Tagore Rabindranath

[ . BACK to TOP . ]

Rabindranath Tagore

Tagore Memorial Day : August 7
Kigo for Monsoon, the Rains, Varsha

It was Tagore who introduced haiku in India, translating some himself:

The first time any Indian poet ever mentioned Haiku was the reference to it by Rabindranath Tagore in his travel diary on his visit to Japan.

Haiku in India. INDIA SAIJIKI


You mention Raindranath Tagore to an India – not just to a Bengali and his/her heart would swell with pride. Like Mahatma Gandhi, Sri Chakravarti Rajagolachari, Srimathi Rukmani Arundale and a host of such creative geniuses –Tagore stands tall among these giant personalities.

What about his poems? What was that magic? With simple words, but deep thought, he fashioned a garland of poems - full of fragrant blossoms


Notes below taken from the sleeve notes of STRAY BIRDS

STRAY BIRDS contain Tagore’s ideas on nature, man and his environment as he sits at his window and the ‘stray birds’ of summer sing and fly away. These short, sometimes merely one-line poems are often just an image or the distillation of a thought- but they stay in the mind and do not fly away as easily as the birds. The variety of subjects, on which the mind of Tagore’s dwells, is amazing – and all his variety is reflected in these vignettes

Excerpts from Stray Birds:


Stray birds of summer come to my window to sing and fly away.
And yellow leaves of autumn, which have no songs, flutter and fall with a sigh.


By plucking her petals you do not gather the beauty of the flower


It is the tears of the earth that keeps her smiles in bloom


If you shed tears when you miss the sun, you also miss the stars


What you are you do not see, what you see is the shadow


The stars are not afraid to appear like fireflies


The sparrow is sorry for the peacock at the burden of its tail


The infant flower opens its bud and cries,
“Dear world, please do not fade”


The woodcutter’s axe begged for its handle from the tree.
The tree gave it


“How far are you from me, O Fruit?”
“I am hidden in your heart, O Flower”


The little flower lies in the dust
It sought the path of the butterfly


I came to your shore as a stranger,
I lived in your house as a guest,
I leave your door as a friend, my earth.


Compiled by Kala Ramesh


Poet Rabindranath Tagore also included some couplets and quatrains in the vast body of his lyrical and other poems. In 1905 he wrote a few poems in Japanese forms. Some of the short poems he wrote while sailing back from Liverpool to homeland in 1912-13. Some he wrote in
Japan in 1916. Some such poems were written in English as in Fireflies and Stray Birds, besides others in Bengali.

The author in his Fireflies wrote, `Fireflies had their origin in China and Japan where thoughts were very often claimed from me, in my handwriting on fans and pieces of silk.' (The Macmillan Company, New York; 1928)
Among the books of such verses in Bengali, Kanika was published in 1899 and Lekhan in 1927. Sphulinga was written between1912 and 1916.

A couplet from Kanika is given as example.

The echo always taunts the sound
Lest it may be revealed that it's indebted to sound.

We may cite another beautiful couplet from Lekhan (N0. 41)

The shadow keeps in its breast the memory of light
Picture we call it.

Aju Mukhopadhyay
Quoted from :
Short Verse : A Heritage of World Literature


Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

He was the youngest son of Debendranath Tagore, a leader of the Brahmo Samaj, which was a new religious sect in nineteenth-century Bengal and which attempted a revival of the ultimate monistic basis of Hinduism as laid down in the Upanishads. He was educated at home; and although at seventeen he was sent to England for formal schooling, he did not finish his studies there. In his mature years, in addition to his many-sided literary activities, he managed the family estates, a project which brought him into close touch with common humanity and increased his interest in social reforms.

He also started an experimental school at Shantiniketan where he tried his Upanishadic ideals of education. From time to time he participated in the Indian nationalist movement, though in his own non-sentimental and visionary way; and Gandhi, the political father of modern India, was his devoted friend. Tagore was knighted by the ruling British Government in 1915, but within a few years he resigned the honour as a protest against British policies in India.

Tagore had early success as a writer in his native Bengal. With his translations of some of his poems he became rapidly known in the West. In fact his fame attained a luminous height, taking him across continents on lecture tours and tours of friendship. For the world he became the voice of India's spiritual heritage; and for India, especially for Bengal, he became a great living institution.

Although Tagore wrote successfully in all literary genres, he was first of all a poet. Tagore also left numerous drawings and paintings, and songs for which he wrote the music himself.

Rabindranath Tagore died on August 7, 1941.

From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1913

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


stray birds-
reading each poem
again and again

crescent moon—
crystal clear in my memory
that child even today

Kala Ramesh, August 2006

Both Stray Birds and Crescent Moon are true classic books of Rabindranath Tagore.


autumn dawn ~
"Geetanjali" still, with my
boyish signature ~

Narayanan Raghunathan

"Geetanjali": Tagore's famous book of poetry.


memories of Tagore -
my Japanese teacher
nods his head

Gabi Greve

Related words



No comments: