Sarojini Naidu

(13 February 1879 - 2 March 1949 / Hyderabad / India)

The Queen's Rival


QUEEN GULNAAR sat on her ivory bed,
Around her countless treasures were spread;

Her chamber walls were richly inlaid
With agate, porphory, onyx and jade;

The tissues that veiled her delicate breast,
Glowed with the hues of a lapwing's crest;

But still she gazed in her mirror and sighed
"O King, my heart is unsatisfied."

King Feroz bent from his ebony seat:
"Is thy least desire unfulfilled, O Sweet?

"Let thy mouth speak and my life be spent
To clear the sky of thy discontent."

"I tire of my beauty, I tire of this
Empty splendour and shadowless bliss;

"With none to envy and none gainsay,
No savour or salt hath my dream or day."

Queen Gulnaar sighed like a murmuring rose:
"Give me a rival, O King Feroz."

II

King Feroz spoke to his Chief Vizier:
"Lo! ere to-morrow's dawn be here,

"Send forth my messengers over the sea,
To seek seven beautiful brides for me;

"Radiant of feature and regal of mien,
Seven handmaids meet for the Persian Queen."
. . . . .

Seven new moon tides at the Vesper call,
King Feroz led to Queen Gulnaar's hall

A young queen eyed like the morning star:
"I bring thee a rival, O Queen Gulnaar."

But still she gazed in her mirror and sighed:
"O King, my heart is unsatisfied."

Seven queens shone round her ivory bed,
Like seven soft gems on a silken thread,

Like seven fair lamps in a royal tower,
Like seven bright petals of Beauty's flower

Queen Gulnaar sighed like a murmuring rose
"Where is my rival, O King Feroz?"

III

When spring winds wakened the mountain floods,
And kindled the flame of the tulip buds,

When bees grew loud and the days grew long,
And the peach groves thrilled to the oriole's song,

Queen Gulnaar sat on her ivory bed,
Decking with jewels her exquisite head;

And still she gazed in her mirror and sighed:
"O King, my heart is unsatisfied."

Queen Gulnsar's daughter two spring times old,
In blue robes bordered with tassels of gold,

Ran to her knee like a wildwood fay,
And plucked from her hand the mirror away.

Quickly she set on her own light curls
Her mother's fillet with fringes of pearls;

Quickly she turned with a child's caprice
And pressed on the mirror a swift, glad kiss.

Queen Gulnaar laughed like a tremulous rose:
"Here is my rival, O King Feroz."

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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  • Kamaraju V (4/1/2010 9:41:00 AM)

    THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST AND ATTRACTIVE POEMS I HAVE READ IN 1950's.SOME READERS ASKED FOR THE SUMMARYWHICH IS AS FOLLOWS: - QUEEN GULNAAR WANTED A RIVAL.EVEN THOUGH THE KING BROUGHT RIVAL QUEENS WITH RICHES AND EVERYTHING SHE WAS DISSATISFIED.NO WORLDLY THING CAN BRING HER A RIVAL.

    AFTER A FEW YEARS, WHEN SHE WAS GIFTED WITH ACHILD WHO USED TO TAKE EVERYTHING OF HERSAND SHOWED A STIFF COMPETITION, THE QUEEN REALISED THAT SHE HAD A REAL RIVAL i.e. HER OWN DAUGHTER

    THE POEM BEAUTIFULLY NARRATES HOW YOU CAN HAVE A REAL LIFE SATISFACTION ONLY WHEN YOU HAVE KIDS PLAYING AROUND YOU.

    BY Dr.V.KAMARAJU (Report) Reply

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