Thursday, 25 December 2008

Gitanjali - Rabindranath Tagore

Gitanjali is a truly remarkable collection of poems. The title translates (from Bengali) as ‘song offerings’, which gives a clue to their dual nature. For these are love poems which, whilst they are couched in terms of a personal love, speak also of a love of the divine. They are love songs, they are hymns.

Each poem is short but rich in imagery. At first reading these images seem simple, conjuring an ordinary life that has been coloured by love. One can easily imagine them being written and left for the person the poet has fallen in love with. Yet these images unfold, layer after layer, to reveal deeper and deeper meaning. The poems also, as they progress through the sequence, become more openly spiritual. Yet they never lose their power as love poems, for that is what they are. The poet has fallen under the spell of the divine and recognizes it for what it is.

I have read this collection a number of times now and I have always found within it a peace that is not easily found elsewhere. There is much here that resonates with the world and with personal experience. Different parts stand forward depending on the times, but there always seems to be something there within these gentle and simple words.

If you do not know the work of Tagore, I would urge you to seek it out.