Rabindranath Tagore
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  • Thou art not Mother, art not Daughter, art not Bride, thou beautiful comely One,
  • O Dweller in Paradise, Urvasi!
  • When Evening descends on the pastures, drawing about her tired body her golden cloth,
  • Thou lightest the lamp within no home.
  • With hesitant wavering steps, with throbbing breast and downcast look,
  • Thou dost not go smiling to any Beloved’s bed,
  • In the hushed midnight.
  • Thou art unveiled like the rising Dawn,
  • Unshrinking One!
  • Like some stemless flower, blooming in thyself,
  • When didst though blossom, Urvasi?
  • That primal Spring, thou dids’t arise from the churning Ocean,
  • Nectar in thy right hand, venom in thy left.
  • The swelling mighty Sea, like a serpent tamed with spells,
  • Drooping his thousand towering hoods,
  • Fell at thy feet!
  • White as kunda-blossom, a naked beauty, adored by the King of the Gods,
  • Thou flawless One!

— from “Urvasi, or Ideal Beauty”

Rabindranath Tagore  (1861–1941) is considered one of the greatest poets of India — and in the world. Almost singlehandedly reshaping Bengali literature and music, he became the first non-European (and the first Indian) to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1931). Characterized by a natural spiritual element, Tagore’s poetry introduced the colloquial and modern registers of poetry enjoyed in the West to the Bengali poetic tradition, being influenced by and influencing many of his Western contemporaries, such as the Irish poet and fellow Nobel laureate W.B. Yeats.

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