10 Sarojini Naidu Poems Forecasting the Indian-ness

Sarojini Naidu, the Nightingale of India, was recognised for her poems reciting emotional lyrics. Rich of a variety of them, here are ten of her poems with a brief explanation.

Sarojini Naidu Poems

Yesterday, while rummaging through old notes about Sanskrit epics, I found my old diaries from my college when I used to write daily tasks, poetic descriptions of my friends, and happenings and occurrences from my diurnal life. As I opened them, a nostalgic old scent splashed my face with all the reminiscences blowing in the air. And on turning a few pages, I saw my favourite poem, My Dead Dream, from an inspiring woman poet, or should I say the greatest poet that mother India could ever have, Sarojini Naidu, the Nightingale of India. I still remember that I used to cut out the story and poem sections of newspapers and highlight them, then turn those words into my purpose and paste them into my notebooks. Even though I am certainly not the arranged perfect soul of my youth, those remembrances inspire me to be a better person every day. And so when yesterday the poems and stories hit me, I decided to write an article reciting a few of the Sarojini Naidu poems. So let us start.

About the Poet: Sarojini Naidu.

Before we head to the section on learning some of Sarojini Naidu’s famous poems, let me give you a brief introduction about her. Being an exceptional student with knowledge of at least five languages, Urdu, English, Telugu, Bengali, Persian and English, Sarojini was a remarkable writer and poet, who earned an early scholarship to study abroad. And her continuous dedication towards writing and creative skills led her to publish her first volume of poetry, the Golden Threshold. Rabindranath Tagore, another legendary inspiration from old India also praised her for her marvellous poetic skills. One of the first women to participate in the Indian struggle for independence, she became the president of the INC and the first woman Governor of Uttar Pradesh after independence. Throughout her career, she worked for the dignity of the common man, inspiring women by engaging them in education and encouraging schools for girls. Being one of the founders of Independence India, she will be always remembered for her excellent oratorship, literature and dedication towards the nation. Let me walk you to the shores of her poetic oceans. 

Sarojini Naidu Photograph

10 Sarojini Naidu Poems Everyone Should Read.

1. Autumn Song.

Like a joy on the heart of a sorrow,
The sunset hangs on a cloud;
A golden storm of glittering sheaves,
Of fair and frail and fluttering leaves,
The wild wind blows in a cloud.

Hark to a voice that is calling
To my heart in the voice of the wind:
My heart is weary and sad and alone,
For its dreams like the fluttering leaves have gone,
And why should I stay behind?

-Sarojini Naidu

The poem Autumn indicates a sense of comfort and joy in the poet’s thoughts, disturbed by the wild wind, symbolically representing the negative thoughts. The poem inspires us to be not worried about the cloudy and shadowed days as change is a vital portion of life. According to the poetess, autumn is like the short phase of a day when the sun is about to set. It brings joy but not a permanent one. However, the wild wind suddenly comes from nowhere, and her thoughts fade away. The poem can really inspire you whenever an arrival of change occurs in your life, which you supposedly don’t admire because you are already stuck with the past.

2. An Indian Love Song.


Lift up the veils that darken the delicate moon
of thy glory and grace,
Withhold not, O love, from the night
of my longing the joy of thy luminous face,
Give me a spear of the scented keora
guarding thy pinioned curls,
Or a silken thread from the fringes
that trouble the dream of thy glimmering pearls;
Faint grows my soul with thy tresses’ perfume
and the song of thy anklets’ caprice,
Revive me, I pray, with the magical nectar
that dwells in the flower of thy kiss.


How shall I yield to the voice of thy pleading,
how shall I grant thy prayer,
Or give thee a rose-red silken tassel,
a scented leaf from my hair?
Or fling in the flame of thy heart’s desire the veils that cover my face,
Profane the law of my father’s creed for a foe
of my father’s race?
Thy kinsmen have broken our sacred altars and slaughtered our sacred kine,
The feud of old faiths and the blood of old battles sever thy people and mine.


What are the sins of my race, Beloved,
what are my people to thee?
And what are thy shrines, and kine and kindred,
what are thy gods to me?
Love recks not of feuds and bitter follies,
of stranger, comrade or kin,
Alike in his ear sound the temple bells
and the cry of the muezzin.
For Love shall cancel the ancient wrong
and conquer the ancient rage,
Redeem with his tears the memoried sorrow
that sullied a bygone age.

-Sarojini Naidu

The poem, Indian Love Song by Sarojini Naidu expresses the deep and pure love between a couple. With vivid imagery, romantic emotions and comparisons, the poem takes the heart of any reader by involving him in the sugar-coated words for love.

It divides itself into two stanzas where first, the male lover expresses his feelings for his beloved, whereas, in the second stanza, the female lover replies. In the initial setting, ‘he‘ describes his lover’s face as equal to the delicate moon, which has glory and grace at the same time. Additionally, he expresses his romantic feelings toward her by referencing superficially beautiful things. For instance, he says that she has a fragrance equal to the keora, which has a sweet and pleasant smell. 

