The Year 1400

            Rabindranath Tagore 

           A hundred years from today
who are you, sitting, reading a poem of mine,
                under curiosity’s sway -
           a hundred years from today?

                Not the least portion
of this young spring’s morning bliss,
           neither blossom nor birdsong,
                nor any of its scarlet splashes
           can I drench in passion
                and despatch to your hands
                a hundred years hence!

Yet do this, please: unlatch your south-faced door,
            just sit at your window for once;
basking in fantasy, eyes on the far horizon,
                figure out if you can:
            how one day a hundred years back
roving delights in a free fall from a heavenly region
            had touched all that there was -
the infant Phalgun day, utterly free,
               was frenzied, all agog,
while borne on brisk wings, the south wind
had suddenly arrived and in a flash dyed the earth
               with all youth’s hues
            a hundred years before your day.

There lived then a poet, ebullient of spirit,
               his heart steeped in song,
who wanted to open his words like so many flowers
               with so much passion
            one day a hundred years back.

            A hundred years from today
                    who is the new poet
whose songs flow through your homes?
                    To him I convey
            this springtime’s gladsome greetings.
May my vernal song find its echo for a moment
                    in your spring day
in the throbbing of your hearts, in the buzzing of your bees,
                 in the rustling of your leaves
           a hundred years from today.

2 Phalgun 1302 (13 February 1896)       From Chitra (1896)

Translated by Ketaki Kushari Dyson. To mark the year 1400 of the Bengali calendar, this translation was read out by the translator at an event in 1993 jointly organized by the Nehru Centre of the High Commission of India in London and the Tagore Centre of London, and held in the premises of the Nehru Centre.

Illustration by Nilanjana Basu.

Published in Parabaas July 15, 2001

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