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The poem Songs of Radha, the Milkmaid, written by Sarojini Naidu is about the deep love of Radha for her beloved Krishna. In the poem, Radha is a milkmaid who is taking curd to Mathura fair for selling it.
While travelling, she goes into the thoughts of Krishna and cries his name again and again which makes others laugh at her. She cannot sell the curd and goes to Mathura shrine and offers it to God and prays for their love.
The poem has been divided into three main stanzas having 9, 10 and 11 lines respectively.
I carried my curds to the Mathura fair… How softly the heifers were lowing… I wanted to cry, “Who will buy The curds that is white as the clouds in the sky When the breezes of Shravan are blowing?” But my heart was so full of your beauty, Beloved, They laughed as I cried without knowing: Govinda! Govinda! Govinda! Govinda! How softly the river was flowing!
In the first stanza, Radha says that she once carried curd for selling in Mathura fair. It is the same place where Krishna (her beloved) was born. On the way, she sees heifers (cows) lowing i.e. mowing very softly.
She had planned to sell curd by loudly saying, “Who will buy curd which is as white as white clouds which float in the sky because of blowing of Shravan (monsoon) breezes”. Note that the poet comparing the beauty of two different things – curd and clouds of monsoon.
However, she could not do what she planned. According to her, her heart was filled with the thoughts of beautiful Krishna (her beloved) and she started crying “Govinda” without knowing. Govinda is the other name of Krishna. Seeing her doing this, people around her, started laughing at her.
In the last line, Radha says that the river (in which her boat was floating) was flowing very softly. Radha says so because her love for Krishna makes everything around her look beautiful.
I carried the pots to the Mathura tide… How gaily the rowers were rowing! My comrades called, “Ho! Let us dance, let us sing And wear saffron garments to welcome the spring. And pluck the new buds that are blowing.” But my heart was so full of your music, Beloved, They mocked when I cried without knowing: Govinda! Govinda! Govinda! Govinda! How gaily the river was flowing!
In this stanza, Radha again says that she carried the pots (full of curd) to Mathura tide i.e. on the river (in the boat). The rowers (boats) rowing (floating) in a cheerful manner.
The comrades (those travelling with Radha) ask her to dance, sing and wear saffron garments to welcome the spring and also pluck new buds (of flowers) which were blooming around them.
However, Radha was still in the thoughts of her beloved Govinda‘s melodious music and she again started crying his name repeatedly which made others mock her. However Radha does not seemed have bothered by them. Instead she watches the river flowing cheerfully.
I carried my gifts to the Mathura shrine… How brightly the torches were glowing! I folded my hands at the altars to pray “O shining ones guard us by night and by day”- And loudly the conch shells were blowing. But my heart was so lost in your worship, Beloved, They were wroth when I cried without knowing: Govinda! Govinda! Govinda! Govinda! How bright the river was flowing!
In the final stanza, Radha says that she carried her gifts (curd) to the Mathura shrine. The torches (candles) were glowing brightly. She then folded her hands in the temple to pray for her protection as well as of her beloved Govinda.
The conch shells (🐚) were blowing loudly. However Radha’s heart was lost in the worship of her beloved Govinda. She again started saying the name of Govinda repeatedly which angers the priests in the temple.
However again, Radha did not pay attention to them and instead says that the river was flowing brightly. The poem ends.