Regardless of what she and her lover desire, she cannot be part of the journey because of the dilemma of choosing her family first as the man’s race and caste are not similar to hers. From the words,

“Profane the law of my father’s creed for a foe”

It is clear that she could not be irrelevant to her father’s religion for an opponent caste. To which, he replies and emphasizes that what is the sin of his entire race and God equally loves each of his children whether one rings the bells of the temple, or the other reads the Azaan prayer. In this way, the poem expresses a conversation between two lovers of different races. 

3. In Praise of Henna.

A KOKILA called from a henna-spray:
Lira! liree! Lira! liree!
Hasten, maidens, hasten away
To gather the leaves of the henna-tree.
Send your pitchers afloat on the tide,
Gather the leaves ere the dawn be old,
Grind them in mortars of amber and gold,
The fresh green leaves of the henna-tree.

A kokila called from a henna-spray:
Lira! liree! Lira! liree!
Hasten maidens, hasten away
To gather the leaves of the henna-tree.
The tilka’s red for the brow of a bride,
And betel-nut’s red for lips that are sweet;
But, for lily-like fingers and feet,
The red, the red of the henna-tree.

-Sarojini Naidu

A folk song, the poem represents the celebration and happiness of an Indian family when there is a marriage. The poetess drew a lively picture from the village of Rajasthan when the maidens go to fetch water from streams, and the nightingale sings on the branches of the Henna tree, calling the maidens, to collect the fresh henna leaves, grind them into paste and apply them on the palms. During festivals, the application of henna creates a romantic atmosphere, which includes cherishing love, gossiping while applying mehendi, and laughing with the ladies. The poem captures the lively moments of the scenario.

4. My Dead Dream.

HAVE YOU found me, at last, O my Dream? Seven eons ago
You died and I buried you deep under forests of snow.
Why have you come hither? Who bade you awake from your sleep
And track me beyond the cerulean foam of the deep?

Would you tear from my lintels these sacred green garlands of leaves?
Would you scare the white, nested, wild pigeons of joy from my eaves?
Would you touch and defile with dead fingers the robes of my priest?
Would you weave your dim moan with the chantings of love at my feast?

Go back to your grave, O my Dream, under forests of snow,
Where a heart-riven child hid you once, seven eons ago.
Who bade you arise from your darkness? I bid you depart!
Profane not the shrines I have raised in the clefts of my heart.

-Sarojini Naidu

The poem My Dead Dream has a straightforward meaning and title. The poetess addresses that there was a dead dream of hers that she buried a long time ago. However, it came back to her life to strip her accomplishments and the person she became. The speaker asks the dream to go back to its grave, where a small child buried it decades ago, a child whose heart guided it. 

It is possible for a reader to witness that sometimes old memories or dreams from our past can come back but should be buried in the same spot where they were once buried because they would impede our growth and happiness. 

5. Past and Future.

The new hath come and now the old retires:
And so the past becomes a mountain-cell,
Where lone, apart, old hermit-memories dwell
In consecrated calm, forgotten yet
Of the keen heart that hastens to forget
Old longings in fulfilling new desires.

And now the Soul stands in a vague, intense
Expectancy and anguish of suspense,
On the dim chamber-threshold . . . lo! he sees
Like a strange, fated bride as yet unknown,
His timid future shrinking there alone,
Beneath her marriage-veil of mysteries.

-Sarojini Naidu

Throughout the poem, the poet bridges the emotional gap between the past and present of the bride, who is completely unknown to the groom, and whose state of feelings is entirely concealed behind her veil, which is also dependent on his future.

The past is like a hermetic mountain cell, which is stagnant and adhered to a place, but it cost a lasting contemplation of the state of mind of the bride. There is an arranged marriage in which the bride has her own mystery behind her wedding veil, but it affects the groom’s future. The speaker perfectly describes the past and future in a thought-provoking way.

6. Street Cries.

WHEN dawn’s first cymbals beat upon the sky,
Rousing the world to labour’s various cry,
To tend the flock, to bind the mellowing grain,
From ardent toil to forge a little gain,
And fasting men go forth on hurrying feet,
Buy bread, buy bread, rings down the eager street.

When the earth falters and the waters swoon
With the implacable radiance of noon,
And in dim shelters koïls hush their notes,
And the faint, thirsting blood in languid throats
Craves liquid succour from the cruel heat,
Buy fruit, buy fruit, steals down the panting street.

When twilight twinkling o’er the gay bazaars,
Unfurls a sudden canopy of stars,
When lutes are strung and fragrant torches lit
On white roof-terraces where lovers sit
Drinking together of life’s poignant sweet,
Buy flowers, buy flowers, floats down the singing street.

-Sarojini Naidu

As the poem depicted different hours of the day, it conveyed the importance of street hawkers providing service according to human needs and moods. The street vendors are always available, serving the needs of the people, regardless of whether it is scorching hot during the day, cool during the evening, or early in the morning. The speaker further highlights the dignity of labours through which many earn their livelihoods. For instance, the first stanza represents vendors awakened in the early mornings, and then the second stanza says about the street hawkers who walk in the spicy heat when even the nightingale has a lesser pitch of voice due to the heat.

