‘On the seashore of endless worlds children meet’
Gitanjali in English translation (1911) is a volume of 103 poems selected by Tagore from his several Bengali books of poetry. It was when he learned from William Rothenstein of western interest in them that he translated them into English. Chiefly for this volume, Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.
W. B. Yeats, in the introduction to Tagore’s Gitanjali, writes that this volume has “stirred my blood as nothing has for years .” He explains, “These lyrics, display in their thought a world I have dreamed of all my life long."
Gitanjali is poetry of life-affirmation: life with its colour and abundance, melancholy and mystery. It is a record of the poet’s intimate response to the splendour of the universe. His poetry in translation was viewed as spiritual, and this together with his mesmerizing persona gave him a prophet-like aura in the west but his “elegant prose and magical poetry” still remains largely unknown outside the confines of Bengal.