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The following are selections from Herbert F. Vetter’s collection of poems by Tagore, The Heart of God.
Prayers and Meditations from Gitanjali
By Rabindranath Tagore
You have made me endless, such is Your pleasure. This frail vessel You empty again and again and fill it ever with fresh life.
This little flute of a reed You have carried over hills and dales and breathed through it melodies eternally new.
At the immortal touch of Your hands, my little heart loses its limits in joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.
Your infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine. Ages pass, and still You pour, and still there is room to fill.
When You command me to sing, it seems that my heart would break with pride, and I look to your face, and tears come to my eyes.
All that is harsh and dissonant in my life melts into one sweet harmony—and my adoration spreads wings like a glad bird on its flight across the sea.
I know You take pleasure in my singing. I know that only as a singer I come before your presence.
I touch, by the edge of the far-spreading wing of my song, Your feet, which I could never aspire to reach.
Drunk with the joy of singing, I forget myself and call you Friend, who are my Lord.
Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads! Whom do you worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut? Open your eyes and see your God is not before you.
God is where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the pathbreaker is breaking stones. God is with them in sun and in shower, and His garment is covered with dust. Put off your holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil!
Deliverance! Where is this deliverance to be found? Our Master has taken upon him the bonds of creation; He is bound with us all forever.
Come out of your meditations, and leave aside your flowers and incense! What harm is there if your clothes become tattered and stained? Meet and stand by God in toil and in sweat of your brow.
You have made me known to friends whom I knew not. You have given me seats in homes not my own. You have brought the distant near and made a brother of the stranger.
I am uneasy at heart when I have to leave my accustomed shelter; I forget that there abides the old in the new, and that there also You abide.
Through birth and death, in this world or in others, wherever You lead me it is the same, the one Companion of my endless life who ever links my heart with endless bonds of joy to the unfamiliar.
When one knows You, then alien there is none, then no door is shut. O grant me my prayer that I may never lose the bliss of the touch of the one in the play of the many.
You are the sky, and You are the nest as well.
O Beautiful One, there in the nest is Your love that encloses the soul with colors and sounds and odors.
There comes the morning with the golden basket in her right hand bearing the wreath of beauty, silently to crown the earth.
And there comes the evening over the lonely meadows deserted by herds, through trackless paths, carrying cool draughts of peace in her golden pitcher from the western ocean of rest.
But there, where spreads the infinite sky for the soul to take her flight in, reigns the stainless white radiance. There is no day nor night, nor form nor color, and never, never a word.
Time is endless in Your hands, my Lord. There is none to count Your minutes.
Days and nights pass and ages bloom and fade like flowers. You know how to wait.
Your centuries follow each other perfecting a small wild flower.
We have no time to lose, and having no time we must scramble for our chances.
We are too poor to be late.
And thus it is that time goes by while I give it to every querulous person who claims it, and Your altar is empty of all offerings to the last.
At the end of the day, I hasten in fear lest Your gate be shut; but I find that yet there is time.
In one salutation to You, my God, let all my senses spread out and touch the world at Your feet.
Like a rain-cloud of July hung low with its burden of unshed showers, let my mind bend down at Your door in one salutation to You.
Let all my songs gather together their diverse strains into a single current and flow to a sea of silence in one salutation to You
Like a flock of homesick cranes flying night and day back to the mountain nests, let all my life take its voyage to its eternal home in one salutation to You.