Autumn Song by Sarojini Naidu

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?

In ‘Autumn Song,” Sarojini Naidu uses lyrical language with simple end rhymes in order to parallel personal loss and loneliness with the beautiful frailty of autumn. She capitalizes on wind as a metaphor for change and loss of “joy” in the fair frailty of Autumn. The change from the invocation of nature to the personal address in the last stanza, specifically in the last line, gives the speaker urgency to move on from the loss and not linger in sorrow that she hears in the “wind.”

Sarojini Naidu was born on February 13, 1879 in Hyderabad, India. Naidu wrote poetry from a young age, was very intelligent and was able to speak 5 languages.  While studying at Kings College in England, in 1916 she met Mahatma Gandhi who inspired her to become an activist and politician for Indian independence. She joined his movement and was greatly responsible for inspiring the women of India to stand up for their rights. Nine years later she was elected the first female President of the Indian National Congress. She was also the first female Governor in India. She is now known as “The Nightingale of India”; her birthday is celebrated as Woman’s Day. Her poems were her passion; she wrote poetry about Indian life.

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