Rabindranath Tagore

Posted February 24th, 2008 and filed in Books, People

Tagore is my true love. If I could love someone with all my intellect and emotion, it would be him. I grew up with his poetry. It became part of me. His poetry was my first aspiration to a higher life, my enlightenment to beauty. We are fortunate to have wonderful poets in China, who did a great job translating his poems into Chinese. For me they were the original. Till today, the beautiful words of his poetry, engraved in my mind, moving me with ever fresh strength, are still those rich and powerful Chinese words. The English translation, although done by himself, can never move me as deeply. It is a pity that I do not know the musical Bengali, in which his magic must have exerted all its mystic power in full strength.

Once in a while, a great person is born among us, and makes us feel that life is worth living, is sacred as it was meant to be, like the prophet in Gibran’s poems, like Tagore.

Tagore, his talent, his intellect, his insight, his honesty, the height and depth of his feelings and thoughts and experiences, are a gift to us. If I have any pride or arrogance, they vanish instantly when I think of him.

“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…”

In his words each of us pray for a new dawn for our country, for our species. When at peace, the world is full of the noises of the marketplace, where greed prevails. When at war, the world is full of the roars of bloodthirsty beasts, and cruelty rules. Tagore, through his wakeful yet compassionate insights, preserves a hope in humanity for us. He said we were not to leave this world to the bloodthirsty wolves. So we must not.