Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rabindranath Tagore and the Latin Connection.

Well, with this blog, I again go back to my favourite poet and author "Kabiguru" Rabindranath Tagore. To know more about this lyrical genius and polymath, please visit my earlier blogs on him: ('Where the mind is without fear'...........; Robindra-Shongeet......the 'songs of Rabindranath Tagore' - (Part I); Robindra-Shongeet......the 'songs of Rabindranath Tagore' - (Part II) and Rabindranath Tagore and "Slumdog Millionaire"......'East' meets 'West'!)

In this post, I will focus on Tagore's influence on Latin America, rather his influence on the poets, writers and intellectuals of Latin America - over the last nine decades.

Tagore and Latin America: It is known that, in 1924, Rabindranath Tagore visited Latin America, invited by the government of Peru to the 'Centennial Celebrations' of its independence. Yet, his visit was cut short to a couple of months in Buenos Aires, due to some health complications, which prevented him from continuing his trip. This situation, on the other hand, provided him with the acquaintance of the Argentinean poet Victoria Ocampo, who became one of his closest friends, and in whose "estancia" Tagore wrote "Purabi." The strong friendship between "Bijaya" (meaning 'victorious' or 'conquering' or 'triumphant'; as Tagore called Ocampo - in Bengali, "Bijaya" being the Bengali equivalent of her name -Victoria - in Spanish) - and him, has been deeply explored by many, especially regarding the Argentinean's influence on Tagore's decision to become a painter. There is an excellent essay by Dr. Rajat Chanda (Bell Laboratories, New Jersey, USA; translated from the Bengali version by Monish R. Chatterjee) on this subject, which also offers a general view on Tagore's relation with Latin America. The essay, called "Tagore in South America: Some Perspectives," ( seems to assert that the friendship between Ocampo and the poet is the only link that can be really established between him and Latin America, a link that remains, according to Dr. Chanda, weak at best nowadays. This assumption may come from the strong documentation that surrounds Ocampo and Tagore's relationship, a link that certainly cannot be said to have existed among Tagore and any other Latin American. Yet, Dr. Chanda's arguments fail to notice, most likely because of a lack of contact between the essay's author and the Latin American context, that Tagore continues to be a subject of study in many Latin American Universities, including Costa Rica, and that the Spanish editions of his titles are still widely available for the common reader around the continent.

In fact, Tagore's poetry arrived at Latin America long before Tagore himself, and by 1920 Tagore was already a figure among the writers and intellectuals there. One can say that, in a way, his poetry came when it was most needed, mainly through the expert hands of the great Spanish poet, Juan Ramón Jiménez (Note - Full name: Juan Ramón Jiménez Mantecón, December 24, 1881–May 29, 1958. A Spanish poet, a prolific writer who received the "Nobel Prize in Literature" in 1956). In 1913, he and his wife-to-be, the Spanish-born writer and poet, Zenobia Camprubí (Note - Full name: Zenobia Camprubí Aymar, c. 1887 – 25 October 1956), had begun translating Tagore's "Gitanjali," which had then been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature (in 1913). Along with this translation, Jiménez was producing what was later to become one of the most important books in Spanish literature: "Platero and I," second in Spanish editions only to Cervantes's "Don Quixote." The book ("Platero and I") - the story of a man and his donkey - is deeply influenced by Tagore's lyric prose, and it is an effort to transgress the classical boundaries between novel and poetry, something that the Bengali author had successfully achieved in his own prosework and plays. But why did Latin American writers react so enthusiastically to Jiménez and Tagore's art? A little depiction of the Latin American literary context during the first two decades of the twentieth century may be in order here, so that we may get a better understanding of this phenomenon.

