Guest poem sent in by Gavin Duley
(Poem #1910) Question
God, again and again through the ages you have sent messengers To this pitiless world They have said, 'Forgive everyone', they have said, 'Love one another -- Rid your hearts of evil.' They are revered and remembered, yet still in these dark days We turn them away with hollow greetings, from outside the doors of our houses. And meanwhile I see secretive hatred murdering the helpless Under cover of night; And Justice weeping silently and furtively at power misused, No hope of redress. I see young men working themselves into a frenzy, In agony dashing their heads against stone to no avail. My voice is choked today; I have no music in my flute: Black moonless night Has imprisoned my world, plunged it into nightmare. And this is why, With tears in my eyes, I ask: Those who have poisoned your air, those who have extinguished your light, Can it be that you have forgiven them? Can it be that you love them?
I'm quite new to Tagore's work, but bought a book of his poetry recently, mainly because I found this one whilst flicking through it at the book shop. The poem was written just after Gandhi's arrest following the break down of the Second Round Table Conference in London, but is not really about any one particular event or time. It seems very relevant at the moment, with Iraq, Lebanon, and the terrorist attacks on London (successful and unsuccessful). The notes comment that the 'vulnerable, bewildered human being in Tagore was increasingly to be the subject of his later poetry; but he never lapsed into self-pity. The precision and vigour of the rhythm and phrasing of this poem belie its content. A famous reading of it by Tagore himself on record conveys strength not weakness, despair not courage. There is even a note of wryness in his voice'. As an extra note, the notes say that the phase 'dashing their heads against stone' is a Bengali metaphor for fruitless activity, much like the English 'beating one's head against a brick wall'. Gavin  Tagore R (1985) 'Selected Poems', translated, edited and with notes by W Radice, Penguin, London. [Links] Biography: Bengali poet, philosopher, visual artist, playwright, composer, and novelist, 1861-1941 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabindranath_Tagore