Gitanjali Poem No. 28 - Summary and Analysis

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Obstinate are the trammels, but my heart aches when I try to break them.
Freedom is all I want, but to hope for it I feel ashamed.

I am certain that priceless wealth is in thee, and that thou art my best friend, but I have not the heart to sweep away the tinsel that fills my room.

The shroud that covers me is a shroud of dust and death; I hate it, yet hug it in love. My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy; yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my prayer be granted.

Obstinate are the trammels, but my heart aches when I try to break them. Freedom is all I want, but to hope for it I feel ashamed.
Gitanjali Poem no. 28


      This poem talks about how man wishes to break free from all his worldly chains and yet how his heart aches when he tries to do so. He says that these chains are hard and very obstinate and his heart pains in attempting to break away. The poet says that the only thing he wants is freedom but then he feels shy and ashamed in wishing for it. Then he expresses his belief that in God there is boundless wealth and that God is his most beloved friend but man is also very fond of the cheap glitter and glamour of worldly life and so cannot master up the courage to do away with these.

      A shroud made of dust and death cover the poet. The poet hates it, dislikes it but he also hugs it in love. The poet then says that he owes a great deal to God, also his worldly obligations over many. He also has many failure in life, the shames he carries in secret are heavy. But when he comes forward to ask God for his good, he trembles in fear that God may grant him his wish.

Critical Analysis

      Here, Tagore presents himself struggling against his worldly ties and for his divine longings. He shows the conflict within the human heart in his attachment to his material possessions and his wish to give up everything and go into God's presence. Tagore is thus discussing his often repeated theme how the human soul yearns for a spiritual union with God and how, in order to attain this man has to leave behind all the worldly glitter which in reality is false and useless. But Tagore looks at it from a realistic point of view saying that man though, he longs for God, he loves his worldly ties too making it difficult and painful for him to leave them behind. He knows that these worldly ties are all like dust and these envelope him like a shroud and everything else in his life is neither good nor perfect. He prays to God for good but then the conflict within him makes him tremble that God may grant his wish, for then he shall have to give up his worldly possessions and ties.


      Obstinate: headstrong, stubborn. Tinsel: glitter, cheap, gaudy. Shroud: cloth to cover the dead body. Debts: man's obligations.

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