I touch God in my song as the hill touches the far-away sea with its waterfall.
The butterfly counts not months but moments,and has time enough.
Let my love, like sunlight, surround you and yet give you illumined freedom.
Love remains a secret even when spoken, for only a lover truly knows that he is loved.
Emancipation from the bondage of the soil is no freedom for the tree.
In love I pay my endless debt to thee
for what thou art.
On the Nature of Love From Chaitali (1896)
The night is black and the forest has no end;a million people thread it in a million ways.
We have trysts to keep in the darkness, but where or with whom- of that we are unaware.
But we have this faith- that a lifetime’s bliss will appear any minute, with a smile upon its lips.
Scents, touches, sounds, snatches of songs brush us, pass us, give us delightful shocks.
Then peradventure there’s a flash of lightning: whomever I see that instant I fall in love with.
I call that person and cry: `This life is blest! For your sake such miles have I traversed!’
All those others who come close and moved off in the darkness- I dont know if they exist or not.
Prashna (The question)
God, you have sent messengers life after life,
To this callous earth;
They have said ‘Forgive all sins’ they have told us ‘Love-from your heart all malice remove’
They are venerable men, worthy of reverence, but we
In these dark days reject them with ritual furtility.
I see secret violence under cover of darkness
Slaughtering the helpless,
I see the just weeping in solitary silence,
No power to protest, their only offence,
I see tender youths hitting out blindly
Cracking their heads against stones in their agony
Today my voice is choked, my flute is without note,
The prison of the no-moon night
Has extinguished my world, given me nightmares;
And this is why I ask, through my tears – Those who poison your air and blot out the sun;
Do you truly fogive them, do you truly love them?
Prayer for Strength
This is my prayer to Thee, my Lord
strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart.
Give me the strenght lighly to bear my joys and sorrows
Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.
Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.
Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.
And give me the strength to surrender my strength to Thy will with Love.
Tagore paid tribute to Shakespeare’s power to communicate with Indians in a short, simple, lyrical poem. Published in Bengali beside Tagore’s English translation by the Oxfort University Press in 1916. The Translation is:
When you arose, world poet, from behind the unseen
England found you within her horizon
And embraced you; took you to be her own,
Hers alone, she kissed your shining brow,
Clasped you a while within her sylvan arms, dandled
You were hidden in her mist-mantle
In flower covered dewy green meadows
Where fairies played.
As yet the isle’s groves
Were not awake to hymn the poet-sun’s true reckoning
You left the horizon lap and through centuries ascended
To that zenith for which you were intended
Your radiant throne at the centre of heaven,
Illuminating all minds; Her how, after an aeon
The palm groves on the shores of the Indian Ocean
Rustle their fronds and murmur their paean.
Nearly 80, Tagore wrote the superb ‘Mayurer Drishti (In the eyes of a Peacock) ….the Extract opening…
Screened from the sunshine of a midsummer’s morning,I sit out on the terrace
The break is benign; Dull work is not yet pressing me,
No crowd is leaning on me
Trampling my time underfoot.
I sit and write, A little juice collecting in my pen nib this free morning
Like a slit made in the bole of a date palm.
Our peacock comes and sits, tail downwards, On the railing beside me
It feels secure in my corner,
No harsh keeper here, shackles in hand,
Just outside in the branches unripe mangoes hang,
Lime trees are loaded with limes
A lone kurchi tree, flowering,
Somehow looks astonished at its own abundance
With pointless vitality
The peacock darts its neck this way and that
It stares beadily
Without a speck of interest at my writing book;
If, by chance, the squiggles had been insects
Then it would not have thought the poet so trifling
Loving conversation of a newly wedded Bengali couple. The bride is of course but a child in the ludicruous love in Manashi. The wedding premalap…by Tagore in Manashi:
Life unto life, Union with a wife;
naught can compare with such grace.
Come, forget thy days, let us lift our gaze and glance, we two, at t’other’s face
Soul unto soul, in bashful whirl,
We are joined together in this place.
As if in swoon, we such honey from one bloom forgetting ourselves without trace.
Since my birth, the fire in my hearth has produced only ashes, no peace.
Into thine ocean of fathomless emotion,
I have come – to find a consoling space.
Tell me once, Mine ‘I am truly thine, None other do I wish to embrace’
But – what’s this? Where do you go, my bliss?
I am going to sleep with my nurse!