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Nirendranath Chakravarti

The King Without Clothes

They can all see the king is naked, yet
They're all applauding.
Everyone is shouting, "Bravo, bravo" ---
Some from custom, some from fear,
Some who have pawned their own wits to others;
Some are parasites, some
Supplicants, suitors, frauds.
Some really think the royal robe's so fine
It's there though you can't see it;
At least it may be so.

Everyone knows the story.
But in that story,
There wasn't only the flattering crew
Of out-and-out cowards, opportunists, fools,
There was a child as well :
A truthful, simple, courageous little child.

That fabled king has now stepped out in state
Upon the highroad of reality.
Again there gathers
A crowd of sycophants;
Again, each moment, they break out in applause.
Only I do not find
That little child today among the crowd.

Where is he gone ? Has someone
Thrust him from sight in a secret mountain-cave ?
Or has he, playing
With grass and earth and rocks, fallen asleep
By a distant lonely river,
Or on some plain, under a shady tree ?

Go find him,
Find him no matter how.

Let him once more before the naked king
Stand fearlessly.
Let him once raise his voice above the applause
And ask :
"King, where are your clothes ?"

Translated by Sukanta Chaudhury

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