O, my Emperor

The original Bengali version, written by Tagore.

In English

O, my Emperor!
How divinely dressed have you come
in the realm of my heart, to beat.
Millions of Moons and Suns shamefully
bow to you, in willing defeat.
All pride shatter into pieces,
they collapse merrily on the ground,
my whole body and mind dances,
plays like a Veena*, without a sound.
What a beautifully sad tune
is humming in the wind!
All flowers in the garden willingly
fall at your shining feet.
My eyes are still,
behold nothing of the world outside –
they descry your majestic beauty,
your loving presence, lying deep inside.

Note: Veena is an Indian instrument.


I tried to post the translation on 8 May as it was Tagore’s birth anniversary but I couldn’t because the BBC kept me engaged with the 75th anniversary of the VE. So I am posting this today.

All Tagore’s translations have one thing in common, they always fail. And I am no Yeats. With my poor English, I could only do this much. Even if you have understood a little, I would remain obliged. 

Since this is a song, popularly known as Rabindrasangeet, you may listen to the beautiful rendition by a renowned singer Sahana Bajpaie by clicking here.

About the singer:

Bajpaie was born at Santiniketan, West Bengal, India. She spent her childhood at Santiniketan and lived there till 2002. Both of her parents were professors of political science at the University of North Bengal. She took her first lessons in music from her father, Bimol Bajpaie, and learned to sing at the age of six. Later she started taking learning from eminent musicians of Santiniketan like Bijoy Sinha, Chitra Roy, Shyamali Banerjee, Chandan Manda, and Mita Haque and received training in Indian classical music and Rabindra Sangeet. In 2005, Bajpaie joined BRAC University in Dhaka as a lecturer in English. In May 2008, she left for London, where she is pursuing her Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology at Kings College, London. [Source: Wikipedia]

In French

O, mon Empereur!

O, mon Empereur! 
A quel point vous êtes-vous habillé
afin de battre mon cœur.
Des millions de lunes et de soleils
s’incline honteusement devant vous, 
dans une défaite aimante.
Toutes les fiertés se brisent en morceaux,
ils s’effondrent heureusement sur le sol,
tout mon corps et mon esprit dansent,
joue comme une Veena*, sans la parole.
Quelle mélodie magnifiquement triste
fredonne dans le vent!
Toutes les fleurs du jardin tombent 
volontiers à vos pieds brillants.
Mes yeux sont immobiles, 
ils ne voient rien du monde extérieur, apparent –
ils témoignent votre beauté majestueuse, 
profondément présente, dedans.

Note: Veena, c’est un instrument de musque indien.


J’ai essayé de poster la traduction le 8 mai car c’était l’anniversaire de naissance de Tagore mais je n’ai pas pu parce que j’étais occupé du 75e anniversaire de la VE grâce a BBC. Je publie donc ceci aujourd’hui. Toutes les traductions de Tagore ont une chose en commun, elles échouent toujours. Et je ne suis pas Gide! Avec mon mauvais français, je ne pouvais que faire d’autant que cela. Même si vous auriez compris un peu, je resterais énormément obligé. Puisqu’il s’agit d’une chanson, populairement connue sous le nom de Rabindrasangeet, vous pouvez écouter la magnifique interprétation de Sahana Bajpaie, une chanteuse très connue, en cliquant ici.

À propos de la chanteuse:

Bajpaie est née à Santiniketan, au Bengale occidental, en Inde. Elle a passé son enfance à Santiniketan et y a vécu jusqu’en 2002. Ses deux parents étaient professeurs de science politique à l’Université du Bengale du Nord. Elle a pris ses premières leçons de musique auprès de son père, Bimol Bajpaie et a appris à chanter à l’âge de six ans. Plus tard, elle a commencé à apprendre auprès d’éminents musiciens de Santiniketan comme Bijoy Sinha, Chitra Roy, Shyamali Banerjee, Chandan Manda et Mita Haque et a reçu une formation en musique classique indienne et en Rabindra Sangeet. En 2005, Bajpaie a rejoint l’Université BRAC à Dacca en tant que professeur d’anglais. En mai 2008, elle est partie pour Londres, où elle poursuit son doctorat en ethnomusicologie au Kings College de Londres. [Source : Wikipédia]

© supratik 2023
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Beautiful words – translation is always difficult – you can ‘phrase book’ the correct word but not give its meaning or intent – I let the lines themselves wash over me. Not looking for an overall sense/meaning just letting the ripples ripple 🙂

“What a beautifully sad tune
is humming in the wind!”
lovely – not being narcissistic but here’s a short extract from one of mine :
“a ballet of jasmine
scents the breeze.

there’s a woman
singing fado –
the haunting pain
of love unrequited,”

I love sentimental (not slushy) poetry and never read on if I see gratuitous foul language – poetry should be about beauty – there can also be beauty in ugliness – but ugly language for its own sake? Not for me 🙂

Yes, you are right, there has to be room for all expressions, my choice is to turn away instantly from gratuitous filthy language. One of the oldest scriptures (Job in the Tanakh) says, “Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?.” and I don’t want to taste corrupt food nor entertain ugly expressions. As you infer, my taste, my choice. In the case of your dalits – they have a very good reason for their loathing of the brahmins – and those who choose to read their work know exactly what to expect. I’ve been at poetry… Read more »

Agreed – I have an instant switch off – it is not conscious as much as instinctive – when couples kiss on the screen I instantly turn away or blot the image with a hand, if they are having sex I fast forward or again block the screen. The same goes for violence (in action or speech or even in the embarrassment of a character) – describing this gives the impression of a ‘holier than thou’ attitude whereas in fact it is purely an instant reflex. I have spent more than 40 years following a spiritual path maybe this has… Read more »

I’m watching youtube vids of Kumbh Mela – loving the philosophy which is beyond philosophy and beyond words 🙂

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