Categories
Tagore Translations

Banshi or Flute by Rabindranath

Written in 1905, Banshi or flute, was published in Tagore’s collection called Kheya ( translates to boat, published in 1906).

Courtesy: Creative Commons
FLUTE

Your flute — 
For a short while,
Pretend it's mine. 
The sarat* morning flowed by.
The day grew tired nigh.
If you are weary
Of playing your flute,
Then please let,
For a short while,
Your flute be mine. 

I will not do much with it. 
I will only play
For part of the day. 
Raising it high, 
I will hold it to my lips
I will express my happiness
By playing many snatches —
In this way losing myself
I will only play 
For part of the day.

Then as dusk descends,
I will get flowers in a basket
to make a necklace. 
Adorning a garland of juthi*,
Filled with its heady perfume 
I will pray with an
Offering of lamps. 
That is why in the gloaming,
Fill a basket of flowers
To make a garland of juthi.

A half-moon will rise 
Amidst the stars
To gaze at your path.
Then I will come to you 
To return your flute. 
And you will play a tune
Expressive of the depth of night —
A half- moon will rise 
Amidst the stars
To gaze at your path.


*Sarat is early autumn.
*Juthi is a kind of Jasmine

This poem has been translated by Mitali Chakravarty with editorial input from Sohana Manzoor & Anasuya Bhar

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles

Categories
Tagore Translations

The Sun on the First Day by Rabindranath

Prothom Diner Shurjo or (the sun on the first day) from Tagore’s last collection of poems, called Shesh Lekha (The Last Writings), was written in 1941.

THE SUN ON THE FIRST DAY

The sun that rose
On the first day asked 
Newly-fledged consciousness —
Who are you? 
There was no answer. 

Many eons passed.

The setting sun in the
Silence of the dusk, asked 
The Western shore the last question —
Who are you?
There was no answer.
Art by Sohana Manzoor

This poem has been translated by Mitali Chakravarty with editorial input from Sohana Manzoor & Anasuya Bhar

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles

Categories
Excerpt Tagore Translations

Farewell Song

Title: Farewell Song

Author: Rabindranath Tagore

Translator: Radha Chakravarty

Publisher: Penguin, Hesperus Press

‘I may go away from Shillong, but the month of Agrahayan can’t suddenly slip away from the almanac! Do you know what I shall do in Calcutta?’

‘What will you do?’

‘While Mashima makes arrangements for the wedding, I must prepare for the days that are to follow. People forget that conjugal life is an art, to be created anew each day. Do you remember, Banya, how King Aja had described Indumati in Raghuvamsha?’

‘‘‘My favourite pupil has artistry in her blood,’ quoted Labanya.

‘Such artistry of the blood belongs to conjugal life,’ declared Amit. ‘Barbarians generally imagine the wedding ceremony to be the real moment of union, which is why the idea of union is often so utterly neglected afterwards.’

‘Please explain the art of union as you imagine it in your heart. If you want me to be your disciple, then let today be the first lesson.’

‘Very well, then, listen. The poet creates rhythm out of deliberately placed obstructions. Union, too, should be rendered beautiful by means of deliberately placed obstacles. To cheapen a precious thing so that it is to be had for the asking is to cheat your own self. For the pleasure of paying a high price is by no means negligible.’

‘Let’s hear how the price is to be calculated.’

‘Wait! Let me describe what my heart has visualized. Beside the Ganga, there will be a garden-estate on the other side of Diamond Harbour. A small steam-launch would take us to Calcutta and back, within a couple of hours.’

‘But why the need to travel to Calcutta?’

‘Now there is no need to, please be assured. I do visit the bar- library, not to engage in trade but to play chess.The attorneys have realized that I have no need for work and, therefore, no interest in it. When a case comes up, concerning some mutual dispute, they hand me the brief but nothing more than that. But right after marriage, I’ll show you what it means to set to work, not in search of a livelihood but in search of life. At the heart of the mango lies the seed, neither sweet, nor soft, nor edible; yet the entire mango depends on it, takes shape from it. You understand, don’t you, why the stony seed of Calcutta is necessary? To keep something hard at the core of all the sweetness of our love.’

