Posted in Books

Book Review: Selected Poems, by Rabindranath Tagore (Translated by William Radice)

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.

Positives: Strong images as always conveyed by the poetry.
Negatives: Translation not as magical, the effect only partial.

Rated a 7 on 10!
Rated a 7 on 10!

Book Details:
Title: Selected Poems
Author: Rabindranath Tagore
Translated by: William Radice
ASIN: 9780140449884
Genre: Poetry
Publishers: Penguin Books

This book is a personal copy. No payment was taken for this review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.

Shared with Indian Quills Reading Challenge at Tales Pensieve.

(28th Nov, 2013)


Poetry and writing are to me, a breath of fresh air in a life that is sometimes covered by the smoke of sorrow or self doubt. They also become the sweets I share to celebrate when life offers me a reason to. But most of all, they are to me, my life. For each word I write is a piece of my heart, a thought that just had to find its way into the world.