The Song of The Nightingale ~ Love & Wisdom

If beauty lasts not forever, Then, What worth is beauty? If my garden sways not forever, Then, What worth is my garden?...

The Song of The Nightingale: Love & Wisdom

Feb. 13, 2011: A giant in Punjabi Literature, Bhai Vir Singh (December 5, 1872 - June 10, 1957) is celebrated as 'The Sixth River of Punjab'. He was a mystic, poet, novelist, essayist, exegete, historian, editor, publisher and a journalist. He was the leading figure in the Singh Sabha, the dynamic Sikh renaissance movement in the late 19th, early 20th century Punjab. The following is inspired by his poem.


I The Nightingale

My luminous day has turned dark
Deserted is the home of my love.

My garden, once full of life
Lies barren today.

No flowers
No fruits
No seeds
No bees.

Gloom amplifies.

O God!
Why this cruelty?

Trampled rosebushes
Naked boughs
Frayed vines
Torn trees.

A cemetery.

The eyes of the trees are shut
The doors of their souls closed.

Tall they once stood.
Broken they lie today.

Omnipresent beauty
Sweet fragrance
Perfect harmony
All gone.

I scream ...

Who has stolen
The life of this beauty?

Brother traveler

Tell me why
My beloved garden
Lies desolate?

Where is my love?

II The Traveler

Eons ago
Abundant flowers
Lay at the feet
Of the trees.

The gardener reaped
The harvest of thy rose.

The flower-sellers
The perfumers

In open market
Thy love
Was sold.

The glory of the garden
Traveled to city streets.

Flowers were donned
In thousand forms.

Delicate maidens
Jeweled their ears.

Sinuous necks
Adorned love garlands.

Veil of flowers
Concealed blushing brides.

Lover's beds
Had strewn roses.

Sherbet was scented
With petals of thy rose.

The fragrance of thy rose
Was locked in crystal glasses.

Thy rose in decorated vases
Traveled from palace to palace.

Thy rose!
Your rose!
Is gone.

Wings cannot take you to him.
Nor can he come to you.

Vain is your pain
Vain is your longing.


Where have you been
Tormented young bird?

III The Nightingale

Spring was in splendor
Foliage was chaste.

My eyes reflected
The love of my life.

I sang joyfully
Perched on him.

I flew in bliss
Bough to bough.

The wily gardener
Caught me.

I became
A prisoner.

The prison walls
Were strong and high.
Its iron bars
Were bolted tight.

Pain entered my soul.

Removed from my beloved
My soul darkened.

Torn from my ancestors
Torn from my forest
Torn from hills and dales
Torn from the waterways.

Gone was my home
Gone was my freedom
Gone was my laughter
Gone was my being.

This was fate's
Cruel hand.

I wonder
Was it because I loved
That I lost my freedom?

In anguish
I fluttered.


The prison walls
Struck me down.

This was
Heaven's answer
To my prayers.

I screamed
O God!
Take mercy.

Open this door
Let me see the light.

Let me see my love
Just once more.


But the jailer
Felt no compassion.

With his children
He encircled my cage.

Clapped and laughed
They at my sight.

"What a beautiful warbler!"
They screamed with delight.

I wailed:
Does anyone know
The agony of a caged soul?
Whose freedom lies
In the will of another?

It's better to die
Than live caged.

Cease my life
Free my soul.


In captivity
I realized
Why men fight
For freedom's sake.

Noble are they
Who die in battle.
Defending freedom
For you and me.


The life of
Birds and bees
Fakirs and yogis
Is at the mercy of others.

Even when
They smile.

Days elapsed.

My hope
Never waned.

To be free
One day.
To see my love
Once again.

The jailer's child
Left my door ajar.

All odds
I flew out.

Free at last
I soared.

And rushed
To my love.

Only to find
My garden comatose.

Brother traveler:
My heart hemorrhages.
Thousand streams
Spurt blood.
Listening to your narrative
About my beloved.