‘I understand. In that case, I need it, too. I must also visit Calcutta, from ten to five.’

‘What’s wrong with that? But it should be for work, and not in order to explore the neighbourhood.’

‘What work can I take up, tell me? Without any wages?’

‘No, no, a job without wages is neither work nor play: it’s mostly all about shirking. If you wish, you can easily become a professor in a women’s college.’

‘Very well, that shall be my wish.What then?’

‘I can visualize it clearly: the shore of the Ganga. From the lowest level of the paved bathing area rises an ancient banyan tree, laden with aerial roots. While cruising down the Ganga to Ceylon, Dhanpati may have tethered his boat to this same banyan tree and cooked his dinner under its shade. To the south is the moss-encrusted paved bathing ghat, the stone cracked in many places, eroded in patches. At that ghat is tethered our slim, elegant boat, painted green and white. On its blue flag, inscribed in white lettering, is the name of the boat. Please tell me what the name should be.’

‘Should I? Let it be named Mitali, for friendship.’

‘Just the right name: Mitali. I had thought of Sagari, in fact I was rather proud of having thought up such a name. But you have defeated me, I must admit.Through the garden flows a narrow channel, bearing the pulsebeat of the Ganga. You live on one side of the channel, and I live just across, on the other side.’

‘Would you swim across every evening, and must I await you at my window, with a lighted lamp?’

‘I’ll swim across in my imagination, crossing a narrow wooden footbridge. Your house is named Manasi, the desired one; and you must give a name to my house.’

‘Deepak—the lamp.’

‘Just the right name. Atop my house, I shall place a lamp to suit the name. A red light will burn there on the evenings when we meet, and a blue one on nights of separation. When I return from Calcutta, I shall daily expect a letter from you. It should sometimes reach me, sometimes not. If I don’t receive it by eight in the evening, I shall curse my ill-fortune and try to read Bertrand Russell’s textbook on logic. It will be our rule, that I must never visit you uninvited.’

‘And can I visit you?’

‘Ideally, both of us should follow the same rule, but if you occasionally break it, I shall not find it intolerable.’

‘If the rule is not to be observed in the breaking, what would be the condition of your house! Perhaps I should visit you in a burkha.’

‘That’s all very well, but I want my letter of invitation. The letter need contain nothing but a few lines of verse, taken from some poem.’

‘And will there be no invitations for me?Am I to be discriminated against?’

‘You are invited once a month, on the night when the moon is at its full, after fourteen days of fragmented existence.’

‘Now offer your favourite pupil an example of the kind of letter to be written.’

‘Very well.’ He produced a notebook from his pocket and wrote, first in English, then in Bengali:

Blow gently over my garden 
Wind of the southern sea
In the hour my love cometh 
And calleth me

Labanya did not return the piece of paper to him.

‘Now for an example of the kind of letter you would write. Let’s see how much you have gained from your lessons.’

Labanya was about to write on a piece of paper. ‘No,’ insistedAmit, ‘you must write in this notebook of mine.’

Labanya wrote, in Sanskrit, and then in English:

Mita, twamasi mama jivanam, twamasi mama bhushanam, 
Twamasi mama bhavajaladhiratnam.
Mita, you are my life, my adornment, 
The jewel in the ocean of my world.

‘The amazing thing is, I have written the words of a woman, and you the words of a man,’ remarked Amit, putting the notebook in his pocket. ‘There is nothing incongruous about it. Whether the wood comes from a red silk cotton tree or from a bakul tree, when set alight, the fire looks the same.’

About the Book

Rabindranath Tagore reinvented the Bengali novel with Farewell Song, blurring the lines between prose and poetry and creating an effervescent blend of romance and satire. Through Amit and Labanya and a brilliantly etched social milieu, the novel addresses contemporary debates about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ writing, the nature of love and conjugality and the influence of Western culture on Bengali society. Set against the idyllic backdrop of Shillong and the mannered world of elite Calcutta society, this sparkling novel expresses the complex vision and the mastery of style that characterised Tagore’s later works.

