Kalidasa : Waking

Kalidasa (4th – 5th c. CE) was a classical Sanskrit playwright and poet, considered one of India’s foremost dramatists. Very little is known about his life, save that he was a devotee of the goddess Kali – his name means ‘the servant of Kali.’ Whether one believes in the imprint of previous lifetimes or not, a seeker can certainly recognise the acute, sudden and inexplicable pang of longing described in this poem.

Even the man who is happy
     glimpses something
     or a hair of sound touches him

     and his heart overflows with a longing
          he does not recognize

then it must be that he is remembering
     in a place out of reach
     shapes he has loved

     in a life before this

     the print of them still there in him waiting

Translation W. S. Merwin & J. Moussaieff Masson

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