Friday, May 09, 2014

Strange Ambitions

Here's my translation of this little poem on Rabindranath Tagore's birth anniversary this year. With all this research work leading nowhere but taking up my entire day, I cannot say I do not have ideas like this child sometimes myself.

Strange Ambitions
~Rabindranath Tagore

Daily when I go to my class,
        By this lane where our house stands
At ten each morning I pass
        The vendor with wares in his hands.
“Bangles! Bangles!” he calls
His basket has porcelain dolls,
He takes the path that he likes,
        He goes home to eat when he wants.
Whether it is ten or half past,
        Never does he once fear delay.
I wish my slate I could toss
        And go selling things that way.

Source: Google Images
I come home, hands ink-stained
        Half-past four is the hour.
The gardener digs with a spade
        In the rich man’s patch of flowers.
No one ever tells him to stop
On his feet lest the spade he drop.
His head and body gathers dust,
        But his work no one shouts over.
Mother doesn’t give him clean shirts,
        To wash the dirt she never wants.
I wish I could have been
        The tender of those flower-plants.

It is hardly very late in the night
        When mother sends me to bed.
I look out the window and sight
        The guard with the turbaned head.
Darkened lane, few people go,
Dimly the gas lamps glow
Dangling a lantern in hand,
        He stands at the doorstead.
The night goes from ten to eleven
        “It’s late!” he never has to hear.
I wish I could be a guard
        Awake alone in the lane here.

(Translation by Sugata Banerji)


  1. সরি, অনেক দেরি করে ফেললাম মন্তব্য করতে। লেখা নিয়ে তো নতুন করে কিছু বলার নেই। কবিতা নির্বাচন, অনুবাদ, সবই অত্যন্ত মন ভালো করে দেওয়া। আপনার এই সিরিজটা সত্যি জিনিয়াস।

  2. @Kuntala: Thank you! Thank you! :-)