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Tagore Translations

A Poem of Hope by Tagore

A translation of Dushomoy (bad times), written originally by the poet as Swarga Patthe (On the path to Heaven) Bengali year Boisakh 1304, roughly April 1897 of the Gregorian Calendar.

A Journey of Hope


Though dusk sets in slowly,
    The songs of the spheres have been silenced.
Though you fly companionless in the endless sky,
     Though exhaustion seeps into your body,
A terrifying dread prays in mute chants, 
    All horizons across the orb are covered by a veil --
Yet bird, o lone bird of mine, 
     Despite the blinding darkness, do not stop beating your wings.

This is not the murmur of woods, 
     This is the python-like ocean swelling.
This is not a bower of flowers, 
      This is the undulating hood swaying to the music of waves.
Where is that shore full of blossoms and foliage,
     Where is the nest, where is the branch to rest?
Yet bird, o lone bird of mine,
     Despite the blinding darkness, do not stop beating your wings.

The long night stretches ahead,
     The sun sleeps stilled after sunset.
The universe is breathless under restraint. 
     In this stunned stance, time meanders.
Swimming across the shades of the limitless night,
     A crescent moon appears in the distant skyline. 
Yet bird, o lone bird of mine,
     Despite the blinding darkness, do not stop beating your wings.

High up in the skies, the stars point their fingers
     Towards your path while gazing at you.
Deep below lies restless death in rising crests
      Of hundreds of waves that beckon. 
In distant shores, some call out with an offering,
    “Come, come,” they entreat, they plead. 
Yet bird, o lone bird of mine,
    Despite the blinding darkness, do not stop beating your wings.
 
There is no fear, no tie of affection, no attraction,
      There is no expectation, expectation is only a mirage.
There is no language, no futile weeping,
      There is no home, no floral bed to rest on.
There are only these wings, there is the celestial quadrangle,
     The dawn is led astray by the drawing of the sequestered night —
Yet bird, o lone bird of mine,
    Despite the blinding darkness, do not stop beating your wings.

(Translated by Mitali Chakravarty, edited by Sohana Manzoor on behalf of Borderless Journal. Thanks to Dr Aruna Chakravarti for the discussion and feedback which helped improve the translation.)

Tagore’s draft of the poem, ‘Swarga Patthe’, with the signature and date. This is the poem that has come down to us as ‘Dushomoy’, now translated as ‘Journey of Hope’.
Click here to listen to Tagore recite the poem about a lone bird in his own voice in Bengali.

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