I came across this poem recently, in The Sahitya Akademi collections, and really liked it. It must be better in the original Telugu, but the translation is below:
Bent on worshipping you
I woke up with cock-crow:
Bathed, clad in pure white,
Entered an orchard to fetch flowers.
As I stood by a plant, held the bough
And touched a flower, lo: all the flowers raised
Their voices in chorus, wailing, ‘Must you kill us all?’
My hear sank, something flashed in me, as ‘Lament of Flowers’.
‘Will you nip us all and collect in baskets
As we play in the tender leaf-lap of our mother
And sell us to gain salvation? What use
Any worship, when you are heartless?
‘We are dull heads, you are wise;
You have intellect, imagination;
Has your heart turned to stone?
Doesn’t it yield a few flowers to offer to god?
‘While we breathe, we air the identity
Of our creeper- mother—enjoy rocking freely
In her hands–and as the hour approaches,
Contented we close our eyes–at her holy feet.
We facilitate the air dashing scents; feast the bees
That court us with sweet nectar; please the eyes
Of the likes of you; why this selfishness and–
Stop, don’t snap us–Do you sever mother and child?
‘You’re fine–cutting other’s throats for your sake—
How mean of you to acquire merit thus? Will the Master of all
Accept this bloody offering? Won’t the all knowing Lord
Receive our poor souls? Why an intermediary?
‘Strangling our throats with a thread of wool,
Sending needles through our hearts, they bind us
To deck their fashionable hairdos—
Alas, pitiless indeed is your fair sex!
‘Squeezing us in presses to the last drop
Of life, you men make attar
With our heart’s blood to was the foul
Smell of your bodies, O murderer!
‘Alas! All those luxuriating beasts of men
Sprinkle us on their beds, trample our tender bodies
Under their heavy feet–crush and crush– and next
Morning throw us out, all faded and unpetalled.
‘Offering all our priceless tender sweet lives
At your feet, aren’t we lost,lost? Having
Plundered our youth, beauty, you sweep us away
With a broom! Do men have any ethics?
You are born in the land of the Buddha,
Why is natural love just dead in you?
O murderer, murdering beauty,
Tainted indeed is your human birth.
For God’s sake leave your worship,
Don’t cut our innocent throats!
Oh! What grace can you earn
Killing us with your own hands?’
Thus admonished by the flowers–so
I thought–I had no hands to pick them;
To report the matter to the Lord
Thence I came, all empty-handed.
[1944, trans K Godavari Sharma.]