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Rabindranath Tagore was a great poet and writer. He wrote many novels and books of poems and of which Gitanjali, Crescent Moon were very famous. Tagore was also the author of our National Anthem Jana Gana Mana. For his works, he was awarded the Nobel prize.

Excerpts from his most famous book Gitanjali which won the Nobel Prize. Gitanjali has short poems.

Page 1 of Gitanjali

Thou hast made me endless, such is
thy pleasure. This frail vessel thou
emptiest again and again, and fillest it
ever with fresh life.

      This little flute of a reed thou hast
carried over hills and dales, and hast
breathed through it melodies eternally new.

      At the immortal touch of thy hands
my little heart loses its limits in joy
and gives birth to utterance ineffable.

      Thy infinite gifts come to me only
on these very small hands of mine.
Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and
still there is room to fill.

Page 3 of Gitanjali

I know not how thou singest, my
master! I ever listen in silent amazement.

      The light of thy music illumines the world.
The life breath of thy music runs from sky to sky.
The holy stream of thy music breaks through all stony
obstacles and rushes on.

      My heart longs to join in thy song,
but vainly struggles for a voice.
I would speak, but speech breaks not into
song, and I cry out baffled.
Ah, thou hast made my heart captive
in the endless meshes of thy music, my master!

Page 13 of Gitanjali

The song that I came to sing remains
unsung to this day.

      I have spent my days in stringing
and in unstringing my instrument.

      The time has not come true, the
words have not been rightly set;
only there is the agony of wishing in my heart.

      The blossom has not opened;
only the wind is sighing by.

      I have not seen his face, nor have I
listened to his voice; only I have heard
his gentle footsteps from the road before my house.

      The livelong day has passed in spreading his seat on the floor;
but the lamp has not been lit and I cannot ask him into my house.

      I live in the hope of meeting with
him; but this meeting is not yet.

Page 27 of Gitanjali

Light, oh where is the light? Kindle
it with the burning fire of desire!

      There is the lamp but never a flicker
of a flame,--such thy fate, my heart!
Ah, death were better by far for thee!

      Misery knocks at thy door, and her
message is that thy lord is wakeful, and
he calls thee to the love-tryst through
the darkness of nigh.

      The sky is overcast with clouds and
the rain is ceaseless. I know not what
this is that stirs in me,--I know not its meaning.

      A moment's flash of lightning drags
down a deeper gloom on my sight, and
my heart gropes for the path to where
the music of the night calls me.

      Light, of where is the light! Kindle
it with the burning fire of desire! It
thunders and the wind rushes screaming
through the void. The night is black
as a black stone. Let not the hours
pass by in the dark. Kindle the lamp
of love with thy life.

Page 31 of Gitanjali

"Prisoner, tell me, who was it that
bound you?"

      "It was my master," said the prisoner.
"I thought I could outdo everybody in
the world in wealth and power, and I
amassed in my own treasure-house the
money due to my king. When sleep
overcame me I lay upon the bed that
was for my lord, and on waking up I
found I was a prisoner in my own treasure-house."

      "Prisoner, tell me who was it that
wrought this unbreakable chain?"

      "It was I," said the prisoner, "who
forged this chain very carefully. I
thought my invincible power would
hold the world captive leaving me in a freedom undisturbed.

      Thus night and day I worked at the chain with huge
fires and cruel hard strokes. When at
last the work was done and links
were complete and unbreakable, I
found that it held me in its grip."

Page 41 of Gitanjali

Where dost thou stand behind them
all, my lover, hiding thyself in the
shadows? They push thee and pass
thee by on the dusty road, taking thee
for naught. I wait here weary hours
spreading my offerings for thee, while
passers by come and take my flowers,
one by one, and m y basket is nearly empty.

      The morning time is past, and the
noon. In the shad of evening me
eyes are drowsy with sleep. Men going
home glance at me and smile and fill
me with shame. I sit like a beggar
maid, drawing my skirt over my face,
and when they ask me, what it is I
want, I drop my eyes and answer them not.

      Oh, how, indeed, could I tell them
that for thee I wait, and that thou hast
promised to come. How could I utter
for shame that I keep for my dowry
this poverty. Ah, I hug this pride in
the secret of my heart.

