Tag Archives: Gitanjali

Using Disclaimers Where They Really Count

I just purchased a printing of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali (with an introduction by W.B. Yeats). It includes the following disclaimer on the title page:

“This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work.”

Wow. Quite a caveat for the reader or monitor for the reader.

Just a couple of things:

First, at no place in this printing does it identify WHEN this book was written, except by coincidence in the Yeats’ introduction, which is dated “September 1912”. The publishing date says (c) 2008 Wilder Publications, and also reads “First Edition”. Really! A 2008 first edition is a product of THIS time. But I know that not to be the case, so what “time” is this book really the product of? And come to think of it, have the views promulgated in this writing REALLY changed all that much, for the majority of people? Probably not.

Second, who is this warning for? What uninformed soul is likely to read this prose poem unawares?

Finally, and perhaps most puzzling, why isn’t this disclaimer printed in LARGE, BOLD LETTERS on the title page of the BIBLE?

It seems a far more appropriate warning there, doesn’t it?

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There Could Be Worse Epitaphs

Here’s something I would consider for mine, lo those many moons from now:

I have had my invitation to this world’s festival, and thus my life has been blessed.
My eyes have seen and my ears have heard.
It was my part at this feast to play upon my instrument, and I have done all I could.
Now, I ask, has the time come at last when I may go in and see thy face and offer thee my silent salutations?
— Rabindranath Tagore, from Gitanjali

And of course, Pink Floyd’s “Great Gig in the Sky” would HAVE to be playing at the recessional.

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Rediscovering Gitanjali

For the first time in my life, I have discovered a poem that perfectly describes my experience with Truth (god, goddess, the infinite, the universe, or whatever you wish to call it):

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

I have spent my days in stringing and 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 yet opened; only the wind is sighing by.

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

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

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

— Rabindranath Tagore, from Gitanjali, 1911

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