Imagery of Childhood: Employed by Tagore in Gitanjali

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Childhood-Expression of God's Glory:

      Like Wordsworth and Blake, Tagore too celebrates the childhood. Wordsworth says "child is the father of man', he believes in the innocence, mirth, honesty, carefree nature and pure heart of child. For him these virtues take him so close with the 'Celestial light'. Similarly Tagore sings the song of innocent, guileless, pure-hearted child. The glorification of childhood marks a sharp contrast between the purity, honesty ot child and greed and cunningness of grown ups. The innocence of child symbolizes the purity of soul and the joy of child is an embodiment of God's glory.

Like Wordsworth and Blake, Tagore too celebrates the childhood. Wordsworth says "child is the father of man', he believes in the innocence, mirth, honesty, carefree nature and pure heart of child. For him these virtues take him so close with the 'Celestial light'. Similarly Tagore sings the song of innocent, guileless, pure-hearted child. The glorification of childhood marks a sharp contrast between the purity, honesty ot child and greed and cunningness of grown ups. The innocence of child symbolizes the purity of soul and the joy of child is an embodiment of God's glory.
Rabindranath Tagore

      Though the theme of childhood is not recurring in various poems, there are only a handful of poems in Gitanjali which sings the glory of childhood. The image of child begins to dominate from poem no LX and vanishes in LXII. Though a slight idea about this innocent child oc curred in poem no VIII, but the poem from LX to LXII glorifies the each aspect of childhood and established childhood as an expression of Gods glory.

Simplicity of Child: A Source of Inspiration

      The poem no VIII describes a child whose enjoyment of guileless play is hindered by his rich robes. The child is dressed in rich robes, which is an obstacle in the freedom and enjoyment of his play because it creates a fear of soiling his costly dress. He pleas his mother to make him free from this 'bondage of finery'.

"Mother, it is not gain, thy bondage of finery if it keep one shut off from the healthful dust of the earth, if it rob one of the right of entrance to the great fair of common human life".

      The poet here preached for simplicity and participation in the human life. Tagore may be a mystic but he does not favour a life of seclusion. He believes that one derives life and vitality through communion with one's fellowman and isolation from them results in spiritual decay. Common human life is like a fair in which there is much that is dirty and foul, but enjoyment of this fair is essential for spiritual health and vitality. Tagore pleas that one shouldn't evase their fair resulting from pride in one's wealth and rank. The childlike simplicity is a source of inspiration. Through this beautiful poem Tagore suggests that life is worth living despite much that is wicked and evil in it.

The Innocence: the Celestial Joy

      The innocence of child has been a favourite theme of romantic poets. Wordsworth, Blake enjoy this virtue of childhood but Tagore has treated it as a way to the celestial joy. In Gitanjali poem no LX there is a playground, a seashore of endless worlds where plays the children under the 'infinite sky', children enjoy themselves there with songs and dance. Their game are innocent and truly childlike. They build houses of sand and play with empty shells. They weave their boats with withered leaves and smilingly float them on the vast ocean. The sea and the beach seem to share their happiness. Death-dealing waves do them no harm, but only sing to them like a mother who sings while she rocks her baby's cradle. The sea plays with children. Their world is different from the grown-up's world. The poem is again symbolic. The child is in a sharp contrast with grown-up adult. The meekness, innocence, carefree nature, purity, honesty, sweetness and freedom of child eriticizes the shrewd, lusty, selfish, egoistic, and greedy man drowned in the sea of materialism. The sea of child, the world of child is full of laughter and joy whereas the sea of man is full of tempest and fear of wreckage and death. This is the innocence and purity of child which always make him carefree and drowned injoy. The joy is the celestial one, the joy of heaven as the simple and guileless smile of child is the expression of God's glory. The most beautiful lines of the poem reveals the whole truth of Tagore's heart:

"They (children) know not how to swim, they know not how to cast nets. Pearl fishers dive for pearls, merchants sail in their ships, while children gather pebbles and scatter them again. They seek not for hidden treasures, they know not how to caste nets".

      There is nothing utilitarian or sordid in the works of the children.

The Mystic Beauty of Child: The Gift of the Almighty Father

      The heavenly beauty on the face of child is again an expression of Almighty's love and Joy. The glory of heaven is there on this innocent face. The young pale bleam of the crescent moon touched the edge of the vanishing autumn cloud and thus borned the smile in the dream of a dew-washed morning flitting on the lips of the child of poem no LXI. The smile in the eyes of the child has its dwelling in a fairy village among shadows of the forest dimly lit with glow worms. Two enchanted buds hang there, and it is from them that the smile came to play in the child's eyes. The beautiful lines sings about the fair bloom which brightens the baby's limbs:

"The sweet, soft freshness that bloom, on baby's limbs-does anybody know where it was hidden so long? Yes, when the mother was a young girl it lay, pervading her heart in tender and silent mystery of love the sweet, soft freshness that has bloomed on baby's limbs."

      The beautiful, far fetched, pretty images of the poem is the fascinating characteristic of Tagore's creativity, The beauty of the whole section lies in the extremely delicate similes used by the poet.

Childhood: A Source of God's Delight

      Not only man, but God himself looks at the child for delight. He comes to play with him, becomes his play-fellow in poem no XCVII. The energetic, frank and fearless child plays with the Almighty, without caring to know about that spiritual fellow of him. God calls him in the morning, like a real comrade lead him running from glade to glade. God creates the colourful clouds, flowers for child's delight. For only child's joy sings the leaves, waves send their chorus of voice to the heart of the listening earth. The honey in flower, fruits with sweet juice all are meant for the child's delight and in his delight finds delight, both man and God.

"When I kiss your face to make you smile, my darling, I surely understand what pleasure streams from the sky in morning light, and what delight that is which the summer breezes brings to my body-when I kiss you to make you smile".
(Poem LXI)

      Thus the childhood and child both has the key to the hidden trea sure of heavenly, spiritual delight.

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