By the time the First World War was over, Latin American intellectual life was undergoing a deep struggle - to find its own voice. Seeing the collapse of "civilized" Europe - a beacon of human progress and achievement - which had not hesitated in throwing itself into a wild carnage (World War I) was a deep shock for many in the New World, particularly to those who had always preached the need for Latin America to follow Europe's example. Even though most of the continent was independent by 1825, a strong European influence kept dictating not only the fashion and economic models of the Latin American countries, but acted as a kind of an "ideal" civilization, which prompted many intellectuals to emulate the European models of education and politics, while despising their own land which was seen as the epitome of savagery and barbarism. This was a dark period of dictatorships and cruelty. Intellectuals like the Argentinean Domingo Sarmiento proclaimed the need for the extermination of the Native Americans, so as to populate the new continent with pure, European blood, while in Mexico some members of the ancient colonial aristocracy acquiesced with the European powers to form a vast, Catholic empire based on the model provided by Napoleon III's France, which resulted in the adoption of an Austrian prince, Maximilian of Hasburg, as the Mexican Emperor. The situation was very similar all around Latin America: Huge, magnificent courts were built in the old colonial capitals, while the masses were submitted to an accelerated process of "European assimilation" which included the erasing of ancient customs and languages, something not even the former Spanish rulers attempted. This pro-Europe vision, which on the other hand promoted a massive immigration from Europe and Asia, had a deep impact on the population conformation of the continent - more Native Americans died or were murdered during the last eighty years of the nineteenth century, than during the 400 years of Spanish conquest and ruling, including the independence wars. This impact was also strongly felt in the Latin literature and intellectual ideals, when most of the writers tried to follow the European schools, abhorring their roots.

Note - Full name: Domingo Faustino Sarmiento Albarracín. February 15, 1811 – September 11, 1888; was an Argentine activist, intellectual, and writer, and the seventh President of Argentina; from 1868 - 1874. His writing spanned a wide range of genres and topics, from journalism to autobiography, to political philosophy and history. He was a member of a group of intellectuals, known as the "Generation of 1837", who had a great influence on nineteenth-century Argentina. Sarmiento himself was particularly concerned with educational issues, and is now sometimes considered "The Teacher" of Latin America.

Even in the writings of 'Rubén Darío', the greatest among Nicaraguan poets, and a major figure of Spanish Modernism, it is hard to find any reference to the land that gave him life. (Note - Full name: Félix Rubén García Sarmiento also known as 'Rubén Darío'. Born in Metapa, January 18, 1867 – Leon, February 6, 1916; was a Nicaraguan poet who initiated the Spanish-American literary movement known as the 'Modernismo' or 'Modernism', which flourished at the end of the 19th century. Darío has had the greatest and most lasting influence on the twentieth century Spanish literature and journalism. He has been praised as "The Prince of Castilian letters." While greatly considered as the "father of modernism" itself, he is revered also as a great diplomat of the Central and South America).

Only the Cuban poet José Martí stood against this pro-European position, proclaiming the need for a new, real American man. (Note - Full name: José Julián Martí Pérez, born in Havana, January 28, 1853–May 19, 1895; was a Cuban national hero and an important figure in the Latin American literature. In his short life he was a poet, an essayist, a journalist, a revolutionary philosopher, a translator, a professor, a publisher and a political theorist. Through his writings and political activity, he became a symbol for Cuba's bid for independence against Spain in the 19th century, and is referred to as the "Apostle of Cuban Independence." He also fought against the threat of the United States expansionism into Cuba. From adolescence, he dedicated his life to the promotion of liberty, political independence for Cuba and intellectual independence for all Spanish Americans. His unification of the Cuban emigré community, particularly in Florida, was crucial for the success of the "Cuban War of Independence" against Spain. He was a key figure in the planning and execution of this war, as well as the designer of the Cuban Revolutionary Party and its ideology. He died in military action on May 19, 1895. Martí is considered as one of the great turn-of-the-century Latin American intellectuals. His written works consist of a series of poems, essays, letters, lectures, a novel, and even a children's magazine. He wrote for numerous Latin American and American newspapers; he also founded a number of newspapers himself. His newspaper "Patria" was a key instrument in his campaign for "Cuban independence." After his death, one of his poems from the book, "Versos Sencillos" (Simple Verses) was adapted to the song, "Guantanamera," which has now become the definitive patriotic song of Cuba. The concepts of freedom, liberty and democracy are prominent themes in all of his works, which in turn influenced the Nicaraguan poet, Rubén Darío and the Chilean poet, Gabriela Mistral).

