from “Gitanjali” by Rabindranath Tagore (Favorite Poem Project)

from “Gitanjali” by Rabindranath Tagore (Favorite Poem Project)


My name is Jayashree Chatterjee. I live in Summit, New Jersey and I’m a librarian at the Library of
the Chathams in Chatham, New Jersey. I first came to
this country in December 1990 because I was on a quest for my own
identity. Since early childhood I’ve lived in
different cultures and different parts of the world from the UK to the different countries
in the Middle East to different places in India. “From Gitanjali” by Rabindranath Tagore. (speaking Bengali) I first read this poem in school as a child but it was only later that I really understood its meaning when I was going through a very
difficult time of my life as an adult. This poem gave me strength and
consolation. About twenty years ago, I used to look upon myself as an in between person.
An in between person was a person who’d been brought up in different cultures and who didn’t belong
wholly to any one culture. At the time we lived
in Saudi Arabia and my girls were in the sixth and
eighth-grade. I decided to take them to India for a couple of years. I had to find an American school in India and there was
no American school in the state that my husband and I came
from so we had to go to the Kodaikanal a little hill station in the South of India
miles away from any place I’d ever lived in before. We
were completely on our own because my husband couldn’t come and stay
with us over there. This meant the family was broken up. It also meant we saw my husband only
twice a year when you went home during school
vacations. The first year and a half we moved practically every two to three
months. So there I was moving from place to
place wondering whether I’d be able to find
another house, wondering whether I was being supportive enough of my husband who had always been very supportive of me and finally agonizing over whether my girls were
going to grow up to be the complete human beings that I wanted them to be. There were four poets whose poems gave me a lot of
consolation during this time. Rabindranath Tagore and and his “Gitanjali”, Kipling’s “If”, the poet of “The Desiderata” and “”, a Muslim poet who’s “” poem “” also offered me consolation but it was this Gitanjali poem that I
chanted almost like a prayer over and over to
myself. “From Gitanjali” by Rabindranath Tagore. Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth; Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection: Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit; Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action— Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. I used to keep repeating these words in Bengali so naturally the sentiments
that the Bengali evokes are much more powerful than those
that the English evoke. “From Gitanjali” by Rabindranath Tagore. (speaking Bengali) The “Favorite Poem Project” is made possible by The National Endowment for the Arts. Fostering America’s creativity and investing in our living cultural
heritage. Additional funding has been provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and by the
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

8 thoughts on “from “Gitanjali” by Rabindranath Tagore (Favorite Poem Project)

  1. wonderful mam. your face shows the tranquility you have discovered after your long quest. could you plz give details of the Urdu poet you have mentioned?

  2. hi . can anyone please share the poem by noor parker mam made mention of, itna tej chalo ki jal jao…i reaaly wish to read this poem but couldn't find it on google. searched alot..

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