Translated from Bangla by Mohammad Shafiqul Islam

Immortal Rabindranath

Rabindranath keeps awake by you every day

Youths, adolescents and children, don’t feel sad for him

Only his body departed, but his love and affection persist

Whenever you read him, you see the light of hope

With the music of his poetry.

Fear flees with his fearless words

If powerless, you consider yourself feeble

But you’re reborn with strength and courage reading his work

Whenever the world is dull for poverty, diseases and sorrows

Read Rabis’s ‘Geetali’ and ‘Geetanjali’ – you’ll attain strength

Hearing of Rabi’s fame, don’t show only respects

Read his work over and over, you’ll be famous and erudite

In his works, Rabindranath says – youths, listen – 

One who doesn’t dream to be great remains little

Think every day, now and then – I won’t be little

My Creator pervades everywhere in the universe 

With His blessings there won’t be want, I’ll achieve perfection

And earn ample knowledge and strength, and go to Him contemplating

One who dreams big this way realises, in imagination,

The blessings of God come and stay with him forever

Fortunate, he becomes great and heroic in this world

Even at death, he’s immortal and revered by all nations

Have thirst to be great, you’ll certainly become one

Even if not Rabindranath, you’ll be many other lights

You’ll be Napoleon, Hitler, or Gandhi, the Indian leader

You don’t know you might be the conqueror of the world

‘Not slaves, we’ll be free and the sons of the immortals’

Pray, I say, God will listen to you

This is the poet laureate’s magic – if you follow,

You’ll always be showered with his grace.


I’m a poet because of your love.

For your love is this image of mine.

              The sky, air, and dawn-light,

              the evening star to bid adieu

              and the sun in the eastern sky—

                                           all offer me warmth.

For your love I’m loved by all.

In your love my self was cloaked,

for your arrival my yearning gusts forth.

              Coming closer to me,

              you play the flute with a scimitar,

              all the arrangement of my worship

                                           is your earnest longing.

My words are the bouquet of victory, Queen—everything is yours.

I’m a poet because of your love.

For your love is this image of mine.


The traveller of a new path

                             Launch an expedition

Today proclaim loudly

                             ‘Man is majestic’

Cowards still roam everywhere

              Who wants to play a new game, then?

              Floating the raft in high tides

                             Will you sail upstream?

Breaking off the pit, go forward, dear,

                             Make way to bliss

There’s no time for war preparations

                             Come out, you all

Today in a completely bare physique

We’ll fight threats

You all, wait for the day

Of war preparations

Night will end, dawn will come

And birds will sing

Come out, you all, who want

To hum a tune at dawn

In love of darkness, the self-destroying

                             Travellers are

Assaulting one another

                             And making chaos

              The heroic soldiers of expedition

              Kindle the flambeau, march forward

              Play the drum for parade

                             And sing the song of dawn

Getting to the door of dawn, sing

                             ‘Victory for a new rebellion’


No more confined in a small space, I’ll see the world

I’ll see how people roam through the wheel of time

How they’re moving

From one country to another

What interest millions of people are dying for

Why they’re enduring afflictions of death

How heroic divers bring pearls from the depth of seas

How the adventuresome are flying to the space

Grasping the cumulous waves

Warships are moving fast

I’ll see how the ships are bringing jewels

How the seas become crazy in tides

I’ll see how riches are elevated from the depth of seas

Why people are mounting on the peak of the Himalayas

For what allurements

Explorers travel across snowy lands

I’ll see who wants to fly to the unknown land of the moon by sky-rocket

And hear what signal is coming from the Mars

For what agony, cutting the tuft of hair, this opium-taking Chinese

Took part in a killing spree at dawn

I’ll see how Ireland is

Going to be free

How Turkey broke the fetter overnight

How the sun set in the mid-sky of Greece

No more encaged, I’ll wander about the universe

To see the sky, the moon, stars, wind, seas and mountain peaks

Tearing off all ties

I’ll roam everywhere

I’ll go deep down the sea and mount up to the sky

And hold the world in my hand

Mohammad Shafiqul Islam : poet, translator and academic, teaches English as Associate Professor in the Department of English at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet 3114, Bangladesh

Illustration : Najib Tareque

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