The Flower: Rose (A Ghazal)


Being a lowly born I couldn’t aspire to be the flower rose,

though I saw how the sun in the feminine sky slowly rose.


My crimson days of fame had enough nightly thorns,

yet I flung away the worms and never was a sick rose.


I was the new woman; don’t you dare call me a harlot,

and the stage, the hot bed of immorality where corruption rose.


I never minded cross dressing; playing the role of Chaitanya*,

I received His** grace to go beyond the flower rose.


In spite of all your scorns, in your nightly sky,

As ‘Moon of the Star Theater’ even though for a while I rose.



[ This poem is about Binodini Dasi, also known as Notee Binodini who was a 19th Century, Calcutta based Bengali speaking renowned actress and thespian (Wikipedia). Born to prostitution, she lived her life on stage, that gave her the desired freedom. She did become an intrinsic part of Bengal theater. However Indian News Daily in 1876 wrote: “….the theater has by introduction of harlots on the stage become the hot bed of immorality and corruption.”

*Chaitanya (Born 18 February 1486) was a spiritual leader.

**’His’ refers to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836-1886) the Indian mystic and yogi in the 19th century who instigated Binodini’s spiritual transformation. ]



Posted for my prompt The Flower: Rose @ Poets United Midweek Motif


Shared with Micropoetry Month: Nov 2017 #22 hosted by Thotpurge


18 thoughts on “The Flower: Rose (A Ghazal)

  1. Wow Sumana, I didn’t know about her.. what guts it must have taken at that time in that society. Love your first attempt at Ghazal. Read Agha Shahid Ali..he brings the form to an unimaginable height! Thanks so much for sharing with my Micropoetry Month!

  2. Wow, this piece is rich with imagery. I also admire confidence in the speaker’s voice. And your footnotes are a bonus. Thank you!

  3. There is so much in this poem Sumana and your snippet fo history is really well told. Sadly the use and abuse of women continues quite regardless of how far we think we have advanced as a fair and respectful world, which we haven’t!

  4. We all have to find our place. I am glad she found hers despite her circumstances.
    and regardless of who accepted her. It is sad, but I feel she rose beyond the rose.

Thank You :)

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