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Rabindranath Tagore Poems

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Rabindranath Tagore
May 7, 1861 –  August 7, 1941
Bengali polymath




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Unending Love

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, its age-old pain,
Its ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time:
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers, shared in the same
Shy sweetness of meeting, the same distressful tears of farewell-
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours –
And the songs of every poet past and forever.




The Golden Boat

Clouds rumbling in the sky; teeming rain.
I sit on the river bank, sad and alone.
The sheaves lie gathered, harvest has ended,
The river is swollen and fierce in its flow.
As we cut the paddy it started to rain.

One small paddy-field, no one but me -
Flood-waters twisting and swirling everywhere.
Trees on the far bank; smear shadows like ink
On a village painted on deep morning grey.
On this side a paddy-field, no one but me.

Who is this, steering close to the shore
Singing? I feel that she is someone I know.
The sails are filled wide, she gazes ahead,
Waves break helplessly against the boat each side.
I watch and feel I have seen her face before.

Oh to what foreign land do you sail?
Come to the bank and moor your boat for a while.
Go where you want to, give where you care to,
But come to the bank a moment, show your smile -
Take away my golden paddy when you sail.

Take it, take as much as you can load.
Is there more? No, none, I have put it aboard.
My intense labour here by the river -
I have parted with it all, layer upon layer;
Now take me as well, be kind, take me aboard.

No room, no room, the boat is too small.
Loaded with my gold paddy, the boat is full.
Across the rain-sky clouds heave to and fro,
On the bare river-bank, I remain alone -
What had has gone: the golden boat took all.





Little Of Me

Let only that little be left of me
whereby I may name thee my all.

Let only that little be left of my will
whereby I may feel thee on every side,
and come to thee in everything,
and offer to thee my love every moment.

Let only that little be left of me
whereby I may never hide thee.
Let only that little of my fetters be left
whereby I am bound with thy will,
and thy purpose is carried out in my
life—-and that is the fetter of thy love.





The Home

I paced alone on the road across the field while the sunset was
hiding its last gold like a miser.
    The daylight sank deeper and deeper into the darkness, and the
widowed land, whose harvest had been reaped, lay silent.
    Suddenly a boy's shrill voice rose into the sky. He traversed
the dark unseen, leaving the track of his song across
 the hush of the evening.
    His village home lay there at the end of the waste land,
beyond the sugar-cane field, hidden among the shadows of the banana
and the slender areca palm, the coconut and
the dark green jack-fruit trees.
    I stopped for a moment in my lonely way under the starlight,
and saw spread before me the darkened earth surrounding with her
arms countless homes furnished with cradles and beds, mother's
hearts and evening lamps, and young lives glad with a gladness that
knows nothing of its value for the world.





Little Flute

Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail
vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.

This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales,
and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.

At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limits in
joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.

Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine.
Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.




Give Me Strength

This is my prayer to thee, my lord—-strike,
strike at the root of penury in my heart.

Give me the strength lightly 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.





On The Nature Of Love

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 came close and moved off
in the darkness - I don't know if they exist or not.



Leave This

Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads!
Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut?
Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee!

He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground
and where the pathmaker is breaking stones.
He is with them in sun and in shower,
and his garment is covered with dust.
Put off thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil!

Deliverance?
Where is this deliverance to be found?
Our master himself has joyfully taken upon him the bonds of creation;
he is bound with us all for ever.

Come out of thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and incense!
What harm is there if thy clothes become tattered and stained?
Meet him and stand by him in toil and in sweat of thy brow.




