Home » Indian poetry » “The Tiger and the Deer”- by Aurobindo

“The Tiger and the Deer”- by Aurobindo

Brilliant, crouching, slouching, what crept through the green heart of the forest,

Gleaming eyes and mighty chest and soft soundless paws of grandeur and murder?  

The wind slipped through the leaves as if afraid lest its voice And the noise of its steps perturb the pitiless Splendour,

 Hardly daring to breathe. But the great beast crouched and crept, and crept and crouched a last time, noiseless, fatal, 

Till suddenly death leaped on the beautiful wild deer as it drank

5 Unsuspecting from the great pool in the forest’s coolness and shadow, 

And it fell and, torn, died remembering its mate left sole in the deep woodland,

- Destroyed, the mild harmless beauty by the strong cruel beauty in Nature. 

But a day may yet come when the tiger crouches and leaps no more in the dangerous heart of the forest,

As the mammoth shakes no more the plains of Asia; 

10 Still then shall the beautiful wild deer drink from the coolness of great pools in the leaves* shadow.
 The mighty perish in their might;
 The slain survive the slayer.

Two or three beautiful usages in the poem have captivated me. 

soundless paws of grandeur and murder
It is not “soundless paws” that is noteworthy but  ‘of grandeur and murder” ,which at once evokes an ambivalence ,that is almost  philosophical. Grandeur comes first or murder? Murder is banal, a deliberate act of killing that does not make the tiger any more grand than any common carnivore but there is a grandeur in its “burning bright” form(“tiger,tiger burning bright” of Blake),in the beauty of the beast in the green heart of the forest, in its importance in the grand design of the forest.The grandeur transforms “murder ” into an activity that the tiger performs as a key role holder in the forest’s scheme of things.
In the forest’s coolness and shadow
A beautiful usage in which “shadow” becomes part of “coolness” but is much more than contributor to coolness , a visual image of the trees  casting their shadows on the forest floor combined with a tactile image of their coolness i.e leaves filtering both light and heat of the sun.
The wind slipped through the leaves as if afraid lest its voice and the noise of its steps perturbs the pitiless Splendor
Another beautiful image. I love the wind slipping through the leaves.Try to imagine a gentle breeze entering the latticed foliage of the trees without shaking the branches and blowing on the dry leaves of the forest floor.Even the wind is terrified of the pitiless Splendor.

2 thoughts on ““The Tiger and the Deer”- by Aurobindo

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