We are steadily building a database of Poets for you to listen to and would be interested to hear from you if you have suggestions for others we might include in the site. You can let us know by visiting our Contact Us page. All of the poems on this website have been narrated by Gerald Cox, you can find out more about Gerald on the About Us page.

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Rabindranath Tagore

We currently have eleven poems by Ranindranath Tagore. You can listen to them all one after the other using the playlist below or if you prefer you can click the links further down to read a specific poem whilst listening to it.

Read and listen to Brahma Vishnu Siva

In a worldless timeless lightless great emptiness
Four-faced Brahma broods.
Of a sudden sea of joy surges through his heart –
The ur-god opens his eyes.

Speech from four mouths
Speeds from each quarter. 
Through infinite dark,
Through limitless sky,
Like a growing sea-storm,
Like hope never sated,
His Word starts to move.

Stirred by joy his breathing quickens,
His eight eyes quiver with flame.
His fire-matted hair sweeps the horizon,
Bright as a million suns..
From the towering source of the world
In a thousand streams
Cascades the primeval blazing fountain,
Fragmenting silence,
Splitting its stone heart.

In a universe rampant
With new life exhalant,
With new life exultant,
Vishnu spreads wide
His four-handed blessing.
He raises his conch
And all things quake
At its booming sound.
The frenzy dies down,
The furnace expires,
The planets douse
Their flames with tears,
The world’s Divine Poet
Constructs its history,
From wild cosmic song
Its epic is formed.
Stars in their orbits,
Moon sun and planets
He binds with his mace
All things to Law,
Imposes the discipline
 Of metre and rhyme.

In the Manasa depths
Vishnu watches –
Beauties arise
From the light of lotuses.
Lakshmi strews smiles
Clouds show a rainbow,
Gardens show flowers.
The roar of Creation
Resolves into music.
Softness hides rigour,
Forms cover power.

Age after age after age is slave to a mighty rhythm
At last the world-frame
Tires in its body,
Sleep in its eyes
Slackens its structure,
Diffuses its energy.
From the heart of all matter
Comes the anguished cry
‘Wake, wake, great Shiva,
Our body grows weary
Of its law-fixed path,
Give us new form.
Sing our destruction,
That we gain new life…

The great god awakes,
His three eyes open,
He surveys all horizons.
He lifts his bow, his fell pinaka,
He pounds the world with his tread.
From first things to last it trembles and shakes
And shudders.
The bonds of nature are ripped.
The sky is rocked by the roar
Of a wave of ecstatic release.
An inferno soars
The pyre of the universe.

Shattered sun and moon, smashed stars and planets,
Rain down from all angles,
A blackness of all particles
To be swallowed by flame,
Absorbed in an instant.
At the start of Creation
There was a dark without origin,
At the breaking of Creation
There is fire without end
In an all-pervading sky-engulfing sea of burnin

Shiva shuts his three eyes.
He begins his great trance.

Read and listen to Days End

Days end has come, the world is darkening –
It is too late for further sailing.
On the bank, a girl, I ask her with a smile,
‘On who’s foreign shore am I landing?’
She leaves without a word, her head bowed,
Her full water jar overflowing.
These steps shall be my mooring.

On the forests thick canopy shade is falling,
I find the sight of this country pleasing.
Nothing stirs or moves, neither water nor leaves,
Birds throughout the forest are sleeping.
All I can hear is bracelet on jar
Down the empty path, sadly tinkling.
I find this gold-lit country pleasing.

A golden Trident of Shiva glitters,
A distant temple-lantern glimmers.
A marble road gleams in the shade,
It is sprinkled with fallen bakul-flowers.
Rows of roofs lurk amidst groves,
At the site, my traveller’s heart quivers.
Early distant temple lantern glimmers.

From the kings far palace the breeze brings a melody,
It floats through the sky, a song in rag Pervi.
The fading scene draws me on –
I feel a strange detached melancholy.
Travel and exile lose their appeal,
Impossible hopes no longer call me.
The sky resounds with rag Pervi.

On the forest, on the palace, night is descending –
It is too late for further sailing.
All that I need is a place for my head,
And I’ll end this life of buying and selling.
As she winds her way she keeps her eyes low,
The girl with the jar at her hip, overflowing.
These steps shall be my mooring.

Read and listen to Death Wedding

Why do you speak so softly, Death, Death,
Creep upon me, watch me so stealthily?
This is not how a lover should behave.
When evening flowers droop upon their tired
Stems, when cattle are brought in from the fields
After a whole days grazing, you, Death,
Death, approach me with such gentle steps,
Settle yourself immovably by my side.
I cannot understand the things you say.

