Rabindranath Tagore

(7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941 / Calcutta (Kolkata), Bengal Presidency / British India)

Sleep-Stealer


Who stole sleep from baby's eyes? I must know.
Clasping her pitcher to her waist mother went to fetch water
from the village near by.
It was noon. The children's playtime was over; the ducks in
the pond were silent.
The shepherd boy lay asleep under the shadow of the banyan
tree.
The crane stood grave and still in the swamp near the mango
grove.
In the meanwhile the Sleep-stealer came and, snatching sleep
from baby's eyes, flew away.
When mother came back she found baby travelling the room over
on all fours.
Who stole sleep from our baby's eyes? I must know. I must find
her and chain her up.
I must look into that dark cave, where, through boulders and
scowling stones, trickles a tiny stream.
I must search in the drowsy shade of the bakula grove, where
pigeons coo in their corner, and fairies' anklets tinkle in the
stillness of starry nights.
In the evening I will peep into the whispering silence of the
bamboo forest, where fireflies squander their light, and will ask
every creature I meet, "Can anybody tell me where the Sleep-stealer
lives?"
Who stole sleep from baby's eyes? I must know.
Shouldn't I give her a good lesson if I could only catch her!
I would raid her nest and see where she hoards all her stolen
sleep.
I would plunder it all, and carry it home.
I would bind her two wings securely, set her on the bank of
the river, and then let her play at fishing with a reed among the
rushes and water-lilies.
When the marketing is over in the evening, and the village
children sit in their mothers' laps, then the night birds will
mockingly din her ears with:
"Whose sleep will you steal now?"

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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