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The Soul’s Prayer by Sarojini Naidu Summary

by Litinbox

The Soul’s Prayer‘ is a poem by Sarojini Naidu, an Indian poetess. This poem is about a child’s imaginary conversation with God, appealing to reveal the mysteries of life and death.

Sarojini Naidu was born Sarojini Chatterjee in Hyderabad in 1879. She was nicknamed as ‘Nightingale of India’ by Mahatma Gandhi, a title for the popularity of her poems across the globe. Rabindranath Tagore called her ‘Bharat Kokila’.

She was a poet and political activist during the British rule in India. In 1925, she became the President of Indian National Congress and emerged as one of the key figures in India’s struggle for Independence. She actively participated in all the major activities of Mahatma Gandhi for the independence of India including Salt Satyagraha (Dandi March or Salt March).

The Soul’s Prayer by Sarojini Naidu

‘The Soul’s Prayer’ is about an interaction between God and the speaker (a child) which reveals the child’s curiosity about life. The child asks God to reveal the “inmost laws of life and death“. It also asks him to give it all the experience of joy and sorrow. It also wants to understand love, life and the mysteries of afterlife, “mystic knowledge of the grave“.

God responds to the child cordially. He also assures that he will fulfill all her desires. The speaker will experience intense joy, love, sorrow etc. These experiences will purify her soul and at the end the soul will pray God again to release from its previous desires. This purification process will lead the speaker to seek simplicity and ultimate peace.

The Soul’s Prayer Summary

Stanza 1

In childhood’s pride I said to Thee:
‘O Thou, who mad’st me of Thy breath,
Speak, Master, and reveal to me
Thine inmost laws of life and death.

In the first stanza of ‘The Soul’s Prayer’ the speaker recollects her childhood when she had a (an imaginary) dialogue with God. As an innocent child fed with the pride of childhood, she asked God to reveal the innermost laws of life and death.

Stanza 2

‘Give me to drink each joy and pain
Which Thine eternal hand can mete,
For my insatiate soul would drain
Earth’s utmost bitter, utmost sweet.

The speaker craves to taste all the joy and to suffer all the pains of life. She drives her soul to dig out the unfathomable. It grows insatiate and wishes to drain the ‘Earth’s utmost bitter, utmost sweet’.

Stanza 3

‘Spare me no bliss, no pang of strife,
Withhold no gift or grief I crave,
The intricate lore of love and life
And mystic knowledge of the grave.’

She requests God to spare her no bliss or pang of strife, no gift or grief and her soul wants to know what mystery the grave withholds.

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Stanza 4

Lord, Thou didst answer stern and low:
‘Child, I will hearken to thy prayer,
And thy unconquered soul shall know
All passionate rapture and despair.

The child is very innocent and remains insatiate until God will let her know the forces that govern the life and death.  As she is a child, she is not matured enough to understand driving forces behind life. God answer’s to The Soul’s Prayer. He blesses her ‘unconquered soul’ will experience all the passionate raptures and despairs.

Stanza 5

‘Thou shalt drink deep of joy and fame,
And love shall burn thee like a fire,
And pain shall cleanse thee like a flame,
To purge the dross from thy desire.

God adds that she would know all the pains and happiness that a life can bring up. And love would burn her like fire, the pain will cleanse her of all numb feelings and then her soul would understand what her blind prayer has been pleading for.

Stanza 6

‘So shall thy chastened spirit yearn
To seek from its blind prayer release,
And spent and pardoned, sue to learn
The simple secret of My peace.

After crossing all these highs and lows, the soul will beg for pardon and to be released from the blind prayer. Finally she will submit herself to the feet of God and plead to teach her the simple, underestimated Peace.

Stanza 7

‘I, bending from my sevenfold height,
Will teach thee of My quickening grace,
Life is a prism of My light,
And Death the shadow of My face.’

Then, the God, bending from the sevenfold height, will teach her that the life is like a prism of light. The knowledge acquired through the light would vanish at the Shadow of his Face (Death).

Birth and Death are like Light and Shadow. Just like joy and sufferings are part of life, death is a part of life, the shadow that will inevitably follow the light (life).