Village Song

HONEY, child, honey, child, whither are you going?
Would you cast your jewels all to the breezes blowing?
Would you leave the mother who on golden grain has fed you?
Would you grieve the lover who is riding forth to wed you?


Mother mine, to the wild forest I am going,
Where upon the champa boughs the champa buds are blowing;
To the köil-haunted river-isles where lotus lilies glisten,
The voices of the fairy folk are calling me: O listen!


Honey, child, honey, child, the world is full of pleasure,
Of bridal-songs and cradle-songs and sandal-scented leisure.
Your bridal robes are in the loom, silver and saffron glowing,
Your bridal cakes are on the hearth: O whither are you going?


The bridal-songs and cradle-songs have cadences of sorrow,
The laughter of the sun to-day, the wind of death to-morrow.
Far sweeter sound the forest-notes where forest-streams are falling;
O mother mine, I cannot stay, the fairy-folk are calling.

by Sarojini Naidu

Comments (4)

I was about to type the reader needs the historical background to even read this poem, much more to interpret it. Then I saw Stephen's helpful and objective paragraphs. Still I agree with Kinyua that this poem does not give us a genuine view of Africa in focusing on the young European (Does Emma Lazarus really admire this soldier of fortune? This outsider who bustles around as if he belongs on African soil?) . One of the great things about Poetry in the 20th century is that new voices were raised, eventually got published and were heard by everyone who was paying attention. In other words, we can now read what Africans have to say about Africa.
Napoléon, Prince Imperial (full name: Napoléon Eugène Louis Jean Joseph Bonaparte, prince impérial de France; 16 March 1856 – 1 June 1879) was the only child of Emperor Napoleon III of France and his Empress consort Eugénie de Montijo. After his father was dethroned in 1870, he relocated with his family to England. On his father's death in January 1873, he was proclaimed Napoleon IV, Emperor of the French by the Bonapartist faction. In England he trained as a soldier. Keen to see action, he successfully put pressure on the British to allow him to participate in the Anglo-Zulu war. In 1879, serving with British forces, he was killed in a skirmish with a group of Zulus. His early death sent shockwaves throughout Europe, as he was the last serious dynastic hope for the restoration of the Bonapartes to the throne of France.
I think there had some bias when describing Africa. But it's not what you always hear; Bloody Wars, Epidemics, famines and droughts all this exaggeration and a dose of lies. There is a more attractive side which is not shown.
Two situations of Paris and Africa in two different periods of history in sonnets give a clear idea of Europe then!