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RABINDRANATH TAGORE (1861-1941). In 1913 the Poet of India was the first Asian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, providing high public recognition of his poem prayers.
Be still, my heart, these great trees are prayers.
The day is dim with rain. Angry lightnings glance through the tattered cloud-veils, and the forest is like a caged lion shaking its mane in despair.
On such a day amidst the winds beating their wings, let me find my peace in Your presence.
For the sorrowing sky has shadowed my solitude, to deepen the meaning of Your touch about my heart.
THIS IS MY PRAYER
Give me the supreme courage of love, this is my prayer—the courage to speak, to do, to suffer at Your will, to leave all things or be left alone. Strengthen me on errands of danger; honor me with pain; and help me climb to that difficult mood which sacrifices daily to You.
Give me the supreme confidence of love—this is my prayer—the confidence that belongs to life in death, to victory in defeat, to the power hidden in the frailest beauty, to that dignity in pain which accepts hurt but disdains to return it.
WORKER OF THE UNIVERSE
O Worker of the universe! Let the irresistible current of Your universal energy come like the impetuous south wind of spring; let it come rushing over the vast field of human life. Let our newly awakened powers cry out for unlimited fulfillment in leaf and flower and fruit.
THE STREAM OF LIFE
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.
It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.
It is Your same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow.
I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life. And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.
TEARS OF THE EARTH
We rejoice, O God, that the tears of the earth keep her smiles in bloom.
THE LEAST GRAIN OF CORN
I had gone a-begging from door to door in the village path, when Your golden chariot appeared in the distance like a gorgeous dream, and I wondered who was this King of kings!
My hopes rose high, and I thought my evil days were at an end. I stood waiting for alms to be given unasked and for wealth to be scattered on all sides in the dust.
The chariot stopped where I stood. Your glance fell on me, and You came down with a smile. I felt that the luck of my life had come at last. Then all of a sudden You held out Your right hand saying, “What have you to give me?”
Ah, what a kingly jest was it to open Your palm to a beggar to beg! I was confused and stood undecided, and then from my wallet I slowly took out the least little grain of corn and gave it to You.
How great was my surprise when at the day’s end I emptied my bag on the floor to find a least little grain gold among the poor heap! I bitterly wept and wished that I had the heart to give You my all.
Deliverance is not for me in renunciation. I feel the embrace of freedom in a thousand bonds of delight.
You ever pour for me the fresh draught of Your wine of various colors and fragrance, filling this earthen vessel to the brim.
My world will light its hundred different lamps with Your flame and place them before the altar of Your temple.
No, I will never shut the doors of my senses. The delights of sight and hearing and touch will bear Your delight.
Yes, all my illusions will burn into illumination of joy, and all my desires ripen into fruits of love.
Those who walk on the path of pride, crushing the lowly life under their tread, covering the tender green of the earth with their footprints in blood;
Let them rejoice and thank you, God, for the day is theirs.
But I am thankful that my lot lies with the humble who suffer and bear the burden of power, and hide their faces, and stifle their sobs in the dark.
For every throb of their pain has pulsed in the secret depth of Your night, and every insult has been gathered into Your great silence.
And the morrow is theirs.
O Sun, rise upon the bleeding hearts blossoming in flowers of the morning, and the torchlight revelry of pride shrunken to ashes.