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Tagore’s rare poems inspired by art found
Published on 15 Oct. 2009 10:29 PM IST
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A notebook, tucked away among thousands of manuscripts at Visva-Bharati, has yielded a treasure trove - 16 unpublished poems of Rabindranath Tagore. What’s even better, all these poems are among the rare ones inspired by his own paintings. In fact, Tagore has left notes at the end of each poem, which painting it corresponds to. According to a TNN report, these works had been catalogued way back in the 1940s, but were forgotten. Scholars at the Rabindra Bhavan archives literally stumbled upon them. Tagore scholar Nilanjan Bandyopadhyay feels that the Nobel Laureate composed poems inspired by the paintings, hoping that they would be published together after his death. “He was perhaps fed up with the way Visva-Bharati officials were delaying the publication of Chitralipi — the only book of his paintings published during his lifetime (in 1940). But at the fag end of his life, he was too tired to take it up. So, he busied himself with these poems in the belief that one day these would be published,” Bandyopadhyay said. And that’s exactly what’s happening. V-B is bringing out the poems and paintings in a book called Namhara Rekhapath Beye. Tagore himself had christened the exercise book ‘Rabindranath’s poems based on his paintings’. Of the artwork that correspond to these poems, five are sceneries, five female faces and six male faces. All were painted much before the poems were written. “It was not enough for a few scholars of the university to see and read these poems. We wanted the rest of the world to read them too, and see the paintings alongside,” said Kumkum Bhattacharya, director of V-B’s publications division. For instance, a watercolour shows a setting sun, to which Tagore has written: ‘Jaha Khushi Tai Kore Bishwa Shilpi Sokale Bikale Rang Er Kheyale ... (the creator of the world paints on, carelessly throughout the day)’. A unique pen on paper sketch corresponds to the two liner, ‘Nirmom Mahima Tabo Apnar Kathinye Swadhin... (Thou ruthless grandeur sets thou free in its severity)’. Researchers have also found the notebook where Tagore jotted down these poems as random musings. He later neatly copied these in another exercise book. V-B has asked Bandyopadhyay, who is an artist, to research the poems and find out why Tagore did not take up the initiative to get the poem-painting collection published.

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