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. Continue reading “Book Review: Selected Poems, by Rabindranath Tagore (Translated by William Radice)”

Posted in Books

Book Review: Chokher Bali, by Rabindranath Tagore

About the author:
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.

My thoughts:
There are some stories that have you hooked by the characters, the setting of the novel and the simplicity of the language. These books, I feel, are very rare. One such book I came across was written by one of my favorite poets, one of the greatest writers and one who is well respected around the world. Rabindranath Tagore is known more for his soul stirring verses perhaps than his novels, but a book by him still appealed to me and it was as good as poetry in prose.

Chokher Bali is not a story that all would love. It doesn’t flow quickly, and neither can it be finished in one day. It’s a family drama, set in the time when families were more orthodox than they are now. It speaks of traditions and superstitions. It is the story of the young widow Binodini, who follows the customs by returning to her village to live there for a couple of months after her husband’s death, yet accepts the invite into the house of Rajlakshmi, who lives with her son Mahendra and his wife, the young and naive Ashalata. The story is about the intricacies of emotions like love, passion and desire. Not just the love of Mahendra for Ashalata, but of Mahendra’s love for his mother, his mother’s affection for Binodini, Bihari babu’s deep friendship with Mahendra, the odd friendship formed between Ashalata and Binodini and a lot other inset emotions. But most of all its of that love of Mahendra towards Binodini, who he thinks is more a match for him than Ashalata.

The story weaves in and out of the lives of these characters with consummate ease, stitching culture and love together. Tagore creates deep characters and tells more with simple words better than any writer I know of. He takes us back to the time of British India flawlessly. If I knew to read Bengali, I would read the original. There’s always something different in a translation. I’ve to read some of his other works now, prose ones I mean. It’s beautiful to have a story speak to you.

Rated a 9/10
Rated a 9/10

Book Details:
Title: Chokher Bali
Author: Rabindranath Tagore
Translated by: Radha Chakravarty
ISBN: 9788184003048
Genre: Fiction/Drama
Publishers: Random House India
Price: INR 299


This book was given to me for review by Random House India. This is not a paid review.
The opinions expressed in the review are my own, and remain unbiased and uninfluenced.

Shared with Indian Quills at Tales Pensieve.

(Oct 6th, 2013)

Posted in Books

Book Review: Gitanjali, by Rabindranath Tagore

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
thee undiminished.
The river has its everyday work to do and hastens through fields
and hamlets; yet its incessant stream winds towards the washing of
thy feet.
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.

Rated a perfect 10/10
Rated a perfect 10/10

Book details:
Title: Gitanjali
Author: Rabindranath Tagore
Genre: Poetry
ISBN: 9781619492080
Publishers: Empire Books
Price: INR. 460


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
1) First Reads Challenge at b00k r3vi3ws
2) Indian Quills Reading Challenge at Tales Pensieve.

(July 3rd, 2013)