Nov 152012

Background image for the first two poems of The Story of Gitanjali

I realised this morning that I had missed this year’s European Day of Multilingual Blogging, which was actually yesterday. Now in its third year, it’s the brainchild of my friend Antonia Mochan at the European Commission’s UK office. As it’s still Internet week Europe, I hope she will accept this slightly late entry! [Update: She did, awarding this post the prize for the entry with the most languages involved – thanks, Antonia!]

In my previous post, I wrote about the world premiere of the third and final film of our Tagore dance film trilogy: Chitrangada. The first half of the evening was a performance of The Story of Gitanjali . This included poems from Tagore’s English Gitanjali recited in 13 European languages and the corresponding Tagore songs performed by Manini Mukhopadhyay, Sayan Bandyopadhyay and Kaberi Chatterjee, with Asit Ghosh on tabla and Tirthankar Roy on esraj. I narrated and directed the show.

So, for my contribution to the European Day of Multilingual Blogging, here are the poems from that performance.

1 Dutch: Jee Reusens – This is my delight, thus to wait and watch at the wayside – Translation by Victor van Bijlert

2 French: Arlette Schreiber – Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high – Translation by André Gide

3 Polish: Maria Glowacz – Clouds heap upon clouds and it darkens. – Translation by Jan Kasprowicz

4 Romanian: Raluca Zaharia – The day is no more – Translation by George Remete

5 Italian: Adriana Opromolla – You came down from your throne and stood at my cottage door. – Translated by Adriana Opromolla

6 German: Konstanze Hanreich – Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. – Translation by Marie Luise Gothein

7 Hungarian: Ágnes Kaszás – Thou hast made me known to friends whom I knew not. – Translation by Babits Mihály

8 Spanish: Luisa Castellanos – Light, my light, the world-filling light – Translation by Zenobia Camprubí Aymar & Juan Ramón Jiménez

9 Russian: Alexandra Shlyopkina – I am here to sing thee songs. – Translation by J Baltrushaitis

10 Greek: Olga Profili – When my play was with thee I never questioned who thou wert. – Translation by Olga Profili

11 Swedish: Sofie Gardestedt – Thus it is that thy joy in me is so full. – Translation by Andrea Butenschön

12 Czech: Josef Schwarz – I know not how thou singest, my master! – Translation by Dušan Zbavitel

13 English: Prajña Paramita – When I go from hence – Version by Rabindranath Tagore

  6 Responses to “Tagore’s Gitanjali in 13 European languages”

  1. This is a story that I had heard from my mother, who was Tagore’s grandniece. She travelled to UK by ship with Tagore on her way to Bristol where she got admitted to Duncan House, a residential school. While in London some lady invited Tagore to dinner and “regaled him” by singing in soprano her own translation of ‘Alo amar, alo amr, aloe bhuban bhara”. After returning to the hotel where they were staying, Tagore expressed his reaction to the way the song was sung: “Shespoiled my evening by howling like a jackal.” I do hope that nothing of that sort happened during the European Day of Multilingual blogging described above. By the way, these are not poems, but lyrics.

    • I remember the anecdote but perhaps you have misunderstood: the multilingual nature of this blog post allowed me to contribute it to the European Day of Multilingual Blogging while the poems in different languages were part of a 1-hour show The Story of Gitanjali. As you’ll see from my description of the evening in my previous blog post, the songs were performed in the original Bengali by a team of singers and musicians who flew in from Kolkata/Santiniketan especially for the show. Manini Mukhopadhyay and Sayan Bandyopadhyay are both well-known solo Tagore singers in Kolkata.

      With all due respect, these are poems, not lyrics. Tagore always wrote the poems first and then, in many cases but not all, set them to music. There is no Tagore song which corresponds to Chitto jetha bhoyoshunno (Where the mind is without fear), for example. The English Gitanjali comprised Tagore’s prose versions of poems from not only the Bengali Gitanjali but also other collections. In other languages, the poems were translated by some of the leading writers and poets of the period, some of whom went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature themselves.

  2. It is a beautiful poem! I watch one video after another, but then something happened and I could hear voices of two videos at the same time. Then I decided to turn on all these videos at once (I did it from your page). I just loved the effect of hearing a poem in different languages/voices at the same time. Thank you!

    • Thank you for your comment. I haven’t tried playing all of them at once but indeed it was a memorable evening for all of us. I still have to complete the film version of The story of Gitanjali, including the narrative and songs in between the poems. For personal reasons, we weren’t able to do so last year.

  3. do you know where can find the french version of Gitanjiali? I’m looking for the one name’s”The stream of life” version

  4. Obhi, tumi toe mugdho kore dile amay. Ami ek oti sadharon manush, pandit noi kintu hridoye Rabibdranath. Atulprasad-o, Nazrul-o, Dwijendrolal-o, aro aunekei. Ei blogger sandhan etodin paini, se amar durrbhagyo. Tumi benche thako.

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