Theme: Letter

Letter Writing


You gifted me a pen golden,
Along with a desk wooden
And other odds and ends –
Like letter heads of diverse mends –
Enameled paper cutters,
Gum, tape, scissors,
Pencils blue, red and grey
And said, I must write every other day.

So I sit for it,
Only to realize you flit;
To write on what else,
My fancy never tells.
The sole news nothing new
As well before you knew –
That gone are you;
Yet, you regard it not through and through.
So I muse to inform you
That gone are you.
But every time I begin my writing,
I realize, the news is not an easy thing.
A poet I am not,
So my words fall short
To tune up all I implore;
My scribbles only pile up the waste store.

Oh! It is ten – school time for Baku,
Your sweet nephew;
I must see to his meal –
So for the last time I feel
That gone you are –
Rest of the scribbles are waste paper.
Original Poem in Bengali Patralekha (=Letter Writing) from the book Punascha (=Again), written in 1933 by Rabindranath Tagore.

Translator’s note: In this poem the poet depicts the frustration of a newlywed girl out of her failure to draft out a suitable letter to her husband whose workplace is away from home. As was common in those days, the girl lived in the joint family of her husband. Though, like dinosaur, the joint families are on the extinct today even in Bengal/India and also the art of letter writing is on the decline with the advent of STD / ISD, the Poet’s affectionate description of the girl’s plight with a touch of humor is indeed enjoyable even in today’s changed milieu.
Image © Getty Images


More By  :  Rajat Das Gupta

Views: 1400     Comments: 1

Comments on this Poem

Comment A lovely little humourous poem beautifully translated. I translated it in a different manner as follows - hope Mr. Dasgupta won't mind my posting it here - both translations can be compared with the original referred to below my piece -

You gave me a gold-plated fountain pen
And many other tools for writing -
This little desk
Made of almond wood,
Letter pads of various sizes,
An enamelled paper cutting silver knife,
A pair of scissors, gums, tapes,
A few glass paperweights
And some pencils red, green and blue.
You told me to write you letters
Every other day.

Having taken my morning bath
Now I am ready to write a letter to you.

But I am at my wit's end
To find a news to give
Except that you have left.
You also know this
Yet it seems
You don't know it so well.
So I thought I must tell you
You have left.
Every time I begin to write
I realize
This piece of news
Is not so simple as it seems.
I am not a poet
Who can give a voice to his words
And express well what he feels
Hence again and again I tear what I write.

Now it is ten o'clock by my watch
I have to make your nephew Boku ready for school.
But before I leave
Let me conclude -
Only this news I have
You have left
The rest have no meaning
And are no news at all.

Translation of the poem 'Patralekha' from the collection Punascha (Once More) by Rabindranath Tagore. The original in Bengali script may be viewed at

26-May-2015 19:23 PM

Name *
Email ID
Comment *
Verification Code*

Can't read? Reload

Please fill the above code for verification.