Saturday, 13 August, 2022

Death Anniversary

Poet Rabindranath’s Wanderlust

  • Md. Ziaul Haque Howlader
  • 6 August, 2022 12:00 AM
  • Print news

Travelling appears as a significant element in the mental faculty of novel-laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore that has been substantially portrayed in some of his masterworks – poems, songs and short stories. Travelling always offers the poet an emanation of inspiration and a new perspective to his oeuvre. Rabindranath applied his travelling experiences and pertinent themes as metaphors or allusions in his written and visual works.

The great poet Rabindranath Tagore has enriched us with his unique and immeasurable contribution to all branches of Bengali literature. Rabindranath Tagore – the Nobel laureate – will be alive amongst us for hundreds of years through his poems, novels, short stories, dramas and above all powerful songs and melodies. Another aspect of Tagore’s idiosyncrasies is he had much thirst for travel across the globe. While dwelling in Shantiniketan in 1914, he wrote the song “Get out of yourself and stand outside / In the midst of the chest, the world’s response.” He wanted to see the world and mankind outside the four walls, outside his own world. The Poet wanted to merge with everyone. He asked to run with two wings. He believed that freedom exists within everyone. His sojourn and long journey in many places offered him an ecstasy of a new milieu. He collected the elements from his travelling and characterized them in his works. 

The Poet expressed with wonder - “In the middle of the universe / I am human alone in delusional wonder / Delusional wonder...” There was a cosmic movement inside his mind; he desired to know the world by grasping the movement in reality. So he travelled around as many as thirty-four countries of the world. It is reflected in his writings. One of his masterworks is the novel ‘Shesher Kobita’, which he wrote at the age of sixty-eight. In the novel, the place Shillong plays an important role from starting to climax and ending. During his lifetime the poet travelled and stayed in Shillong for three months. He found the best place for portraying his character Amit and Labonyo amidst the scenic beauty of Shillong.

His travel literature is a great gift to us. His notable travel writings are - Letters of an European Expatriate; Diary of an European Traveller; Japan Traveller; Letters from Russia, Persia; and Collected Travels, etc. Among the countries visited by the Poet from 1912 to 1933 are - England five times, the USA four times, France four times, and Italy twice. He also visited Japan four times, and Austria two times. He also visited China and Greece. The Poet was overwhelmed with the beauty of Switzerland. He visited this country three times. Later he visited Czechoslovakia two times, Germany four times and Denmark three times. Other countries he visited are Argentina, South America, Norway, Bulgaria, Belgium, Malaya-Java-Bali, Egypt, Netherlands and Hungary. Other countries to be mentioned are Iran, Iraq, Myanmar (Brahamadesh) etc.

The travel experience of every country was beautifully conveyed by the great poet through his letters to his close relatives. His travel experiences have been published in various times as travel literature. The poet spent time at the tombs of poets Hafiz and Sheikh Sadi in the city of Siraj of Iran. He enjoyed Dumba meat at Bedouin tents.

The poet was out and out a travel-loving man. He has got the identical idea about literature, science, culture and politics of all countries. He met Scientist Einstein; also met Mussolini in Italy (although later ideologically he kept himself distanced). On his way to Mexico and Peru, Rabindranath Tagore became ill and received the warm hospitality of the Argentine poet Victoria Ocampo and fell in love with the poetess. He dedicated his earlier poetry to Ocampo. There he used to wander in the garden of Ocampo’s residence - ‘Villa Ocampo’.

During his sojourn, we know many of his masterworks the poet composed there. The famous romantic song “I know you verily/You dwell on the Bank of Sindhu/ Oh, the lady foreigner/I saw you in the autumn morning, I saw you in spring night/I saw you in the shrine of heart/ Oh, the lady foreigner.”

Even after travelling so much, the poet’s heart is not satisfied. He travelled a lot in the homeland, but mostly by boat. He came to Patisar in Naogaon and Khulna of the then East Bengal by boat. Sitting here, he wrote the poetry book ‘Sonartari’. He wanted to visit his homeland more and more. So he wrote - “Many things are not beheld with opening eyes / Only two feet away from the house / A drop of dew on a paddy.”

For those of us who are in the travelling profession, the Poet will always be our role model, an idol. Our glowing homage is to the great poet. We may go around like the poet and know the whole world.


The writer works as Manager of BPC