Terebess Asia Online (TAO)


Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

Born May 6, 1861, in Calcutta, Rabindranath Tagore became one of the prolific writers in the world, poet, artist, dramatist, musician, novelist, and essayist. He was completely at home both in Bengali and in English, in part because he was educated at University College, London, in 1879-80. He had become the national poet of Bengal by the time of his Golden Jubilee in Calcutta on January 28, 1912, but his international fame only came in November 1913 when he won the Nobel Prize for literature for Gitanjali, a collection of poetry initially brought out in Bengali in 1910 and then translated by the poet and published in English in 1912 with an introduction by W. B. Yeats. He translated so many volumes of his own Benjali poems personally that he can be regarded as an Anglo-Indian poet. Tagore resided at Shantiniketan and Ashram and founded a school at the former place that turned into Visva-Bharati University in 1918, the present-day holder of the Tagore copyright (which ran out on January 1, 2002). Mrinalini Devi Raichaudhuri and he wed, in an arranged marriage, Dec. 9, 1883, and they had five children: three daughters, Madhurilata, Renuka, and Mira, and two sons, Rathindranath and Samindranath. Tagore obtained honorary degrees from the universities of Calcutta (1913), Dacca (1936), Osmania (1938), and Oxford (1940). He died August 7, 1941, in Calcutta, and was cremated.

Broken Ties and Other Stories
Chitra, a Play in One Act
The Crescent Moon 1913 - child-poems
Chronology and Conversations
Fruit-Gathering 1916 - poems
The Gardener
Gitanjali 1912, 1913 - first poems in English
The Home and the World 1915, 1919 - novel, in 1908
Hungry Stones And Other Stories 1916 - short stories
India and China
The King of the Dark Chamber 1914 - drama
The Post Office 1914 - a fable play
Sadhana: The Realisation of Life
Selected Poetry
Songs of Kabîr
Stray Birds 1916 - philosophical epigrams
Thoughts from Rabindranath Tagore

Dyson, K. K. Tagore's Little Poems


by Rabindranath Tagore

As my own eyes filled with tears when rained sorrow's shower
The friend's chariot stopped before the door of my heart.
Filled is the cup of the united couple with sorrow and seperation.
I offered the cup to him, I've no more regrets, no more regrets.
Long-eluding hope is now resurgent in my heart,
In the twinkling of an eye was satisfied
my longing for his touch.
Now I realize for whom I had wept for so long.
Glorious this resurgence, glorious this weeping,
glorious, glorious.
--from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd


The earth of Bengal, Bengal's waters, the air of Bengal, Bengal's fruit
Consecrate, consecrate, consecrate, oh Lord
The homestead of Bengal, Bengal's market,
the woods of Bengal, Bengal's field
Be bounteous, be bounteous, be bounteous, oh Lord.
The resolve of a Bengalee, his hope,
the toil of a Bengalee, his language
Be truthful, be truthful, be truthful of Lord.
The heart of a Bengalee, his mind,
All the brothers and sisters in a Bengalee household
Be one, be one, be one, oh Lord.
--from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd


The moon's smile has forsaken all restraint, the light overflows.
O 'rajanigandha' pour out all your smell.
The agitated wind doesn't know in which direction to move-
Everyone looks lovely when it encompasses
the blossoming bower.
Today the blue sky's forehead is washed in sandal,
The coupled-swan of the eloquent wood have spread their wings.
With a plant from paradise, what does the moon spread
around the world.
What honeymoon- light from heaven is lit up here.
--from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd


Even now I haven't seen him, only heard his flute's note.
But my mind and my heart I've both surrendered to him.
I've heard he is dark of complexion, better not to see him
Tell me, my friend, whether I should go to
the Jamuna to fetch water.
Only in my dream he appeared, at the corner of
my eye flashed his smile.
Since then, dear, I wait in apprehension-
I fear to open my eyes.
Whoever wishes traverses the woody way,
Whoever wishes stares under the "kadom" tree.
Tell me, dear, shall I cast my eyes on him?
--from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd


What is anxiety playmate? Playmate, what is agony?
You all say day and night 'love, love'-
Tell me, playmate, what is love! Is it only torment?
It is only shedding tears? Is that only sorrow's breathing?
Why then in what expectation of joy
People hopefully embrace such sorrow?

