There are certain poets you look up to for some poems they wrote. I admire Davies’ for his poem Leisure which is my all-time favorite, and Nick Virgilio for his lily haiku, which has the most wonderful depth in three lines. Then there is Tagore, who I admire for his poetry collection Gitanjali. I find it humbling that people tease me with his name, because my surname is very similar to his.
This book came into my possession quite by chance as much as intent. But I was happy to have it, and it is my second collection of Tagore’s poetry after Gitanjali. It’s never that nice to read a translation, because it doesn’t quite get the same emotions the original work does, but I think Radice does his best to do it. And to an extent, he brings out atleast some of the effect that Tagore’s poems have. I couldn’t help but compare the work with Gitanjali, and in that respect, this book falls quite a way short. Whereas the former had no notes from the translator, this book has quite a lot, and in the end it feels like we’re reading more of Radice than Rabindranath. Not something that is particularly liked or enjoyed.
Words like soulful and mesmerizing are usually what I hear when friends talk of Tagore’s poems. That’s because his images are strong. This book, however, didn’t feel like it merited those words as much. Still… a good collection.
IN A GIST:
Positives: Strong images as always conveyed by the poetry.
Negatives: Translation not as magical, the effect only partial.
Title: Selected Poems
Author: Rabindranath Tagore
Translated by: William Radice
Publishers: Penguin Books
(28th Nov, 2013)