Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Gardener by Rabindranath Tagore

Title: The Gardener
Author: Rabindranath Tagore
Original Publication Date: 1913
Pages: 87


“It is a game of giving and withholding, revealing and screening
  again; some smiles and some little shyness, and some sweet useless struggles.
This love between you and me is simple as a song.

No mystery beyond the present; no striving for the impossible; no
  shadow behind the charm; no groping in the depth of the dark.
This love between you and me is simple as a song.

We do not stray out of all words into the ever silent; we do not
  raise our hands to the void for things beyond hope.
It is enough what we give and we get.
We have not crushed the joy to the utmost to wring from it the
  wine of pain.
This love between you and me is simple as a song.”

One of my favorite excerpts from this wonderful book. It is amazing to read Rabindranath Tagore, a Bengali polymath, a hundred and one years after he received his Nobel Prize for Literature, a hundred and one years after being the first non-European awardee of the Nobel. The Gardener is a book of poetry. In the beginning, a modest servant pleads to the queen to be her gardener. She asks the reason why. He answers, the simplicity of which carries a subtle unfathomable heartbreaking depth. But perhaps, the servant turned gardener was compelled, inescapably, by an unrequited impermissible love for the queen, the kind that makes you queasy and uncharacteristically giddy all around, for much of this book contains aphorism, euphemisms, and ruminations for love in its varying forms, shortcomings and eternal joys, or perhaps the Gardener wanted the queen to know the real beauty of life, as ponderings in life too are contained in it. Tagore's use of colloquial language is spiritual and mercurial. There is depth in his rich use of imagery and allegories and one can read this in varying degrees but it is strange that at the same time it is straightforward in its delivery that it taxes credulity knowing this has been written a century before. And I think, it too is wonderful how he ended this work. Strange and beautiful.

"Who are you, reader, reading my poems an hundred years hence?
I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the
  spring, one single streak of gold from yonder clouds.
Open your doors and look abroad.”

“From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the
  vanished flowers of an hundred years before.
In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang
  one spring morning, sending its glad voice across an hundred
  years."





This book forms part of my remarkably extensive reading list on Nobel Prize for Literature Awardees
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