This is a quartet of 2 Petrarchan sonnets and two Shakespearean sonnets which provide a kind of potted history of the Tagore family and their and Tagore’s contribution to the Bengal Renaissance, Tagore’s life, work, philosophy and legacy.
You came as the fourteenth blessing
To a house cherishing its social exclusion
In revolutionary arts and acts, addressing
A nation’s thirst for self-expression.
The grandson of an Empress’s friend
And son of an ascetic reformer,
Yours was a generous humanism to expend
As you were no ordinary dreamer
But a pragmatic visionary on the final surge
Of a Renaissance that was bookended
By the modern consciousness of your family’s urge.
To catapult India into recognition. The wounded
Dawn that India woke to was one you did not see in action
While the world recuperated from near destruction.
You were a reservoir replenished by our sages
Your depths reflecting the immediate sky above
Your currents eager to swirl with vital love
Your banks reliable, containing negative rages.
Your protean talent could prove outrageous
As respectable girls could dance with Buddhist love
And you could be Balmiki in style and prove
The validity of the past in the bold and courageous.
I can see you in Shelidah, pushing the waves
Aroused to action by a people in stagnation.
I can see you coaxing growth despite the Birbhum sun
And leaving, to speak with the warning of mass graves –
Writing, painting, protesting, urging all nations,
Undeterred by your growing isolation.
A child in Europe unhesitatingly said of you
‘Oh, that is God’. Did he see that indomitable spark
That India and the world saw glowing in the dark
As movements of self-rule paralysed the few
And mobilised the millions? But it was you
You stood apart, building cooperative arks
To house the peasants’ output and see them disembark
At market places, as your schemes were set to renew
A country. You built a nest where East and West met
As partners in exchange, anticipating a world of mutual
Respect. We owe you the anthems of two proud nations;
You sang a people to bond and a border to relent.
You changed a generation’s handwriting with your usual
Artistry, and refined language to express every occasion.
In our post-Partition struggle to retain our dignity
You were the internet we surfed for meaning
In our lives, lost to our past in a crowded city
But stirred by your songs on festival mornings.
You had brought the woman across the threshold
Warned of household division if she was confined.
A widow became a bride in your own household
And an orphaned girl – a daughter redefined.
You were a designer in every fold of existence –
Your robes a syncretic weave of fakir and sage;
Your houses were shaped by a multicultural essence
And every genre you touched reached the ultimate stage
Of achievement. The time has come, Poet to acknowledge
Our measureless debt to you and share your borderless knowledge.