Literary Shelf

Nursery Rhymes -Their Inner Message

In every household and in every school children learn and sing nursery rhymes. It forms a great source of pleasure for the kids, the teachers and the parents. When the kids perform on the stage singing ‘Bits of paper…’, ‘Ringa ringa roses…’, ‘Baa baa black sheep’, One experiences an uplifting feeling. One is transported back to those innocent days. However, after learning these in my young days, teaching to my children and now the grandchildren I wonder these are not rhymes just to enjoy, but perhaps to interpret their inner lovely messages. All these rhymes spread peace, stir innocence in each heart and connect us to higher values. I shall consider three rhymes to prove my point of view.
Let us take:
Baa Baa Black sheep
Have you any wool
Yes sir yes sir, three bags full
One for my master, one for may dame
One for the little boy who lives down the lane
There are five characters in this poem – the gentle one who queries and four more. The sheep politely and truthfully answers showing his duty and obligations to the master, love for the beloved and concern for the little boy. This poem portrays politeness, truth, duty, love (for women), innocence and concern for children. Is this not good!
Next, let us consider another:
Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down, broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after
This poem has great societal and environmental value. Often the water reservoirs are constructed on hill tops for the following reasons: it is easier to supply the water using gravity gradient, it is free of usual pollutions and beyond the reach of people. This practice is prevalent to this day. It appears from the poem that Jack and Jill are a bit naughty. They had gone to fetch water by dipping the pail in the reservoir and perhaps had to rush back and in the process were wounded.
And finally the lovely one:
Twinkle twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the worlds so high
like a diamond in the sky
New to the world the child is wonderstruck to see all around it. The distant stars and the sky are beyond his understanding, but soon it discovers the equivalents on the earth as diamond. On one side the heavenly bodies - the sky and the star and on the other the earth and diamond. The poem connects the divine and the human. More than that the child tries to explore the unknown, that later comes back as an eternal query for 'who am I?'
To sum up, it seems to me that the nursery rhymes have different layers of understanding, starting from innocence of the child to the higher understanding of the divine. These poems are relevant to every age group.

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More by :  Dr. Kumarendra Mallick

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Views: 3457      Comments: 8

Comment I shall visit the blog and get your profile and other details. Thank you.

20-Nov-2010 19:48 PM

Comment Dear Mr. Mallik, it is the translation not of Janmadine but of poem number 20 from that collection. And I would request you to consult the list of bloggers on boloji, click on TagoreBlog and you will be able to see my profile page and know my name and contact address. I usually translate Tagore from Bengali to English and blog on Rabindranath Tagore. You are welcome to my blogspage.

20-Nov-2010 16:52 PM

Comment Thank you so very much for providing the translation of Janmadine by Tagore. Very thoughtful f you indeed. But will you spell out your name so that I can get in touch with you. Best regards

20-Nov-2010 10:14 AM

Comment A lovely theme on which Rabindranath Tagore wrote a poem. Here it is in my translation, already published in boloji long ago.

Nursery Rhymes

Today it seems to me
The sounds of words have become fully free
Imprisoned long in the fortress of grammar
They have become rebellious
Without any rest
For ages parading in goose steps
They have become restive.
Defying the rules of syntax
They have taken their position at a vantage post
Where everything is meaningless
Where speech is free
Breaking the manacles of meanings
They ridicule the standard poems.
Striking strange poses
And leaving out everything else
They aim to capture
Only the ears!
They say
We are the progenies
Of the sound of the very first wind
That was breathed on this earth
We came into being
Soon after life, yet to have a mind,
Quickened into consciousness.
We have brought the first rhapsody of existence
Uttered in his poem by the primordial child.
We are the fountains
Cascading on mountain peaks
We have a kinship with the messengers of rains
We have come to the populous plains
Singing creation’s sacred hymns.
Our symphony echoes in the forest foliage,
Measures the rhythms of storms
And with the departure of the night
Raises a crescendo at the break of day.
Men took sound by force like a wild pony
Bound it with ropes of complex rules
And made it a beast of burden
To bear their messages far and wide.
Mounting this muzzled horse
Men have made all slow clocks fast.
With their thought
Overcoming the barrier of inert matter
They have gone to unknown mysterious lands
Disposing sound in various formations
They always win their wars with the idiots.
Sometimes like thieves
They sneak into the kingdom of dreams
Nothing can stop them
When they drift along the ebb tide of sleep –
Collecting a lot of flotsam and jetsam
They arrange them in order
With the help of rhythms
The mind of men
Unmindfully creates artistic things
Loosely strung
And far removed from the creation of God.
Like a large litter of dogs
Playing in a melee
Without any rule
One getting on another
Or biting each other
And barking in quarrelsome storms
They are full of sound and fury
But not ferocious at all.
Whole day long I only see
Breaking the manacles of meanings
Sounds in crowds go to and fro
Filling the whole sky
With meaningless words.
Transcreation of poem 20 from the collection Janmadine by Rabindranath Tagore.

20-Nov-2010 08:05 AM

Comment Thank you, Dr Chandramouli. Nice to see you and read your nice comments.

20-Nov-2010 05:36 AM

Comment Thanks for sharing your joy with us.Good read.

Chandra mouli
20-Nov-2010 02:59 AM

Comment Thank you, Gopal Karuna Karan. It is great you are working with the children, the fresh flowers on this earth. Best regards, Mallick

19-Nov-2010 23:41 PM

Comment wonderful! I work with children and this piece does give new meaning to the teacher too!

19-Nov-2010 22:36 PM

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