Rabindranath Tagore 

  Translated from Bengali by Dipali Chakraborty

  With the colour of my own consciousness 
  The emerald became green, the ruby became red. 
  I opened my eyes at the sky, 
  And there was light
         In the east, in the west. 
  I looked at the rose and said,`Beautiful!' 
  Beautiful it became. 
  You may say, `This is philosophy 
                       Not the message of a poet.' 
  I will answer, `This is truth,
                       Hence this is poetry.' 
  This is my pride-- 
  Pride on behalf of whole mankind. 
  It is on the canvas of human consciousness
  That the Great Creator creates His world of art. 

  The philosopher meditates and chants with every breath-- 
                       `No, no, no! 
  Not emeralds, not rubies, not light, not roses, not you, not I'. 
  On the other hand, the Infinite Being Himself has pursued His creation 
  Within the limits of human mind, 
  And that is called `I'. 

  Within the depth of that self light and darkness blended
  There arose images and emotions. 
  Who knows when, by what spell of Maya
  ‘No' bloomed into `Yes' 
  through lines and colours, joy and sorrow. 

  Do not call it philosophy. 
           My mind is full of delight 
  In this sphere of creation of the Great Self 
  With a brush in hand and colours on a palette.

  The scholar says `That ancient moon--
           He has a cruel, cunning smile 
  Like a messenger of Death 
           He is stealthily approaching the ribs of the earth. 
  One day he will attract her oceans and mountains 
           With a tremendous force. 
  And that will produce a cipher on the new page
  Of terrestrial time
          And devour all accounts of days and nights. 

  Human achievements will lose their 
          pretence of immortality, 
  Human history will be swept over by the 
         Dark ink of eternal night 
  The dying eyes of mankind 
         Will suck the last hues from the universe. 
  The dying souls of mankind 
          Will wipe off all its emotions.
  Power will vibrate through the skies
          No light will be there. 
  Through the vacant hall of the deserted world
  The musician’s fingers will dance away,
          No music will be there. 

  That day the unpoetic God will sit alone 
          In the sky devoid of its blue
  With his accounts of impersonal existence. 
  Nowhere upto the farthest end of the vast universe, 
         With its unlimited number of galaxies 
  This voice will sound, 
        `You are beautiful!' `I love you!'

  Will God sit again to meditate 
        Through the ages
  And chant in the dusk of destruction 
       `Speak! Oh, Speak!' 
  Will He plead, `Say, you are beautiful’?, 
                                        `Say, I love'? 

15 Jaistho 1343                        From Shyamali (1343)

Translated by Dipali Chakraborty

Illustration by Nilanjana Basu.

Published in Parabaas February 15, 2004

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