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from the March 2005 issue: Spring Break: Travels With Literary Masters

from Sparks

Spring, it is time to tell

The flowers to open.

The leaves are whispering now

With expectation.

The spirit of life is oblivious

Of where earth is, or the sky.

That is why

Flowers seek it in the stars,

Stars seek it in the flowers.

He who knows the truth

Stores it in a treasure-chest proudly.

He who loves the truth

Keeps it inside himself humbly.

Keep, and the load presses down

On your shoulder.

Give, and the whole wide world

Is its porter.

Translator's Note: When I translated Rabindranath Tagore's kabitika or "brief poems" for my book Particles, Jottings, Sparks (Angel Books, London, 2001), I used for the book's third section, "Sparks," the text of the posthumous collection Sphulinga that was included in the centenary edition of Tagore's Collected Works (1961). This text has 260 poems. I found, however, that it was too long to balance the other two sections of my book, "Particles" (Kanika, 1899) and "Jottings" (Lekhan, 1927); so I decided to use the original Sphulinga of 1945, which has 198 poems. I therefore have 62 translations that have not yet appeared in print. These four are taken from those unpublished translations and will, I hope, demonstrate my view that Tagore's brief poems take us to the heart of his imagination, humanity and wisdom.

March 2005
Spring Break: Travels With Literary Masters
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