29. Gitanjali: Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, the first Asian writer to be so recognized. His “Gitanjali” is an epic poem, of which below I present only a few lines.

Although the “Gitanjali” is very religious overall, these few lines go well with Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins, make much of Time” or Edna St. Vincent Milay’s “First Fig” available elsewhere on this blog. Middle school students are suddenly struck with the idea that their time has come, but also that they need to strike now. It nags at them, and when we discuss the dreams of their own parents they are ready to see those adults as people living their own character arch. Many do not want to be their parents at first, but see things that they admire when forced to reflect. With poems such as this, students begin to see the lessons their parents teach them in a new light, and see that advice given is not a nag but a sign of love. Perhaps that is more than you want to do with a poem, but know that it can be a powerful lesson.

That said, he is speaking of God and how his calling has not yet been called. So, you can hold Tagore to his true intent and speak about our “true calling” or use thing poem in terms of simply being called by something. In America, this “something” might be a career, a love of one’s life, or where to live as an adult. Many religious people would see such a calling as also a calling to serve God, but I’ll leave you to split those hairs depending on your leanings.

Rabindranath Tagore

The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day.
I have spent my days in stringing and in unstringing my instrument.
The time has not come true, the words have not been rightly set; only there is the agony of wishing in my heart.
The blossom has not opened; only the wind is sighing by.


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