Please don’t ask me what salvation is
Nor where it is to be found
For I am neither a priest nor a prophet
I am a poet
And I am very close to the earth
I am stationed at a ferry point
On this side of the river of life
That flows in tides both high and low
It goes on ever
Carrying in its stream
Both light and shadow
Both good and bad.
So many things drift along its flow –
Profits and losses
Joys and sorrows –
One bank it builds breaking the other
The dawn comes in morning glow
The moon sheds its light
Like the soft touch of a mother
In the dark night sky meditate the stars
The sun sets leaving a flaming trail
On its waves
Flowers float their fragrance and colour
And the birds pour their songs.
I find both my salvation and bondage
When my mind dances and sings
With the rhythms of those waves.
I don’t want to retain or cling on to things
But drift along with all
Sailing my boat in the fugitive winds
And untying the knots of love.
O great traveller!
Your ways are open in all directions
You have no temple
You have no heaven
Nor any final destination
Your places of pilgrimage
Are strewn on your ways
Travelling along with you
I find my salvation
In the joy of that journey
In your restless dance and songs
And in your gifts –
Always in darkness and light
When you both break and build.
Translation of the poem Pantha from the collection Parishesh by Rabindranath Tagore. The original poem in Bengali script is here.