When spring came, tender-limbed Radha wandered (from The Gitagovinda)

by Jayadeva

English version by Barbara Stoler Miller
Original Language Sanskrit

When spring came, tender-limbed Radha wandered
Like a flowering creeper in the forest wilderness,
Seeking Krishna in his many haunts.
The god of love increased her ordeal,
Tormenting her with fevered thoughts,
And her friend sang to heighten the mood.

Soft sandal mountain winds caress quivering vines of clove.
Forest huts hum with droning bees and crying cuckoos.
     When spring's mood is rich, Hari roams here
     To dance with young women, friend --
     A cruel time for deserted lovers.

Lonely wives of travelers whine in love's mad fantasies.
Bees swarm over flowers clustered to fill mimosa branches.
     When spring's mood is rich, Hari roams here
     To dance with young women, friend --
     A cruel time for deserted lovers.

Tamala trees' fresh leaves absorb strong scents of deer musk.
Flame-tree petals, shining nails of love, tear at young hearts.
     When spring's mood is rich, Hari roams here
     To dance with young women, friend --
     A cruel time for deserted lovers.

Gleaming saffron flower pistils are golden scepters of Love.
Trumpet flowers like wanton bees are arrows in Love's quiver.
     When spring's mood is rich, Hari roams here
     To dance with young women, friend --
     A cruel time for deserted lovers.

Tender buds bloom into laughter as creatures abandon modesty.
Cactus spikes pierce the sky to wound deserted lovers.
     When spring's mood is rich, Hari roams here
     To dance with young women, friend --
     A cruel time for deserted lovers.

Scents of twining creepers mingle with perfumes of fresh garlands.
Intimate bonds with young things bewilder even hermit hearts.
     When spring's mood is rich, Hari roams here
     To dance with young women, friend --
     A cruel time for deserted lovers.

Budding mango trees tremble from the embrace of rising vines.
Brindaban forest is washed by meandering Jumna river waters.
     When spring's mood is rich, Hari roams here
     To dance with young women, friend --
     A cruel time for deserted lovers.

Jayadeva's song evokes the potent memory of Hari's feet,
Coloring the forest in springtime mood heightened by Love's presence.
     When spring's mood is rich, Hari roams here
     To dance with young women, friend --
     A cruel time for deserted lovers.

Wind perfumes the forest with fine pollen
Shaken loose from newly blossomed jasmine
As it blows Love's cactus-fragrant breath
To torture every heart it touches here.

Crying sounds of cuckoos, mating on mango shoots
Shaken as bees seek honey scents of opening buds,
Raise fever in the ears of lonely travelers --
Somehow they survive these days
By tasting the mood of lovers' union
In climaxing moments of meditation.

-- from Love Song of the Dark Lord: Jayadeva's Gitagovinda, Translated by Barbara Stoler Miller

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When spring came