VI The Traveler

Tragic is your tale.
I feel your grief.

No one can
Lighten your pain.

I'm mystified.

That you claim
This garden as yours?

The gardener
With his hands
Planted all.

He sowed
He weeded
He watered.

His praying eyes
Watched over it
Day and night.

By every law
By human right.
All belongs to him.

He is the true owner
Blame him not.

Nor say another word
For you have no claim.

You're caught
In an illusion.

You cannot have
What is not yours.

Renounce this
Foolish fantasy.

Be wise
Forget your pain.
And start to sing.

There's still a song
In your tiny throat.

A song that heals
Wounds of the woe.

Why not sing
And heal yourself?

VII The Nightingale

You're wise
Empty inside.

No pangs of love
No wounds of life
Have touched you.

Your heart is whole
You are free of pain.

Let me tell you
The pain of love
Is colossal.

When love chooses
To pierce the heart
No being can heal
This sweet ailment.

No song can calm
The heat of this pain.

A true song
Amplifies this pain.

All prescribed cures
Intensify this pain.

Your words
Are full of wisdom.

The fruits and flowers
Are truly the gardener's.

Can wisdom
Give me back
What I've lost.

Can it take me to
The place where
My love and I
Lived in harmony.

I lived in him
He lived in me.

My life
His life
Was one.

They made a garden
Out of my forest.

Then they plucked
My rose.

My fervent pleas
Went unheeded.

My tender wings
Could not battle.

The hand of might
Removed my beloved
From his primal home.

Wise traveler
You talk about justice
You talk about right.

Let me tell you
Might is right
On this earth.

Brother traveler
Truly contemplate
Who loves the rose?

The crafty gardener
Or I?

Beneath his
Seeding, weeding
Caring, watching
Lies an ulterior motive.

You said
The gardener sold
My beloved rose
In open market.

Gold rolled
Into his home.

While suffering
Descended on my rose.

Tell me
Did the gardener feel any pain?

His pain is only for his gold.

My heart is clean.
My love is pure.

His love held me
In my captivity.

I longed
To bathe in his nectar.

I longed
To sing his divine praise.

Love bound, I returned
Flying over foreign lands

Just for his sight
Just for his touch.

My life has been thrown
Into a thousand fires.

I lost my home
Planted by the Divine.
For a nest
In the garden of man.

Brother traveler
As a fledgling
I learnt
The laws of beauty.

I know
Beauty is a rising joy
When we
Surrender to it.

Deluded are those
Who fault beauty.

The eye of their soul
Wanes day by day.

If that eye
Becomes bright
If that eye
Becomes chaste
Their soul would gleam
In eternal glances.

Glory in the soul
The soul in glory.

Brother traveler
I know of a life
Above this life.

A life of bliss
Emanating from
The lips of my rose.

A sweet subtle feeling.
Unbalanced and balanced joy
Unconscious and conscious love.

A soft reeling
A slow breeze
A heart of glory
A life of peace.

Tell me
Which is right
Which is wrong?

Love seems frail
Might seems strong.

VIII The Traveler

Your reasoning is noble.

Who loves right
For its own sake?

Might reigns
Right asserts not.

Selfishness sways humanity.
Dearer to man is self.
No one seems willing to love truth.

They'd rather close their eyes
And see not its intense light.

Beautiful bird
You are so frail
You are so weak.

To cry for your rose
In this jungle of noise
Is vain.

The drums of ego
The drums of desire
Beat loud.

Yet, deafening is
The voice of man.

In this tempest of noise
Who will listen to your
Sweet, subtle voice?

Little bird
If your voice was heard
This world
Would be a garden of roses
Its dust
Would shine as particles of gold.

None would hurt another.
Each enlightened within.

Humanity bound
In love and service.

Blossoming in
The harmony of living

A paradise
This would be.

This is not paradise.

Find another way
To heal your pain.

Little bird

May the Divine
Restore you again.