      I sit on the grass and gaze upon the
sky and dream of the sudden splendour
of thy coming--all the lights ablaze,
golden pennons flying over thy car,
and they at the roadside standing
agape, when they see thee come
down from thy seat tot raise me from
the dust, and set at thy side this
ragged beggar girl a-tremble with
shame and pride, like a creeper in a summer breeze.

      But time glides on and still no sound
of the wheels of thy chariot. Many a
procession passes by with noise and
shouts and glamour of glory. Is it only
thou who wouldst stand in the shadow
silent and behind them all? And only I
who would wait and weep and wear out
my heart in vain longing?

Page 48 of Gitanjali

The morning sea of silence broke into
ripples of bird songs; and the flowers
were all merry by the roadside; and
the wealth of gold was scattered
through the rift of the clouds while
we busily went on our way and paid no heed.

      We sang no glad songs nor played;
we went not to the village for barter;
we spoke not on the way. We quickened our pace
more and more as the time sped by.

      The sun rose to the mid sky and
doves cooed in the shade. Withered
leaves danced and whirled in the hot
air of noon. The shepherd boy drowsed
and dreamed in the shadow of the
banyan tree, and I laid myself down
by the water and stretched my tired limbs on the grass.

      My companions laughed at me in
scorn; they held their heads high and
hurried on; they never looked back nor
rested; they vanished in the distant
blue haze. They crossed many meadows
and hills, and passed through strange,
far-away countries. All honour to
you, heroic host of the interminable
path! Mockery and reproach pricked
me to rise, but found no response in
me. I gave myself up for lost in the
depth of a glad humiliation--in the
shadow of a dim delight.

      The repose of the sun-embroidered
green gloom slowly spread over my
heart. I forgot for what I had travelled,
and I surrendered my mind without
struggle to the maze of shadows and songs.

      At last, when I woke from my
slumber and opened my eyes, I saw
thee standing by me, flooding my sleep
with thy smile. How I had feared
that the path was long and wearisome,
and the struggle to reach thee was hard!

Page 60 of Gitanjali

On the seashore of endless worlds
children meet. The infinite sky is
motionless overhead and the restless
water is boisterous. On the seashore
of endless worlds the children meet
with shouts and dances.

      They build their houses with sand
and they play with empty shells. With
withered leaves they weave their boats
and smilingly float them on the vast
deep. Children have their play on the
seashore of worlds.

      They know not how to swim, they
know not how to cast nets. Pearl
fishers dive for pearls, merchants sail in
their ships, while children gather pebbles
and scatter them again. They seek not
for hidden treasures, they know not how to cast nets.

      The sea surges up with laughter and
pale gleams the smile of the sea beach.
Death-dealing waves sing meaningless
ballads to the children, even like a
mother while rocking her baby's cradle.
The sea plays with children, and pale
gleams the smile of the sea beach.

      On the seashore of endless worlds
children meet. Tempest roams in the
pathless sky, ships get wrecked in the
trackless water, death is abroad and
children play. On the seashore of endless worlds
is the great meeting of children.

Page 79 of Gitanjali

If it is not my portion to meet thee in
this my life then let me ever feel that
I have missed thy sight--let me not
forget for a moment, let me carry the
pangs of this sorrow in my dreams and
in my wakeful hours.

      As my days pass in the crowded
market of this world and my hands
grow full with the daily profits, let me
ever feel that I have gained nothing--
let me not forget for a moment, let me
carry the pangs of this sorrow in my
dreams and in my wakeful hours.

      When I sit my the roadside, tired
and panting, when I spread my bed low
in the dust, let me ever feel that the
long journey is still before me--let me
not forget for a moment, let me carry
the pangs of this sorrow in my dreams
and in my wakeful hours.

      When my rooms have been decked
out and the flutes sound and the laughter
there is loud, let me ever feel that I
have not invited thee to my house--
let me not forget for a moment, let me
carry the pangs of this sorrow in my
dreams and in my wakeful hours.

Page 103 of Gitanjali

In one salutation to thee, my God, let
all my senses spread out and touch this
world at thy feet.

      Like a rain-cloud of July hung low
with its burden of unshed showers let
all my mind bend down at thy door in
one salutation to thee.

      Let all my songs gather together
their diverse strains into a single current
and flow to a sea of silence in one
salutation to thee.

      Like a flock of homesick cranes flying
night and day back to their mountain
nests let all my life take its voyage
to its eternal home in one salutation to thee.

The bengali version of the poem can be viewed from here

Full text of the book Gitanjali is available at