(80) I am like a remnant of a cloud of autumn (from Gitanjali)

by Rabindranath Tagore

English version by Rabindranath Tagore
Original Language Bengali

I am like a remnant of a cloud of autumn uselessly roaming in the sky, O my sun ever-glorious! Thy touch has not yet melted my vapour, making me one with thy light, and thus I count months and years separated from thee.
     If this be thy wish and if this be thy play, then take this fleeting emptiness of mine, paint it with colours, gild it with gold, float it on the wanton wind and spread it in varied wonders.
     And again when it shall be thy wish to end this play at night, I shall melt and vanish away in the dark, or it may be in a smile of the white morning, in a coolness of purity transparent.

-- from Gitanjali, by Rabindranath Tagore

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

You know, what I especially like about this selection is its sweet tension. It speaks with a terrible spiritual yearning--

Thy touch has not yet melted my vapour, making me one with thy light, and thus I count months and years separated from thee.

Yet there is also a profound patience--

And again when it shall be thy wish to end this play ...

That balance is essential, yet so difficult to cultivate. With passion, we want immediate satisfaction. The fire tends to flame up and all too quickly burn out. We cultivate patience only when all brash attempts to storm heaven have failed. But that is not so much true patience as benumbed acquiescence. And, in the process, the passion has been lost.

But the spiritual seeker needs passion! The seeker needs the intensity, the energetic boldness of that passion. The art of spiritual success is learning how to tend the coals of that fire, to find a steady fuel, to feed it, to grow comfortable in its heat, to delight in it, to dance in its glow.

This hot hunger isn't satisfied with fast food. It is a lifelong love affair.

The speaker recognizes that apparent separation from God is part of the divine play -- that there is a rightness to that. And even a beauty.

If this be thy wish and if this be thy play, then take this fleeting emptiness of mine, paint it with colours...

These lines give the seeker permission to feel in harmony with the divine will even though perfect communion has not yet been attained.

And a final secret: This recognition eases the psychic muscles, allowing that communion to come upon us even more swiftly and naturally.

Look up at the blue autumn sky. Is that wisp of a cloud fading into the white morning?



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80) I am like a