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Vocation by Rabindranath Tagore

When the gong sounds ten in the morning and I walk to school by our lane,
Every day I meet the hawker crying, “Bangles, crystal bangles!”
There is nothing to hurry him on, there is no road he must take, no place he must go to, no time when he must come home.
I wish I were a hawker, spending my day in the road, crying, “Bangles, crystal bangles!”

When at four in the afternoon I come back from the school,
I can see through the gate of that house the gardener digging the ground.
He does what he likes with his spade, he soils his clothes with dust, nobody takes him to task, if he gets baked in the sun or gets wet.
I wish I were a gardener digging away at the garden with nobody to stop me from digging.

Just as it gets dark in the evening and my mother sends me to bed,
I can see through my open window the watchman walking up and down.
The lane is dark and lonely, and the streetlamp stands like a giant with one red eye in its head.
The watchman swings his lantern and walks with his shadow at his side, and never once goes to bed in his life.
I wish I were a watchman walking the street all night, chasing the shadows with my lantern.


The child goes to school at 10 in the morning. On his way to school, he first meets the bangle-seller. The child wishes that he was the hawker because he is free to go down any road he likes. He does not have to return home at an appointed hour.

When the child returns from school at 4 O’ clock, he sees the gardener digging the soil with a spade. The gardener is not worried that his clothes are getting dirty or that it is too hot or that he will get wet if it is raining. The child then wishes that he was a gardener.

At night when the child is sent to bed by his mother, he sees the watchman pacing up and down the lane with his lantern. The child envies the watchman because no one tells him to go to bed. So the child wishes that he was a watchman.

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