Tagore, Rabindranath - Song XXI to XXIX, Gitanjali
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
I must launch out my boat. The languid hours pass by on the
shore--Alas for me!
The spring has done its flowering and taken leave. And now with
the burden of faded futile flowers I wait and linger.
The waves have become clamorous, and upon the bank in the shady
lane the yellow leaves flutter and fall.
What emptiness do you gaze upon! Do you not feel a thrill
passing through the air with the notes of the far-away song
floating from the other shore?
In the deep shadows of the rainy July, with secret steps, thou
walkest, silent as night, eluding all watchers.
Today the morning has closed its eyes, heedless of the insistent
calls of the loud east wind, and a thick veil has been drawn over
the ever-wakeful blue sky.
The woodlands have hushed their songs, and doors are all shut at
every house. Thou art the solitary wayfarer in this deserted
street. Oh my only friend, my best beloved, the gates are open
in my house--do not pass by like a dream.
Art thou abroad on this stormy night on thy journey of love, my
friend? The sky groans like one in despair.
I have no sleep tonight. Ever and again I open my door and look
out on the darkness, my friend!
I can see nothing before me. I wonder where lies thy path!
By what dim shore of the ink-black river, by what far edge of the
frowning forest, through what mazy depth of gloom art thou
threading thy course to come to me, my friend?
If the day is done, if birds sing no more, if the wind has
flagged tired, then draw the veil of darkness thick upon me, even
as thou hast wrapt the earth with the coverlet of sleep and
tenderly closed the petals of the drooping lotus at dusk.
From the traveller, whose sack of provisions is empty before the
voyage is ended, whose garment is torn and dustladen, whose
strength is exhausted, remove shame and poverty, and renew his
life like a flower under the cover of thy kindly night.
In the night of weariness let me give myself up to sleep without
struggle, resting my trust upon thee.
Let me not force my flagging spirit into a poor preparation for
It is thou who drawest the veil of night upon the tired eyes of
the day to renew its sight in a fresher gladness of awakening.
He came and sat by my side but I woke not. What a cursed sleep
it was, O miserable me!
He came when the night was still; he had his harp in his hands,
and my dreams became resonant with its melodies.
Alas, why are my nights all thus lost? Ah, why do I ever miss
his sight whose breath touches my sleep?
Light, oh where is the light? Kindle it with the burning fire of
There is the lamp but never a flicker of a flame--is such thy
fate, my heart? Ah, death were better by far for thee!
Misery knocks at thy door, and her message is that thy lord is
wakeful, and he calls thee to the love-tryst through the darkness
The sky is overcast with clouds and the rain is ceaseless. I
know not what this is that stirs in me--I know not its meaning.
A moment's flash of lightning drags down a deeper gloom on my
sight, and my heart gropes for the path to where the music of the
night calls me.
Light, oh where is the light! Kindle it with the burning fire of
desire! It thunders and the wind rushes screaming through the
void. The night is black as a black stone. Let not the hours
pass by in the dark. Kindle the lamp of love with thy life.
Obstinate are the trammels, but my heart aches when I try to
Freedom is all I want, but to hope for it I feel ashamed.
I am certain that priceless wealth is in thee, and that thou art
my best friend, but I have not the heart to sweep away the tinsel
that fills my room.
The shroud that covers me is a shroud of dust and death; I hate
it, yet hug it in love.
My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy;
yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my
prayer be granted.
He whom I enclose with my name is weeping in this dungeon. I am
ever busy building this wall all around; and as this wall goes up
into the sky day by day I lose sight of my true being in its dark