Theme: Hope

Asha *

Translation from Bengali works of Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Laureate of 1913.
Read translator's note at the end of the poem.

Many a fantastic feat
Are not difficult indeed;
For the world’s welfare
I move everywhere.
Compatriots congregate
Many to educate
A lot of verbiage
In many a language
A lot of demolition
To follow new formation.
The nets web up, the knots fasten,
Bricks erect mansion after mansion.
Such creation some say good, some bad,
Credulous, some come close, some doubt as fad.
Some pure, spurious some,
As raw materials will chance to come –
On the whole
Something builds up as your goal.

But the hopes very humble
Sound easy, but not at all simple.
A bit of pleasure
From a song or fragrance of flower,
Dream in the shade of a tree
When I crave in leisurely spree –
Those fugitives are nowhere
So far I stare.
As the Creator fastened His belt
And the vast steamy space He dealt
To shape it up thundering the sky
With His primal labour raised mountains high;
But after dream of ages many a million
The first bunch of flower did dawn.

I cherished the hope many a day
In the corner of the earth I may
Stay exclusive in a cot,
Not with wealth and honour a lot.
The cool shade of the tree
The river flowing free,
In the dusk the evening star
The fragrance of the flower,
Just outside my window
Through which does glow
The first light of the morning
On the pond there shimmering;

Embracing All these
May work up my pathos and glees –
Not wealth and honour a lot
But I had hoped a mere cot.

For long I did cherish
My humble wish –
That my heart’s treasure
In eloquence will flower;
Not wealth nor honour –
But to be overt mere.
Hues the clouds the setting Sun
When his day’s round is done
To paint the portrait of the end
With his imagination’s blend.
Like that if I could
My dreamland paint I would
In light and shade
Bright and fade
Its myth to build
And around it to yield
Fullness to life’s tear and smile
Nor wealth nor honour to pile –
But only the language of dedication
Was my expectation.

For long the hope I did keep,
Thirst of my life deep,
To quench with the ultimate nectar –
Not wealth, nor honour –
A bit of love mere,
Only that hope I did bear.

With my heart’s music
Someone I would seek,
To put hand in hand
As one close to me will stand,
Worry alone when goes far
Talk eye to eye when comes near.
Around all these trifle
Will slowly fulfill
All tear and smile
Of this life for a while –
Nor wealth, nor honour
But I had hoped a bit of love mere.

Translator’s note:
To the Poet, a man’s greatest achievements which bring him wealth and honour are not necessarily his life’s greatest accomplishments. As one advances in age with all recognition in the society for his successes, he may start realizing that he has missed many precious rewards which might be his exclusive either in his daily trifles or in his meditation for some supreme perceptions, which are not for the market place.

* Asha (Hope) of the book Purabi (name of an Indian Raga played in the evening), written on board SS Andes on 19 October, 1924.


More By  :  Rajat Das Gupta

Views: 1405     Comments: 3

Comments on this Poem

Comment 8 Dec. 2011
TO: Sharbaaniranjan
Many thanks for your kind comments on ‘Asha’. ‘Asha’ was uploaded earlier on “Muse India” also and I earned compliment from learned Dr. Kumarendra Mallick in his inimitable style which I reproduce as follows –
“As usual Tagore moves from corner to corner in the dawns and dusks, fragrance of flowers and shades of the trees in search of love... and for sure, his wish will be fulfilled. A lovely composition that leaves the readers stranded on the cross-road of humanity!”
Kumarendra Mallick, Houston
Oct 16, 2011

TO: Mr. Upen Biswas
We had earlier correspondence on ‘Asha’ under one of your translations from the book “Purabi” (assuming I have identified you correctly in absence of your name under your present ‘comment’). And, did I not say your translation, captioned ‘Little Hopes’, was “Excellent”? I need not remind you what were your assessment of my ‘Asha’ which had ‘humbled’ me. Unfortunately, the correspondences under your said poem appears to have been since erased. Though of course I have retained my replies in my ‘Word’ file but those are sans your intermittent comments which I had not copied. Incidentally, my ‘Asha’ is a part of my book “The Eclipsed Sun” published way back in January 2002 and its Internet edition was released from Jakarta on 15th April 2011. You may get the ‘link’ in any of my few translations so far uploaded on if you’ll click the words “Internet edition” of my Bio-Data.
To conclude, I would say, I have high regard for anybody whoever has put effort to transmit Tagore outside our narrow Bengali circle. I’m not inclined to compare the works of the two or more translators. Just as I find your work commendable, so I do about those of William Radice, Joe Winter and Ketaki Kusari Dyson who had published their Tagore translations towards the turn of the 20th Century, whose footsteps I tried to follow.
Yours sincerely,
Rajat Das Gupta

Rajat Das Gupta
08-Dec-2011 05:42 AM

Comment My translation of this poem was published in boloji about two years ago and may be read for comparison at

07-Dec-2011 05:20 AM

Comment Excellent. Victorian but extremely readable. That is your speciality or USP, as they call it in management terminology. You earn praise not for nothing. Rabindranath sounds more authentic in Victorian English. Carry on with confidence.

Sharbaaniranjan Kundu
07-Dec-2011 02:39 AM

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