Tuesday, May 09, 2017


My friends know that I translate a poem by Rabindranath Tagore every year on Tagore's birthday. I have been doing this since 2006, the year I started this blog. I recently realized that there was no easy way to find all of these translations in one place, and so here's a list of all that I have translated over the years.
  • Poems
  1. The River (This is my first translation, done when I was an undergrad)
  2. The Palm Tree 
  3. The Two Birds
  4. The Hero
  5. The Poet's Age
  6. Africa 
  7. Identity
  8. Small and Big
  9. The Schoolmaster
  10. Strange Ambitions
  11. The Right Place
  12. The Poet
  • Tiny poems embedded within posts:
  1. Revisiting Hyderabad
  2. Momentary Rhyme
  3. A Tiny Tagore Translation
  • Prose:
  1. The Wrong Heaven
Coming to this year's translation, this beautiful poem was one of a few suggested by my father. I liked all of them, but chose this one eventually because of no particular reason. Probably I was influenced by the fact that my wife Poulami knew the poem by heart. She also helped me with my translation, giving me feedback on the meanings of certain phrases to enhance my understanding. As usual, I tried to preserve the rhyme of the original Bengali poem, a quality that is usually missing from English translations of Tagore. So without further digressing, I present this year's translation.


                                                     ~ Rabindranath Tagore

Today, tell your mind this,
Whatever comes, good or bad,
Accept the truth with ease.
            Some people may love you
              Others are never meant to,
            Some are ever grateful, others
              Don’t owe a cent to you.
            Some of it is their nature
              Some of it is yours, brother,
            Partly, the way of this world ---
              Not each one suits the other.
            Some will bluff you at times,
              At other times, you will bluff,
            You will get your share,
               Others get the remaining stuff.
            From times immemorial
              That’s how things have worked 
            How can you be so lucky that
              You’ll get through unmarked!
                      Today, tell your mind this,
                                                 Good or bad whatever may come
                      Accept the truth with ease.

            Weathering many a storm you reach
              The port of happiness to rest
            An underwater hidden cliff
              Strikes you inside the chest,
            Instantly your weary ribs
             Tremble with a painful creak---
            Does that mean with everyone
          A deathly quarrel you must seek?
           If you can stay afloat
              That’s the best thing to do,
          If you cannot, then quietly
              Sink without much ado.
          That wouldn’t be unusual,
              It’s a common incident ---
            Where people don’t fear
              Shipwrecks are most frequent.
                                                         So tell your mind this,
                                                  Whatever comes, good or bad,
            Accept the truth with ease.

          Not everyone is sized for you
            Nor you made in everyone’s size,
          You seem to die of someone’s shove
            By your squeeze, someone dies---
          Still, if we think it through,
            Over everything must we vie?
          The proper approach can give
            A lot of happiness if you try.
          The sky remains as blue as ever,
            Sweet seems the light of dawn,
          When death arrives, we find
            Better to live than to be gone.
          For those whom we closed our eyes
            And cried out a tearful sea
          Even without them we find
            The world is pretty good to see.
                                                  So tell your mind this,
                                             Whatever comes, good or bad,
           Accept the truth with ease.

          At the sunset if you sit,
             Let your large shadow loom
           And with your own fault
             Fill your life with gloom,
           If fate you choose to fight
            And dig yourself a grave,
           Then please finish this task
            As soon as you can, we crave.
           Weep a while if you must
            Filling pitchers from your eyes,
           With your mind then somehow
             Brother, compromise.
           Then, in your dark chamber
              A lamp you must shine---
           Forget, brother, with whom
              Your ideas don’t align.
                                       So tell your mind this,
                                Whatever comes, good or bad,
            Accept the truth with ease.

(Translated by Sugata Banerji)