I have fenced off this plot of land
With a few bamboo sticks
Here I ramble all my time
In the ego of my existence
And certain that it is mine
As these sturdy trees by their deeper roots
Struck over a far longer time
Establish their claim.
The trees that grow on this ground,
The rains that drench them,
The morning light that breaks my sleep,
The star-lit darkness of the night ----
All these also I claim as mine
As they relate to this land.
All my work and recreation
Are bound with this plot
As if by an eternal bond.
But all on a sudden
This firm belief is shaken
When I visualize in my mind,
Under the timeless gaze of the stars of the night
Travellers passing by through eternity.
Over this very plot of land
They came and went,
Like me they had also fenced it off
As their exclusive property.
Some of them were proud of their civilization
While others were brutes
And some had no name or history.
The rituals observed by some
Were esoteric and of much sophistication
While some were no better than barbarians.
The very language of those
Who the other day
Brought first light to this land
Is lost today.
Those who followed
Must have filled this land like an earthen cup
With their weal and woe
They also failed to leave any permanent mark.
One season has followed another
Days have followed nights
Who knows how long
The sun and the rains have here played
Only passing games
With their passing shadows?
At whatever stage of this endless flow of time
I came as a stranger
I failed to put the proud signature of my stay.
The landlord with an immense ego
Fences this land
But does he know
The grasses he weeds off will endure
While his ego will not outlast these dusts?
Translation of the poem Mati from the collection Bithika by Rabindranath Tagore. The original poem is at