for Subal Chandra Mandal
Set in a struggling, straggling wilderness,
and instinct with a flowering, towering wood
such as to reach the heavens, and shelter Earth,
a young tree stood.
The boy had heeded an unlettered father
and learnt; the youth was apt to understand
the deed of dispossession of the children
in Bengal’s land.
In amongst the thorn-bush and the scrub-land
of India, and the East, and the rich West,
a sapling grew to offer an abundance
of shade and rest.
Teacher and headmaster in a village,
a world’s village elder at the last
could show the way to draw the hidden water
up from the past.
Branch and leaf and twig all strove together
merely as a part of Nature’s plan,
and so it was; and Nature knew in him
her work in Man.
Each leaf a pupil. Every year a flowering.
A scholar, writer, public man; but most
a guide and a companion; till his soul
gave up the ghost.
Out of the earth he came,
a farmer’s son, who saw the yearly yield,
and worked out his long day. A root has taken
in a great field.