This was a comment in response to an article about Rabindranath Tagore in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jul/08/rabindranath-tagore-rereading
On a flight from New York to Boston I was rereading Tagore today (Click here for more on Tagore). I do it whenever I need inspiration to sing. And I do it often in English, although I have sung his poems in Bengali as well. And I am not a native Bengali speaker.
Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry has the mastery that cannot be understood by pitiful literary analysis. And while I agree with Amit that some people do not understood the greatness of his poetry, I beg to differ with the reason that its because of not understanding Bengali. It is not important to know Bengali to understand Tagore. The beauty of Geetanjali — both the Bengali version and the English version — cannot be understood unless you have been mesmerized by hues of love between the words. You cannot understand what Geetanjali is unless you know how to sing or hear a song. Rabindranath Tagore honed the art of singing for decades as he wrote. I have now been singing for 30 years; now I hear him sing when I read his lines. There is no better bandaid for a bleeding soul than Geetanjali. I feel bad for those who have not been enraptured by Tagore’s sweet voice.
I often give my translation of one of my favorite Tagore poems to people and in my experience it is universally liked.