Rabindranath Tagore was born in Calcutta, India, on May 7, 1861. The author of many poetry collections, his book Gitanjali: Song Offerings (Macmillan, 1913) received the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died on August 7, 1941.
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Thou hast made me known to friends whom I knew not. Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own. Thou hast brought the distant near and made a brother of the stranger. I am uneasy at heart when I have to leave my accustomed shelter; I forgot that there abides the old in the new, and that there also thou abidest.
Through birth and death, in this world or in others, wherever thou leadest me it is thou, the same, the one companion of my endless life who ever linkest my heart with bonds of joy to the unfamiliar. When one knows thee, then alien there is none, then no door is shut. Oh, grant me my prayer that I may never lose the bliss of the touch of the One in the play of the many.
No more noisy, loud words from me, such is my master’s will. Henceforth I deal in whispers. The speech of my heart will be carried on in murmurings of a song.
Men hasten to the King’s market. All the buyers and sellers are there. But I have my untimely leave in the middle of the day, in the thick of work.
Let then the flowers come out in my garden, though it is not their time, and let the midday bees strike up their lazy hum.
Full many an hour have I spent in the strife of the good and the evil, but now it is the pleasure of my playmate of the empty days to draw my heart on to him, and I know not why is this sudden call to what useless inconsequence!
On the day when the lotus bloomed, alas, my mind was straying, and I knew it not. My basket was empty and the flower remained unheeded.
Only now and again a sadness fell upon me, and I started up from my dream and felt a sweet trace of a strange smell in the south wind.
That vague fragrance made my heart ache with longing, and it seemed to me that it was the eager breath of the summer seeking for its completion.
I knew not then that it was so near, that it was mine, and this perfect sweetness had blossomed in the depth of my own heart.
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 are 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.
I was not aware of the moment when I first crossed the threshold of this life. What was the power that made me open out into this vast mystery like a bud in the forest at midnight? When in the morning I looked upon the light I felt in a moment that I was no stranger in this world, that the inscrutable without name and form had taken me in its arms in the form of my own mother. Even so, in death the same unknown will appear as ever known to me. And because I love this life, I know I shall love death as well. The child cries out when from the right breast the mother takes it away to find in the very next moment its consolation in the left one.
Thou art the sky and thou art the nest as well. Oh, thou beautiful, there in the nest it is thy love that encloses the soul with colours and sounds and odours. There comes the morning with the golden basket in her right hand bearing the wreath of beauty, silently to crown the earth. And there comes the evening over the lonely meadows deserted by herds, through trackless paths, carrying cool draughts of peace in her golden pitcher from the western ocean of rest.
But there, where spreads the infinite sky for the soul to take her flight in, reigns the stainless white radiance. There is no day nor night, nor form nor colour, and never never a word.
This poem is in the public domain.
This poem is in the public domain.