About the Author

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the Renaissance man, reshaped Bengal’s literature and music, and became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. He introduced new prose and verse forms and the use of colloquial language into Bengali literature, thereby freeing it from traditional models based on classical Sanskrit. He was highly influential in introducing the best of Indian culture to the West and vice versa, and was a living institution for India, especially for Bengal.

About the Translator:

Radha Chakravarty is a writer, critic and translator based in New Delhi, India. She has co-edited The Essential Tagore and translated Rabindranath Tagore’s major works including Chokher Bali, Gora, Farewell Song, Four Chapters, The Land of Cards: Stories, Poems and Plays for Children and Boyhood Days. She has also translated other Bengali writers from India and Bangladesh, such as Bankimchandra Chatterjee, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, Mahasweta Devi, Anita Agnihotri, Selina Hossain, Hasan Azizul Haq and Syed Shamsul Huq. She is the author of Feminism and Contemporary Women Writers and Novelist Tagore. Her latest books in translation are Our Santiniketan by Mahasweta Devi and Four Chapters by Tagore. Nominated for the Crossword Translation Award, she also is also a widely published poet. She taught Comparative Literature & Translation at Dr B R Ambedkar University Delhi.

Categories
Tagore Translations

Your Conch Calls by Rabindranath

Written in May 1914, Tomar Shonkho Dhulay Porey (Your Conch lies in the Dust) was a part of Tagore’s poetry collection called Balaka (A flight of Swans, 1916).

A Conch Shell. Courtesy: Creative Commons
How will I endure 
Your conch fallen in the dust? 
At this dreaded juncture, 
The breeze and light stop — stunned. 
Come fight with your flag, be strong. 
Sing out loud if you have a song. 
If you want to walk, walk along. 
Come forward, fearless, 
The conch of valour lies long
In the dust, listless. 

I was going to pray
with an offering of flowers.
After toiling the whole day,
I yearn for peaceful bowers.
I had thought my wounded heart
Would be a thing of the past. 
Washed, I would at last,
Emerge unbruised, untouched. 
I saw again in the path
Your great conch lying in the dust. 
 
Is this the lamp lit for orisons? 
Are these my dusk’s recourse? 
Is this red jaba* garland woven?  
Oh, for the chaste tuberose! 
I had hoped we could resolve, 
Our differences, dissolve
The debts, sort, solve;
Have the numbers accounted.
And then, I heard the call--
Your conch resounded. 

Wake us with the elixir 
Of eternal youthfulness. 
Like a lamp, let your raga stir, 
Illuminate with blissfulness. 
Let the darkness fly, 
Celebrations reverberate in the sky.
Chase the gloom away by 
Terrorising it to distant lands. 
We will hold your conch high
Today with our two hands. 

I know sleep will not reign
In my eyes any more.
I know arrows will rain
On my chest galore. 
Some will join us, weep
Or breathe deep,
Nightmares will chase sleep
Away from cots. 
Today, joy will sweep
To your great conch calls. 


I found myself shamed
When I sought comfort from you. 
Now, adorn all of us with coats of mail
And weapons of war anew. 
We will not flinch or bolt
Under any kind of assault. 
Even if my heart vaults
In grief, victory will still flow unstaunched. 
Our strength will be forged
With the fearless call of your conch. 



*Hibiscus

This poem has been translated by Mitali Chakravarty with editorial input from Sohana Manzoor & Anasuya Bhar.

Click here to access the Borderless anthology, Monalisa No Longer Smiles

PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL

Categories
Tagore Translations

Rabindranath’s Paean to Light

Aalo Amar Aalo (Light, My Light) was part of Tagore’s collection titled by him as Bichitro (Amazing) which appeared in 1911, and later as part of Geetabitan(1932)

Art by Sohana Manzoor
TO LIGHT

Light of mine, O light, the universe is filled with your effulgence, 
My heart is yours; my eyes drown in your refulgence. 
The light danced — danced amid my being. 
It sings — sings amid my heartstrings. 
The sky awakens, the breeze flits, the Earth laughs. 
As luminous currents surge, thousands of butterflies take flight. 
Mallika-Malati* dance in waves of light. 
The clouds are coloured with gold, infinite gems glitter. 
The leaves laugh intoxicated with elation. 
Your nectar floods the shores by the river of tunes. 

