Theme: Creation


Astronomers say,
As the sun sacrifices itself
At the altar of a sacrificial fire
Only a very small part of the light that it offers
In the temple of this universe
Is shed on this small earthen planet.
From the beginning of time
The rest of its light so immense
Ceaselessly, aimlessly flows
To what destination none knows.
Along with this, innumerable stars
In the dark endless space
Similarly sacrifice themselves to the last –
To his own creation
What a great injustice of the creator is this wastage!
Or does endless time through changing ages
Again and again takes back what it gives?
This snatching between wasting and saving
Perennially goes on -
But why!
In the world of men
Joys and sorrows, thoughts and imaginations
Drift along endless ways.
At one place life flourishes in a creative vigour
But at some other place
The light of civilization dies and goes out in a blaze
Leaving heaps of dusts and ashes.
From a perennial fountain the stream of life
With its endless bubbles of hopes and disappointments
Flows in an aimless flow
This world at last
Pours that flow into the cavern of death.
Who has kept an account of this flooding
By an endless devastating flood!
It seems, with both its hands
Meaninglessly emptying and filling
Time is playing a game of chess
With men as its pawns.
But why!
Early in my life this question made me think
And I asked –
Where in this universe
Meets every moment all the life
That thrives in the woods, the hills and the seas
And the clatter of storms
Merges with the humming sound
That rises from the strings of consciousness -
Its life and death, its joys and sorrows,  
And in the endless darkness of space
The vibrations that are made by the foot steps of light.
I saw in my mind’s eye
There is a place in the heart of the universe
Where echo all these.
There at last reach
All the flying words and sounds.
From there the rebounding echoes
Gather in their wings
The seeds of new beginnings
From the past that is a mere memory.
I also felt
Traversing many stars and planets
The messages of ages
Have at last met in my being.
Yet again this question troubles my mind –
Will this thread get snapped
And all the forms get lost
In the pace of a journey along an empty path
In a world of the dead?
And all the possessions of the traveler,
His momentary joys and sorrows,
Like the broken pots at the end of a feast
Will be squandered?
If so, why!

Translation of the poem Keno from the collection Nabajatak by Rabindranath Tagore. The original poem is at


More By  :  Kumud Biswas

Views: 1420     Comments: 2

Comments on this Poem

Comment Thank you, rdashby, for your comments. The process of creation and destruction goes on in the universe, but what is its ultimate purpose? It has culminated in the creation of a human world. Will it also get destroyed in this process? What is next? Tagore seems to perceive this as a deep concern of the human race.

29-Oct-2011 03:51 AM

Comment Tagore ponders the vast universe and realises it only makes sense because it reveals itself to him. Of course, Tagore cannot be in the Amazon forest or on Mars, except by virtue of the fact that whatever exists unseen to the edges of the universe is only realised to him in him, and is potentially accounted for in the form of its actuality. This applies to all individuals born with a 'my realisation'. Thus, in the sustaining of human life, though Tagore might pass away, there is yet sustained 'my realisation' in succeeding generations of human beings; and by virtue of the identity of 'my realisation' in which we all participate is sustained as 'my realisation' to the end of human existence. Notice, I say 'participate in', for 'my realisation' it is that is actually of the creative principle in which all things and subjects are actually brought into existence; in preceding their creation proves to be the source of 'my realisation'.

In pursuit of his question, 'Why?', Tagore limits 'my realisation' to his human state of transience, and omits the source of 'my realisation' that is the creative principle in which alone can the question be answered.

28-Oct-2011 09:29 AM

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