Tagore, the Nobel laureate poet, writer, philosopher was
the ambassador of Indian culture to the rest of the world.
He is probably the most prominent figure in the cultural
world of Indian subcontinent and the first Asian person
to be awarded with the Nobel prize. He received the Nobel
Prize for his famous 'Gitanjali' translated as the 'Song
offerings', a collection of religious poems. The features
of this poetry that won immediate and enthusiastic admiration
are the perfection with which the poet's own ideas and those
he has borrowed have been harmonized into a complete whole;
his rhythmically balanced style, that, to quote an English
critic's opinion, «combines at once the feminine grace
of poetry with the virile power of prose»; his austere,
by some termed classic, taste in the choice of words and
his use of the other elements of expression in a borrowed
tongue - those features, in short, that stamp an original
work as such, but which at the same time render more difficult
its reproduction in another language.
In 1912, Tagore journeyed to Europe for the second time.
On the journey to London he translated some of his poems/songs
from Gitanjali to English. He met William Rothenstein, a
noted British painter, in London. He was first introduced
to Rothenstein in Calcutta in a gathering at Abanindranath
Tagore's house. Rothenstien was impressed by the poems,
made copies and gave to Yeats and other English poets. Rothenstien
arranged a reading in his house where Yeats read Tagore's
poems in front of a distinguished audience comprising of
Ezra Pound, May Sinclair, Ernest Rhys etc. Tagore sailed
for America ( for the first time) from England. Reached
New York, came to Urbana, Illinois, gave a lecture and then
went to Chicago. In the mean time, Indian Society of London
published Gitanjali (song offerings) containing 103 translated
poems of Tagore. Yeats wrote the introduction for this book
and Rothenstein did a pencil sketch for the cover page.
The book created a sensation in English literary world.
Tagore was traveling America then. Delivered lectures in
Rochester, Boston, Harvard University.
Pound's Poetry Magazine published from Chicago had the honor
of publishing first English poem of Tagore. His six Gitanjali
poems appeared in Poetry in December, 1912 issue. The poet
returned back to Calcutta. In 13th November of 1913, Indians
came to know that the Nobel prize for literature has been
awarded to Tagore for Gitanjali.
This honour bestowed on Tagore not only gave him an international
recognition but also engraved the pride of his country and
moreover that of his native place Santiniketan. His nobel
prize became the pride of India and the prestige of Santiniketan.
The Nobel Prize was displayed at the Uttarayan Complex at
Santiniketan until it was stolen in an audacious burglary
in the beginning of the year 2006. However a dummy medallion
has been placed for display.