Unending Love/Tagore

“The story is about forgotten events and feelings unearthed from memory. …” from the photo exhibition “Dhaka: My Dreams, My Reality,”/Chobi Mela VI, 2011, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Reproduced here with kind permission. Photograph ©Debashish Shom.

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…

In life after life, in age after age, forever.

My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,

That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,

In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it’s age old pain,

It’s ancient tale of being apart or together.

As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,

Clad in the light of a pole-star, piercing the darkness of time.

You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.

At the heart of time, love of one for another.

We have played along side millions of lovers,

Shared in the same shy sweetness of meeting,

the distressful tears of farewell,

Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you

The love of all man’s days both past and forever:

Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.

The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours –

And the songs of every poet past and forever.

~Rabindranath Tagore

From Selected Poems, Translated by William Radice

5 thoughts on “Unending Love/Tagore

  1. It’s lovely. If Tagore translated his own poems from Bengali to English, why is this done by William Radice? Granted that Shakepeare is acted out in contemporary clothes, but whose translations have you been quoting? They are wonderful, whoever did the translation, because its the mind of the poet that matters.

  2. Tagore only translated a very small selection of his poetry and he didn’t necessarily make the best job of it because he lacked the skill and creativeness in English that he had in Bengali. His translations of Gitanjali, for instance, are in prose and reflect only inadequately the richness and beauty of the Bengali originals.
    William Radice is an English poet and, over decades of working on Tagore, has developed not only a deep sensibility for Tagore’s language but also techniques for transposing Tagore’s poetry into equally powerful English. William Radice has just published a new translation of Gitanjali (Penguin India) which far surpasses any other translation and will bring Tagore to life for non-Bengalis in a totally new way. We are very lucky to have such a translator.

  3. Thank you very much for your comment. I have only a small book of poems that says they are Tagore’s translations. Yes, we are in deed fortunate to have William Radice and I’ve enjoyed his translations like this one so much. However, my Bengali friends say no translation — even Tagore’s –for the reasons you mentioned –is good as the original. But for those of us who will never get up to speed on Bangla these will have to do. Appreciate your comment and will look out for the new book in Dhaka.

  4. Pingback: Painting my imagination with William Radice | Chuls Bits & Pics

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