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Rabindranath Tagore as a Poet of Nature

Rabindranath Tagore as a Poet of Nature

Rabindranath Tagore as a Poet of Nature

Since, his early childhood Tagore felt drawn towards the beauty of the natural phenomenon. He himself admits, “I had a deep sense, almost from infancy, of the beauty of nature and intimate feeling of companionship with the trees and the clouds and felt in tune with the musical touch of the seasons in the air.” He traced the joy that we receive form nature to man’s kinship with nature “I have thought many a time that the mysterious and profound joy we get in nature is due to intimate relationship with her. In our blood we feel a relationship with the ever new green juicy grass, creepers trees, bush stream wind light and shade the cycle of the seasons the eternal movement in the sky of planets and stars the varied earthly life. We are in tune with matter and life in the universe. Our soul responds to the stops and reverberations in the music of the spheres. If all matter in the universe were not kindred to us if eternity did not throb with profound joy with beauty and with life, then in no way could we get inner joy in contact with the outer world. There is a secret path of union of our consciousness with the world miscalled dead matter. Otherwise, there would not be the tie of irresistible love between inanimate and animate matter and mind outer and inner. Really nothing divides us form the insignificant atoms in the universe. That is why we are all of us in one world. Otherwise, two different worlds would have been created for both of us. Even when we return to dust, the eternal living relationship with the universe remains intact. I experience this relationship from the natural joy arising in my heart. I have no other argument.”

  1. A Great River Poet-

    Round the year 1894 the family responsibilities forced Rabindranath to go to the East Bengal for the supervision of the far flung landed property of the family there. There he lived for many days in a house boat on the river Padma. That experience really exercised a great influence upon Tagore and as a result, rivers found a prominent place in his nature poetry. His landscapes are always landscapes with rivers. Thompson went to the extent of saying that “He is a river poet first and last.” Prof. S.B. Mukherjee in his ‘The Poetry of Tagore’ has beautifully dwelt upon this aspect of his poems-“He (Tagore) found not only the real Bengal of geography but also that of the spirit. It was in this Bengal in which he felt most at home and was also most creative and fresh. The region which for him was the reduced image of true Bengal was a circle with a radius of about fifty miles from a centre at Kushtia. This area included the Padma and its tributaries and he often lived in a house boat on these rivers. It was here that he wrote some of his greatest work, but what was more important it was here that he realized his essential nature.

  2. Depiction of the Seasonal Cycle-

    The phenomenon of nature is ever-changing and has myriad moods and forms. These manifestations of change appealed to the mind of Tagore and the seasonal cycle influenced him a lot. Tagore as a result became a great poet of Indian seasons and all the six seasons, all distinct from each other found place in his work. All his depictions are marked with accuracy of perception and description. Tagore sang melodious lyrics describing the beauty of rains. In his poem ‘The Crescent Moon Tagore advises a small child who is very keen on going out to play

“Sullen clouds are gathering fast over the black fringe of the forest

O child do not go out!”

The palm trees in a row by the lake are smiting their heads against the dismal sky. The crows with their drenched wings are sitting silently on the tamarind branches and the eastern bank of the river is hunted by a deepening gloom-

“Our cow is lowing loud tied at the fence.

O child wait here till I bring her into the stall.”

Men have crowded into the flooded fields to catch the as they escape from the overflowing ponds, the rain water is running in rills through the narrow lanes like a laughing boy who has run away from his mother to tease her. The sky seems to ride fast upon the madly rushing rain women have hastened home early from the Ganges with their filled pitchers the markets have a deserted look the roads have become muddy and slippery and wind is roaring and struggling among the bamboo branches like a wild beast tangling in a net.

Tagore was also very fond of describing other seasons. In the words of Edward Thompson, “Autumn is a favourite of his as she deserves to be and he personifies her as Lakshmi the gracious goddess. Moon in the summer heats is another favourite and he can make the page quiver with its tense blinding quietness. Spring and he can make the page arragent with ‘Bakul’ blossoms and musical with bees. Winter he does not care so much about but has depicted equally well when he chose.”

  1. Depiction of various Moods of the Day-

    In Tagore’s poetry we not only come across the description of various and variegated charms of different seasons but also the changing phases and moods of one single day. For example mark the following extract in which Tagore has beautifully described the fascinating atmosphere in the morning.

“The morning sea of silence broke into ripplies of bird songs, and the flowers were all merry by the roadside, and the wealth of gold was scattered through the rift of the clouds while we busily went on our way and paid no heed.”

  1. Sensuous Love-

    As pointed out earlier Tagore from his boyhood days looked with wonder at the earth and the sky, the Sun and the Moon the Stars and the mystery of the nocturnal sky, trees and hills birds and flowers rivers and streams etc. Nature exercised a great influence in shaping him as a poet. Tagore loved the outward appearance of nature and his poetry abounds in the sensuous and picturesque descriptions of the sea, the rivers the streams the meadows flowers etc. He gives a subtle expression to the sensuous delight of the natural world. The lighting is likened to a fiery snake biting the darkness again and again. The clouds are the dancers that appear on the aerial stage shaking their tambourines of thunder and disappearing. In the following extract in a sonorous atmosphere of picturesque imagery there stands a rose which symbolizes the passionate warmth of love.

“Tell Rose tell me

When you will bloom my friend

Everywhere the flowers bloom the moon shines with her nectar smile.

Softly does the wind breathe sweetly are the birds singing

When will you bloom my friend ?

Dew drops have fallen in the morn the southern wind is blowing in the evening

Flower maids are in rows nearby

Yonder are the evening stars at the backdrop of leaves

Eager to behold thy countenance

From a distance has the wind turmed up

Countless bees are moving close

Tender green leaves are with peeping eyes

And they all together:

When will you bloom O friend ?”

  1. Spiritual Element-

    But Tagore could not remain concerned with the mere sensuous manifestations in Nature. In his poetry we find a gradual development from the sensuous delight in nature to a spiritual and mystic apprehension of the inner spirit of nature. In this respect Rabindranath Tagore is in line with the transcendental poets like Wordsworth. To him nature man and God are one and the same. His lyrics are mostly not independent nature poems mainly concerned with the glorification of its beauty and charm. They are the fruits of the poet’s meditations on God man and nature. He stresses man’s complete identification with nature and God. For example mark the following lines from ‘Gitanjali’.

“I am like a remnant of a cloud of autumn uselessly roaming in the sky.

O my sun ever glorious! They touch has not yet melted my vapour making me one with thy light and thus I count months and years separated from thee.

If this be thy wish and if this be thy play then take this fleeting emptiness of mine paint it with colours gild it with gold float it on the wanton wind and spread it in varied wonders.

And again when it shall be thy wish to end this play at night I shall vanish away in the dark or it may be in a smile of the white morning in the coolness of purity transparent.”

Besides the one quoted just now many other verses too show his feeling of self-effacement and of complete identification with Nature and God. Edward Thompson points out “No poet that ever lived has shown such a power of merging not only himself but also his human figures with their landscapes. Here he is absolutely great and absolutely original. Sometimes the mingling is a matter of subtle and exquisite perception of the intimate inter-relation between mind and matter.” Tagore is a romantic communion with the infinite.

“I have met thee where the night touches the edge of the day; where light startles the darkness into dawn and the waves carry the kiss of the one shore to the other.

From the heart of the fathomless blue comes one golden call and across the dusk of tears I try to gaze at thy face and know not for certain if thou art seen.

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