Free Press Journal

Remembering Rabindranath Tagore: A Poetic Tribute by the Bard Fan

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It was 76 years ago today that one of India’s most loved poet, author and writer Rabindranath Tagore passed away leaving behind an enviable legacy. While remembering the Bard, we present Amit Ranjan’s poem which he wrote for his birthday a few years ago. 

All over the city,

your birthday balloons are pasted


And So I thought,

Time must not be wasted.

 

So I hurry to the airport,

To complain to you, and to report,

That no one has wished me happy birthday

Because it is also your birthday.

 

So I hold a placard,

Saying, ‘Welcome, O Bard!’

 

You must be coming by the morning flight,

For you must have spent the night,

Partying with good old friends,

Or setting good old trends.

 

You are a prophet, a seer

So I am sure, you can hear

Me without the mobile network

And I shall not shirk

From telling you

That I haven’t read

Much of your work.

 

I am sure it will irk

The party revellers

But then,

Death and ignorance

Are great levellers.

 

You were a great saviour

In my convent school.

For every newly adam-appled fool

Who had forgotten all gods

and remembered all girls,

Your words came as pearls.

 

When asked to recite a prayer,

In the assembly lawns

They recited with utmost zeal,

And without a care,

‘Where the mind is without fear,

And the held is held high…

Into that heaven of freedom, my father,

Let my country awake’

 

A friend used to have a vivid dream

Of a huge mass of land

Being transported by a huge hand

And waking up in heaven

And creating great commotion.

 

A teacher told me

That you wrote a song for the king

But then it became

In course of time, a people’s thing

 

But then the king is a lonely man

Who owns only the highway

Which everyone else also owns.

 

I am told

That Your music is like nectar,

That Your prose has the stirring vector,

That Your drama inspires every actor,

That you breathe life in every character

 

You appear so tall,

That all else will appear so small.

But if you have Gulliver’s fate,

Then you must be prepared for a date

With the Liliputian arrows;

And the eagles you must think of

As mere sparrows.

 

But tell me — did you want to be this giraffe,

Or did you want to be just half

That size

With or without that coveted prize?

 

And just be a good zebra

With blacks and whites,

Which would be great for the algebra

Of the pedestrians in the crowded cities?

 

My friend Mr Slake sends you this poem:

‘Tiger, tiger, turning trite,

You are too powerful for my mortal might

I can’t look up, you’re so high,

If I look, I’ll be blinded in the eye’

 

But we must talk about all this

In one of the many buildings named after you

Or at my home,

But Oh not in the world

For the party fruits will be hurled

At me, and you standing by my side

Your white drapes

Will be stained by the grapes.

 

But why have you not arrived yet?

Is the flight delayed?

Oh I forgot to tell you

they allow hand luggage, but not beard

It may sound wierd

 

But a friend who shaved off recently, told me

‘It is good to be looking like Obama

But bad to be looking like Osama’

 

But why have you not arrived yet?

Is your flight delayed?

I am waiting for you, O dear bard

In my hand, a huge placard

saying “Welcome, O Bard”

(The poem was written in 2011, on the 150th anniversary of Tagore’s birth. Amit Ranjan is a poet, and teaches English literature at St Stephen’s College, New Delhi. His next book is on John Lang, based on his doctoral thesis.)