Rabindranath Tagore

Fetching Water from a Haiku-Well

This light and bright book, ‘Japan Haiku by Marti’, is a library to me that has a collection of thoughts, wise words of a wise heart.

Haiku, a form of Japanese poetry that is dated back to the 17th century, is a fruit that a poet bears in her mind. It tastes subtly sweet and brazenly true. (Truth tastes different to all people, what does truth taste like to you?)

Carrying oceans and mountains and all the seasons within, it takes me on a journey every time I visit it.

Shying away from nothing, neither life nor death, haikus sing about nature and dance in the present. They capture it fully, through the lives of those who craft it, the haikus capture the moment fully.

No less than an explorer or a monk who practices meditation, the haiku poets in ancient Japan travelled to witness the peaceful, dramatic, kind, unforgiving nature. They did not hurry and that is why could understand it all.

Fetching cold water from a deep quiet well, with wit and brevity, the haikus quench our thirsts in this manner.

I finished reading this delightful book (part of my Auroville collection) sometime back, but I knew the journey has not ended yet.

Earlier I had taken a haiku turn to meet Matsuo Basho, the master haiku poet, and today I found a hidden haiku trail that took me to visit Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali polymath.

“They reveal the control over the human emotions. However, they are never short on aesthetic sensibility. Their sense of aesthetics is marked by deep appreciation yet there is a mastery over expression.”In Letters from Japan, published later as Japan Jatri, Tagore recorded his views on haikus and his experiences of visiting Japan.

Interested in reading Japanese literature, knowing their culture and art history, Tagore in 1915 wrote to Kimura Nikki, who had studied Bengali under him at Calcutta University, “I want to know Japan in the outward manifestation of its modern life and in the spirit of its traditional past. I also want to follow up on the traces of ancient India in your civilization and have some idea of your literature if possible.”

Knockings at My Heart is a collection of short poems by Tagore (discovered only recently and published in 2016) that highlights the impact of haikus on him.

Excerpts –

Let my life accept the risk of its

Sails and not merely the security

Of its anchor.

*

The pomegranate bud hidden behind her veil

Will burst into passionate flower

When I am away.

*

The mist tries

To capture the morning

In a foolish persistence.

The simplistic approach, depth of thought and brisk climactic acuity make this poetry form of the past very much of the present as well as of the future, for the passionate are always searching.

And so my journey continues.

*

Glowing like a firefly.
Image from Pixabay.

Fireflies, an epigrammatic poem by Rabindranath Tagore, is a perfect complement to this post.

My fancies are fireflies, —

Specks of living light

twinkling in the dark.

*

he voice of wayside pansies,

that do not attract the careless glance,

murmurs in these desultory lines.

*

In the drowsy dark caves of the mind

dreams build their nest with fragments

dropped from day’s caravan.

*

Spring scatters the petals of flowers

that are not for the fruits of the future,

but for the moment’s whim.

*

Joy freed from the bond of earth’s slumber

rushes into numberless leaves,

and dances in the air for a day.

*

Read the full poem here.


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The Broken Nest and Other Stories by Rabindranath Tagore

The Broken Nest

Charu and Amal didn’t understand their heart’s secret, but how could it be that their own heart hid something from them, well it did. Maybe, Charu’s binoculars didn’t work properly. And Mr. Bhupati, a lost editor, busy sketching the details of a busy world, had no time for keeping secrets. Why did they give their secrets to Time for safekeeping? Time always travels light, thus, it naturally left their secrets behind, visible for them all to see, casting a spell. The spell didn’t kill, it broke hearts.

*

The Ghat’s Tale

Vasant… Grishm… Varsha… Sharad… Hemant… Shishir…

Six seasons talked to the Ghat near the Ganga River. The seasons brought green moss at times and dry leaves at others, dipping the Ghat into sunlight and rain shower with love, the seasons spoke less, but heard sincerely. What did the Ghat tell them? It shared stories… stories of you and me.

*

Notebook

Let her be, why torment her, why read her notebook without her consent? She is little, just a girl, a child bride, she has left her world behind, she has carried some in her notebook.

*

Postmaster

Love is all-powerful and yet it blooms slowly in every soul taking time to realise it completely. A shade of love wrote a letter to the Postmaster who, tricked by mind, read it too late. Oh! That feeling…

*

The Broken Nest is a novella, while the other three are short stories; each one holds a complete universe and touches you deeply. Rabindranath Tagore beautifully writes in the language of love, his characters always express something which stays usually hidden within a heart, sidelined by the talkative world. Every story of his is like a time machine, it unfolds the past keeping it alive and magical at the same time. The birds sing sweetest of songs in his stories, the earth dances the best to his tunes, the colour red blushes flamboyantly in his paintings and tears take time to dry up when he narrates. Know his work and you will know.

A painting by Rabindranath Tagore

Sweet Like Sitting In The Sun In Winters

Dear Diary
Today in the attic, while I was rummaging for something I don’t remember what anymore, I ended up meeting my old memories. My lovely old memories… without my knowing, the past has become sweet like sitting in the sun in winters.
Turning pages after pages of my notebook that I have still not parted with, I felt how crazy I was. I doodled a lot. Mad designs picked from books, paintings, comics, magazines… registered half in my mind. Up and down, criss cross, darkening the line, circling round and round, a flower, going zigzag boldly… all of this, especially in Mr. Gosh’s class.
I found some cards and letters and read all of them, once again. It was so overwhelming that I thought of calling Naro. It has been so long. Years fly by silently with celebration of two or three festivals, an unplanned trip to some place and a quiet acceptance of a lesson learned.
I always think that we change with time and we do change, but we actually remain the same, changing slightly…. Oh! A paradox!
Anyways, I just emailed Naro. I think she is using the same email id. No, I am not going to wait for an instant reply. But why didn’t I call her? Tricky time, have mercy on me.
Almost forgot! Before I left the attic, I found Rabindranath Tagore in one of my notebooks. I copied him from a book in the library. A kind of sketch… some lines, running here and there, curving and darkening a bit… and there he was, Rabindranath Tagore, in my notebook. What a magical human being!
Whatever he wrote feels so alive as if he inked his soul in every word, every line, every character. He is like music to me, grand, subtle, heartwarming, serene and timeless. That’s the word for him… timeless.
I guess we all become timeless in some way for someone, but only a few remain timeless forever for everyone.
Isis