“Come and hire me,” I cried, while in the morning
I was walking on the stone-paved road.
Sword in hand the King came in his chariot.
He held my hand and said, “I will hire you with my power,”
But his power counted for naught, and he went away in his chariot.
The poem begins with the speaker desperately calling for help. It is evident that he has acquired all the skills needed for a person to gain employment. He is seen to be making an appeal to society in general to hire him. He does not specify what job he prefers, as he is looking out for making a living and does not mind the nature of the job. This shows him as a person who is looking to stand on his own legs. He is more keen to get the job and therefore does not quote or specify what he is expecting in return for his service. He does not go in search of a job but is expecting people who are in need of his service to come and hire him. When he makes this appeal, it is morning, a time for new beginnings and hope.
Stone-paved road
He keeps walking on a stone-paved road, signifying the hard and rough patch that he is going through in his own life at that time. Hearing his plea, the first person to approach is the most powerful person, the king. The king is mostly the deciding authority of the place and his word is the final statement when it comes to political affairs. In order to emphasise on the power of the king, the poet states that he arrives with a sword in hand. A sword is the symbol of power and violence. The king has the authority to take the head of someone who disobeys him. He also comes in a chariot, which again stresses more on his power.
The king comes in a chariot
The king, as expected, claims that he could hire the speaker with his power. He exerts his authority to hire the speaker. The speaker denies his offer in spite of the fact that the king is the most powerful person. He says that the king's power amounts to nothing. It did not matter to him, nor did it make a difference. The poet says that when one tries to sell his skill for power, he becomes a slave. He gives the authority to taunt and control him to another person with power. No kind of work can justify this act. The king, therefore, had to leave in his chariot, as his power could not buy the speaker.
Meaning of difficult words:
HireTo take someone to work for a person or organisation
Stone-paved roadA road that is made with stones
SwordA sharp metal knife
ChariotAn open vehicle pulled by horses
AppealTo make a request
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2008). Honeydew. The Last Bargain- Rabindranath Tagore (pp.73-74). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.