7. To India.

O YOUNG through all thy immemorial years!
Rise, Mother, rise, regenerate from thy gloom,
And, like a bride high-mated with the spheres,
Beget new glories from thine ageless womb!

The nations that in fettered darkness weep
Crave thee to lead them where great mornings break . . . .
Mother, O Mother, wherefore dost thou sleep?
Arise and answer for thy children’s sake!

Thy Future calls thee with a manifold sound
To crescent honours, splendours, victories vast;
Waken, O slumbering Mother and be crowned,
Who once wert empress of the sovereign Past.

-Sarojini Naidu

The poem is a conversation between the poetess with Mother India, where she first defines Mother India as immature even though she existed for thousands of years or immemorial time. The speaker asks her to wake up and revive herself from the gloom of slavery in Britishers and divisions among different religions and races. She says that in her womb, there are several sons who are willing to stand with her. Naidu provokes Mother India to stop all the ignorance and live with the freedom and dignity again that she had once in the past. 

8. To Youth.

O YOUTH, sweet comrade Youth, wouldst thou be gone?
Long have we dwelt together, thou and I;
Together drunk of many an alien dawn,
And plucked the fruit of many an alien sky.

Ah, fickle friend, must I, who yesterday
Dreamed forwards to long, undimmed ecstasy,
Henceforward dream, because thou wilt not stay,
Backward to transient pleasure and to thee?

I give thee back thy false, ephemeral vow;
But, O beloved comrade, ere we part,
Upon my mournful eyelids and my brow
Kiss me who hold thine image in my heart.

-Sarojini Naidu

The poignant poem explores the fleeting youth of the poetess and the bittersweet journey of her life. Naidu does not fail to portray an optimistic vitality and zest of life, which characterizes the youth while using a melancholic tone of its passing.

The speaker uses vivid imagery and provocative language to showcase her friendship with the youth. Describing it as bright, warm and vibrant, she acknowledges the beauty and energy of the time phase, celebrating the dreams and potential she once had in her eyes. With striving aspirations, she embraced the challenges of life in her youth. Throughout the poem, the speaker tends to have a conversation with her friend, youth. With the inevitable passage of time and the transformation of youth into maturity, she encourages most young generations to dream and grab opportunities before it’s too late to create a lasting impact on the world. 

9. Indian Weavers.

WEAVERS, weaving at break of day,
Why do you weave a garment so gay? . . .
Blue as the wing of a halcyon wild,
We weave the robes of a new-born child.

Weavers, weaving at fall of night,
Why do you weave a garment so bright? . . .
Like the plumes of a peacock, purple and green,
We weave the marriage-veils of a queen.

Weavers, weaving solemn and still,
What do you weave in the moonlight chill? . . .
White as a feather and white as a cloud,
We weave a dead man’s funeral shroud.

-Sarojini Naidu

The poem has a symbolic meaning which represents the lifespan of our life. Starting from the first clothes and robes the child wear, the poetess begins the poem arbitrarily without showing the beginning or end of the weavers. The second stanza describes how they sewed green and purple wedding veils at night and the final stanza describes how they embroidered a white shroud to cover a corpse at their funeral at night. In this way, the poem encapsulates the entire cycle of a day, as well as the entire lifespan of a human. 

10. Life.

CHILDREN, ye have not lived, to you it seems
Life is a lovely stalactite of dreams,
Or carnival of careless joys that leap
About your hearts like billows on the deep
In flames of amber and of amethyst.

Children, ye have not lived, ye but exist
Till some resistless hour shall rise and move
Your hearts to wake and hunger after love,
And thirst with passionate longing for the things
That burn your brows with blood-red sufferings.

Till ye have battled with great grief and fears,
And borne the conflict of dream-shattering years,
Wounded with fierce desire and worn with strife,
Children, ye have not lived: for this is life.

-Sarojini Naidu

The poem is an inspirational rhyme for children who have not lived and are yet to experience life. The poetess says that life may seem and look easy for some people and even look like a celebration of careless joy, but they have not experienced life. And there will be a time when they will face irresistibility and experience hunger and thirst. For all those who are shackled by grief and pain and had wounds of fierce desires, only they will know the true life. Hence, the poem is an inspirational combination which says that even though you struggle hard today, you will live life till its last drop.


Sarojini Naidu was one of the finest woman poets who connected every symbol of expression through her delicate and powerful words and Indianess. I feel there isn’t a single denotation which she failed to write. Tell us which of these Sarojini Naidu poems inspired you the most and why!

Frequently Asked Questions.

What is the name of Sarojini Naidu’s famous poem?

The famous poems by Sarojini Naidu are In the Bazaars of Hyderabad, The Village Song and The Pardah Nashin.

What poems did Sarojini Naidu write?

Sarojini Naidu poems depicted a variety of subjects, but the most common themes included patriotism, female dilemmas, with heaps of Indianness. 

What is the longest poem written by Sarojini Naidu?

Sarojini Naidu wrote a poem, which has 1300 lines, the longest poem written by the poetess. The poem entitles with the name of “Lady of the Lake.”

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