A Gem from the Gaha Sattasai


The Gaha Sattasai (Sanskrit Gāthā Saptaśatī, "(set of) 700 songs") is an ancient collection of couplets in Maharashtri Prakrit, all on the subject of love.

Scholarship attributes this collection to king Hala, but many of the poems are from a woman's perspective, and I wonder to what extent these poems were originally authored by women. This is especially so given the choice of language — I know little of the Prakrit ("vernacular") languages that thrived in this period, but Sanskrit literature tends to associated these languages with women.

My favorite from the collection, via Andrew Schelling's 2008 translation:

Lone buck
in the clearing
Nearby doe
eyes him with such
that there
in the trees the hunter
seeing his own girl
lets the bow drop