Initially, just a raconteur, the patriotic spirit and powerful literary works of Rabindranath Tagore brought him in the mainstream during the freedom struggle. He not only captured the depth of the nation’s feelings in his poem ‘Into That Heaven of Freedom’ but also brought many nationalists, to tears.
Where the mind is without fear And the head is held high, Where knowledge is free, Where the world has not been broken up, Into fragments by narrow domestic walls, Where words come out from the depth of truth, Where tireless striving stretch its arm towards perfection, Where the mind is led by thee into ever-widening, Thought and action into that heaven of freedom, My Father, Let my country awake.
As a nationalist and a patriot poet, Rabindranath Tagore influenced both the masses as well as the leaders of the national movement. His literary works generated a spirit of freedom for liberating India from colonization.
Next, he was on a poetic mission to save the then nation from slavery. All his works ignited passion and united the common man to come together to join the national struggle. He even gifted India her national anthem, a prose paraphrase of which he read at Over Town Hall as part of his world famous essay ‘My Interpretation of India’s History.
The national anthem was composed for the Brahmo Samaja anniversary in 1912. The inspiration and patriotic spirit generated by this song was considerable and immeasurable. The song generated a sense of national unity during the days of freedom struggle which made India stronger than ever before. That poem made one of the makers of modern India. He was a seer and national builder.
Some of His English Literature Work Includes –
Among his fifty and odd volumes of poetry are Manasi (1890) [The Ideal One], Sonar Tari (1894) [The Golden Boat], Gitanjali (1910) [Song Offerings],Gitimalya (1914) [Wreath of Songs], and Balaka (1916) [The Flight of Cranes]. The English renderings of his poetry, which include The Gardener (1913), Fruit-Gathering (1916), and The Fugitive (1921), do not generally correspond to particular volumes in the original Bengali; and in spite of its title, Gitanjali: Song Offerings (1912), the most acclaimed of them, contains poems from other works besides its namesake.
Tagore’s major plays are Raja (1910) [The King of the Dark Chamber], Dakghar (1912) [The Post Office], Achalayatan (1912) [The Immovable], Muktadhara (1922) [The Waterfall], and Raktakaravi (1926) [Red Oleanders]. He is the author of several volumes of short stories and a number of novels, among them Gora (1910), Ghare-Baire (1916) [The Home and the World], and Yogayog (1929) [Crosscurrents]. Besides these, he wrote musical dramas, dance dramas, essays of all types, travel diaries, and two autobiographies, one in his middle years and the other shortly before his death in 1941. Tagore also left numerous drawings and paintings, and songs for which he wrote the music himself.
During his life his entire writings include 1000 poems, 2000 songs and large number of short stories. In 1912, Tagore sailed for England, where the translation of the ‘Gitanjali’ (Song Offerings) created a literary sensation among the British poets. Gitanjali established Tagore as a world poet. In 1913, Tagore’s Gitanjali was nominated and selected by the Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize for literature. For his literary activities, he was Knighted by the British government in 1915. But protesting the Jallianwalabagh tragedy, Rabindranath Tagore gave up his ‘Knighthood’ in1919. During this time he declared,
“When the badges of honour make our shame glaring in their congruous context of humiliation, and I, for my part, wish to stand, shorn of all special distinctions, by the side of my country men who for their so called insignificance are liable to suffer degradation not fit for human beings.”
To conclude, Tagore’s life-time achievements can be put in Iqbal Masud’s words –
“In Tagore we have a culture going back 2000 years-it is what one can call the Hindu Culture. But a point that is often missed is that Tagore was a product of the Bengal Renaissance, which in turn was a product of 19th century liberalism.”