Translation from Bengali works of Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Laureate of 1913.
Read translator's note at the end of the poem.
Many a fantastic feat
Are not difficult indeed;
For the world’s welfare
I move everywhere.
Many to educate
A lot of verbiage
In many a language
A lot of demolition
To follow new formation.
The nets web up, the knots fasten,
Bricks erect mansion after mansion.
Such creation some say good, some bad,
Credulous, some come close, some doubt as fad.
Some pure, spurious some,
As raw materials will chance to come –
On the whole
Something builds up as your goal.
But the hopes very humble
Sound easy, but not at all simple.
A bit of pleasure
From a song or fragrance of flower,
Dream in the shade of a tree
When I crave in leisurely spree –
Those fugitives are nowhere
So far I stare.
As the Creator fastened His belt
And the vast steamy space He dealt
To shape it up thundering the sky
With His primal labour raised mountains high;
But after dream of ages many a million
The first bunch of flower did dawn.
I cherished the hope many a day
In the corner of the earth I may
Stay exclusive in a cot,
Not with wealth and honour a lot.
The cool shade of the tree
The river flowing free,
In the dusk the evening star
The fragrance of the flower,
Just outside my window
Through which does glow
The first light of the morning
On the pond there shimmering;
Embracing All these
May work up my pathos and glees –
Not wealth and honour a lot
But I had hoped a mere cot.
For long I did cherish
My humble wish –
That my heart’s treasure
In eloquence will flower;
Not wealth nor honour –
But to be overt mere.
Hues the clouds the setting Sun
When his day’s round is done
To paint the portrait of the end
With his imagination’s blend.
Like that if I could
My dreamland paint I would
In light and shade
Bright and fade
Its myth to build
And around it to yield
Fullness to life’s tear and smile
Nor wealth nor honour to pile –
But only the language of dedication
Was my expectation.
For long the hope I did keep,
Thirst of my life deep,
To quench with the ultimate nectar –
Not wealth, nor honour –
A bit of love mere,
Only that hope I did bear.
With my heart’s music
Someone I would seek,
To put hand in hand
As one close to me will stand,
Worry alone when goes far
Talk eye to eye when comes near.
Around all these trifle
Will slowly fulfill
All tear and smile
Of this life for a while –
Nor wealth, nor honour
But I had hoped a bit of love mere.
To the Poet, a man’s greatest achievements which bring him wealth and honour are not necessarily his life’s greatest accomplishments. As one advances in age with all recognition in the society for his successes, he may start realizing that he has missed many precious rewards which might be his exclusive either in his daily trifles or in his meditation for some supreme perceptions, which are not for the market place.
* Asha (Hope) of the book Purabi (name of an Indian Raga played in the evening), written on board SS Andes on 19 October, 1924.