Tagore’s Fireflies

Fireflies by Rabindranath Tagore was published in 1928. This slim treasure of a volume brings nature and spirit to life metaphorically. I’ve loved it for many years; it keeps calling me back.

Photo by JTI touch God
in my song
as the hill touches
the far-away sea
with its waterfall.

The world is
the ever-changing foam
that floats on the surface
of a sea of silence.

The tapestry
of life’s story
is woven with
the threads of life’s ties
ever joining and breaking.

In the drowsy dark caves of the mind
dreams build their nest with fragments
dropped from day’s caravan.

The butterfly counts not months
but moments,
and has time enough.

“Let me light my lamp,”
says the star,
‘and never debate
if it will help to remove the darkness.”

Wishing to hearten a timid lamp,
great night lights all her stars.

The child ever dwells in the mystery of ageless time,
unobscured by the dust of history.

Faith is the bird that feels the light
and sings when the dawn is still dark.

Birth is from the mystery of night
into the greater mystery of day.

Your voice, free bird, reaches my sleeping nest,
and my drowsy wings dream
of a voyage to the light
above the clouds.

The flame met the earthen lamp in me,
and what a great marvel of light!

I leave no trace of wings in the air,
but I am glad I have had my flight.

Before the end of my journey
may I reach within myself
the one which is the all,
leaving the outer shell
to float away with the drifting multitude
upon the current of chance and change.

When death comes and whispers to me,
“Thy days are ended,”
let me say to him, “I have lived in love
and not in mere time.
…He will ask, “Will thy songs remain?”
I shall say, “I know not, but this I know
that often when I sang I found my eternity.”


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