Rabindranath Tagore: Final Poems

Overview

The brilliant and immensely prolific Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) is known the world over for his accomplished works in an astoundingly wide range of genres: novels, short stories, poems, plays, and essays. During the final year of his life, while suffering from a painful illness, Tagore completed four volumes of poetry that expressed the emotional turmoil of facing one's own imminent extinction. The selection from these extraordinary poems that appears here is the first collection to treat them ...
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Overview

The brilliant and immensely prolific Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) is known the world over for his accomplished works in an astoundingly wide range of genres: novels, short stories, poems, plays, and essays. During the final year of his life, while suffering from a painful illness, Tagore completed four volumes of poetry that expressed the emotional turmoil of facing one's own imminent extinction. The selection from these extraordinary poems that appears here is the first collection to treat them as a coherent body of poetry. Many of the poems have never before appeared in English, and all of them are rendered in translations that capture as closely as possible the beauty and subtlety of Tagore's original Bengali verses.

A departure from Tagore's earlier work, these poems are, as the translators say, "so compact that it is almost as if [he] ... were going beyond words, as if language no longer suffices, and yet, of course, the language radiates meaning." Poised between life and death, Tagore is awed by the beauty of this world and glimpses in it the presence of the infinite ("Such splendor illuminates a deathlessness / hidden in the everyday by our senses' limits"). At other times, "alone by sorrow's last window," he is gripped by the terror and heart-wrenching grief of experiencing the relentless approach of death and its "wordless end."

Tagore was so weak at the end that he had to dictate his poems. Although the pain was often excruciating and the fear and anger overwhelming, he still exulted in life. In these poems, from his deathbed, he conveys the intense joy of living and his ultimate triumph over death.

Wendy Barker is an award-winning poet and professor of English at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her most recent collection of poems, Way of Whiteness, was published in 2000. She is the author of Lunacy of Light: Emily Dickinson and the Experience of Metaphor and editor (with Sandra M. Gilbert) of The House is Made of Poetry: The Art of Ruth Stone. During the fall 2000, she served as Fulbright Senior Lecturer at the University of Sofia in Bulgaria.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rabindranath Tagore's poetry is notoriously difficult to transport intact from Bengali to English, even when the poet himself was doing the translating. Yet in a new selection of Tagore's Final Poems, written as the poet anticipated death (which came in 1941), Wendy Barker (Way of Whiteness) and Saranindranath Tagore, a great-nephew of Rabindranath and professor of philosophy at the National University of Singapore, have succeeded wonderfully. The collection is padded with the translators' long preface and introduction, but the 50-odd pages of poems are rife with hard clarity: "Sorrow's dark night over and over/ has come to my door./ Its only visible weapons / pain's deformed poses, fear's monstrous forms / play out their deceptions in darkness." (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807614884
  • Publisher: Braziller, George Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Pages: 120
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.36 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
Under this vast universe 5
Deep night-interior 7
Ancient dark-swept night 8
If the long painful night 10
I dozed off 11
Waking in the morning 12
Recovering, welcomed 13
I have no faith in my works 14
Open the door 15
As after a wind storm 16
One day, I saw, in an ashen moment of dusk 17
When I don't see you, pain weaves 18
Empty patient's room 21
A bell rings in the distance 23
Distant, fragile, pale blue of sky 26
Cruel night sneaks in, breaks 27
Alone by sorrow's last window 28
In the space of vast creation 29
Daily, in the morning, this faithful dog 30
Distant Himalayas' orange groves' 31
This lazy bed, languorous life 32
In vast consciousness 33
Dusk drops down slowly - bindings loosed one by one 34
From time to time I feel the moment for travel has come 35
As I enter my eightieth year 39
In the afternoon, invited to the birthday 41
Ripping the breast off my birthday 42
Like clusters of foam 43
In the mountain's blue and the horizon's blue 44
Brutal war's blood-stained teeth 45
Run-down house, deserted courtyard 47
From the vase one by one 49
This world's vast nest 50
This river-tended life 51
Death-eclipse, that demon 55
Sun-heat drones 56
I'm lost in the middle of my birthday 57
The first day's sun 58
Sorrow's dark night over and over 59
Notes on the Poems 61
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