Theme: Death

Getting Lost

Translation from Bengali works of Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Laureate of 1913.
See translator’s nite at the end of the poem.

My little kid, responding to her pals,
Was stepping down the stairs, with pause
In the dark, draping the lamp,
Cautious in her moves, her feet would stamp.
I was in the roof, the summer sky replete with many a star,
Startled by the sobs of my daughter, rushed there.
While climbing down the stair,
Her lamp was put off by the air.
“What happened Bami”? I ask her,
She sobbed, “I’m lost here!”

Back to the roof, countless stars high,
I observed, looking up the sky
Some lass akin to my Bami,
It seemed to me –
Draping with her blue scarf, moan –
Guards her lamp, paces alone;
If the light would be off,
Abrupt she would stop –
Her cry would fill the sky,
“Lost am I!”

Translator’s note: 

Poem: Hariye Jaoa (=Getting Lost) - written around 1915

Tagore was afflicted by severest tragedies, including the death of his children and other near and dear ones, very often throughout his life. With amazing calmness he faced all these. More amazing, his personal grief never found an outlet in his vast literature, leaving aside those for personal diaries, letters etc. which happened to be published. In his poem ‘Biswashok’ (=Universal Grief) we get a glimpse of his saint like perception of the universal grief which enabled him to regard his personal losses as trivial. A poet is the voice of all mankind. He is not to mourn his own losses like a miser. The Poet asks his pen to save him from such degradation in the days of his sorrow so that he remains true to a poet’s mission. This poem, though apparently a mourning for his own daughter, superbly depicts the universal grief of all parents who have lost their children. 


More By  :  Rajat Das Gupta

Views: 1402     Comments: 2

Comments on this Poem


TO: Mr. R. D. Ashby 22 January, 2012
Thank you for quotation from Old Testament This takes me close to another poem by Tagore, written on his 80th and last birthday while he was guest of Maitrayee Devi at Mangpu (hill station near Darjeeling). Amidst the ceremony of that day came the death news of Suren Thakur, the dearest of Tagore’s nephews. We get elaborate description of that day in Maitrayee Devi’s book, “Tagore by Fireside”. On hearing the death news of Suren, the Poet sat quiet for a long time, trying to control his emotions. Then he penned down the following poem –

To-day, on my birthday,
Piercing through its ceremonial gay,
Has reached the death news,
Of my dear one , with grief profuse;
Its smoldering fire
My spirit does inspire;
As in the dusk the setting Sun
Anoints the forehead with its burn,
On the evening sky,
With crimson, it to glorify –
The face of the coming night
Turns golden bright;
So does its burning passion
To my life’s western horizon.

In its light
Perennial life came to my sight
That with death is integral
Its glory divulged in brilliant dazzle;
Eclipsed so long by my fate miser
Now to reveal its divinity for ever.

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

Doesn’t your quotation from Job (which I never read before unfortunately), resembles a lot with Tagore’s concept of ‘integral Life & Death’? Surely, you’ll agree. You may also read ‘Punarbartan’ (=Re-incarnation) uploaded in ‘’on 21st January, 2012. Illumination from scholarly persons like you is my best reward from ‘’

Yours sincerely,
Rajat Das Gupta

Rajat Das Gupta
22-Jan-2012 07:18 AM

Comment On the subject of bereavement, one cannot ignore God, the source of life. There is a passage in Job, a book of the Old Testament, which reconciles the pain of losing of a loved one with the realisation that the loved one was given life by God in the first place, and that we cannot be angry with God; but to accept loss as a failure of our own understanding. Only in invoking God's infinite goodness can we begin to come to terms with loss. The quotation from Job is:

“Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

It is a tribute to Tagore that he could bridge the pain of loss he experienced with the appreciation of loss as part of 'universal grief' in human life, which is a form of acceptance of divine providence. I myself feel there is a 'happy ending' to all grief, because my belief in God is, as the source of life, of a living God, who also 'as the Lord hath taken away, the Lord will give back'; but this involves belief in the after-life, which, after all, should not pose a problem since God is a living God in eternity.

20-Jan-2012 21:24 PM

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