Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Tagore: Such is Thy pleasure

Thou Hast Made Me Endless
Part IV

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941 AD) the Nobel Laureate of 1913 was introduced to the West primarily through the collection of English translation of some of his poems/songs captioned as ‘Gitanjali’ (=Offering of Songs).

More translations of his works followed by the poet himself and others after he had won the Nobel, including poems/songs, dramas, short stories etc. However, such efforts were sporadic and sluggish, mostly on individual initiative, which still remain so.As a result, a vast volume of the poet’s works remains un-translated while, it appears, it is an impossible proposition to translate even a substantial part of the poet’s total works to permit those, not privileged by the knowledge of Bengali language, a reasonably broad view of his myriad creations where unfathomable perceptional depth of top grade aesthetics runs through, literally true to his song “Thou hast made me endless / Such is Thy pleasure”.

Notwithstanding this, an upsurge of Tagore translation took place in the last decade of the twentieth century by virtue of a good number of eminent poets/translators e.g.William Radice, Joe Winter, Ketaki Kushari Dyson, to name a few, all of whom left their valuable contribution to this oeuvre and my book THE ECLIPSED SUN is a modest addition to this. I have put stress on a few aspects of the poet’s works, particularly those in his twilight years, which seemed to me quite inadequately covered so far. The followings are presented mostly based on this book.

RAJAT DAS GUPTA: Calcutta: e-mail:

Poem No: 10 of Patraput written at Santiniketan in 1935, 6 years before the Poet’s death.

[Translator’s note: Through his various dissertations Tagore lucidly explained different parts of Upanishada, the scripture for mankind left by the Indian sages 4000 years back. Like me who do not have access to the original Upanishada for lack of command over Sanskrit, the language in which it was composed, may find Tagore’s essays/poems as the best guide to Upanishada. Thus is one of the numerous annotations on Upanishada by Tagore -]

“Those who are craven take this world as comprising impediments only which impair their vision and hope. So they know only the impediments as the truth, but not the real truth. But he who is great, sees the truth instantly beyond all impediments. That is why there is a gulf of difference between their thoughts. When everybody is in chorus that they see only darkness, he can assert- “Beyond all darkness I have seen Him who is great and luminous." (Upanishada)

This annotation resounds in this poem also which helps us share the poet’s glimpse of the ultimate truth beyond the daily torments of this mortal world.

For long is carrying my body
Small moments’ rage, enmity and anxiety –
Overshadowing soul’s liberty
With his own ambiguity.

With Truth’s mask Truth he will conceal,
His doll with Death’s clay build he will;
Yet, Death will trace in it if,
It will be his grief.
His play is for self deception,
But that it is play is never his conviction.
Offerings to Death he will relentlessly pile,
Spin in rotations of tear and smile;
With the steam and bubbles of woos
And ignominies he boos.
Daily his ego shoots fiery missiles
Only the ashes from void piles.

In search of my inner self
Into the light I delve
That every morning will reveal,
In it, Creation’s serenity to feel.
I take apart my soul from this body
Out of all futile anxiety
Caught in the soiled trap of many an hour
There for ablution in heavenly shower;
Where rests the silent mail
Whose invitation never did I hail.
Then I recall – O Sun,
The saints’ prayer ages back done –
“O Luminous, shrouds your golden bowl
Truth, our final goal;
Unfold it O Gracious!”
Of which I be conscious –
To extend my awakening
Along His rays from horizon every morning.
I pray- O Sun, lift this lid, my body
Comprising atoms and molecules shoddy
Of your radiating mass
That hide the Ultimate enormous –
Be that mystery revealed in my vision clear;
Your holiest exuberance may I peer.
My innermost truth that was latent
In your vastness without an extent
Along with the un-devised earth
Is yours only, at your mirth.
At your splendor’s brim
Humans sighted their nobility supreme –
That from age to age you did compile
By the Persian Gulf, Himalayas or Nile.
Said they – “Sons of the Immortal we are –
Did vision that Superman
From beyond the darkness, blazing golden.”
Also listen to: Hridoy Amar Prokash Holo (Tagore song) - Paromitar Ek Din

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