I was surprised at the response I received for my Crescent Moon Post. I did not know that there were so many Tagore fans around. Carla Sanders had commented in that post that she was going to dust off her volume of Fireflies and read it. I don’t know if she did, but I sure did. Thanks to Carla I read the books ones more and I stopped wondering why Tagore is admired even after so many years of his death .
Fireflies is a collection of short verses which resembles sayings of wise men rather than poetry. This form of writing is very prevalent in Sanskrit and they are termed as Subhashitas meaning ‘auspicious speech’. The title of this book is derived from the first verse, “My fancies are fireflies…”. Tagore claims that these poems have their origin in China and Japan where he used to be asked to autograph fans and pieces of silk. What is striking about these poems is the simplicity with which profound thoughts are conveyed. Here are some of my favorites from Fireflies
Let my love like sunlight surround you
and yet give you illumined freedom
Though he holds in his arms the earth bride
the sky is immensely away
The soil in return to her service keeps the tree tied to her
the sky asks nothing and leaves it free.
I touch god in my song
As a hill touches a far away sea
With its waterfall
The faith waiting in the heart of a seed
promises a miracle of life, which it cannot prove at once
I leave no trace of wings in the air
but I am glad I have had my flight
The sky tells its beads all night
on the countless stars in the memory of the sun.
The worm thinks it is strange and foolish
that a man does not eat his books.
God in his temple of stars
waits for the man to bring him his lamp.
The sky sets no snare to capture the moon,
It is her own freedom which binds her
Perhaps the crescent moon smiles in doubt
at being told that it is a fragment awaiting perfection
The tree bears its thousand years
as one large majestic moment.
The rose is a great deal more
than a blushing apology for the thorn.
The shore whispers to the sea:
Write to me what thy waves struggles to say.”
The sea writes in foam again and again
and wipes of the lines in boisterous despair.
Let not my thanks to thee
rob my silence of its fuller homage.
“Let me light my lamp”, says the star,
“And never debate
If it will help to remove the darkness”
No one can work wonders with metaphors the way Tagore does. The Hindu religious text, Bhagavad Geetha refers to god as a poet, because of his depth of vision. These verses make me wonder, it must really feel like one to be Tagore.