In my eyes all is handsome,
All fresh, all spotless, blue sky, darkgreen wood
Liberal moonlight, soft flower-every thing like me.
They only smile, only sing, wish to die after a sportive game-
knows no pain, knows no crying, above all kinds of agony.
Flowers laugh while they get shed, moonlight smilingly disappears,
In the sea of light the star, all smiles, does his form abandon.

Who is happy like me? Come playmate, come near to me-
The joyous song of a happy heart will feed your mind with solace.
If everyday you cry, why not laugh for a single day-
Forget all sadness for at least a day, let all of us sing together.
--from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd


On a rainy day when the wind gets wild
My untamed mind wakes up.
Outside the realm of the known, where no path can be found
There goes my mind on its own.
Will it ever go home-ward now.
No, no it will not go there-
All the impediments are gone.
The evening is rain-intoxicated, which god's disciple I am,
They dance around my mind enmeshes the votaries
all the votaries.
I ask what I shouldn't ask for
Once cannot get what cannot be got
Won't get, won't get,
I vainly lay myself at the feel of the impossible.
--from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd


My days got restive of the golden cage
Those multi-coloured days of mine.
They got our of the fetters of joy and crying
Those multi-coloured days of mine.
The words of my soul's song
I had hopes they might learn-
They flew away, without saying much
Those multi-coloured days of mine.
I dream, they circle round my broken cage
In expectation of meeting someone
Those multi-coloured days of mine.
So much pain can't be all deception.
Are they all shadowy birds.
Is nothing left at the horizon
Those multi-coloured days of mine.
--from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd


It is your beginning, this is my end-
You and I together make this current.
Your lamp burns, you've a companion at home
For me it is night, for me it is the star.
Yours is the shore, mine the water-
You remain sitting, I go on wandering.
Your hand can hold, mine knows decay-
Your mind knows fear, mine is above it.
--from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd


The rain has stopped and sun-light
Smiles on the cloud.
It is holiday for us today, brother, today is a holiday for us
I can't think of how to spend the day, which woods
to seek after getting lost.
Which field to choose for all the assembled boys.
With 'keya' leaves we shall build a boat
and cover it with flowers.
And float it on the palm-lake and watch it moving rockingly.
With the peasant boy we'll drive the cattle and play the flute
Press the flower-seed to our skin ransacking the champak wood.
--from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd


In the rice-field can be seen today a hide and seek game
between sunlight and shade-
Who has floated the vessel of white clouds in the blue sky?
Today the bee forgets to drink the honey,
it flies all around prompted by the light.
The lover-birds today play at the river's sand-bar.
I'll not go home today, brother, not go home today.
We shall force the sky downward and plunder whatever
we can get outdoors.
On the tide-water floats the expanding foam laughing with the wind,
Today the whole morning will be spent
playing the flute without any prompting.
--from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd


There is no one to stop me from getting lost,
Anywhere at all, as long as I make a wish in my mind.
I spread my wings to the rhythm of my song, in my imagination.

I go beyond the stony wilderness of all fairy tales,
I get lost and reach a far away place, where silence rules.
I go through the "parul" forests and get to know the "champa" flowers,
All in my imagination.

There is no one to stop me from getting lost,
Anywhere at all, as long as I make a wish in my mind.
I spread my wings to the rhythm of my song, in my imagination.

As the setting sun reaches the horizon,
And the clouds are all like cotton flowers in the sky,
On the surf of the seven seas,
I float faraway to foreign lands.
I throw open the locked doors of fairy worlds, in my imagination.
--written by Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Anonymous


Rabindranath Tagore also wrote the National Anthem of Bangladesh: Amar Sonar Bangla (My Golden Bengal)
My Golden Bengal

My Bengal of gold, I love you.
Forever your skies, your air set my heart in tune as if it were a flute.
In spring, Oh mother of mine, the fragrance from your mango groves makes me wild with joy.
Oh, what a thrill!
In autumn, oh mother mine, in the full blossomed paddy fields
I have seen sweet smiles spread all over.
Oh, what beauty, what shades, what affection and what tenderness!
What a quilt you have spread at the feet of the banyan trees and along the banks of the rivers!
Oh mother mine, words from your lips are like honey to my ears.
Oh, what a thrill!
If sadness, dear mother mine, casts a gloom on your face, my eyes are filled with tears!