The Year 1400

Note! Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the year 1913. The year 2013, beginning tomorrow, marks exactly one hundred years since he was awarded the prize.  I recalled today an oft-quoted poem by him, called The Year 1400. He was referring to the Bengali  calendar of course and according to that calendar we have reached the last quarter or so of the year 1419 now. I have tried to transliterate his poem below and it will be apparent that it was written exactly one hundred years before the Bengali year 1400, which would be 119 years ago from the Western calendar year 2013. I am sure that I am not the first person to have tried to carry out this difficult job and other translations by more competent people should be available. However, I felt that I wished to celebrate his Nobel Prize in Literature by trying out the exercise.


A hundred years on from this day
Who are you that reads my poem
With such curiosity pray —
A hundred years on from this day.
The joy of this fresh spring morn
Even a slightest part of this fare
Not a single blossom from this day,       nor the song of any bird,
Nor indeed a blush so rare
Soaked in affection can I send
Down your distant way
A hundred years on from this day.

Yet on your balcony sit for a while
Unbolting your southerly door
Peer into the horizon distant,                      in imagination drowned content
Let your mind explore —
On a day a hundred years past
A restless thrill had floated down —    from a heaven quite unknown
To the heart of the universe binding itself fast —
A youthful Falgun day unfettered
Impatient with frenzies —
Restively gliding on its pollen perfumed wings
Above the southern breeze —
Abruptly came and dyed in haste the earth
In colours full of youth to last
A hundred years away from you that was in the past.
His anxious heart in songs immersed
A sleepless poet spent nights so vast
To make his many thoughts flower-like bloom
With love remaining unsurpassed
On a day a hundred years past.
A hundred years on from today
Which new poet sings
In your abode tell me pray?
The joyous greetings from today’s spring
I send along his way.
Let my spring song on your spring filled day
Be permitted a moment’s soiree
Send quivers down your heart —   making bees hum and dart
As the leaves murmur away
A hundred years on from this day.

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