The Gardener (Tagore)

For works with similar titles, see The Gardener.

1

Servant: Have mercy upon your servant, my queen!

Queen: The assembly is over and my servants are all gone. Why do you come at this late hour?

Servant: When you have finished with the others, that is my time.
I come to ask what remains for your last servant to do.

Queen: What can you expect when it is too late?

Servant: Make me the gardener of your flower garden.

Queen: What folly is this?

Servant: I will give up my other work.
I throw my swords and lances down in the dust.
Do no send me to distant courts; do not bid me undertake new conquests. But make me the gardener of your flower garden.

Queen: What will your duties be?

Servant: The service of your idle days. I will keep fresh the grassy path where you walk in the morning, where your feet will be greeted with praise at every step by the flowers eager for death.
I will swing you in a swing among the branches of the saptaparna, where the early evening moon will struggle to kiss your skirt through the leaves.
I will replenish with scented oil the lamp that burns by your bedside, and decorate your footstool with sandal and saffron paste in wondrous designs.

Queen: What will you have for your reward?

Servant: To be allowed to hold your little fists like tender lotus-buds and slip flower chains over your wrists; to tinge the soles of your feet with the red juice of ashoka petals and kiss away the speck of dust that may chance to linger there.

Queen: Your prayers will be granted, my servant, you will be the gardener of my flower garden.

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