Of this vast world how little I know!
Countries, capitals, cities,
Men's great deeds,
Rivers, mountains, oceans and deserts
All these are so many
Many are the species of living beings
Many are the plants and trees
They have all remained unknown to me.
Its dimensions are immense
And my mind remains tied
To a very small corner of this earth.
Anxious to fill up this gap in my knowledge
With insatiable zest
I read many travelogues and picturesque tales
Borrowing from others.
I am a poet of this earth
Whenever anywhere any sound it makes
It should echo in my song
It has failed to strike a harmony
Of those myriad notes
It has many gaps.
In my imaginations and dreams
Often have I inferred
That great universal concert
In silent moments
It has filled my being.
The inaccessible snow-capped mountains
Sing their songs in vast blue space
They remain unheard
Yet they have sent their tidings to my heart.
The unknown lonely south pole star
Has shed its heavenly lights on my eyes
In the middle of the night
It has kept me awake.
The thundering fall falling in a flood
Has sent its echo to my mind.
In the great concert of this physical world
Many poets have poured their music
From many sides
What I have in common with them is this '
They give me company
I share with them a delightful feast
And get a taste of their offerings to the muse
I can savor the universal music.
But most inaccessible is the man behind his face
He cannot be measured by time and space
They are external to his being
He has a heart full of feelings
I can touch him there
If I can embrace him intimately with my heart.
I do not find an access to each
What stands in the way
Is the way I live.
The ploughman ploughs his field
The weaver weaves
And the fisherman casts his nets
They do various things
In various parts
And keep the whole world going.
Denied of all dignities they occupy the smallest place
In an upper gallery I have taken my seat
And looked at them through a window so narrow!
Often their neighbourhood have I visited
But to go in I did not have the courage.
It is futile to sing my songs
If I fail to join my life with theirs -
They are right when they accuse
In my music I have failed.
I know very well
My poetry has struck many notes
But it has failed to strike all chords.
I have been waiting to hear that poet
Who is closest to the soil
Who has shared the ploughman's life
Who has earned his kinship
Through words and deeds.
In poetry's joyful feast
I am ever in the quest
Of what I have failed to give.
Let his poetry be true
Let him not cheat only by gimmicks.
Without paying its due price
It isn't right
To earn one's literary fame by fashionable tricks
It's as good as stealing.
So come, O ye come my poet
The poet of those who have no names,
Those who cannot speak
Sing of their pains
Flood this land with your tunes -
A land that is dry like a desert through neglect
A joyless land without life,
A land without music.
In its heart
There is a fountain of joy
You only open its flow.
In the concert hall of the muse
Let us honor those who play only a single string
Those who are mute
In their joys and sorrows
Before a big assembly
Those who stand silently
With their heads hung low
O ye poet!
From this distance
Let me hear their words
As if from close.
May you ever remain their friend
May they be famous through your fame '
I shall always pay you my tribute!
Translation of poem 10 from the collection Janmadine by Rabindranath Tagore. It was composed on 21st January, 1941 - a few months before his death. The original in Bengali script may be viewed at