Alas, will this be how you will take me, Death,
Death? Like a thief, laying heavy sleep
On my eyes as you descend to my heart?
Will you thus let your tread be a slow heat
In my sleep numbed-blood, your jingling ankle-bells
A drowsy rumble in my ear? Will you, Death,
Death, wrap me, finally, in your cold
Arms and carry me away while I dream?
I do not know why you thus come and go.

Tell me, is this the way you wed, Death,
Death? Unceremonially, with no
Weight of sacrament or blessing or prayer?
Will you come with your massy tawny hair
Unkempt, unbound into a bright coil-crown?
Will no one bear your victory-flag before
Or after; will no torches glow like red
Eyes along the river, Death, Death?
Will earth not quake in terror at your step?

When fierce-eyed Siva came to take his bride,
Remember all the pomp and trappings, Death,
Death: the flapping tiger-skins he wore;
His roaring bull; the serpents hissing round
His hair; the bom-bom sound as he slapped his cheeks;
The necklace of skulls swinging round his neck;
The sudden raucous music as he blew
His horn to announce his coming – was this not
A better way of wedding, Death, Death?

And as that deathly wedding-party’s din
Grew nearer, Death, Death, tears of joy
Filled Gauri’s eyes and the garments at her breast
Quivered; her left eye fluttered and her heart
Pounded; her body quailed with thrilled delight
And her mind ran away with itself, Death, Death;
Her mother wailed and smote her head at the thought
Of receiving so wild a groom; and in his mind
Her father agreed calamity had struck.

Why must you always come like a thief, Death,
Death, always silently, at nights end,
Leaving only tears? Come to me festively,
Make the whole night ring with your triumph, blow
Your victory conch, dress me in blood-red robes,
Grasp me by the hand and sweep me away!
Pay no heed to what others may think, Death,
Death, for I shall of my own free will
Resort to you if you but take me gloriously.

If I am immersed in work in my room
When you arrive, Death, Death, then break
My work, thrust my unreadiness aside.
If I am sleeping, sinking all desires
In the dreamy pleasure of my bed, or if I lie
With apathy gripping my heart and my eyes
Flickering between sleep and waking, fill
Your conch with your destructive breath and blow,
Death, Death, and I shall run to you.

I shall go to where your boat is moored,
Death, Death, to the sea where the wind rolls
Darkness towards me from infinity.
I may see black clouds massing in the far
North-east corner of the sky; fiery snakes
Of lightning may rear up with their hoods raised,
But I shall not flinch in unfounded fear –
I shall pass silently, unswervingly
Across that red storm sea, Death, Death.

Read and listen to Freedom-bound

Frown and bolt the door and glare
With disapproving eyes,
Behold my outcast love, the scourge
Of all proprieties.
To sit where orthodoxy rules
Is not her wish at all –
Maybe I shall seat her on
A grubby patchwork shawl.
The upright villagers, who like
To buy and sell all day,
Do not notice one who’s dress
Is drab and dusty grey.
So keen on outward show, the form
Beneath can pass them by –
Come, my darling, let there be
None but you and I.
When suddenly you left your house
To love along the way,
You brought from somewhere lotus honey
In your pot of clay.
You came because you heard I like
Love simple, unadorned –
An earthen jar is not a thing
My hands have ever scorned.
No bells upon your ankles, so
No purpose in a dance –
Your blood has all the rhythms
That are needed to entrance.
You are ashamed to be ashamed
By lack of ornament –
No amount of dust can spoil
Your plain habiliment.
Herd-boys crowd around you, street dogs
Follow by your side –
Gypsy like upon your pony
Easily you ride.
You cross the stream with dripping sari
Tucked up to your knees –
My duty to the straight and narrow
Flies at sites like these.
You take your basket to the fields
For herbs on market day –
You fill your hem with peas for donkeys
Loose beside the way.
Rainy days do not deter you –
Mud caked to your toes
And kaku-leaf upon your head,
On your journey goes.
I find you when and where I choose,
Whenever it pleases me –
No fuss or preparation: tell me,
Who will know but we?
Throwing caution to the wind is,
Spurned by all around,
Come, my outcast love, oh let us
Travel, freedom bound.

Read and listen to Gift

O my love, what gift of mine
Shall I give you this dawn?
A morning song?
But morning does not last long –
The heat of the sun
Wilts it like a flower
And songs that tire
Are done.

O friend, when you come to my gate
At dusk
What is it you ask?
What shall I bring you?
A light?
A lamp from a secret corner of my silent house?
But will you want to take it with you
Down the crowded street?
The wind will blow it out.