Nevertheless, by the turn of the century, Latin Americans felt the need for something new - they realized that their countries would never be European, and need not be; and that their true identity, not based on imitation, was still to be found.

Among the many trends and ideas that were explored during this period, Rabindranath Tagore's philosophy, prestige and literary works were to give a clue to the young writers and poets - that one did not have to write like an European, or think like one, to be a great writer. Besides, Tagore's mystical, human poetry dispelled the "exotic" view of non-European literature, thus inspiring young Latin American writers to write not about Paris, Rome or ancient Greece, but about their own land, their own people - using their own voice.

Yet, the impact of Tagore's genius cannot be measured only in terms of the moral and intellectual support it provided to a young generation of writers, but also, and maybe in a more important way, as the origin of a compound of new visions and literary opportunities, exemplified by what his work had to offer to the young generations of Latin American artists. When in 1937, Juan Ramón Jiménez visited Cuba, he was received by a hungry throng of young poets, searching for some guidance. As a result of this visit, José Lezama Lima wrote the essay "Colloquy with Juan Ramon Jimenez," a conversation in which many of the foundations that will characterize Latin American literature for the rest of the century are put in place. When the young Lezama talks about the limitations imposed on poetry by the classic metric, the Spanish poet calls for the need to break away from the limits that prevent poetry from achieving its maximum expression. This is what he had done in "Platero and I," erasing the boundaries between poetry and prose - this is what Tagore had done before.

Note - José Lezama Lima, born on December 19, 1910 in Havana, Cuba - August 8, 1976 in Havana, Cuba; was a Cuban writer and poet who is considered to be one of the most influential figures in Latin America literature. Born in the Columbia Military Encampment close to Havana, in the city of Marianao where his father was a Colonel, Lezama lived through the most turbulent times of Cuba's history, fighting first against the Machado dictatorship, and later surviving the Castro regime. A gay man himself, his literary output includes the semi-autobiographical, baroque novel "Paradiso" - 1966, the story of a young man and his struggles with his mysterious illness, the death of his father, and his developing homosexuality and poetic sensibilities. Lima also edited several anthologies of Cuban poetry and the magazines "Verbum" and "Orígenes," presiding as the 'patriarch' of Cuban letters for most of his later years. Although he only left Cuba on at the most two occasions, one trip to Jamaica and a possible trip to Mexico; Lezama's poetry, essays and two novels draw images and ideas from nearly all of the world's cultures and from all historical time periods. The baroque style that he forged relied equally upon his Góngora-influenced syntax and stunning constellations of unlikely images. Lezama Lima's first published work, a long poem called "Muerte de Narciso," released when he was only 27, bought him instant fame within Cuba and established Lezama's well-wrought style and classical subject matter. In addition to his poems and novels, Lezama wrote many essays on figures of world literature like Mallarmé, Valéry, Góngora and Rimbaud as well as on Latin American baroque asethetics. Most notably the essays published as "La Expresión Americana" lay out his vision of the European baroque, its relation to the classical, and of the American baroque. José Lezama Lima died in 1976 at the age of 65 and was buried in the Colon Cemetery, Havana. He influenced Cuban and Puerto Rican writers of his generation and the next, such as Virgilio Piñera, Reinaldo Arenas, René Marqués, and Giannina Braschi, who depict his life and works in their writing.

Now, not only did prose and narrative drink from Tagore's source. One Chilean, Pablo Neruda, fell in love with the Bengali poet's poetry during his youth, and for critics like Octavio Paz, Neruda's first works are deeply impregnated by its essence. Actually, in what was to be his first major piece, "Twenty Love Poems and a Desperate Song" (1924), the young Neruda - who was to win the "Nobel prize for Literature" in 1971 - included a paraphrase in his 16th love poem, some critics even say a direct translation, of Tagore's 30th poem from "The Gardener": "Tumi Shondhar Meghomala."

