Forgive me my friends,
Please give me your leave –
To do great things
I cannot go along with you.
Move forward, all of you,
Win your laurels
Here under the shades of these trees
Unnoticed I want to retreat
Call me no more please.
Stepping with your steps
Holding your hands
I have travelled long.
Now at this crossroads
At the bend of the way
My heart is aching with an unknown pain –
I don’t know
If it has been caused by flowers’ fragrance -
I am afraid, with you I cannot go.
The things which you are after
To me they have lost all meanings –
Those who seek great fortune
Or build or break kingdoms
Or fight big fights over ideas or creeds –
This watering the big tree that yields
Golden flowers of fantasy –
My friends, these are not for me.
The sky is one broad smile
Like a song it has filled my mind.
While going along my way I felt lazy
And all my works got held up,
One thing always rings in my mind –
‘I love, O how much I love!’
All the world seems to be smiling
And it has stolen my heart.
So, give me your leave
I have taken up this job without any worth
According to my own sweet will
I have made myself the companion of clouds
I am ready to float in the wind
And aimlessly drift in a rudderless boat
On an endless sea
So let me take my farewell from you.
Translation of a least read and understood poem – Biday - from the collection Kheya (The Ferry) by Rabindranath Tagore. Though not one of his best, yet it is a very significant poem. It seems to be his reply to those who wanted him to actively join politics. Except his brief but whole hearted participation in the movement against the 1905 partition of Bengal, Tagore never actively participated in politics. His novel Ghare Bairey – (Home and the World, filmed by Satyajit Ray) – gives expression to his disillusionment with typical politicians like Sandip whose patriotism is nothing but hypocrisy. The third stanza of the present poem is a reminder, albeit in a mild form, of the famous saying of Dr. Johnson – ‘Politics is the last resort of the scoundrel.'