*Names of fragrant flowers

We present the song in Bengali by Chinmoy Chatterjee (1930-1987), also known as Chinmoy Chattopadhyay, an eminent singer from the past.

This song has been translated by Mitali Chakravarty with editorial input from Sohana Manzoor and Anasuya Bhar.

Categories
Tagore Translations

Rabindranath & Autumn

Eshechhe Sarat ( Autumn) by Rabindranath Tagore was published in 1937. The poem flows to describe the season of Sarat, or the early part of autumn, when Bengalis celebrated their major festival, Durga Puja

Autumn in Bengal by Sohana Manzoor
AUTUMN 

A cool breeze awakens
Autumn anew.
At dawn, the grass rim
Is lined with dew.

The amloki groves shiver.
Their hearts pound like drums,
As they know the time to shed
Leaves has clearly come.

The shiuli branches are laden with buds.
The togor blossoms hold sway.
The bees visit sprays of the
Malatilata twice a day.

As the rains have ended, 
The clouds roam the skies free. 
They drift with the breeze, 
At leisure and full of glee. 

The ponds ripple with water.
Their banks bloom with flowers.
The young rice plants fill the fields
The wind swings the paddy bowers. 

Wherever I look, a golden light 
Suffuses a vision of holidays,
The festive sun rises in the woods
Of puja* blossoms drenched in gold rays. 


------------------------------------------
Amloki is Indian gooseberry
Togor (genera: milkwood), shiuli (jasmine)and Malatilata (Rangoon creeper) are flowers that bloom around autumn
*Durga Puja

This poem was a part of Sahaj Path, a set of books created by Tagore to teach the Bengali language. The four books that constitute the set were illustrated by the famed artist Nandalal Bose (1882-1966), who was also a major part of Santiniketan.

Sahaj Path, Tagore’s Bengali primer, of which this poem was a part. Courtesy: Creative Commons

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

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Categories
Tagore Translations

Autumnal Songs Translated by Fakrul Alam

These are songs of Tagore centred around autumn, a season that is split into two parts in Bengal. Early autumn is called Sarat and late autumn Hemonto. The first two songs are descriptive of Sarat and the last one of Hemonto.

Autumn: Art by Sohana Manzoor
SAY WHAT YOU WILL (Tomra Ja Bolo tai bolo, written in 1921)

Say what you all will, I don’t mind
My time flies, and hours pass, aimlessly
The wild wind stirs me to a song
And spreads its tune across this deep-blue sky.
That song has stuck in my mind.
What nectar do I seek in the humming of bees?
Whose sky-pervading gaze seeks me out
And settles on my sight thus this day?
Shiuli flower that bloom in autumns in Bengal. Courtesy: Creative Commons
THE HEART WAS AWAKE (Hridoye Chheele Jege, written in 1921)

You were wide awake in my heart 
But I see you in autumnal clouds this day!
How was it you stole so quietly away at dawn,
Letting only your dress’s borders caress the dew?
            What song is it that I should sing?
            I simply can’t find words for it now!
They lie scattered with shiuli flowers under forest canopies
They’ve flown away with the gusting winds in sudden showers.
                        ***
Shiuli-Jasmine
Flowering Kash grass. Courtesy: Creative Commons
AUTUMNAL NIGHTS (Himer Raate, 1927)