Here is the link which contains the Spanish and English versions of Tagore's "Tumi Shondhar Meghomala" - translated by Pablo Neruda:

Following is the link to an article by Ketaki Kushari Dyson titled "On the Trail of Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo" -

Note - Pablo Neruda, July 12, 1904 – September 23, 1973; was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean writer and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. With his works translated into many languages, Pablo Neruda is considered one of the greatest and most influential poets of the 20th century. Neruda was accomplished in a variety of styles ranging from erotically charged love poems like his collection "Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair", surrealist poems, historical epics, and overtly political manifestos. In 1971, Neruda won the "Nobel Prize for Literature," a controversial award because of his political activism. Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez (Wikipedia) once called him "the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language." On July 15, 1945 at 'Pacaembu Stadium' in São Paulo, Brazil, he read to 100,000 people at a reading in honor of the Communist revolutionary, Luís Carlos Prestes. When Neruda returned to Chile after his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, President Salvador Allende (Wikipedia) invited him to read at the 'Estadio Nacional' before 70,000 people. During his lifetime, Neruda occupied many diplomatic positions and served a stint as a Senator for the Chilean Communist Party. When Conservative Chilean President González Videla outlawed Communism in Chile, a warrant was issued for Neruda's arrest. Friends hid him for months in the basement of a home in the Chilean port city of Valparaíso. Neruda then escaped into exile through a mountain pass near the Maihue Lake into Argentina. Years later, Neruda became a close collaborator to the socialist President Salvador Allende. Hospitalized with cancer at the time of the Chilean coup d'état led by General Augusto Pinochet (against the then Chilean President Salvador Allende), Neruda died of heart failure twelve days later. Already a legend in life, Neruda's death became charged with an intense symbolism that reverberated around the world. Pinochet had denied permission to transform Neruda's funeral into a public event, but thousands of grieving Chileans disobeyed the curfew, flooding the streets in tribute. Neruda's funeral became the first public protest against the Chilean military dictatorship. Neruda assumed his pen name as a teenager, partly because it was in vogue, partly to hide his poetry from his father, a rigid man who wanted his son to have a "practical" occupation. Neruda's pen name was derived from the Czech writer and poet Jan Neruda while 'Pablo' is thought to be from Paul Verlaine. It later became his legal name.

And another Chilean poet, Gabriela Mistral (also awarded the "Nobel prize in Literature," in 1945) collaborated in a compilation of the best poetry of Tagore, adding several glosses of her own, in response to the "anxiety of the gardener." (Note - Gabriela Mistral, April 7, 1889 — January 10, 1957 was the pseudonym of Lucila de María del Perpetuo Socorro Godoy Alcayaga, a Chilean poet, educator, diplomat and feminist who was the first Latin American to win the "Nobel Prize in Literature," in 1945. Some central themes in her poems are nature, betrayal, love, a mother's love, sorrow and recovery, travel, and the Latin American identity as formed from a mixture of Native American and European influences. She formed her pseudonym from the names of two of her favorite poets, Gabriele D'Annunzio and Frédéric Mistral or, as another story has it, from a composite of the Archangel Gabriel and the Mistral wind of Provence - Provence is a region of southeastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. Provence is so named because it was the first Roman province outside of Italy).

All these of course do not explain why Tagore continues to have the respect of Latin American readers. Certainly, his poetry and prose is nowadays harder to find, and in some cases has been left behind as new literary movements and fashions have made their way to the top. Yet, there is at least one reason why, from Mexico to Chile, Argentina and Brazil, many still feel, directly or indirectly, the influence of Tagore. His ideas on education play a major role in the educational system of some Latin American countries, while the curiosity for India that was first aroused by his figure, keeps inhabiting many Latin Americans. Example of the first case is Costa Rica, where two of its major philosophers and thinkers, Emma Gamboa and Roberto Brenes M., according to Professor Sol Argüello Scriba (Sanskrit scholar, she has been taking a seminar course on Tagore for more than ten years at the University of Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica), applied much of Tagore's thinking to the foundations on which Costa Rica's educational system stands; nowadays, one of the most recognized in Latin America. The Mexican writer Jose Vasconcelos, central figure of Mexican modern education, favored the teaching of Tagore's literature along with the Western classics as early as 1920, while using his ideas for the layout of Mexico's schooling system.

