I have come from a time that is far.
When I came to your time I found
Companions I have none
Along the way
At various disembarkation points
One by one
They must have got down.
Somewhere far behind
I also exhausted the morsels
I received as gifts from life -
Those small habitual comforts
Things I needed to remain alive.
When I first set my feet on this life’s way
In my friendly exchanges with my fellow beings
Through what I said or meant
Through what I actually did
Or what I wanted to do
My right on that time became firmer each day.
In fun and merriment with others
It was enough to survive somehow –
By my mere presence in the pageant of life
To give some speed to the flow of life
To add to the crowd.
But today in your time
I find I am an alien
I am unknown.
In your speech
The nuances of our words
Have assumed new meanings.
The seasons have changed
In changing whirlwinds
The landscape has changed colours too
Small factious groups, elbowing each other
Tastes, hopes and expectations
All that give life its relish
Have themselves lost their taste.
By my presence
Whatever I gave to our times
However little be its value
Bringing men closer in a thread
It gave a shape to that age –
By your mundane measure
Today it doesn’t fit.
In my garden do not grow
The modish flowers that are needed
To welcome these passing times.
For the corner of your house now I occupy
I have nothing to pay as its rent.
So in a daring act of giving
I’ll have to give you something big.
It will not be something
To satisfy the demands of the present
And if you find
My gift is not to your taste
Leave it for your judgment at a later date.
Yet with what little I have
I want to repay my debt of this life
And leave you indebted.
May I give you to my last
Whatever I have
Beyond my profits and losses
Beyond my joys and sorrows
Whether I am abused or praised.
Translation of the poem Agantuk from the collection Parishesh by Rabindranath Tagore. This famous poem was written on 11th July, 1932, in reply to the allegation by some young writers that the poet had become outdated. The original in Bengali script is at