave the water-wraith
       And the waves gently kissed the classic shore
  Of France or Italy, beneath the moon
  When earth lay tranced in a dreamless swoon:
       And every time the music rose-- before
  Mine inner vision rose a form sublime,
  Thy form, O tree, as in my happy prime
  I saw thee, in my own loved native clime..."

Om s'aantih: Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao