It was I who made you
With my dancing pen
From the cave of the dumb
I brought you near the world of the living
Where everything is judged
Everything is praised or damned.
Against this my boast
Do you have any complaint?
When you were unborn
This world's myriad forms
Were being created and destroyed
They were passing along their way
Dancing and singing.
In the vast emptiness you were waiting
Who, hearing you crying,
Would give you form
Embodying you in a frame
Of black and white, light and shade.
While going my way
I heard your cry
Coming through the thick curtain of non-existence
And as a hazy creature of dream
I conceived you in my mind.
On the desolate sea shore, devoid of form,
Drawing in lines
I brought you to the world of painting.
Do you feel any pain?
Lacking in symmetry
Do you think
Even though justice has been done to reality
There has been a loss in style?
Even if it is so
Don't be afraid
This fault in expression
Will not endure forever.
This fatal defect
Will die under its own weight
And in a formless and wordless world
You will again become free.
Translation of the poem Alekhya from the collection Parishesh by Rabindranath Tagore. The poet became a painter in a very curious manner. He had no formal training in painting or drawing. From his mid-sixties instead of discarding the drafts of many of his songs and poems full of corrections he started to draw them into pictures which did not conform to conventional forms of drawing and painting. Apparently looking childish they were superb expressions of an artistic mind seeing things from a completely new perspective. They were highly praised by the world of art and exhibitions of his drawings were held first in Paris and later in other countries. Not to speak of his common readers unfortunately today they receive scant attention even from both his critics and the scholars.
The original in Bengali script is at