The Hero

Mother, let us imagine we are travelling, and passing through a
strange and dangerous country.
    You are riding in a palanquin and I am trotting by you on a
red horse.
    It is evening and the sun goes down. The waste of Joradighi
lies wan and grey before us. The land is desolate and barren.
    You are frightened and thinking-"I know not where we have come
to."
    I say to you, "Mother, do not be afraid."
    The meadow is prickly with spiky grass, and through it runs
a narrow broken path.
    There are no cattle to be seen in the wide field; they have
gone to their village stalls.
    It grows dark and dim on the land and sky, and we cannot tell
where we are going.
    Suddenly you call me and ask me in a whisper, "What light is
that near the bank?"
    Just then there bursts out a fearful yell, and figures come
running towards us.
    You sit crouched in your palanquin and repeat the names of the
gods in prayer.
    The bearers, shaking in terror, hide themselves in the thorny
bush.
    I shout to you, "Don't be afraid, mother. I am here."
    With long sticks in their hands and hair all wild about their
heads, they come nearer and nearer.
    I shout, "Have a care, you villains! One step more and you are
dead men."
    They give another terrible yell and rush forward.
    You clutch my hand and say, "Dear boy, for heaven's sake, keep
away from them."
    I say, "Mother, just you watch me."
    Then I spur my horse for a wild gallop, and my sword and
buckler clash against each other.
    The fight becomes so fearful, mother, that it would give you
a cold shudder could you see it from your palanquin.
    Many of them fly, and a great number are cut to pieces.
    I know you are thinking, sitting all by yourself, that your
boy must be dead by this time.
    But I come to you all stained with blood, and say,"Mother, the
fight is over now."
    You come out and kiss me, pressing me to your heart, and you
say to yourself,
    "I don't know what I should do if I hadn't my boy
 to escort me."
    A thousand useless things happen day after day, and why
couldn't such a thing come true by chance?
    It would be like a story in a book.
    My brother would say, "Is it possible? I always thought he was
so delicate!"
    Our village people would all say in amazement, "Was it not
lucky that the boy was with his mother?"





The Gift

I want to give you something, my child, for we are drifting in the
stream of the world.
    Our lives will be carried apart, and our love forgotten.
    But I am not so foolish as to hope that I could buy your heart
with my gifts.
    Young is your life, your path long, and you drink the love we
bring you at one draught and turn and run away from us.
    You have your play and your playmates. What harm is there if
you have no time or thought for us!
    We, indeed, have leisure enough in old age to count the days
that are past, to cherish in our hearts what our
hands have lost for ever.
    The river runs swift with a song, breaking through all
barriers. But the mountain stays and remembers, and follows her
with his love.





Journey Home

The time that my journey takes is long and the way of it long.

I came out on the chariot of the first gleam of light, and pursued my
voyage through the wildernesses of worlds leaving my track on many a star and planet.

It is the most distant course that comes nearest to thyself,
and that training is the most intricate which leads to the utter simplicity of a tune.

The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own,
and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.

My eyes strayed far and wide before I shut them and said `Here art thou!'

The question and the cry `Oh, where?' melt into tears of a thousand
streams and deluge the world with the flood of the assurance `I am!'





Distant Time

I know not from what distant time
thou art ever coming nearer to meet me.
Thy sun and stars can never keep thee hidden from me for aye.

In many a morning and eve thy footsteps have been heard
and thy messenger has come within my heart and called me in secret.

I know not only why today my life is all astir,
and a feeling of tremulous joy is passing through my heart.

It is as if the time were come to wind up my work,
and I feel in the air a faint smell of thy sweet presence.




Strong Mercy

My desires are many and my cry is pitiful,
but ever didst thou save me by hard refusals;
and this strong mercy has been wrought into my life through and through.

Day by day thou art making me worthy of the simple,
great gifts that thou gavest to me unasked—-this sky and the light, this body and the
life and the mind—-saving me from perils of overmuch desire.

There are times when I languidly linger
and times when I awaken and hurry in search of my goal;
but cruelly thou hidest thyself from before me.

Day by day thou art making me worthy of thy full acceptance by
refusing me ever and anon, saving me from perils of weak, uncertain desire.




Brink Of Eternity

In desperate hope I go and search for her
in all the corners of my room;
I find her not.

My house is small
and what once has gone from it can never be regained.

But infinite is thy mansion, my lord,
and seeking her I have to come to thy door.

I stand under the golden canopy of thine evening sky
and I lift my eager eyes to thy face.

I have come to the brink of eternity from which nothing can vanish
—-no hope, no happiness, no vision of a face seen through tears.

Oh, dip my emptied life into that ocean,
plunge it into the deepest fullness.
Let me for once feel that lost sweet touch
in the allness of the universe.




Friend

Art thou abroad on this stormy night
on thy journey of love, my friend?
The sky groans like one in despair.

I have no sleep tonight.
Ever and again I open my door and look out on
the darkness, my friend!

I can see nothing before me.
I wonder where lies thy path!

By what dim shore of the ink-black river,
by what far edge of the frowning forest,
through what mazy depth of gloom art thou threading
thy course to come to me, my friend?





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