Saturday, 15 September 2012

Fearless (Lucky 786)

Where is this place where the mind is fearless?
every path seems to swerve and lead away
though I try still to hold my head high

can eyes be dried, just like that, tears put away
jerked on puppet strings of love, helplessly high?
can happy love ever walk straight and fearless?

it’s a long road from here, the sun’s fiercely high
no use hoping the timid heart will be fearless
when the teeth of love and loss both gnaw it away

Never fearless, no; but fear still swatted away; and love’s banner held high.

Of course, the inspiration for this is Tagore’s famous poem, his dream of an independent, new India waking up free from intellectual or political suppression and fear.  It is still quoted and read widely not just in Bengal but in all free-thinking societies.  His own translation doesn’t do the original justice.  Rhymed poetry can’t really be translated unrhymed and still retain the flavour of the original. Also his Bengali version is more robustly violent, the last line in Bengali reads “strike my country awake” rather than the tamer “let”, but the English was probably watered down for audiences abroad in pre-independence India.  Here it is again:
Mind Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up
into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action-
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

I wrote this post sometime ago, and my verse is really about the personal fear that stems from vulnerability - the fear of losing loved ones, of changes, of the lack of control over our own fates. 

Shared with poets at dVerse where the prompt today is "fear"




Brian Miller said...

losing control def drives many of our fears....i am glad you included as well the tagore poem...and the bit on the original being more violent in its awaking...fear is def a tool used by those in power to keep it...and your fear of something happening to family...well that is mine....i really like your last stanza the swatting of fear and allowing love in its place...

henry clemmons said...

true, but in saying that i like reading from the perspective of vulnerability. I feel a closer connect to the writer and what is being presented. I enjoyed your poem. Very honest and identifiable. Excellente!

Anonymous said...

fantastic re-imagining/reinterpretation of the tagore poem. There is a positivity in your poem that flies in the face of be fearless in the face of loss of love....that takes some strength...completely absorbing poem and i really liked that you included the backstory about the original poem

Other Mary said...

I don't think there is fearless. Some just have better masks than others. I like your poem, and the explanation you include.

Heaven said...

I think fear has its place, it makes us value love's happy banner, even more when we lose a loved one ~

I love that quote from R. Tagore...still a passionate voice ~

Anonymous said...

great contribution. as long as you hold up the banner, no fear is too great. we just have to remind ourselves.

Nilanjana Bose said...

all parents must be forever quaking...and pretending to be brave...the richer you are, the more fearful you become...good to know one is not alone...glad you liked it,thanks!

Nilanjana Bose said...

appreciate the feedback..thanks for the encouragement.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Fearless isn't possible...glad you liked the backstory...thank you.

Nilanjana Bose said...

absolutely agree about the masks...thank you, glad to know you liked it

Nilanjana Bose said...

Tagore is one of my favourites...and indeed fear has its place as you say...thanks for reading

Nilanjana Bose said...

constant reminders out here! :) thank you for stopping by

Sabio Lantz said...

Nicely played and thanx for sharing the older poem.
And thank you for sharing Tagore -- I did not know that poem

Nilanjana Bose said...

entirely a pleasure...Tagore is haunting in Bengali, totally timeless his poetry and short stories especially..thank you for coming by

Claudia said...

yes, i think there is no such thing like being completely's banner held high..really like this as it puts a perfect counterweight to the insecurity that fear brings

Nilanjana Bose said...

one holds it high and hopes for the best...thank you