Tagore Translations

Nobo Borshe or on New Year by Rabindranath

Written in April 1894 for the Bengali New Year, Tagore’s poem, Nobo Borshe, was part of his poetry collection called Chitra, published in 1896.

Bengali New Year Celebrations in Dhaka. Courtesy: Creative Commons. Poila Boisakh or Bengali New Year is celebrated in West Bengal, India and Bangladesh. Huge festivities are held in Santiniketan, the University started by Tagore. Multiple Asian New Years across Thailand, Nepal, India and more countries are celebrated mid-April.
The night has nearly come to an end.
The old year is almost past.
Under this dust, it will lay down
Its worn-out life at last.
Whether friend or foe,    wherever you go,
Old wrongs cast
Away. On this auspicious day,
Old grievances shed as the old year departs.

Today, I make new resolutions
Within my heart.
But, when I am reborn, maybe,
I will not recollect this part.
My judgement, perchance,    might be harsh.
Another’s tearful pleas thwart.
On this new-year’s morn,
I beg for clemency from the start.

As today blends into the morrow,
the future continues, unfathomable.
Will the current love and happiness
Still persist, be stable?
The flickering light     may stop tomorrow night.
Our home may be steeped with sable.
Come, this New Year’s Day,
Give what you are able.

Vast and limitless is this world.
There are so many countries.
Where will we find the confluence of 
All these people and their synergies?
Spread good cheer,    with a smile appear,
Like flowers on the same trees.
If you cannot do this daily,
At least come close once please.

The time to meet will pass.
We do not know where we will go.
In the middle of eternity, we may
Never find friend or foe.
Joys and sorrows     will leave no furrows,
They will disappear like bubbles. So,
Glance at your beloved’s
Face forevermore.

For our own personal petty gains,
We raise a ruckus.
For self-conceit and blind beliefs,
We become unjust.
Today I give my best,     I dedicate
My life thus —
I will be content with what you give,
And not expect too much.

I will embrace with daily patience,
All burdens and sorrows.
I will tread the difficult path, my
Life’s mission follow.
If I break my vow,    weakened by this tired brow,
With humility, I will my head bow.
I will accept the burden
Of all my flaws.

If life seems meaningless, if there are sorrows —
They are all in transience.
It will all be wiped away in life’s
Futile insipience.
Are you alone on this earth?    Beauty, pain, hurts,
Can be found in all ambience.
You are but a tiny speck in the
Endlessness of human existence.

As long as you exist, shine
Like a star.
If you do not find happiness,
Let there be peace in your heart.
If you cannot survive,     timeless conflicts outlive,
If defeats bar,
Then learn to die with
Sincerity on your part.

In this life’s journey, who can say how
Far we need to go
While stepping on the razor’s edge of
Heartrending sorrow?
Again, in the dark,     we walk the fiery path.
At least on this day, please pardon.
With the old year
Let all the old grudges go.

There goes, there goes the time,
My past departs.
On this dawn, with tears express
Your indebtedness, O heart.
Fill the cup of life    with joys and strife.
Tell her, her memories will stay past
All times, forever.
I dedicate to you my past.

This dawn heralds new life in the
New Year.
I want to tie all lives with love,
But I hesitate, I fear.
Do not send away     visitors on this day.
Welcome the New Year,
Filling the pitcher with
Virtuous tears.

This poem has been translated by Mitali Chakravarty with editorial support from Sohana Manzoor and Anasuya Bhar


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