“Out of the grapes that are born of my emotions,
I bring forth to you this wine.
My beloved, have a taste of this cup of my emotions, From my very hands…”
Madhushala (the house of wine or the Tavern) is probably one of the most beloved pieces of poetry in Hindi literature. Harivansha Rai Bachchan has brought forth the wine to the lips of every reader and has metaphorised wine to mean every thing in life. It’s a complete book – a poem 145 stanzas long – prasing the tavern as a temple while contrasting the realities India faced in the face of the partition and freedom struggle. The tavern is like his life – the wine and the drinker complement each other just like two people in a relationship. The wine then becomes the sun, soon to become the moon and the drinker a person who is trying to find way through his life.
Call it not lava, though it flows red, like a tongue of flame.
Call it no Alas, he that with eager lips, has not kissed this wine,
Alas, he that trembling with joy, has not touched a brimming goblet,
He that has not drawn close the coy wine-maiden by her hand,
Has wasted this honey-filled tavern of Life.
Few poems could stand as high and mighty as this one. It is a poem that reflects life and India and as much a contemporary material as it was at the time of its inception. It is a story of human emotions more than just a poem and is hence, a very good read!
Life is short. How much love can I give and how much can I drink?
They say, “He departs,” at the very moment that he is born.
While he is being welcomed, I have seen his farewell being prepared.
They started closing the shutters of the tavern, as soon as they were raised.