Now the time has come for me to shed my leaves
With my trunk shrunken and wrinkled
Only broken shadows I can cast.
Yet once colourful flowers covered my branches
My buds and fruits made many curious
And they built their nests.
In every season from the sky
Messengers would come for frolic and fun
Sometimes in tiptoed steps in soft breeze
Sometimes in the wild spring winds
Upsetting my foliage in a maddening dance.
Now my vitality flows in my marrows
It is not visible from outside.
By the command of someone unseen
Who resides in my heart and shapes everything
It has taken its shelter inside
And is in the process of changing its dress –
All the outside lamps have gone out
But by an inner light my soul is aglow.
The grey of twilight is deepening into darkness
And one by one the stars are appearing in the sky
Now I have to understand their language.
The long way lying ahead beckons me to the far
To quench my thirst during this journey
Some drink has been put in the drinking pot
By my merciful past.
As the night progresses
My possessions shine brighter and brighter
If they are of any real worth
Knowing this one by one
I am quietly settling all my lifelong debts.
Translation of the poem Shesh bela from the collection Nabajatak by Rabindranath Tagore. It was written at Santiniketan on 19th January, 1940 when the poet was 79.