Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rabindranath Tagore: Fireflies

I found these short poems by Rabindranath Tagore in the Indian Literature section of Adventures in World Literature, a book I mentioned in this post. They appear in a subsection titled “Fireflies,” under this paragraph:

“This volume (1928) was a result of Tagore’s study of Japanese poetry, which fascinated him by its compressed and highly selective art. The significance of the title is explained in the first poem, and one is inclined to agree with the prophecy expressed in the second after reading this book of captivating phrases. They should be read in connection with Japanese poetry (pages 1224-1231).”


My fancies are fireflies, —
   Specks of living light
      twinkling in the dark.


My words that are slight
   may lightly dance upon time’s waves
      when my works heavy with import have
         gone down.


My heart today smiles at its past night of tears
   like a wet tree glistening in the sun
      after the rain is over.


My flower, seek not thy paradise
   in a fool’s buttonhole.

Image: Rabindranath Tagore in Kolkata, ca. 1915 (click to enlarge).

As the Conversation continues, we dedicate ourselves to saving our empties.


don't be emily said...

All of the Japanese poems are amazing: would love to illuminate and frame the one to the flower and place it in some very elegant entryways that I have seen...

William Michaelian said...

Great idea. I love that one too. It reminded me of the silly thing I wrote a few days ago; it sounded kind of like that poor fool.