Prestige of Santiniketan


Prestige of Santiniketan

Rabindranath 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.

Ezra 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.

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