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As the title of the poem indicates, "Leili," meaning nocturnal, depicts the images and sounds of India during a calm night. Sarojini Naidu uses beautiful imagery to portray nighttime in her home country of India. In the first stanza, Naidu describes how animals and nature peacefully interact as the sun sets in the sky. Images of serpents sleeping in poppy fields, fireflies in the jungle, and lotus buds stirring as the wind passes establish the peaceful atmosphere of India's natural environment. In the second stanza, Naidu describes heaven, the moon, and the calming wind as the voices of mystics are heard making offerings to the gods throughout the night. All of these images depict how nature, animals, humans, and spiritual forces are in tune with each other throughout a calm night in India.
Sarojini Naidu often wrote poetry that described the state of the natural world around her as she does in the poem "Leili." Entitling the poem “Leili,” she gives the reader a clue as to the time of day she is writing about because the word means nocturnal. The poet describes how the snakes are sleeping in the flowers, the fireflies are providing light to the panthers who hunt nocturnally, and she speaks of the parrot flower being brighter than the end of the day. Evening is enveloping her world.
She alludes to the Hindu religion when she describes the caste-mark on the “azure brows of Heaven.” The caste-mark is seen on the brow of people who worship the tenets of Hinduism. Naidu describes the moon and the wind before she admonishes the reader to be quiet and listen. Evening prayers can be heard in the distance where the gods will receive “their incense –offering.”
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