On such cool autumnal nights
Hemonto hides heaven’s lamps with its cloak.
To every house it gives this call,
“Light festive lamps, make bright the night,
Shine your own lights, illuminate the world.”
Gardens are flowerless now; cuckoos sing no more;
Kash reed flowers keep falling by riverbanks,
But let go of darkness, despair and misery; light festive lamps-- 
Shine your own lights and proclaim the triumph of light
The gods look on — sons and daughters of earth, arise,
Illuminating the night,
Darkness may descend and day end but light festive lamps,
Shine your own light and triumph over this dark night
                         ***
Hemonto-Late autumn
Kash-Long grass

Below is a Youtube upload of Autumnal night or Himer Raate sung by the legendary singer Debabrata Biswas (1911-1980)

Fakrul Alam is an academic, translator and writer from Bangladesh. He has translated works of Jibonananda Das and Rabindranath Tagore into English and is the recipient of Bangla Academy Literary Award (2012) for translation and SAARC Literary Award (2012).

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Categories
Tagore Translations

Skit by Rabindranath: The Treatment of an Ailment

Translated from Bengali by Somdatta Mandal, this satirical skit was part of Hasyakoutuk[1] (1914) or ‘Humour’ by Tagore

Courtesy: Creative Commons

Scene One

Enter Haradhan panting and limping.

Haradhan: God! Today I’ve really been heckled in trying to steal duck’s eggs from the English doctor’s stable. I thought I’ll die in the way he chased me. Scared, I tried to escape and fell inside a ditch. My leg is fractured but I’m not sad about it. I’m satisfied in being able to run away alive. The doctor kills all his patients as soon as he gets the opportunity; he wants to finish me off though I don’t have an ailment. From now on, I will not steal duck’s eggs everyday. I will steal the duck once and for all and it will lay eggs in our house.

From inside: Haru!

Haradhan: (fearfully) Oh, father has come. If he finds me limping in one foot, he will beat me so much that the other one will also become lame.

Enter Father.

Haradhan: (advancing) Yes, father.

Father: Why are you limping?

Haradhan scratches his head.

Father: (annoyingly) How did you break your leg?

Haradhan: I didn’t break it deliberately.

Father: I know that. But tell me how you broke it.

Haradhan: I don’t know, father.

Father: You don’t know how you broke your leg? Will the oilman Gobra from the other locality know?

Haradhan: I did not realise when it got broken.

Father: Is it so? If I break your head with this stick, will you know then?

Haradhan: (quickly shielding his head with his hand) No, father. I broke the leg in trying to save this head.

Father: I’ve understood. Like the other day, did you go to the English doctor’s house to steal duck’s eggs and they have broken your leg?

Haradhan: (rubbing his eyes) Yes, father. I am not to be blamed. I did not break my own leg, they broke it.

Father: Shameless boy! Will you never be conscious?

Haradhan: What is consciousness, father?

Father: You want to know what consciousness is? (Hits him on the back) This is called consciousness.

Haradhan: I get that every day.

Father: I can see that you will die in jail.

Haradhan: No, father. If I get consciousness everyday, then I will die at home.

Father: Oh, I cannot cope with you.

Haradhan: (looking at the basket) Father, for whom have you brought that palm fruit? Can I eat it?

Father: (whacking his back) Here, have it.

Haradhan: (rubbing his back) I did not like it.

From inside: Haru!

Haradhan: Yes, mother?

Mother (from inside): I’ve made palm fruit fries for you. Come and have it.

                                               [Haradhan goes out limping]

Scene Two

Haradhan is about to steal the duck in the doctor’s stable.

Father: (from afar) Haru!

Haradhan: Oh my god! Father is coming. What should I do?

Haradhan has a long bag dangling from his neck to his stomach. He puts the duck quickly inside the bag.

Father: Haru! (silence) Hara! (silence) Hero!

Haradhan: Yes, sir.

Father: Why has your tummy swollen up like that?

Haradhan: After eating the palm fruit fries yesterday, father.

Father: Why is there a quacking sound?

Haradhan: The intestines inside are making that noise.

Father: Well, let me feel it with my hand.

Haradhan: (quickly) No, no. Don’t touch it. It’s too painful.

Quacking sound heard from the tummy again.

