To unite them intimately with men
The creator gave women a beautiful body
A supreme work of art '
He also gave them something
A kind of illusion that charms
In a light that only a loving heart can shed
One can conceive it in one's mind
But cannot grasp within one's hands
The poet captures it in his poems
With rhetoric, rhymes and imaginary pangs
In music its image plays
In the ripples of waters in a pond
Like light vibrating in waves.
Certain that he has got it
One who clings on
To gratify one's blind and selfish lust
Remains happy with the earthen pot
Missing altogether the heavenly drink
He makes everything clammy and cold
He puts out the golden lamp.
One who gets it even from a distance
He is fortunate indeed
He is filled with a sense of fulfillment
And the joy of an intimate touch.
When I sang this paean to the womenfolk
This elegant thought coated in elegant words
Will please my Lolita
And I will get some reward.
But alas! what a rotten lot!
My poetry made her only laugh
She said, 'The concluding lines of your poem,
Though very eloquent,
From the beginning to the end
Are damn lies
Each word is a figment of your fancy
It's like a big show at the front
With the back totally vacant.
Do you think I don't know
It's like a vegetarian saint hunting a doe
Do you think any man
Possesses that kind of gentlemanly mercy?'
I asked her, 'What about women?'
Prompt came her reply,
'You should know
Around us we have a strong fence
To save ourselves from any such touch.'
'What does that mean?' I asked.
'We don't have any illusion in our mind
We simply love.'
This made me laugh,
'What I said is weighty indeed
But it's nothing compared to your boast
Do you want to say
In women's love
There is not even an iota of illusion?'
She replied after a pause,
'Yes, almost. But certain it is
We don't hanker after anybody's love.'
'In that case, dear madam,
It's men who win.'
'How's that? came the vehement protest.
I told her 'If love is a pitcher
Filled up with heavenly nectar
Then illusion is nothing but a secretion
From our salivary glands
Who has deprived the women
From a fuller taste of that elixir?
When I see your lovely form, dear madam,
I am maddened
But three-fourths of your loveliness is my illusion.
And this illusion and love -
Are they opposed to each other?
The light we get from the sky
Can you divide it in two - black and white?
It breaks itself up into smithereens
And broadcasts all around
In myriad colors -
On the grass, corns, flowers and foliage
It is on the wings of birds
In the blue of the sky
They all cast a spell, an illusion
To charm everyone's eyes
The creator is an utter failure
Where this illusion is lacking.
It's a shame to say
Charmed are only we, but not you,
Please don't say it again
And let me tell you something very plain -
Creation is absolutely impossible
Where everything is immaculately perfect.
Whatever is full, whatever is perfect
Inertly exists in its own glory
It needs none else as its companion
In contact with whatever is imperfect
It becomes restless
Through the force that that clash generates
It expresses itself in various forms
In various colors
One who refuses to accept this
And calls it an illusion
Is one who wants the river avoiding its flow
And lands up on its sandy bank.
Man loves to lose himself in fantasies
He sails on a boat of dream
In a sea of honey
And reaching the confluence
Finds the illusions of what is formless
And what is endless
His small cup becomes full to the brim
With a heavenly nectar
And the limited loses itself in the limitless.'
Our fair lady left saying nothing more
Next day she came
With some fresh jasmine flowers on a banyan leaf
Placing them on my feet she said,
'In yesterday's debate
I had talked too much
Now I admit much of it was rubbish.'
I had struck the branch
That was bending with kanchan flowers
In protest on my haughty head
It shed some flowers
Let me close my spring days
With the gifts of this debate.
Translation of the poem Tarka from the collection Akashpradip by Rabindranath Tagore. The original poem will be found here