Rabindranath Tagore is possibly the most famous poet to come from India. For his beautiful, profound and sensitive verses, which expressed his poetic thought, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Being a poet myself, I have always wanted to read his verse. I chanced upon this book and these are my thoughts on the famous collection of poems, “Gitanjali”, the name of which translates to “Song Offerings”.
It doesn’t take a poet to see soul in a poem, but I guess being one helps a lot. For me, the first offering was very profound. A dedication to God, who touches our lives in so many ways that we may not always know. He empties us of wrong thoughts when we are nearing the brim, or using our good thoughts in a wrong way, and fills us with hope again. He lets our mind wander like the music from a flute, and find its own destiny, for we know not whose ears the music goes to.
Most of the poems, if not all in this collection is a dedication to His glory. Another that touched me is the fifth offering, which reminded me of me a long time back, when I used to go to a temple and just sit quietly and mull. When the world outside would be buzzing with excitement, or rushing through with effort, but all I’d be doing is clear my thoughts.
If I were to share a poem, or keep one, just one hidden away in my heart, I think that would be this one:
By all means they try to hold me secure
who love me in this world.
But it is otherwise with thy love
which is greater than theirs,
and thou keepest me free.
Lest I forget them
they never venture to leave me alone.
But day passes by after day
and thou art not seen.
If I call not thee in my prayers,
if I keep not thee in my heart,
thy love for me still waits for my love.
It resonates with me most because though the people around me, who love me and care for me try to keep me tied to something, it is through poetry and His grace that I feel free. Though I can’t see God and I feel tied down a lot at times by those loved ones, I still pray and keep hope that I shall remain free, that He shall hear me some day.
Another reads so:
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by
narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening
thought and action—
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
Ah, the will to dream of that heaven, which we still continue to dream of, I still continue to dream of. To be led by reason and enthusiasm rather than habit and not chained by the four walls that surround me. It makes me want to believe. It takes time to sink in, but I should continue to believe that I can do it.
Thy gifts to us mortals fulfil all our needs and yet run back to
The river has its everyday work to do and hastens through fields
and hamlets; yet its incessant stream winds towards the washing of
The flower sweetens the air with its perfume; yet its last service
is to offer itself to thee.
Thy worship does not impoverish the world.
From the words of the poet men take what meanings please
them; yet their last meaning points to thee.
Nature’s wonders that happen each day in and by His grace live on with that same marvel in Tagore’s words here. He even puts a concluding action of the poet’s life and verse as well.
I’d go through every poem in Gitanjali here, because they are deep and meaningful to me. But the same meaning they might not hold to you. It is a journey in itself to go through his verse and understand it. So I’ll leave it here.
I’m not sure if I should give a rating, but since I do, it is a 5 star rating from me. I’d give it even higher.
Author: Rabindranath Tagore
Publishers: Empire Books
Price: INR. 460
(July 3rd, 2013)