Rabindranath Tagore gives up his knighthood in protest
On this day in 1861 the Bengali poet, artist and writer Rabindranath Tagore was born.
His family were Brahmin landowners and Tagore spent time travelling when he was a child, a habit he continued later. Some of his schooling took place in England and he is said to have appreciated the English culture and regional folk songs.
He was a prolific writer, painter and musical composer and seems to have matched this with repeated travelling, visiting and lecturing in the United States, South America, Europe, the Middle East and Far East. In 1913 he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for literature. He was also knighted by the British but later renounced this in protest at a barbaric massacre.
Tagore supported the Indian independence movement and at times worked with Gandhi though they disagreed on some matters. His poetry has a dreamy and mystical style and has been widely translated from the original Bengali. Here is one, The Gardener:
Who are you, reader,
reading my poems an hundred years hence?
I cannot send you one single flower
from this wealth of the spring,
one single streak of gold from yonder clouds.
Open your doors and look abroad.
From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories
of the vanished flowers of an hundred years before.
In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy
that sang one spring morning,
sending its glad voice across an hundred years.
Today I will remember that the more I give of myself the more I will be understood.