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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Our Casuarina-Tree

By Toru Dutt (1856–1877)

LIKE a huge python, winding round and round

The rugged trunk, indented deep with scars

Up to its very summit near the stars,

A creeper climbs, in whose embraces bound

No other tree could live. But gallantly

The giant wears the scarf, and flowers are hung

In crimson clusters all the boughs among,

Whereon all day are gathered bird and bee;

And oft at night the garden overflows

With one sweet song that seems to have no close,

Sung darkling from our tree, while men repose.

Unknown, yet well known to the eye of faith!

Ah, I have heard that wail far, far away

In distant lands, by many a sheltered bay,

When slumbered in his cave the water wraith,

And the waves gently kissed the classic shore

Of France or Italy, beneath the moon,

When earth lay trancèd in a dreamless swoon;

And every time the music rose, before

Mine inner vision rose a form sublime,

Thy form, O tree! as in my happy prime

I saw thee in my own loved native clime.

But not because of its magnificence

Dear is the Casuarina to my soul:

Beneath it we have played: though years may roll,

O sweet companions, loved with love intense,

For your sakes shall the tree be ever dear!

Blent with your images, it shall arise

In memory, till the hot tears blind mine eyes.

What is that dirge-like murmur that I hear

Like the sea breaking on a shingle beach?

It is the tree’s lament, an eerie speech,

That haply to the Unknown Land may reach.

When first my casement is wide open thrown

At dawn, my eyes delighted on it rest;

Sometimes,—and most in winter,—on its crest

A gray baboon sits statue-like alone,

Watching the sunrise; while on lower boughs

His puny offspring leap about and play;

And far and near kokilas hail the day;

And to their pastures wend our sleepy cows;

And in the shadow, on the broad tank cast

By that hoar tree, so beautiful and vast,

The water-lilies spring, like snow enmassed.