Theme: Poetry

A Letter

Today I have sent you my writings
They are a book-full of poems
In a cage
You will find them jostling
You will find everything else
Except the space
That should have been between them.
Poetry once appeared
On the vast canvas
Of the recess of the sky
Now that is left behind.
The stars of the night sky
When strung together
Tightly in a necklace
At the salesman's counter
They will fetch a good price
Yet the connoisseurs may feel
Something is amiss
And that something is
The vast sky
Wide and high
That cannot be weighed and priced.

Suppose a song arose
From the heart of silence
Like a jewel
It is unique and precious
Will you keep it packed in a box?
In king Vikramaditya's court
His poems the poet read
Never in a hurry,
Nor on a single day.
The demon of the press was yet to come
To obliterate the poetry's sky
Under the layers of its ink
Ground by a hydraulic grinder
The dough of poetry
Was never gobbled up
In a single gulp
There was time to relish.

Alas! Alas!
The poetry that was meant to be heard
Is now put in the shackles of sight
It is now stored in a library
The beloved of all
From the beginning of time
Is now put up in a showcase
In the market place.
There is no way out
This age is very complex.
Poetry has to go for a tryst with its readers
Riding a Pataldanga-bound omnibus.

I think with a deep sigh
Had I been born in the days of Kalidas,
Were you king Vikramaditya -
And were I -
No, no, it's of no use.
I have been born a Kalidas
Of the age of printing press
And you are all Malabikas
Of modern times
Poetry you buy
And you read it
Reclining on an easy chair
You do not hear it
With eyes closed
And with ears eager
When it is over
You do not reward the poet with a garland
You feel relieved
After paying the bookseller
A rupee and a quarter.

Translation of the poem Patra from the collection Punascha (Once More) by Rabindranath Tagore. Compare the Introductory poem of Poems.  View original in Bengali script at

A Letter2.jpg


More By  :  Kumud Biswas

Views: 1409     Comments: 2

Comments on this Poem

Comment Your translation is very good. Thanks for reading and commenting and above all for trying to present Tagore before people who cannot read him in the original Bengali.

06-Oct-2011 13:09 PM

Comment 6 October 2011
TO: Mr. Kumud Biswas.

Dear Mr. Biswas,
I was thrilled to discover you, another Tagore translator whose oeuvre obviously excels mine of 63 poems and 41 Rabindrasangeets and 3 essays.. My book of Tagore translation ‘The Eclipsed Sun’ (TES) was published in Calcutta in January 2002 and wef 15th April 2011 its Internet version was released from Jakarta the link of which you’ll get in any of the few poems I so far uploaded in if you’ll just open up my attached Bio-Data with it.
Anyway, Tagore translators are few in number and our “Rabi’ (=Sun) , therefore remains by and large eclipsed to the world outside the narrow Bengali circle. Only translators can un-eclipse him and we still need scores of them. I’m happy, therefore to discover you.
I have just started perusing your uploaded works in Interestingly, the poem Patra, which you have translated, is a part of TES. I append my version of it.
Yours sincerely,
Rajat Das Gupta

Translation from Bengali works of Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Laureate of 1913.
Translator: RAJAT DAS GUPTA (KOLKATA, India). Adopted from his book of Tagore translation “THE ECLIPSED SUN” – published in January 2002. Link for the Internet edition released from Jakarta (Indonesia) w.e.f. 15th April 2011 –
Poem: Patra (=Letter) in the book Punascha (=Again). Written by Tagore in the early thirties of the twentieth Century.
[Translator’s note: “What is the life if full of care / There is no time to stand and stare ….” Lamented the English poet. In this poem Tagore shows the plight of the modern aesthetes having to enjoy ‘packaged literature’ in contrast with their forerunners at the time of Kalidas, the poet laureate in the court of King Vikramaditya (600 A.D.), when literature/poetry flourished out of man’s deepest perception of beauty and truth which the then leisurely life permitted, and had not pruned it down to a ‘commodity’.]

I send you my writings
A bookful of poems –
Chock-a-block in a cage,
So offering everything
But the gaps in between.

The blue sky of leisure
Where bloomed poems once upon a time,
Itself lags behind.

If the stars of the night
Could be plucked and stitched into a garland,
It might fetch a high price
At the jewelry shop of the universe.
Yet, the connoisseur knows the shortfall –
Which is the void of the sky,
That cannot be weighed
But is full of compassion.

Suppose, a song is struck up
At the heart of the silent Time –
A single sapphire;
Should it be admired
Captive in a jewel-box?

In the court of Vikramaditya,
The poet sang day after day,
The monstrous press did not then blemish
The poem’s sky of leisure;
The mulch of literature
Processed in the hydraulic press
Would not be gobbled down the throat;
Its joy would surge in full leisure.

Alas, the poem for the ear
Has been fettered for the eye,
Banished to the library;
The darling of all time
Hassled in the publishers’ market.
But there is no way out,
This being the age of mess.
The poem has to take omnibus ride
For a tryst with the reader.
The heart sighs,
Had I been born in the time of Kalidas!
And you were the king Vikramaditya,
And I were – alas, futile is this fantasy!
I have been born Kalidas of the press –
You modern blooms –
Purchase poems
To read in your armchair.
You do not give ear
To poetry with closed eyes;
You do not garland the poet after the session;
But go scot-free only poorer by a few bucks.

* * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Rajat Das Gupta
06-Oct-2011 05:53 AM

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