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Rabindranath Tagore: Prayers

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Age after age, O God, You have sent Your messengers into this pitiless world, who have left their word:

“Forgive all. Love all. Cleanse your hearts from the blood-red stains of hatred.”

Adorable are they, ever to be remembered; yet from the outer door, I have turned away today—this evil day—with unmeaning salutation.

Have I not seen secret malignance strike down the helpless under the cover of hypocritical might?

Have I not heard the silenced voice of justice weeping in solitude at night’s defiant outrages?

Have I not seen in what agony reckless youth, running mad, has vainly shattered its life against insensitive rocks?

Choked is my voice, mute are my songs today, and darkly my world lies imprisoned in a dismal dream; and I ask You, O God, in tears:

“Have You Yourself forgiven; have even You loved those who are poisoning Your air and blotting out Your light?



Be still, my heart, these great trees are prayers.



Give me the supreme courage of love, this is my prayer—the courage to speak, to do, to suffer at Your will, to l 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.



I know that this life, missing its ripeness in love, is not altogether lost.

I know that the flowers that fade in the dawn, and the streams that strayed in the desert, are not altogether lost.

I know that whatever lags behind, in this life laden with slowness, is not altogether lost.

I know that my dreams that are still unfulfilled, and my melodies still unstruck, are clinging to Your lute-strings, and they are not altogether lost.



The lantern which I carry in my hand makes enemy of the darkness of the farther road,

And this wayside becomes a terror to me, where even the flowering tree frowns like a spectre of scowling menace; and the sound of my own steps comes back to me in the echo of muffled suspicion.

Therefore, I pray for Your own morning light, when the far and the near will kiss each other, and life will be one in love.



Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them.

Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but for the heart to conquer it.

Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved but hope for the patience to win my freedom.

Grant me that I may not be a coward, feeling Your mercy in my success alone; but let me find the grasp of

Your hand in my failure.



Send me the love which is cool and pure like Your rain that blesses the thirsty earth and fills the homely earthen jars.

Send me the love that would soak down into the center of being, and from there would spread like the unseen sap through the branching tree of life, giving birth to fruits and flowers.

Send me the love that keeps the heart still with the fullness of peace.



Stand before my eyes, and let Your glance touch my songs into a flame.

Stand among Your stars, and let me find kindled in their lights my own fire of worship.

The earth is waiting at the world’s wayside.

Stand upon the green mantle she has flung upon Your path, and let me in her grass and meadow flowers spread my own salutation.

Stand in my lonely evening where my heart watches alone; fill her cup of solitude, and let me feel in myself the infinity of Your love.



This is my prayer to You, O God—strike, strike at the root of poverty in my heart.

Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.

Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.

Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.

Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.

And give me the strength to surrender my strength to Your will with love.



We rejoice, O God, that the tears of the earth keep her smiles in bloom.



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 toward 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 You into ever-widening thought and action—

Into that haven of freedom, O God, let my country awake.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the 1913 Nobel Prize Laureate from Bengal, India, gained international fame through his poetry and tours in the early 1900s. Tagore supported Indian independence.