Lyrical and Musical Element in Tagore's Poem Gitanjali

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      Tagore is indeed one of the greatest lyric poets in the world. His lyrics are noted for their simplicity, directness of expression and variety. The poet's sincerity of feeling and vividness of imagery combine with the rhythmic flow of words and give the reader or the hearer the impression that the poet's mystic yearning is harmoniously fused with deep humanism, the love for the mankind. The main features of Tagore's lyrical poetry are its humanistic essence combined with spirituality, a love of Nature and man and the expression of the beauty and splendor of the earth. The poet's spiritual message does not compel us to run away from the fret and fever of life but insists on our full participation in the joys and sorrows of mankind and in the bonds of delight.

      Tagore has written around four thousand lyrics. His lyrics are things of beauty and so a source of joy forever. He exhales a lyric as a flower exhales fragrance. Similarly, Gitanjali gives fragrance of various flowers - the fragrance of humanism, is the most and when all collected depicts an affinity between Man, God and Nature.

Tagore has written around four thousand lyrics. His lyrics are things of beauty and so a source of joy forever. He exhales a lyric as a flower exhales fragrance. Similarly Gitanjali gives fragrance of various flowers - the fragrance of humanism, is the most and when all collected depicts an affinity between Man, God and Nature.
Rabindranath Tagore

Tagore: A Poet of Man

      Tagore is a great poet of man. Whatever may be his theme of poem he puts man and its greatness in focus or in limelight. As Gitanjali, which is a devotional poetry in style, mostly speaks about mankind, the creation of God. Gitanjali starts with a feeling of gratitude for the Almighty for His love of creation. Poet is grateful to God for He is the spirit who puts rhythm and harmony in human life. He says:

"This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life."

      But God, too is full of gratitude for love of man, his devotion and worship. Man is certainly the 'little flute of reed' but to enjoy the songs, the eternal melodies, God needs the source and man is the source of joy or atmarati of God. Man is the expression of God, the separated part of God, when God were alone, He could not see Himself. Man and God both have same aspirations from one another. When there was no man world of God was not expressed, man came and gave a meaning to His creation. So man is as great as the God is. Besides the scheme of God's greatness lies the philosophy of Tagore, the inevitable importance of man.

      Man is great. His greatness is hidden in his love. In his love "he is united with the all-pervading spirit, who is also the breath of his soul." In man's activities of love his wealth of soul is revealed and therefore it indicates his greatness. He acts for the well-being of the whole humanity due to his love for the world. Many of the lyrics of Tagore in Gitanjali preaches for this love of man for man, soul for another soul and love or man for society. Even though the flow of lyrics is mystical the ultimate end is humanism. As in one of the poem he says;

"Leave this chanting and singing... whom do you worship in this lonely dark corner of temple... He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the pathmaker is breaking stones"

      Tagore believes that the salvation can be attained through oneness of individual soul with the soul of world. The love for needy poor, humble and orphans gives you the ecstasy of the divine love. To serve mankind is to serve the Divine. He is omnipresent. He is there in everything, in every human being. This oneness with souls of world makes you one with the Universal, Divine soul. This is the spiritual humanism. He cries:

"Come out of thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and incense! What harm is there if thy clothes become tattered and stained? Meet Him and stand by Him in toil and in sweat of thy brow."

      He says that the path of God lies through the performance of the ordinary, duties of life. "We must come down from our high secluded place and meet God in the company of tiller and path maker " There is stern realism. Tagore believes in the worldly bonds of delight rather than barren asceticism. Accept Life than Renunciate It The few lyrics in Gitanjali sing the songs of living, positive acceptance of life and world rather than a negation. Tagore scoffs at the idea of renunciation. Deliverance is a hollow word. He says:

"Deliverance? Where is this deliverance to be found? Our master himself has joyfully taken upon him the bonds of creation; he is bound with us all for ever"

      Tagore believes he is extending the bonds of loving sympathy till it embraces the whole world. He suggests that one may imagine that when one individual gets success in disassociating himself from his fellows, he gets the real freedom, when one relates himself with other beings by the relationship of love, he can feel the touch of the Infinite. By loving our beloved, we feel the presence of the Divine Love in our heart. All love, affection, therefore, become the worship of the mysterious being, what we call love is called worship. So when we love human beings, we get the glimpse of the Infinite. Worldly affairs are called by ascetics as the maya and they neglect it. To become completely detached from this bondage of relationships and work and being inactive, as the 'Brahman, is termed by them as liberation'. But Tagore expresses that work or service that is done out of necessity bind us, but what we do out of joy and love is not bondage but 'freedom'. So it is better to perform worldly affairs with infatuation than to be engaged in meditation and religious austerities for getting Brahman by leaving all works. He believes that service to humanity is the best realization of (God. When man out of his universal love works for the welfare of the whole humanity he realizes union with God and attains salvation and becomes free. Thus spiritualism and humanism go side by side in Tagore's poems. As he says in Fireflies

"God loves to see in me, not his servant but himself who serves all."

Lyrical Senses - A Bliss, not a Burden

      Another lyric celebrates the joy of senses. Man should feel and enjoy the delightful presence of God in the material objects of life which can be seen and heard and touched. He says:

"No, I will never shut the doors of my senses. The delights of sight and hearing and touch will bear thy delight."

      Tagore believes that our sense organs are created by God so that we can enjoy the form, color, beauty, taste which are revealed in the Nature. Tagore asserts the importance of the finite senses. Tagore never rejects the importance of body or senses. He wants to touch body by the help of body. Like the spiritual seers, he does not want to touch worldly things by spirit. Like a mortal being he wants to enjoy the mortal objects. As Chakraborty says "Matter is not to be given up but it should be sublimated into love. Thus synthesis of matter and spirit of the claims of worldly life and spiritual life - is what I call spiritual realism". Humanism is the basis of Tagore's mysticism; his mysticism must not be over stressed.

