Gitanjali Poem No. 1 - Summary and Analysis

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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.

Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.
Gitanjali Poem no. 1


      God had made man imperishable and everlasting because it is God's pleasure to make him so. Man's physical body is a weak, breakable vessel into which God has imparted life. Into it God gives life again and again and thus renders mortal man immortal. The poet is a mere reed which God designs into a flute. He is the instrument through which God the musician plays new and melodious songs, carrying it over hills and valleys. When God places his hands on the poet his limited heart expands into unlimited bounds through joy and happiness and from this is born inexpressible joy which becomes poetry. God's unlimited gifts are received by man's limited hands. Life after life God continues to pour his blessings on man. God pours inspiration eternally.

Critical Analysis

      Tagore begins his 'song-offering' with a beautiful conceit of human life. The human soul is eternal whereas his body is perishable and mortal, but God wills it so that man is in reality immortal. His mortality is an illusion. The reality is that God blows his spirit into him and thus lives on ever after, though the body may die again and again. God is the supreme creator who inspires eternally melodious music out of the frail instrument that is man. The limited and bound human heart expands into limitless joy and thus poetry is created out of divine inspiration. Man is a frail vessel, a breakable being, and he is a little being, but he is endowed with an endless, everlasting life as God continues to pour his blessings on man and God's gifts are in such bounty that it is never exhausted.


      Endless: In accordance with God's pleasure, human life is both mortal and immortal at the same time. Tagore here convey's the theory of re-incarnation, human life may end in death but if it is God's plea sure, then God may impart life again and again."

      Frail vessel: This refers to the physical body, the vessel that contains the soul thence life. It is frail, i.e. easily breakable and worthless without the life that God breaths into it.

      Little flute... new: This conveys the idea that man is God's creation and all that comes through him is also God's creation. Tagore is a mere instrument, a reed out of which God has created a flute, and all his poetic activity is God's inspiration.

      Utterance ineffable: inexpressable thoughts or rendered speeches.

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