Following is the link to an article by Professor Sol Argüello Scriba titled "Rabindranath Tagore at the University of Costa Rica" -

On the other hand, readers are still attracted to Tagore and India, like Elena Chavez, a Costa Rican lawyer, whose love for Tagore emerged from her wish to know more about the poet and his thinking. The same reason kept Professor Sol Argüello Scriba's seminar course on Tagore full to the limit for twenty semesters, in which the students not only read and analyzed this great Bengali/Indian poet, but staged some of his plays, organised readings and presentations not only at the university, but in secondary schools all around the country.

Nowadays, one may say that the ripples on the pond are not the same. But the effect continues, and the stone that created them has not been forgotten. Thus, it can be assumed that the link/relationship between Rabindranath Tagore and Latin America has stood the test of time. Hence, the reply to Dr. Chanda's assumptions can be - that the links are not weak at all.

One may say that Latin America and India are worlds apart. Prompted by this separation, it may be important for the Bengali readers to retrace the origin of these ripples, to find out Tagore's current standing in Latin America and discover the effects of his powerful mind on Latin American intellectuals. This will help to recreate the ties between Tagore and the New World. This implies, of course, the need for an introduction: How did Rabindranath Tagore come to be so well known and beloved in Latin America, a continent so different from India? Well, maybe because they are not so different after all. Not very long ago - due to the confusion of an Italian sailor sailing under the Spanish flag - this continent was still being called the West Indies, and though today this name - West Indies - has come to identify only a portion of the isles situated on the Caribbean sea, many a resemblance/similarity can still be found between the 'India' Christopher Columbus (Wikipedia) was looking for, and the one he ultimately discovered - two huge continents (India is referred to as a 'sub-continent' due to her size and diversity), with landscapes ranging from the humid tropic to frozen heights, and a large population composed of numerous ethnic groups.

For some, these affinities can explain the long love affair the Latin Americans have had with Tagore's poetry and thinking. In a lecture on Tagore's manuscripts, given at the University of Delhi by Octavio Paz, the Mexican poet (awarded the "Nobel Prize in Literature" in 1990, and for some time a resident of India) mentions the existence of an essay by Nirad C. Chaudhuri (Wikipedia), in which the Indian scholar points out the similarities between Bengal and Latin America. Paz extends these affinities to Kerala and Goa, saying that, as same as the cultural syncretism which resulted from the clash between Spaniards, Portuguese, African and Native Americans in what was called the New World - syncretism that was to adopt the name of Baroque - something similar happened in these three regions of India, where the Western influence was not to neutralize but to be fused into the huge Indian tradition. Yet, says Paz, this would not completely explain the attraction exerted by a poet who only visited Latin America once, who never learnt Spanish, and whose work cannot be said to have received any remarkable influence from Spanish or Latin American literature. Not only would this utterly fail to justify the powerful effect Tagore had and continues to have on Latin American readers, writers and intellectuals, as Paz claims, but would especially shadow the one and only real reason behind his lingering popularity: the magic of his poetry.

