11 (neither mother nor daughter are)

NEITHER MOTHER nor daughter are you, nor bride, Urvashi. Woman you are, to ravish the soul of Paradise.

        When weary-footed evening comes down to the folds whitherthe cattle have returned, you never trim the house lamps nor walk to the bridal bed with a tremulous heart and a wavering smile on your lips, glad that the dark hours are so secret.

        Like the dawn you are without veil, Urvashi, and without shame.

        Who can imagine that aching overflow of splendour which created you!


You rose from the churned ocean on the first day of the first spring, with the cup of life in your right hand and poison in your left. The monster sea, lulled like an enchanted snake, laid down its thousand hoods at your feet.

        Your unblemished radiance rose from the foam, white and naked as a jasmine.


Were you ever small, timid or in bud, Urvashi, O Youth everlasting?

        Did you sleep, cradled in the deep blue night where the strange light of gems plays over coral, shells and moving creatures of dreamlike form, till day revealed your awful fulness of bloom?


Adored are you of all men in all ages, Urvashi, O endless wonder!

        The world throbs with youthful pain at the glance of your eyes, the ascetic lays the fruit of his austerities at your feet, the songs of poets hum and swarm round the perfume of your presence. Your feet, as in careless joy they flit on, wound even the heart of the hollow wind with the tinkle of golden bells.

        When you dance before the gods, flinging orbits of novel rhythm into space, Urvashi, the earth shivers, leaf and grass, and autumn fields heave and sway, the sea surges into a frenzy of rhyming waves; the stars drop into the sky-beads from the chain that leaps till it breaks on your breast; and the blood dances in men's hearts with sudden turmoil.


You are the first break on the crest of heaven's slumber, Urvashi, you thrill the air with unrest. The World bathes your limbs in her tears; with colour of her heart's blood are your feet red; lightly you poise on the wave-tossed lotus of desire, Urvashi; you play forever in that limitless mind wherein labours God's tumultuous dream.