Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rabindranath Tagore's The Lover of God

Rabindranath Tagore lived from 1861 to 1941 and became well known at a young age when his poems first appeared in 1875. Tagore had invented the name Bhanusihma, or Sun Lion, and his poems were mistaken as a seventeenth century Vaisnava religious poet by the prominent Calcutta Journal of Bengali, Bharati. Once it was discovered that a fourteen year old boy was behind the poems that told the love of Lord Krsna as addressed by Krsna’s lover’s friend, the scholars and critics were embarrassed and the original eight poems faded away. However, Tagore would work on these poems for the rest of his lifetime despite receiving accolades for numerous literary works in poetry and prose under his own name. Tagore did not confirm or deny that the name Bhanusihma was his throughout his literary career yet they have become part of the fabric of Bengali’s literary tapestry.

To provide some additional background, Lord Krsna is famous for taking young cowherd maidens as lovers. This collection features his lover Radha and the friend who addresses Lord Krsna remains nameless. Devoted followers of Lord Krsna are called Vaisnava poets and the poetry written is termed Vaisnava songs or Vaisnava poetry.

The collection of these initial eight poems and more such poems that Rabindranath Tagore has written in the collection The Lover of God have been translated from Bengali by Tony K. Stewart and Chase Titchell and have been published by Copper Canyon Press. This collection also features the original poems in Bengali with its English translation on the other side. It is just as fascinating to learn about Tagore as it is to see the characters that make up the Bengali language when reading the translation. The poems are beautiful, sensuous, and express Radha’s friend’s advice and wishes to Lord Krsna in regards to his chosen lover. I have been granted permission to present one poem in its entirety which is very difficult but I assure you the entire collection is enchanting and I urge you to pick up a copy for yourself:

Poem #7 expresses Radha’s point of view and then her friend’s voice closes the poem:

Listen, can you hear it?
His bamboo flute speaks
the pure language of love.
The moon enlightens the trees,
the path, the sinuous Yamuna.
Oblivious of the jasmine’s scent
I stagger around,
disheveled heart bereft of modesty,
eyes wet with nerves and delight.
Tell me, dear friend, say it aloud:
is he not my own Dark Lord Syama?
Is it not my name his flute pours
into the empty evening?

For eons I longed for God,
I yearned to know him.
That’s why he has come to me now,
deep emerald Lord of my breath.
O Syama, whenever your faraway flute thrills
through the dark, I say your name,
only your name, and will my body to dissolve
in the luminous Yamuna.

Go to her, Lord, go now.
What’s stopping you?
The earth drowns in sleep.
Let’s go. I’ll walk with you.

This poems tells of the anticipation of Lord Krsna’s arrival from Radha’s perspective, her senses tingling and listening for the flute he often plays to draw the young maidens to him. Radha’s friend calls to Lord Krsna to go to Radha and satisfy her.

To read and enjoy several poems more from The Lover of God by Rabindranath Tagore for a better understanding and/or to purchase a copy for yourself for $15.00 (not including Shipping and Handling) please use the link below:


Thanks always for reading, please drop by tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…

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