Note - Octavio Paz Lozano, March 31, 1914 – April 19, 1998; was a Mexican writer, poet, and diplomat, and the winner of the 1990 "Nobel Prize for Literature." Octavio Paz was born to Octavio Paz Solórzano and Josefina Lozano. His father was an active supporter of the Revolution against the Diaz regime. Paz was raised in the village of Mixcoac (now a part of Mexico City) by his mother Josefina (daughter of Spanish immigrants), his aunt Amalia Paz and his paternal grandfather, Ireneo Paz, a liberal intellectual, novelist, publisher and a former supporter of President Porfirio Díaz. Because of his family's public support of Emiliano Zapata (Wikipedia) they were forced into exile after Zapata's assassination. They served their exile in the United States. Paz was introduced to literature early in his life through the influence of his grandfather's library, filled with classic Mexican and European literature. During the 1920s, he discovered the European poets Gerardo Diego, Juan Ramón Jiménez and Antonio Machado, Spanish writers who probably influenced his early writings. As a teenager in 1931, under the influence of the English author, poet and playwright D. H. Lawrence (Wikipedia), Paz published his first poems, e.g., "Caballera." Two years later, at the age of 19, Octavio Paz published "Luna Silvestre" ("Wild Moon") - a collection of poems. In 1932, with some friends, he founded his first literary review, "Barandal." By 1939, Paz considered himself first and foremost a poet. In 1937, Paz was invited to the "Second International Writers Congress in Defense of Culture" in Spain during the country's Civil War, showing his solidarity with the Republican side and against fascism. Upon his return to Mexico, Paz co-founded a literary journal, "Taller" ("Workshop") in 1938, and wrote for the magazine until 1941. In 1938 he also met and married Elena Garro (Wikipedia), now considered to be one of Mexico's finest writers. They had one daughter, Helena and were divorced in 1959. In 1943 Paz received a "Guggenheim fellowship" and began studying at the University of California at Berkeley in the United States and two years later he entered the Mexican diplomatic service, working in New York for a while. In 1945 he was sent to Paris, where he wrote "El Laberinto de la Soledad" ("The Labyrinth of Solitude") - a groundbreaking study of Mexican identity and thought. In 1952 he travelled to India for the first time and, in the same year, to Tokyo, as Chargé d'Affairs, and then to Geneva, in Switzerland. He returned to Mexico City in 1954, where he wrote his great poem "Piedra de sol" ("Sunstone") in 1957 and "Libertad bajo palabra" ("Liberty Under Oath") - a compilation of his poetry - composed till then. He was sent again to Paris in 1959. In 1962, he was named Mexico's Ambassador to India. In India, Paz completed several works, including "El mono gramático" ("The Monkey Grammarian") and "Ladera este" ("Eastern Slope"). In October 1968, he resigned from the diplomatic corps - in protest of the Mexican government's repression of students who were fighting to achieve true democracy in the country, a movement that ended abruptly when the army opened fire against the demonstrators in the "Plaza de las Tres Culturas" in Tlatelolco. He sought refuge in Paris for a while and returned to Mexico in 1969, where he founded his magazine "Plural" (1970-1976) with a group of liberal Mexican and Latin American writers. From 1970 to 1974 he lectured at Harvard University, where he held the "Charles Norton Chair." His book "Los hijos del limo" ("Children of the Mire") was the result of those courses. After the Mexican government closed "Plural" in 1975, Paz founded "Vuelta", a publication with a focus similar to that of the "Plural" and continued to edit that magazine until his death. He won the 1977 "Jerusalem Prize" for literature on the theme of individual freedom. In 1980 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Harvard University and in 1982 he won the "Neustadt Prize." A collection of his poems, written between 1957 and 1987, was published in 1988.

Here is a write-up on Tagore by Dr. Amartya Sen (Wikipedia), the noted economist, philosopher, and a winner of the "Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences" in 1998, "for his contributions to welfare economics" for his work on famine, human development theory, welfare economics, the underlying mechanisms of poverty, and political liberalism:

To borrow a phrase from Professor Sol Argüello Scriba's article titled "Rabindranath Tagore at the University of Costa Rica" - "Gracias por todo, Rabindranath Tagore" (Thank you for all, Rabindranath Tagore). How very apt!

Photographs: Bottom-up and in anti-clockwise order:

1) Tagore and Ocampo in the grounds of Villa Ocampo, the country house of Victoria’s parents. Victoria is sitting on the grass.

2) A photo of Juan Ramón Jiménez, a Spanish poet and prolific writer who received the "Nobel Prize in Literature" in 1956 and his wife Zenobia Camprubí, Spanish-born writer and poet.