Whatever gifts are in my power to give you,
Be they flowers,
Be they gems for your neck,
How can they please you
If in time they must surely wither,
Lose lustre?
All that my hands can place in yours
Will slip through your fingers
And fall forgotten to the dust
To turn into dust.

When you have leisure
Wander idly through my garden in spring
And let an unknown, hidden flower’s scent startle you
Into sudden wondering –
Let that displaced moment
Be my gift.
Or if , as you peer your way down a shady avenue,
Suddenly, spilled
From the thick gathered tresses of evening
A single shivering fleck of sunset-light stops you,
Turns your daydreams to gold,
Let that light be an innocent

Truest treasure is fleeting;
It sparkles for a moment, then goes.
It does not tell its name; its tune
Stops us in our tracks, its dance disappears
At the toss of an anklet.
I know no way to it –
No hand, nor word can reach it.
Friend, whatever you take of it,
On your own,
Without asking, without knowing, let that
Be yours.
Anything I can give you is trifling
Be it a flower, or a song.

Read and listen Highest Price

‘Who will buy me, who will buy me, rid me of my cares?’
Thus I shout and thus I wander through my nights and days;
And with each day that passes
My basket presses
Upon my head more heavily.
People come and go: some laugh; some watch me tearfully.

At noon I make my way along the king’s great stone paved road,
And soon he comes in his chariot, sword in hand, crown on his head.
‘I’ll bye-bye force,’ he says
And grabs me, tries
To drag me off. I wriggle free
With ease; the king climbs into his golden chariot and rides away.

In small back lanes I wander past bolted and shuttered doors.
A door opens; an old man with a money-bag appears.
He examines what I have
And says, ‘I’ll give
You gold.’ He returns again and again,
Empties his purse. With far off thoughts I carry my basket on.

At evening over the richly blossoming forest moonbeams fall.
Near to the base of a bakul-tree I meet a beautiful girl.
She edges close: ‘My smile
Will make you sell,’
She says. Her smile soon turns to weeping.
Slowly, softly she moves away into the woodland gloaming.

Along the sea shore the sun shines, the city breaks and rolls.
A child is on the sandy beach: he sits playing with shells.
He seems to know me; he says,
‘I’ll buy your cares
For nothing.’ Suddenly I am released
From my heavy load; his playful face has won me free of cost.

Read and listen to In Praise of Trees

Oh tree, life founder, you heard the sun
Summon you from the dark womb of earth
At your lights first wakening; your height
Raise from rhythmless rock the first
Hymn to the light; you bought feeling to harsh,
Impassive desert.

Thus, in the sky,
By mixed magic, blue with green, you flung
The song of the world’s spirit at heaven
And the tribe of stars. Facing the unknown,
You flew with fearless pride the victory
Banner of the life-force that passes
Again and again through death’s gateway
To follow an endless pilgrim-road
Through time, through changing resting-places,
In ever new mortal vehicles.
Earth’s reverie snapped at your noiseless
Challenge: excitedly she recalled
Her daring departure from heaven –
A daughter of God leaving its bright
Splendour, ashy-pale, dressed in humble
Ochre-coloured garments, to partake
Of the joy of heaven fragmented
Into time and place, to receive it
More deeply now that she would often
Pierce it with stabs of grief.

O valiant
Child of the earth, you declared a war
To liberate her from that fortress
Of desert. The war was incessant –
You crossed ocean-waves to establish,
With resolute faith, green seats of power
On bare, inaccessible islands;
You bewitched dust, scaled peaks, wrote on stone
In leafy characters your battle
Tales; you spread your code over trackless

Sky, earth, sea were expressionless
Once, lacking the festival magic
Of the seasons. Your branches offered
Music its first shelter, made the songs
In which the restless wind – colouring
With kaleidoscopic melody
Her invisible body, edging
Her shawl with prismatic tune – first new
Herself. You were the first to describe
On earth’s clay canvas, by absorbing
Plastic power from the Sun, a living
Image of beauty. You processed light’s
Hidden wealth to give colour to light.
When celestial dancing-nymphs shook
Their bracelets in the clouds, shattering
Those misty cups to rain down freshening
Nectar, you filled therewith your vessels
Of leaf and flower to clothe the Earth
With perpetual youth.

