Sunday, May 9, 2010

Rabindranath Tagore : Fruit~Gathering


I woke and found his letter with the morning.

I do not know what it says, for I cannot read.

I shall leave the wise man alone with his books, I shall not trouble him, for who knows if he can read what the letter says.

Let me hold it to my forehead and press it to my heart.

When the night grows still and stars come out one by one I will spread it on my lap and stay silent.

The rustling leaves will read it aloud to me, the rushing stream will chant it, and the seven wise stars will sing it to me from the sky.

I cannot find what I seek, I cannot understand what I would learn; but this unread letter has lightened my burdens and turned my thoughts into songs.


You took my hand and drew me to your side, made me sit on the high seat before all men, till I became timid, unable to stir and walk my own way; doubting and debating at every step lest I should tread upon any thorn of their disfavour.

I am freed at last!

The blow has come, the drum of insult sounded, my seat is laid low in the dust.

My paths are open before me.

My wings are full of the desire of the sky.

I go to join the shooting stars of midnight, to plunge into the profound shadow.

I am like the storm-driven cloud of summer that, having cast off its crown of gold, hangs as a sword the thunderbolt upon a chain of lightning.

In desperate joy I run upon the dusty path of the despised; I draw near to your final welcome.

The child finds its mother when it leaves her womb.

When I am parted from you, thrown out from your household, I am free to see your face.


My portion of the best in this world will come from your hands : such was your promise.

Therefore your light glistens in my tears.

I fear to be led by others lest I miss you waiting in some road corner to be my guide.

I walk my own wilful way till my very folly tempts you to my door.

For I have your promise that my portion of the best in this world will come from your hands.


This autumn morning is tired with excess of light, and if your songs grow fitful and languid give me your flute awhile.

I shall but play with it as the whim takes me - now take it on my lap, now touch it with my lips, now keep it by my side on the grass.

But in the solemn evening stillness I shall gather flowers, to deck it with wreaths, I shall fill it with fragrance; I shall worship it with the lighted lamp.

Then at night I shall come to you and give you back your flute.

You will play on it the music of midnight when the lonely crescent moon wanders among the stars.


I found a few old letters of mine carefully hidden in her box - a few small toys for her memory to play with.

With a timorous heart she tried to steal these trifles from time's turbulent stream, and said, "These are mine only!"

Ah, there is no one now to claim them, who can pay their price with loving care, yet here they are still.

Surely there is love in this world to save her from utter loss, even like this love of hers that saved these letters with such fond care.


I have kissed this world with my eyes and my limbs; I have wrapt it within my heart in numberless folds; I have flooded its days and nights with thoughts till the world and my life have grown one, - and I love my life because I love the light of the sky so enwoven with me.

If to leave this world be as real as to love it - then there must be a meaning in the meeting and the parting of life.

If that love were deceived in death, then the canker of this deceit would eat into all things, and the stars would shrivel and grow black.


Not for me is the love that knows no restraint, but like the foaming wine that having burst its vessel in a moment would run to waste.

Send me the love which is cool and pure like your rain that blesses the thirsty earth and fills the homely earthen jars.

Send me the love that would soak down into the centre of being, and from there would spread like the unseen sap through the branching tree of life, giving birth to fruits and flowers.

Send me the love that keeps the heart still with the fulness of peace.



~ Rabindranath Tagore (May 1861 ~ August 1941)

[Translated from Bengali to English by Rabindranath Tagore]

Published in 1916



  1. 'Fruit-Gathering' is also my most favourite collection of Tagore's poetry. If you know Bengali, you would be able to enjoy it more. We're now celebrating his 150th birth anniversary here in Kolkata. Out of my most cherished 10 poems in this collection, you've chosen 7 and posted it in your blog. Am dumb-struck at this coincidence! Keep posting a lot of poetry. Don't get too cerebral in your blog. Let there be more poetry than theory!

  2. I've kissed dis world with my eyes & my limbs,
    I've wrapt it within my heart in numberless folds,
    I've flooded its days & nights with thoughts..

    - these r some of da finest lines of Tagore.

    It has so happened dat I am revisitng Tagore after more than 25 years. It evokes certain hitherto forgotten emotions which, I thought, were no more existing in my life. Now u'r fastidious selections from Tagore's poetry has made me reminisce dat bygone era of my youth. Thanks.

    Where did u get dis photograph of Tagore? Seeing da images of Tagore in all his usually well-known photographs, I had always felt dat he'z a prudish, Victorian aristocrat. Only in one very old photograph with his young wife, he looked normal. But dat was before he became a Tagore!

    Da powerful sculpture of Tagore by da greatest modern sculptor of India, Ram Kinker Baij, is da image i loved to carry of Tagore. A Tagore with a drooped head, ruminating about his failed project of modernity. It'z der @ NGMA in Delhi. Dat was how Ram Kinker had sculpted Tagore.

    Dis unseen photograph of Tagore has disturbed my frozen image of Tagore based on Ram Kinker's sculpture. Dat'z unexpected.

  3. My understanding of Tagore is that he is a fully enlightened being. Even in his photographs he looks like a Rishi, fully at peace with himself and the world and the face glowing like a full moon. All his poems also speak of the glory of the LORD only in no uncertain terms. As Tagore himself has said, Art whether it be Painting or Music or Poetry or whatever, it is the expression of the overflow i.e. when it can not be contained inside. That is how I see and read his poetry.

    Excellent post.

  4. Gasped for air, read it again and again-loudly also,i paused in disbelief about my lack of depth in this condensed and concentrated form of literature called poem.I need to rejuvenate my sunken senses to admire the thoughtfulness of a poet.For me to have a deep and meaningful conversations with a poet is to upgrade myself into a different being.Leaving aside what i have been talking about, many say:

    "Poetry like music,needs to be heard"

    Can the blogger do that for us??

  5. I agree with Vivek!

    For laypersons like yours truly, can there be some inputs from the blogger?

  6. Admirable poetical blog!

    Thanks for let me hear that fruit-gathering poetry which is like music as vivek said!

    Especially,The ending was superb!

  7. What is the Bengali name for fruit gathering?

  8. who isthe child with Tagore jee