Thursday, November 4, 2010

On the Seashore

This is one of my favorite poems, by the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore. For some reason, I have been thinking of it quite a bit the last few days. It is beautiful, innocent, yet hauntingly powerful, with a subtle sense of danger and foreboding:

On the seashore of endless worlds children meet.
The infinite sky is motionless overhead and the restless water is boisterous. On the seashore of endless worlds the children meet with shouts and dances.
They build their houses with sand, and they play with empty shells. With withered leaves they weave their boats and smilingly float them on the vast deep. Children have their play on the seashore of worlds.
They know not how to swim, they know not how to cast nets. Pearl-fishers dive for pearls, merchants sail in their ships, while children gather pebbles and scatter them again. They seek not for hidden treasures, they know not how to cast nets.
The sea surges up with laughter, and pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach. Death-dealing waves sing meaningless ballads to the children, even like a mother while rocking her baby's cradle. The sea plays with children, and pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach.
On the seashore of endless worlds children meet. Tempest roams in the pathless sky, ships are wrecked in the trackless water, death is abroad and children play. On the seashore of endless worlds is the great meeting of children.


  1. Precious words, and powerful ones too. I've not read his works before, so thank you for sharing this.

  2. I'm glad you like the poem. When I first came across Tagore's poetry at 22, it changed my view of poetry forever. Before that, I had always thought that poetry was just so much fancy words, so much fluff. But when I started reading his poetry, I realized that poetry enables one to tap into and express certain feelings and insights that prose cannot.

    Incidentally, my honors thesis advisor at the philosophy department at NUS (where I did my undergraduate work) was Saranindranath Tagore, who is a great-nephew of the poet himself. So I can humbly claim that I have a personal connection to the Tagore family :-)

  3. Nobel - it is a very beautiful and haunting poem. Thank you for hooking me up with your blog. I read some of the yoga postings as well. Love to have the connection with you!

  4. The pleasure's mine, Cathrine. Thank you for reading!