Oh profound,
Silent tree, by restraining valour
With patience, you revealed creative
Power in its peaceful form. Thus we come
To your shade to learn the art of peace,
To hear the word of silence; weighed down
With anxiety, we come to rest
In your tranquil blue-green shade, to take
Into our souls life rich, life ever
Juvenescent, life true to earth, life
Omni-victorious. I am certain
My thoughts have born me to your essence –
Where the same fire as the sun’s ritual
Fire of creation quietly assumes
In you cool green form. Oh sun-drinker,
The fire with which – by milking hundreds
Of centuries of days of sunlight –
You have filled your core, man has received
As your gift, making him world mighty,
Greatly honoured, rival to the gods:
His shining strength, kindled by your flame,
Is the wonder of the universe
As it cuts through daunting obstacles.
Man, whose life is in you, who is soothed
By your cool shade, strengthened by your power,
Adorned by your garland – O tree, friend
Of man, dazed by your leafy flutesong
I speak today for him as I make
This verse homage,
As I dedicate this offering
To you.

Read and listen to Last Tryst

Ink black clouds banked in the north-east:
The force of the coming storm latent in the forest,
Waiting as quietly as the bats hanging
In the branches. Darkness blanketing
Dense leaves that are still and silent
As a crouching tiger intent
On its prey. Flocks of crows
Suddenly aloft in a craze
Of fear, like tattered
Shreds of darkness littered
Over the void of a cosmos
Broken into chaos.

Where have you come from today in the guise
Of a storm, your unbound hair scented with past wildflowers?
In my youth you came once before on another
Day, first messenger
Of the freshly shining spring.
You brought the first flowering
Jasmine of Asarh, you were indescribably lovely.
You blossomed in my heart,
In my boundless wonder: I do not know from what
Radiant world unseen
You came into the light of vision.
You meet me today by a path no less mysterious.
How potent your face
Appears in the brief lightning flame!
How novel it’s expressions seem!

Is the path by which you come today
The same as I knew before?
I see
Sometimes it’s faint outline;
Sometimes not the slightest hint or glimmer can be seen.
You have brought in your basket flowers recalled or forgotten,
But others I have never hitherto known;
And in your fragrance you carry
The message of a season new to me.
A deathly-dark suffusion
Obscures its coming revelation.
O honour me
With its garland, place it around my neck in this dimly
Starlit palace of silence. Let this our last
Carry me into the infinite night
Beyond all earthly limit;
Let it make me one
With the not known.

Read and listen to Love's Question

And is this all true,
My ever loving friend?
That the lightning-flash of the light in my eyes
Makes the clouds in your heart explode and blaze,
Is this true?
That my sweet lips are red as a blushing new bride,
My ever loving friend,
Is this true?

That a tree of paradise flowers within me,
That my footsteps ring like venas beneath me,
Is this true?
That the night sheds drops of dew at the site of me,
That the dawn surrounds me with light from delight in me,
Is this true?
That the touch of my hot cheek intoxicates the breeze,
My ever loving friend,
Is this true?

That daylight hides in the dark of my hair,
That my arms hold life and death in their power,
Is this true?
That the earth can be wrapped in the end of my sari,
That my voice makes the world fall silent to hear me,
Is this true?
That the universe is nothing but me and what loves me,
My ever loving friend,
Is this true?

That for me alone your love has been waiting
Through worlds and ages awake and wondering,
Is this true?
That my voice, eyes, lips have brought you relief,
In a trice, from the cycle of life after life,
Is this true?
That you read on my soft forehead infinite truth,
My ever loving friend,
Is this true?

Read and listen to The Sick-bed

When I woke up this morning
There was a rose in my flower-vase:
The question came to me –
The power that brought you through cyclic time
To final beauty,
Dodging at every turn
The torment of ugly incompleteness,
Is it blind, is it abstracted,
Does it, like a world denying sannyasi,
Make no distinction between beauty and the opposite of beauty?
Is it merely rational,
Merely physical,
Lacking in sensibility?
There are some who argue
That grace and ugliness take equal seats
At the court of Creation,
That neither is refused entry
By the guards.
As a poet I cannot enter such arguments –
I can only gaze at the universe
In its full, true form,
At the millions of stars in the sky
Carrying their huge harmonious beauty –
Never breaking their rhythm
Or losing their tune,
Never deranged
And never stumbling –
I can only gaze and see, in the sky,
The spreading layers
Of a vast, radiant, petalled rose.

Read and listen to Unending-love

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless time,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, its age-old pain,
Its ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time:
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers, shared in the same
Shy sweetness of meeting, the same distressful tears of farewell-
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours –
And the songs of every poet past and forever.

Rabindranath Tagore

Was a Bengali polymath—poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter. He reshaped Bengali literature and music as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of the “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful” poetry of Gitanjali, he became in 1913 the first non-European and the first lyricist to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Tagore’s poetic songs were viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his “elegant prose and magical poetry” remain largely unknown outside Bengal. He was a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society. Referred to as “the Bard of Bengal”, Tagore was known by sobriquets: Gurudev, Kobiguru, Biswakobi.

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