Gitanjali Poem 53 Summary and Analysis

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Beautiful is thy wristlet, decked with stars and cunningly wrought in myriad-coloured jewels. But more beautiful to me thy sword with its curve of lightning like the outspread wings of the divine bird of Vishnu, perfectly poised in the angry red light of the sunset.

It quivers like the one last response of life in ecstasy of pain at the final stroke of death; it shines like the pure flame of being burning up earthly sense with one fierce flash.

Beautiful is thy wristlet, decked with starry gems; but thy sword, O lord of thunder, is wrought with uttermost beauty, terrible to behold or to think of.

Beautiful is thy wristlet, decked with stars and cunningly wrought in myriad-coloured jewels. But more beautiful to me thy sword with its curve of lightning like the outspread wings of the divine bird of Vishnu, perfectly poised in the angry red light of the sunset.
Gitanjali Poem no. 53

Summary

      The theme of detachment is continued. God has created a wonderful world. This divine gift of God to the mankind is alluring. It is as beautiful as the ornament of God. This is like the bracelet of God which is studded with stars, like countless multicoloured jewels. But to the poet His sword surpasses the beauty of His fascinating bracelet. The curved sword of the Almighty shines like lightning and looks like the bird of God Vishnu, with its outspread wings, balanced perfectly in the angry-looking red light of the sunset. The poet says that the life on earth is alluring and tempting as the jewel, its brightness even tries to hide the heavenly glory of God but the sword which symbolizes the detachment 'Aparigraha' makes a way to the ultimate aim of human soul, the communion with the Immanent, Inscrutable will. The man who ignores the brightness of this earthly life and understands the spiritual shine of His sword makes his way from the sea of eternity to His Heavenly abode. The sword with the harsh truth of spirituality gives a terrible look in comparison to the starry, decorated, pleasing looking wristlet of God. Similar is the ways to the Eternal power, terrible and illuminating.

Critical Analysis

      The beautiful image of 'thy wristlet and thy sword' are eye-catching. The opposite aspects of life-materialism and detachment is highly elevated. The idea of the poem is profoundly depicted through the beautiful images.

      The imagery here is an echo from the eleventh discourse of the Bhagvad Gita: "With many mouths and eyes, with many visions of marvel, with many divine ornaments, with many upraised divine weapons (10). Wearing divine necklaces and vestures, anointed with divine unguents, the God all marvellous, boundless with face turned everywhere (11). If the splendour of a thousand suns were to blaze out together in the sky, that might resemble the glory of that Mahatma (12)."

"Beautiful is thy wristlet, decked with starry gems; but thy sword, O lord of thunder, is wrought with uttermost beauty, terrible to behold or to think of."

      The theme of the lines is hidden in the beautiful image of God's ornaments. God who has created the beautiful world like its shining, glittering wristlet. The jewels symbolize the colourful world with the luxuries and comforts. Like the alluring wristlet of God, the colourful world attracts man towards its comforts. But another aspect of God's beauty is His sword, the bright and more beautiful. This is the detachment. The sword symbolizes 'Aparigraha:' (non-attachment). "Thy sword is with me to cut asunder my bonds, and there shall be no fear left for me in the world." Tagore finds more beauty in the terrible but eternity, the sword. He feels the need of tearing himself away from the allurements of the world.

Annotations

      Wristlet: ornament, like the bangle for decorating the wrist. Cunningly: skilfully. Wrought: fashioned. Myriad: large number. The divine bird of Vishnu: the bird garuda. Poised: balanced. Quivers: trembles. Response: reaction. Ecstasy: rapture, intense joy. Stroke: blow. Fierce: terrible. Decked: decorated.

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