Patriotic Tone

      Again poem no 32, a famous lyric is far from mysticism. This patriotic lyric expresses the love of poet for his nation. It has a rejoicing spirit, a tone of reformation and heart of patriotism. The poet does not pray for the heaven' of material prosperity in India. On the other hand, he prays for fearlessness, truthfulness and unity; he prays for the dominance of reason over superstitions and last of all, he prays for 'ever widening thought and action'. He pleads God for a nation:

"Where knowledge is free; where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;"

      These lines of the poem shows his intense desire to shed the shackles of narrow nationalism, to breath in the wider and free atmosphere of world-brotherhood. To him, freedom movement meant struggle against the British administration as well as against prejudices and superstition of people which are bar to real freedom of their personality. He says "Our fight is a spiritual fight - it is for man. We have to emancipate man from the meshes". Removal of illiteracy, poverty and ignorance from the common mass of India is the freedom in true sese.

      Love Lyrics Tagore is more a love-lyrist than a mystic. Gitanjali is a good example of that beautiful imagery of love between the lovers. His love poetry has the touch of Vaishnava tradition of love-poetry which centers round the love of Radha and Krishna. The beloved is "waiting for love to give herself up last into her (lover's) hands" and she cries

"That I want thee, only thee"

      Here the beloved waits for her lover the whole night and when he comes she is unable to speak her love to him. The love in Tagore's poem is selfless, pure and boundless. The love is treated with dualism, the love of humans confides the ecstatic love for the Almighty. Even Tagore's The Gardner is the richest of love poetry - with a human rather than a divine slant, though with a poet like 'Tagore the border line between the two is apt to be tantalizingly indistinct. These are paradisal in their purity and intensity and even sensuality, yet paradoxically enough, recognizably this worldly. When Tagore strikes his lyre, vivid imagery sparks from the anvil. All the make-believe and love-play that lovers feed on, the agony and hopelessness, all the ecstasy and fulfillment of lover's lives, all is woven here into a garland of memorable song. The lover who is restless because her beloved calls with his flute, though he is far away, is left to cherish the more breath that comes to her whispering an impossible hope'. The another poem of Tagore is Urvashi which is again a striking example of love, beauty and feminine perfection. This great lyric of Tagore has exercised an eternal fascination on the mind and heart of the readers of Tagore. Tagore has depicted Urvashi as a symbol of beauty and eternity. This heavenly dancer who is beautiful goddess and seductress at once is described in these lines -

"Woman you are, to ravish the soul of paradise. Like the dawn you are without veil, Urvashi, and without shame."

      She carries nectar in one hand and poison in the other; she slumbered till day came, and then appeared in her "awfulness of bloom". She is adored by all men - the ageless wonder.

      Thompson says that in Urvashi there is "a meeting of East and West indeed, a glorious tangle of Indian mythology, modern science, and legends of European romance." "Had Tagore written this wonderful lyric alone, Urvashi and no other, he should still be counted among the world's great magicians of song" says Iyengar. Beyond praise is the melody of the splendid, swaying lines, knit into their superb stanzas, or the flashing felicity of diction in such a line as this one:

"In the crests of the corn the skirts of Earth tremble"

Man and Nature

      The love of man for man is not only the one aspect of the poet's poem but there flows the air of love between man and the Nature. Tagore established an affinity between man and Nature. These Nature lyrics also rank with the greatest Nature poetry of the world. He is a great river poet and a great poet of Bengali seasons. The forms, the colours, the sounds, the scents of Nature fascinate him, and he communicates his own joy in the manifold beauties of Nature to his readers. Flowers bloom at every step in his poetry, and rivers flow with their sweet music. He observes accurately and describes minutely and precisely. Vivid and colorful word pictures of Nature's beauty are scattered all up and down his lyrics. His love of Nature is all comprehensive and realistic; like Wordsworth he is not unaware of Nature red in "tooth and claw". He presented both the moods of Nature, somewhere if it is soft, calm and pleasant on another hand it is harsh and ugly.

      He believes in the rejoicing spirit of Nature. For him Nature is a manifestation of God, expression of his love for man and the immortal gift for man. Tagore beautifully depicts that how the warmth and love of God dwells everywhere which comes with the golden light

"Light my light, the world-filling light, the eye-kissing light, heart sweetening light!"
"Yes, I know, this is nothing but thy love, O beloved of my heart - this golden light that dances upon the leaves.. upon my forehead."

      Tagore believes that meditation on Nature or an aspect of Nature leads to realization of God. Nature helps us to realize the essential unity of the world with the conscious soul of man. Nature for Tagore is a vast store house of images, of similes and metaphors. His Nature-imagery is abundant and profuse. Indeed, it is the abundance of this imagery which accounts for the open-air atmosphere of his lyrics, the very atmosphere of a folk song. This is one of the reasons for the perennial charm of Gitanjali. However, his uniqueness as a Nature-poet lies in his sense of absolute identity with the life of Nature. He regards Nature as the primal store-nouse of life, out of which humanity has evolved through the ages.

      Tagore's lyrics are a rare combination of simplicity and sublimity. The words are as simple and as sublime as the heavenly theme. The diction of Gitanjali is as simple as that of a folk-song. The intensity of the poet's feelings is conveyed in a variety of ways. Tagore's lyrics are perfect in music and melody. Gitanjali is written in verse libre and there is an underflow of rhythm in close harmony with the requirement of thought and emotion. The lyrics have the lilt of folk song; they have an incantatory or mantric quality which is unique. They sing, as it were by a natural magic of their own. All these qualities collectively make Tagore one of the greatet lyric poets of the world.

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