3) A picture of a young Pablo Neruda, Chilean writer and politician; received the "Nobel prize for Literature" in 1971. His book of poetry is also seen - "Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair" (Spanish: "Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada") is a collection of romantic poems by Pablo Neruda, first published in 1924 when Neruda was only 19. It was his second published work and made his name as a poet. "Veinte poemas..." was controversial for its eroticism, especially considering its author's young age. Over the decades, "Veinte poemas....." has become Neruda's best-known work, and has sold millions of copies and been translated into many languages.
4) A photo of Gabriela Mistral, the Chilean poet, educator, diplomat and feminist who was the first Latin American to win the "Nobel Prize in Literature," in 1945.


  1. Jottings on your excellent post.

    1. You would make a first rate researcher of Tagore. Don't know whether you have that in mind!

    2. I have enjoyed reading Pablo Neruda for a long time.

    3. Tagore's relationship with Victoria Ocampo is enchanting. I have always wanted to know more about it. Tagore was not a very happy man towards the end of his life for various reasons. But hope he had some people in mind to clear the gloom and bring in a bit of warmth.

    4. Tagore is still taught in China. But his works does not appear in any of the textbooks in Japan. Here is the link to his correspondence with Japanese poet Yone Noguchi that effectively ended his relationship with a country he visited five times and tried to love. Of course, the language barrier too played a very crucial role in misunderstanding his message to Japan.

    5. Tumi Shondhar Meghomala is one of my favorite songs. Suman Chatterjee's version is also good in my opinion. A song I never get tired of listening to or crooning to myself.

  2. Thanks Rajdeep, for your comments on this post and no, I have no intention of getting into research. Tagore is my favourite poet, please note, not 'one of the favourites,' but 'the favourite poet.' Robert Frost of course follows close behind.

    I just like to study this great Bard's life and works; hence thanks for the link to his correspondence with Japanese poet Yone Noguchi, I would surely like to know more about his interactions with the poets, writers and intellectuals of the Far East.

    I too am fascinated with his relationship with Victoria Ocampo. What I gather, after reading up on him, is that Tagore was not a very happy man perhaps throughout his life. He lost his mother when he was barely 15, he married in 1883, but lost his wife in 1902, and never remarried. He lost his father soon after and then two of his children (a son and a daughter) followed. Perhaps he was in search of inner calm.

    It is said that he sought close companionship, which he perhaps did not always get (may be even with his wife).

    He maintained a close and warm friendship with Kadambari, (the wife of his elder brother, Jyotirindranath) who had a love for literature and poetry. He dedicated some poems to her before his marriage, and several books afterward, some even after her death (Kadambari committed suicide, for reasons that are not fully understood, at the age of twenty-five, four months after Rabindranath's wedding).

    I am not sure whether his novel 'Nosto Neer' (The Broken Nest) - later adapted as 'Charulata' on the silver screen by Satyajit Ray - had elements of the Tagore-Kadambari story. Who knows?

  3. Yes, I know Tagore did not have a very happy life. What I was saying is that he was especially unhappy in his old age. In the latter part of his life, he did not have close companions of friends who really understood him well. He became reclusive and enjoyed teaching his students at Viswabharati. He also wrote a wonderful poem Bojhapora. The lines go like this. Nijere aaj koho re, Bhalo mondo jahai ashuk, shottere lou shohoje... (then it goes) ... jahar lagi chokkhu buje bohiya dilam ossru sagor, Tahare baad diyao dekhi biswa bhuban mosto dagor... Since I am quoting of hand from memory, I am sorry if I have made a few mistakes with words, but that is the jist. Tagore had a deep relationship with Yokoyama Taikan the artist from Japan, and Okakura Kakuzo (better known in India as Okakura Tenshin). Okakura later inspired by Tagore wrote the book Ideals of The East. Here are two links to a group of poems by Tagore and a news article on The Japan Times.


    Keep up the good work. Anyone who does deep study of something is a researcher. You are already one. Thumps up!