Rabindranath Tagore was described as the Poet of Humanity by Jawaharlal Nehru. Tagore’s 147th birth anniversary fell on May 7th, 2008. A few days before that, Lokmilap Trust published Everyman’s Tagore. Compiled by Mahendra Meghani, who last year had given Everyman’s ABC of Gandhi, this book contains 400 extracts from the poetry and prose of the Poet, who was the first Asian to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.
Here are a few specimens from Everyman’s Tagore:
All the great civilizations that have become extinct must have come to their end through slavery imposed upon fellow-beings, through parasitism on a gigantic scale bred by wealth.*
The butterfly flitting from flower to flower ever remains mine,
I lose the one that is netted by me.*
Day by day thou art making me worthy of the simple great gifts that thou gavest to me unasked – this sky and the light, this body and the life and the mind.*
Wrong cannot afford defeat, but right can.*
Every child comes with the message that
God is not yet discouraged of man.*
Grant me that I may not be a coward,
feeling your mercy in my success alone;
but let me find the grasp of your hand in my failure.*
I am able to love my God because
He gives me freedom to deny Him.*
I love India, not because I have had the chance to be born in her soil, but because she has saved through tumultuous ages the living words that have issued from the illuminated consciousness of her great sons. I love India, but my India is an idea and not a geographical expression. Therefore I am not a patriot. I shall seek my compatriots all over the world.*
The leaf becomes flower when it loves.
The flower becomes fruit when it worships.
Let life be beautiful like summer flowers,
and death like autumn leaves.*
Let me not beg for the stifling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it. Grant me that I may not be a coward, feeling your mercy in my success alone; but let me find the grasp of your hand in my failure.*
Make me thy poet, O Night, veiled Night!
There are some who have sat speechless for ages in thy shadow;
let me utter their songs.*
The moon has her light all over the sky,
her dark spots to herself.*
My King, thou has asked me to play my flute at the roadside, that they who bear the burden of voiceless life may stop in their errands for a moment and say, the flowers are in bloom, and the birds sing.*
Not hammer-strokes, but dance of the water
sings the pebbles into perfection.*
The sweet, soft freshness that blooms on baby’s limbs – does anybody know where it was hidden so long? Yes, when the mother was a young girl, it lay pervading her heart in tender and silent mystery of love – the sweet, soft freshness that has bloomed on baby’s limbs.*
They try to hold me secure who love me in this world.
But thy love is greater than theirs, and thou keepest me free.*
The life is the crossing of a sea,
where we meet in the same narrow ship.
In death we reach the shore, and go to our different worlds.*
When a religion develops the ambition of imposing its doctrine on all mankind, it degrades itself into a tyranny and becomes a form of imperialism. That is why we find a ruthless method of fascism in religious matters prevailing in most parts of the world.*
“Who is there to take up my duties?” asked the setting sun.
“I shall do what I can, my Master,” said the earthen lamp.*
Being simultaneously published in Gujarati is રવીન્દ્રનાથ સાથે વાચનયાત્રા (Ravindranath Sathe Vachanyatra). Also edited by Mahendra Meghani, it contains about 90 selected translations of Tagore’s writings by about a dozen writers, including Nagindas Parekh, Jhaverchand Meghani, and Umashankar Joshi. The 160-page book in hard cover costs $5 outside India, inclusive of airmail postage, and 25 copies will be available at $4 each. Books sent by airmail from India usually take a fortnight to reach USA.
Those interested in buying either book may send their checks to: Lokmilap Trust, P.O.Box 23, Bhavnagar, 364001, India. Their telephone number is: (0278) 256 6402, and E-mail address: email@example.com.