Fireflies 8


Poems of Rabindranath Tagore


two separated shores
mingle their voices
in a song of unfathomed tears;
as a river in the sea
work finds its fulfilment
in the depth of leisure

I lingered on my way
till thy cherry tree lost its blossom;
now the azalea brings to me
thy forgiveness

shy little pomegranate bud
blushing today behind her veil
will burst into passionate flower
tomorrow when I am away

the clumsiness of power spoils the key
and uses a pickaxe

birth is from the mystery of night
into the greater mystery of day


these paper boats of mine
are meant to dance
on the ripples of hours
and not to reach any destination

migratory songs wing from my heart
and seek their nests in our voice of love

the sea of danger doubt & denial
around our little island of certainty
challenges us to dare the unknown

love punishes when it forgives
and injures beauty by its awful silence

you live alone and unrecompensed
because they are afraid of your great worth

Rabindranath Tagore (1928)

3 thoughts on “Fireflies 8

  1. love punishes when it forgives
    and injures beauty by its awful silence

    you live alone and unrecompensed
    because they are afraid of your great worth

    When I read Tagore’s poetry I feel as if I’ve been taken away for a short time to a place where the secrets of divinity are always present but are always changing form. Then quickly my imaginations stop dead, and a deeply personal emptiness opens. The music and the dance fade, and I’m left on my own. What is this love that “punishes when it forgives and injures beauty by its awful silence.” Is this a deeper love that we fear to touch, since that would reveal who and what we really are? Are we afraid of our own divinity, our own worth, or is our neurotic self-image enough? Who are “they?” Like Blake, Tagore’s sense of illumination flows from “two seperate shores” where “work finds its fullfilment/in the depth of leisure.” The river of tears is the river of laughter, and so on, but what happens when the day begins, the emptiness fades, forgiveness becomes a messy affair, and the two shores begin their deadly dance, we’re left alone in the centre of a thousand faces. Is Divinity “I” or Mystic Poet “I” our recompense? Is our feminine shore alive and well?Somehow the thought of gathering comes to mind.

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  2. Regular mornings with Tagore, typing out and slightly modifying the English in the translations of his poems in my old book, linking very short pieces together to make interesting juxtapositions that don’t necessarily occur to one in the original where two or three lines are printed on separate pages with these beautiful ‘decorations’ interspersed, I too am living in a different world. It’s a world of ways of expression that are often totally alien to my own way of making poems; but it’s a world where I am pleased to be forced to suspend rational thinking, straight-line thinking which takes us further & further away from ‘the way things really are’; strangely ‘the way things really are’ is what I aim at in my haiku and in my ‘ordinary’ poems. So I suspend something in reading Tagore in much the same way as I do when reading Blake. Echoes from beyond the edge of the universe, rung out on the anvil of time.

    So interpretation takes one into rationality…

    Real love, not the lurv of the pop songs or that of celebrities & royals, the love of the imagination falsely constructing, comes out of the anvil of time; it successfully avoids the expression of negative emotion but keeps itself to itself, secretly.

    In forgiveness on the other hand there has to have been a preliminary negative emotion and so it becomes punishment – “You have offended me but I forgive you…” Thus the negative emotion is expressed in a roundabout kind of way. But in keeping itself to itself, love also fails to honour and so is caught that way. Maybe both things at the same time. So love is just an echo from the anvil of time. Cannot be spoken, unmoving, inexpressible, untouchable, as Patrick says. Simply gathered in, in secret. Again, as Patrick says.

    Something that flows endlessly between two separate shores.

    Blake has it that love cannot be spoken; when it is spoken then it evaporates.

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  3. love punishes when it forgives
    and injures beauty by its awful silence

    There’s this sense of trying to hold and use this energy, but how can we when we lack understanding of its nature? Both sides of the shore flow and the beauty that’s created blows my mind, but when we try and manage or control the endless flow things can get ugly in a flash. The ancient rituals were designed to gather this flow of energy as a way of teaching. The teachings took many forms connecting life and death and the natural cycles that we are so disconnected with today. The “awful silence” is a good reminder of the pain we suffer for our duality thinking, our obsession with forging beauty into a false power. We’re all going to die, there’s nothing we can Do about it, but the rituals are now forgotten, and so we dream of living forever, a complete misinterpretation of Christ’s teachings, we miss the whole celebration of death. We’ve turned it into an industry of shame. “I wake to sleep and take my waking slow.”

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