Transcreating a Rich Creative Legacy
Reba Som
SELECTED RABINDRASANGEET IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION, Volume 1 by Translated from the original Bengali by Indrani Haldar Blue Pencil Publications, Kolkata, 2023, 275 pp., price not stated
July 2024, volume 48, No 7

Rabindranath Tagore regarded his songs as his best artistic creation. With great confidence he had proclaimed a few months before his death in 1941 that in future, Bengalis would have no option but to sing his songs. And for those outside Bengal, to whom his songs were lost for not knowing his language, Tagore’s hope remained that someday they would understand. That moment arrived in 2001 when Visva Bharati’s copyright of Tagore’s literary works ended, and translation of his works began in earnest.

However, translation of Tagore’s song-lyrics posed several problems. For one, it is difficult to engage with the lyrics devoid of the music he composed for them. Tagore had written that bereft of their music and suggestiveness of language, they appear as ‘merely didactic’. He claimed that his music and verse worked in tandem and in complete balance like ‘ardhanariswara’.

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