Father: (to himself) I’ve understood everything. I’ll have to teach this naughty boy a lesson. (To Haru) Your ailment is not very simple. Come son, let me take you to the hospital.

Haradhan: No, father. This happens sometimes but gets cured on its own.

Quack, quack, quack.

Father: What happened? This is gradually increasing. Come, no more waiting.

Drags him and goes out.

Scene Three

Haradhan, Father and Mother.

Mother: (crying) What has happened to my poor boy?

Father: Listen, don’t create so much trouble. He will be cured once he’s taken to the hospital.

Mother: Am I creating too much trouble or is your son’s stomach creating too much trouble? (scared) He’s quacking like a duck. My dear Haru, I’ll never give you duck’s eggs to eat – there’s a duck quacking in your tummy. What will happen?

Haradhan: (quickly) No, mother. It’s not a duck but the palm fruit fries. Who told you it was a duck? It can’t ever be a duck. OK, let’s have a bet whether it is the palm fruit fries or not.

Mother: Do palm fruit fries call in that manner?

Haradhan: Mother, please keep quiet. My stomach is calling even more because you are creating such a commotion.

Father: I have some work in the Bose household. I’ll take Haru to the hospital after that.

Quack, quack, quack.

Mother: Oh my god, this is gradually increasing. Oh Mukherjee Babu!      

Enter Mr.Mukherjee.

Mukherjee: What’s the matter?

Mother: My poor son’s pain is increasing gradually. Please take him quickly to – what you call it – your hospital.

Mukherjee: I’ve been saying that right from the beginning. Haru’s father has been delaying the whole thing. (To Haru) Come, get up. Let’s go.

Haradhan: No, grandpa. I won’t go to the hospital. Nothing has happened to me.

Mukherjee: What do you mean nothing has happened? The whole locality is upset by the call of your tummy. It seems that the three elements – rheumatism, cough and bile – have all combined together to create a war in your stomach.

                                                                 [Takes him out by force.]

Scene Four

In the hospital. The English doctor and Haradhan.

Doctor: What has happened to your stomach?

Haradhan: Nothing, Sahib. You forgive me this time sahib, nothing has happened to me.

Doctor: If nothing has happened, then what is this?

Pokes his tummy and the quacking sound doubles.

(laughing) I have completely understood your ailment.

Haradhan: I am touching your body and promising you sahib. I do not have any ailment. I’ll never do such a thing again.

Doctor:  You have a serious ailment.

Haradhan: Don’t I know my ailment? You know?

Quack, quack.

(He beats the bag with anger). Oh god! This quacking never stops.

Doctor: (brandishing a huge knife) You have a stealing ailment and it will not be cured without this knife.

He tries to cut open his stomach.

Haradhan:(cries and takes out the duck) Sahib, here’s your duck. My stomach could not tolerate your duck in any way. The eggs were better instead.

The doctor beats Haradhan.

Sahib, there is no need for it. My ailment is completely cured.


[1] Translated from “Rog-er Chikitsya” (Jaisthya 1292 B.S.) by Somdatta Mandal

Somdatta Mandal is a former Professor of English and ex-Chairperson, Department of English, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, India. A recipient of several prestigious fellowships like the Fulbright Research and Teaching Fellowships, British Council Charles Wallace Trust Fellowship, Rockefeller Residency at Bellagio, Italy, Salzburg Seminar and Shastri Indo-Canadian Faculty Enrichment Fellowship, she has been published widely both nationally and internationally. She has also an award from Sahitya Akademi for the All India Indian Literature Golden Jubilee (1957-2007) Literary Translation Competition in the Fiction category for translating short stories series ‘Lalu’ by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya.

