Sarojini Naidu was a distinguished poet who spent much of her life campaigning for Indian independence.
She was known as ‘the Nightingale of India’ and was the first Indian woman to be president of National Congress. Her poem The Gift of India reflects Sarojini’s love for her country, and reminds us of the sacrifices made by Indian soldiers during the First World War.
In 1917, she helped found the Women’s India Association and highlighted to Congress the need to involve more women in the struggle for freedom. She travelled all over India, working and giving speeches on youth welfare, workers rights, women’s emancipation and nationalism.
After India gained independence, she became the first governor of the United Provinces, present-day Uttar Pradesh, and worked in this role until she died in 1949. Her birthday, March 2, has been made Women's Day in India.
Below is an extract of the The Gift of India, the full poem can be found here: https://www.poetrynook.com/poem/gift-india
Gathered like pearls in their alien graves
Silent they sleep by the Persian waves,
Scattered like shells on Egyptian sands,
They lie with pale brows and brave, broken hands,
They are strewn like blossoms mown down by chance
On the blood-brown meadows of Flanders and France.