Rabindranath Tagore 

     Translated from the original Bengali by

    Nandini Gupta


“I shall not forget”, I said, when you turned

your misty eyes silently to me. Forgive me

if I have forgotten. It has been long. Again

and again, dried spring-blossoms

have fallen in heaps over that ancient kiss;

in the noon babbling pigeons have come

and gone laying over it weary sleep! Blushing,

timorous, the glance of your dark eyes wrote

on my mind’s page a first love-letter. There,

your heart etched its impress; over the ages

hour after hour the shifting lights, shades

have painted it over, dusks have brushed over it

golden amnesia, nights have covered it with

a faint filigree of their own dream-images.

Every minute, every moment sketches its own

memoirs on the palette of my mind,

broken crude images like the doodles

of an unwitting child they engulf each other

weaving a web of forgetfulness.

                                           If in this falgun

I have forgotten words belonging to that distant

day, if unseen the fire has burnt out from the pain,

forgive me then.


Yet I know

because one day you came to me, my life

is full with the rich harvest of my songs,

even today. The light in your eyes one day

sounded the deepest words, brought forth

the music from within the sun’s rays.

                             No more your touch.

But this touchstone you’ve left behind

in my mind: even today I see, ever and ever again

this world’s deathless image---

it brings to my lips my glass

brimful with nectar

of unreasoning joy. Forgive me if I have forgotten.

                                   Yet I know

one day you beckoned me into your heart.

And so, I forgive Fate. I forget

all sorrow all grief she filled my days with.

From my parched lips, she snatched water,

laughing she beguiled

broke faith, sunk the laden boat abruptly

as it neared shore. All this I forgive her.

Today you are gone. Far, far away. The dusk

is grey with the missing red of your hair.

This companionless life

is ugly in its vacuity.

           All that I know, but this above all---

                                         One day you were here.

2 November 1924, On board The Andes       From Purabi (1925)

Translated by Nandini Gupta.

Illustration by Nilanjana Basu.

Published in Parabaas December 25, 2003

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