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Categories
Tagore Translations

Rabindranath’s Song of Hope

First published in 1915 in Sabuj Patra, ‘Hobe Joye (Victory will be ours)’, has been translated as ‘Song of Hope’

Sabuj Patra was a magazine in which Tagore published often. This is the logo designed by the eminent artist Nandalal Bose who was a close associate of Tagore. The lettering in Bengali gives the name of the journal, which translated means, Green Leaves.
SONG OF HOPE

Victory will be ours, victory will be ours, victory will be ours, 
O valiant, O fearless! 
Life will conquer — eternal life, the song of joy will triumph.
Love will win over anger. The enlightened will prevail. 
This dusk too shall pass, shall fritter away. 
O valiant, O fearless! 
Awake, open your eyes, may your weariness fade away. 
Let the light of hope illuminate a fresh dawn. 

The song in the original Bengali had been rendered by the legendary Pankaj Mullick(1905-1978), who was impacted by Tagore and even gave the music for Diner Sheshe, Ghumer Deshe (translated as ‘The Last Boat’).

This has been translated by Mitali Chakravarty with editorial backing from Sohana Manzoor and Anasuya Bhar.

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Tagore Translations

Poetry on Rain by Rabindranath

Tagore’s Nobobarsha (or ‘New Showers’) celebrates the onset of rains. The poem was written in 1900 and brought out that year itself as part of Kshanika (Momentary).  It can also be found in Sanchayita (An Anthology of Selected Works), his poetry collection brought out by Visva Bharati, in 1931.

Clouds . Art by Sohana Manzoor
New Rains

My heart dances today — dances like a peacock.
Like the shimmer of its plumes,
My heart glistens with rapturous colours.
When I see the sky, my longing loses itself in euphoria.
My heart dances today — dances like a peacock.

The clouds rumble, rumble high up in the heavens.
The rain rushes in.
The new stalks of rice quiver.
Doves shiver silently in their nests, frogs croak in flooded fields,
The clouds rumble, rumble in the heavens.

I see the clouds’ tear-filled eyes lined, lined with blue kohl.
Ecstasy innervates
The grass and deep shady woods.
The floral bowers bloom with a new zest.
I see the clouds’ tear-filled eyes are lined with blue kohl.

Oh, who has untied her hair in gay abandon, in abandon on the palace's roof?
Who has covered her bosom
In blue, who has come
Back to play with slivers of lightning?
Oh, who has untied her hair in abandon on the palace's roof?

Oh, by the riverbank lined with grass, who sits in dark raiment dripping purity?
The young malati flowers wonder distractedly
As they gaze at the distant skies, where
Does the vessel float as it leaves the ghats?
Oh, by the riverbank lined with grass, who sits in dark raiment?

Oh, who swings today on the lonely swaying bakul branch, swings and sways?
The bakul flutters and falls.
An aanchal* soars to the the sky with yearning,
A lock of hair flies to cover the eyes, the karabi flower drops.
Oh, who swings today on the lonely swaying bakul branch?

In this chaos, who has moored his boat, his new boat by the riverside?
Clumps of cotton-like moss
Fill the watery banks.
The clouds sing soulful songs with tear-filled eyes.
In this chaos, who has moored his new boat by the riverside?

My heart dances today —
Dances like a peacock.
A heavy downpour falls on the new leaves,
The garden quivers with the chirrup of crickets.
The river has crossed the bank and approaches the village.
My heart dances today — dances like a peacock.

*Loose end of a Saree

(This poem has been translated by Mitali Chakravarty)

There is also an English translation [1]of the poem by Tagore. The translation is shorter and of twenty lines only as opposed to the 41 lines of the full-length poem. The poet’s translation is a part of Tagore’s Poems edited by Krishna Kripalani, Amiya Chakravarty, Nirmalchandra Chattopadhyay and Pulinbehari Sen ( Calcutta: Visva Bharati, 1942).

Screenshot of Tagore’s own translation from Bichitra Varorium by Anasuya Bhar

 The poet’s own translation is sung in the original language it was written in, Bengali. Here we present the song sung by a reputed singer, Srikanto Acharya.

Thanks to Bichitra Varorium, to Anasuya Bhar for her research and editorial advise, Sohana Manzoor for her art and editorial comments. Tagore’s short translation has also been used as a resource for improving the translation of the full-length poem. 


[1] Bichitra Varorium, researched by Anasuya Bhar

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