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The second half of Sarojini Naidu's "The Bird of Time" ends like this:

O Bird of Time, say where did you learn
The changing measures you sing? . . .
[...]
In the sigh of pity, the sob of hate,
And the pride of a soul that has conquered fate.

What are these last two lines talking about? The rest of the second stanza appear to be referring to a happy family, with the references to "new-made brides", the "mother's prayer", and the "new-born spring". However, the last two lines seem to interrupt that theme, and I'm not sure what they're referring to.

What's the soul that has conquered fate? What does this have to do with the rest of the poem?

2 Answers 2

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This is not a complete answer, but maybe it will inspire somebody to find one.

There is a parallelism between the two stanzas, especially in the last half of the stanzas. Here is the last part of the two stanzas lined up, with corresponding lines next to each other.

       . . .
Songs of the glory and gladness of life,           In blowing forests and breaking tides,
Of poignant sorrow and passionate strife,       In the happy laughter of new-made                                                                                  brides,
And the lilting joy of the spring;                        And the nests of the new-born spring;
Of hope that sows for the years unborn,          In the dawn that thrills to a mother's                                                                                  prayer,
And faith that dreams of a tarrying morn,        And the night that shelters a heart's                                                                                  despair,
The fragrant peace of the twilight's breath,     In the sigh of pity, the sob of hate,
And the mystic silence that men call death.    And the pride of a soul that has                                                                                 conquered fate.

"Of hope that sows for the years unborn," corresponds to the line "In the dawn that thrills to a mother's prayer," both lines being about hope for the future.

"And faith that dreams of a tarrying morn," corresponds to the line "And the night that shelters a heart's despair," both lines being about keeping faith through a dark time.

So if we believe the first stanza corresponds roughly line by line to the second one, "the pride of a soul that has conquered fate" should correspond to "the mystic silence that men call death."

I would hazard that "conquering fate" means something like coming to terms with your eventual death, but it's quite possible that I don't know enough about Indian philosophy to really analyze this poem completely.

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It looks to me like both stanzas are different interpretations of life in general using the metaphor of the seasons, but from different perspectives. Spring is birth, through summer and autumn (or monsoon and post monsoon), to winter which is death.

So the first verse is perhaps how she viewwd life when she was young and the second how she views life now she is old.

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