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The rain has held back for days and days,

My God, in my arid heart.

The horizon is fiercely naked —

Not the thinnest cover of a soft cloud,

Not the vaguest hint of a distant cool shower.

Send thy angry storm, dark with death,

If it is thy wish, and with lashes of lightning

Startle the sky from end to end.

But call back, my lord,

Call back this pervading silent heat,

Still and keen and cruel,

Burning the heart with dire despair.

Let the cloud of grace bend low from above

Like the tearful look of a mother on the day of the father’s wrath.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) was a Bengali poet and the first non-Westerner to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1913). While he is most popularly known as a poet, Tagore is also considered a prominent novelist, musician, painter, and playwright. Comparable to Shakespeare in his use of the Bengali language and to Ezra Pound in modernizing Bengali literature, Tagore wrote moving and passionate spiritual verse. Today, while widely popular in both Bangladesh and India — for both of which he had written national anthems — his work is still largely unknown in the West.

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