The Gift of India: Sarojini Naidu
The Gift of India is a poem written in 1915 by the Indian poet, freedom fighter and politician Sarojini Naidu. The poem is a tribute to the contribution of Indian soldiers in World War I. Over 10 lakh Indian soldiers from the British Indian Empire served in the Allied forces in the First World War. A vast number of them sacrificed their lives. Indian troops fought in different locations of significance to the allied stronghold and had an important share in many of the battles throughout the course of the war. However, the contribution of the Indian soldiers is overlooked in the vast expanse of the War’s history. These selfless sacrifices of the Indian soldiers for the western agitation are captured in Naidu’s poem ‘The Gift of India‘.
Is there ought you need that my hands withhold,
Rich gifts of raiment or grain or gold?
Lo! I have flung to the East and the West
Priceless treasures torn from my breast,
And yielded the sons of my stricken womb
To the drum-beats of the duty, the sabers of doom.
Gathered like pearls in their alien graves
Silent they sleep by the Persian waves,
Scattered like shells on Egyptian sands,
They lie with pale brows and brave, broken hands,
they are strewn like blossoms mown down by chance
On the blood-brown meadows of Flanders and France.
Can ye measure the grief of the tears I weep
Or compass the woe of the watch I keep?
Or the pride that thrills thro’ my heart’s despair
And the hope that comforts the anguish of prayer?
And the far sad glorious vision I see
Of the torn red banners of victory?
when the terror and the tumult of hate shall cease
And life be refashioned on anvils of peace,
And your love shall offer memorial thanks
To the comrades who fought on the dauntless ranks,
And you honour the deeds of the dauntless ones,
Remember the blood of my martyred sons!