Thursday, 23 April 2015

T is for Towering...and Tagore

Tagore, Rabindranath (1861 -1941)

Rabindranath Tagore was a polymath - born to an aristocratic Bengali family, he was a poet, novelist, song writer, playwright, essayist, artist, educator and visionary.  He was the first non-European to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Tagore introduced new verse forms and prose techniques in Bengali, modifying the rigid 'classical' written language to one that was closer to the spoken form and more intimate. He reshaped Bengali and Indian culture in far reaching ways.  In short, he is to Bengali what Shakespeare is to English.  He was also awarded a knighthood, but surrendered it in protest against the British brutality in Jalianwala Bagh in Punjab.  

I grew up with his nursery rhymes, songs and poems, fiction and musicals - 'dance-drama' as all Bengalis of my generation do.  Today my prompt is his poem Where the Mind is without Fear written in the context of colonial oppression and the Indian resistance to it, which is still read and revered wherever freedoms are valued.

It'll be okay - either way


I will let your words take me wherever they want
in time, in space, in spaces of the mind
to their immeasurable, ancient battlefronts
where weapons and words are both ill-defined
and uncertainty stares at me with its blind

eyes and blinding terror.  I shall not be afraid
to crawl, and fall, openly petrified,
vulnerable underbelly defenceless, blades
grazing the tender skin then ripping it wide
but I’ll press on without thoughts of turning aside;

it’s a long road to where the mind can be fearless
but I shall not cavil with you, I’ll accept
wherever they lead, peaks and valleys of darkness
I’ll follow them through every crevice and cleft,
jagged stone, without once looking right or left.

If in the end, there’s nothing gained, no epiphany
then that’s fine too, no complaints, no words from me.


One footstep on solid rock, the next on scree,
an endless path sans charms, sans destination,
every footfall an empty torment, no greenery
to lighten loads – barrenness, futility.
Even in that there’s a seed somewhere, a life lesson.

The paths spin their scenes and their own purpose
and every seed, whether it sprouts or is hidden,
will come to mean something, small but momentous
without the jolts and bolts, without drama and fuss.
All words and seeds ripen in time and split open.

And yours will too, I’ll carry them cupped like grain
in my hand and hold them close and walk on
step after step. Torment is just a terrain -
degrees of slope, sharpness of rock, flats of plain.
All paths peter out with time and are redrawn.

And if in the end, they don’t flatten, and nothing’s gained
then that’s fine too, I’ll keep the grain, and no complaint.

T is also for Tennyson, whose Ulysses is one of my favourite poems across all poets and and all times. Enjoy!

T is for Trouble, which I had last night trying to find bloggers that are still keeping on with the A-Z.  Among the ones I clicked, several had stopped. Not a wildly successful reading session. A bit disheartening that but never mind, I shall Trudge on. Tomorrow is another day :)

Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2015


  1. A long road to where the mind can be fearless. I like that line.
    Wish I had more time to click through the list. Will take the road trip after it's all over.
    And we are trying to remove those who have stopped. It is sad to see people drop out when we are so close to the end.

  2. Thanks for sharing such beautiful words....a new poet to me.

    Creating Life Beautifully - A to Z Challenge

  3. Thank you for the heartfelt poems. And thank you for finding my blog. Despite a horrible cold and now tendinitis in my elbow and shoulder from blogging, I am in this to the end. But not visiting as many blogs as I should because of the effort to type. Just answering the terrific ones who leave a comment.

  4. Sad when people drop out of the A-Z challenge, but I suppose for some (me too) it's too much to commit to. Loved your beautiful lines.

  5. Love the poem you mentioned. A Tagore classic.

  6. I'm embarrassed to say that I had never heard of Tagore. Will try to get to know him. As is usually the case, I am deeply touched by your poem. The phrase I like best is "torment is just a terrain." Which it is.

    1. Please don't be, heaps of poets I don't know about, can't be knowing every great one in every culture/language. Glad you enjoyed the poetry. I can't find your blog or profile, clicking on your name is taking me strange places :) Please leave me a link if possible.


Comment moderation is on. Anonymous comments will be deleted forthwith. Nonymous comments always welcome :) Thank you for your patience!