A Moments Indulgence by Rabindranath Tagore Essay
A Moments Indulgence by Rabindranath Tagore
A Moments Indulgence by Rabindranath Tagore was written in 1910 as part of the Gitanjali collection, 157 poems in the original language of Bengali, and 103 in English translated by Tagore himself.
1 A Moments Indulgence
1.1 About the Author
1.3 The Poem
1.3.2 See Also
About the Author
Rabindranath Tagore was born on 7th May 1861 in a wealthy family in Calcutta. He was the youngest of the thirteen children born to Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi. His father was a great Hindu philosopher and one of the founders of the religious movement, Brahmo Samaj.His grandfather Dwarakanath Tagore was a rich landlord and social reformer.
In 1886, he moved to Brighton, East Sussex, England, to read law. During his stay in England, he attended University College London for some time, following which he started to independent study the works of Shakespeare. He returned to Bengal in 1880 without a degree, but with the aspiration of fusing elements of European traditions in his literary works.
Tagore is the most eminent Bengali renaissance poet, philosopher, essayist, critic, composer and educator, who dreamt of a harmony of universal humanity among the people of different origin through freedom of mind and spiritual sovereignty. Tagore started writing poetry when he was a child, and in the course of his life was often hailed as the Shakespeare of the East due to generating thoughts on: society, religion, aesthetics, education, rural welfare, nationalism and internationalism in his literary works, essays and poetry.  One of his most well-known and famous collections of poetry is Gitanjali [Song Offering] which generates thoughts on religion.
Tagore died on 7th August 1941 in Jorasanko, the mansion he was raised in. The years before his death were riddled with periods of illness and pain, which eventually rendered him in a comatose state.
Gitanjali (Bengali: গীতাঞ্জলি) is a collection of poems by the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. First published in 1910, Tagore’s collection containing mystical and devotional song poems, was translated to English by Tagore in 1912 before he embarked on a visit to England. The poems were extremely well received, and would be the first of many volumes that earned him much acclaim in the East and West.
The English Gitanjali, or Song Offerings, is a collection of 103 English poems of Tagore’s own translations from his Bengali poems. This was first published in November 1912 by the India Society of London. At the time of publication, the collection was profoundly praised by the best of Tagore’s literary contemporaries in England; including W. B. Yeats and A. C. Bradley.
With the enthusiastic assistance from major western poets such as Yeats and Ezra Pound, the volume made an appearance in England. The collection was tremendous success and caused a literary sensation, its impact was so great that in the following year, 1913, Tagore became the first Asian poet to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his translated version of his cycle of song-poems, Gitanjali..
The translations of Tagore’s work were once a craze, but as Sisirkumar Ghose discusses, Tagore in translation is riddled with problems. His own translations… (have) been criticised and have been faulted. Robert Frost stated that poetry is that which survives translation. When looking at Tagore’s poetry, it is questionable how much of his original work survives throughout the process of translation. It is evident that the nuances of rhythm, imagery, verse form, and most importantly language, are inevitably lost. The main criticisms of the Gitanjali’s translations were for: often not translating the original poem in full, leaving chunks out, and in one instance fusing two separate poems.
A Moments Indulgence
I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by thy side. The works that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.
Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest nor respite,
and my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of toil.
Today the summer has come at my window with its sighs and murmurs; and the bees are plying their minstrelsy at the court of the flowering grove.
Now it is time to sit quite, face to face with thee, and to sing
dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure.
Gitanjali 71. An example of poem 71 from Gitanjali written in Bengali, its original language, with the translation of English beside it. Synopsis
The central focus of A Moments Indulgence is about dedicating ones time to God, which clearly brings the devotee joy. The speaker is aware that his soul has been engrossed in worldliness, thus putting aside worldly pleasures that man is often disillusioned by, the speaker begins devoting his time to God.
The poem begins with the speaker seeking a moment’s indulgence from his creator. This is evident as he says, he ‘will finish afterwards’ he task he was doing, in order to connect with his creator. Analogy is used in both verse one and verse two, when he suggests that having to give up your work is a small price to pay to reach the almighty.
The second stanza shows the extent of the speaker’s devotion to his creator. This can be seen through the way he says that when he is away from God, mentally or physically, his heart remains restless, and the tasks at hand seem like they will never end. The metaphor of the shoreless sea reinforces that when away from God, one cannot be content. It portrays a clear distinction between the pleasure one receives from worldliness, and the true spiritual joy one gains from devoting time to God.
In the third stanza the speaker is talking about the present day, and describes the beauty of the world which is a gift from God. He uses nature imagery to describe the beauty of the day which is being enjoyed by both animals, the ‘bees’, plants, and ‘the flowering grove’. The speaker also uses sound descriptions of: ‘sighs and murmurs’ to describe the present day, this has connotations of peace and being at peace in the environment one is in, adding to the spiritual vibe of the poem. This implies that nature is close to God as it is content, reinforcing the second stanza’s idea that when away from God a person can not be content.
The fourth stanza shows that the speaker believes that the present time is the best time to dedicate himself to God; he does this by singing to God and sitting quietly. Surrounding himself with nature, and the speaker believes the silence and free time is the perfect time to devote time to his creator because he is not distracted by worldly tasks and is surrounded by a gift, the beauty of nature, which is from God.