I say this with love:
True, you surrendered
To the beauty of the rose.
True, your love
Is deep and pure.
True, your soul
Mirrors the light of the rose.


Why did you not know
That one day ...
The garden, the blossoms
All would die.

Spring dies.
Autumn emerges.

Foliage falls.
Dust reigns.

Little bird
Your rose was
Destined to die.

The gardener
Merely toiled.

False was the
Voice of spring
If it promised
You eternity.

The dark day
That troubles you
Was inevitable.

Your love
Your joy
Is coupled with spring.
Why blame anyone?

This lack of wisdom
Makes you sorrowful.

Vain is your grief
Vain is your longing.

IX The Nightingale Cries

O love, dear love
If death was inevitable
Why the promises?
Why this life?
Why has death ceased me not?
Futile is life
Without you.
As the sunlight
Without the sun.
Existing without existing
Living of the not living.
Why am I not dead?
Compassionate brother
I' m exhausted
Take pity
End my life.
Darkness spreads around me
Emptiness seizes my soul.

This moment for me, is
The moment of all death.
My mind is dark
The flame extinguished.
Brother traveler
Have mercy
End my life.

X The Traveler

Passionate bird
I' m grieved
My words
Have caused
You pain.
It seems
I almost
Killed you.
You weep for the past
And now
You wish to die
For no reason.
Know you not
The wheel of change revolves
It marches incessantly.

No halting
No stopping.
Continuous is the march
Of this divine caravan.
Spring blooms
Autumn withers
Spring re-emerges.
Time rolls.
Zephyrs blow
Buds materialize
Leaves protrude.
Flora will dance
Bees will hum
Birds will sing.

Why cry now?
Why wish for death?
Wait a while
Your sorrow
Will soon end.

XI The Nightingale

If beauty lasts not forever
What worth is beauty?

If my garden sways not forever
What worth is my garden?
Is all a play of time?
Time conceals my love
And reveals him at its will
And conceals him once again.
Is love my own, or
Is it time' s?
If time is supreme
Is my heart a puppet
In the hand of time?
To thirst for love
To live in love
To hope in love
To crumble in love
To reunite in love
Is an illusion?
If the lightning flash of love
Reveals it's self
Only to kill me
Then where is love?
If all is changing
And there is nothing
Except waiting, thirsting
For nothing to be.

If this is the eternal law
If I am just a passive ball
Which destiny mocks
Then this life is too sad.
Let me tear my robe, and
Wear the shroud of sadness.
Let me shatter my heart, for
To be sad, is my calling.

XII The Traveler

Beautiful bird
The rose you love
Still perfumes
Your tender heart.
If you wish ...
To see undying glory.
If you long ...
Eternity with your rose
Turn your gaze within.
In this visible world of change
Your search is futile.

Eternal spring exists for those
Who have entered within.
If you wish to dwell
In the timeless gaze of your love
Be at peace with yourself.
The flame of your heart
Burn slow and steady.
Your mind become still
Like a transparent lake.
Then ....
Into the being
Of your beloved.
Your true abode.
The eternal fountain
Radiating within.
Blossoms your rose.

The hand of might
Cannot strike.
Let your heart not quiver
Let your heart not error.
Let your soul drink
From this eternal fountain.
All worlds are within
This is ancient wisdom.
This is the law of beauty
That fledglings learn.
This is the law of true life
A life above this life.
This is the life of bliss
Emanating from
The lips of the rose.
The rose that blossoms within
Where eternal spring rolls.
As you have said:
Only there is
A sweet subtle feeling
Unbalanced and balanced joy
Unconscious and conscious love.
A soft reeling
A slow breeze
A heart of glory
A life of peace

Within that
Golden Land
There is neither
Right nor wrong.

Where ...

Might is frail
Love is strong.
Beautiful bird
Find your
Beloved within.

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Inni Kaur is the author of the recently released children's book, Journey With The Gurus, which is available at


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