Verse XLI – The Gardener
I long to speak the deepest words I have to say to you
but I dare not – for fear you should laugh
That is why I laugh at myself and shatter my secret in jest
I make light of my pain, afraid you should do so.
I long to tell you the truest words I have to say to you
but I dare not – being afraid that you should not believe them
That is why I disguise them in untruth, saying the contrary of what I mean
I make my pain appear absurd, afraid that you should do so.
I long to use the most precious words I have for you
but I dare not – fearing I should not be paid with like value
That is why I give you hard names and boast of my callous strength
I hurt you, for fear you should never know any pain.
I long to sit silent by you,
but I dare not – lest my heart come out at my lips
That is why I prattle and chatter lightly and hide my heart behind words
I rudely handle my pain, for fear you should do so.
I long to go away from your side
but I dare not – for fear my cowardice should become known to you
That is why I hold my head high and carelessly come into your presence
Constant thrusts from your eyes keep my pain fresh for ever.
Beautiful verse from Maali (The Gardener), sent in by Kosh, our newest contributor.
This poem struck a chord in me. I have great respect for the effortless humility Tagore achieves, not attempting to hide his wit and talent, but just being that way – serene and sublime, yet direct and honest. An expression of what it really is — the pain.
As the nobel committee puts it,
“because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West”
An article on Tagore by Amartya Sen, on the nobel website.
And the introduction to the Gitanjali by W.B. Yeats – introducing Tagore to the western world.
Tagore has the rare distinction of being the only person to have penned national anthems for two countries.. The first 10 lines of Amar Shonar Bangla or My Bengal of Gold form the national anthem of Bangladesh and Jana Gana Mana, which we have featured before is the Indian national anthem.