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To Have Loved and Lost: Words of Gurudeb Rabindranath Tagore
by Lopa Banerjee (Poetry) | Published On: 05-May-2016

Note: A song of Rabindranath Tagore's 'Gitabitan'  ('Amar pran-er pore chole gelo ke') in translation. I would like to add here that the inspiration behind this translation came from reading the works of numerous scholars and exponents, who have taken painstaking efforts to dissect, analyze and reanalyze Tagore’s treasure trove of songs, poems and prose and spread it to the rest of the world. This particular song, written in 1883, is about losing a loved one, the austerity and the sudden cessation that are part of it. It is in fact widely known that Tagore’s sister-in-law, Kadambari Devi, whom he lost very untimely, had been a silent anchor behind his literary works, and her death, plagued him with the burden of grief and loss, yet also showered his path with light, meaning and bliss. The lyrics of this song are said to be the poet’s solemn, subtle and spontaneous reaction to losing a person so dear to his soul. The song, a melodious rendition, is based on the theme of death and mourning, and the poet’s world of consciousness centered on the domain of death. It can also be described as a wistful refrain on the death of a loved one and the poet pining, lamenting the loss with his ardent, loving soul.

 

Who is it that touched my heart, trampled my soul

And went away, like the intoxicating breeze of spring?

Is it she who touched and humbled me,

Blooming a hundred flowers while leaving?

 

She went away, wordless, to a distant land and never came back.

Looking at her path as she went, singing a nameless melody.

I am seated, forlorn, with myself, in the garden of love.

 

She has floated in waves, rippled in the sky,

Went away to an ethereal kingdom of the moonlight.

She has left her untainted smile on her way.

I felt as if she reckoned me, with the corner of her wistful eyes.

Sitting alone, I am lost in thoughts: where do I go from here?

 

She waved her wand and the eyes of the moon closed in slumber.

She dangled a bunch of flowers deep within me.

Her words were like whispered love in the ears of the wild flowers

The heady fragrance of the flowers followed her, became one with her.

With a heaving heart, with fervent eyes, I sit and think,

Which path did she take, which place did she go!

 

(The lyrics of the original Bengali song, 'আমার প্রাণের ‘পরে চলে গেল কে', available in Geetabitan.com)

 

P.S. I would like to add here that with this translation, I hope to pay a small homage to the loving memory of my mother who has been a keen devotee of the songs, poems and literary works of Tagore. Since she has transferred this unquestioned devotion to me in my childhood, I had to come back to none other than the bard himself to reiterate my thoughts on what our relationship had been about, and how the memory of her love would keep me going for the rest of my life. This one is for you, Ma!

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