Gitanjali (Song Offerings) – Rabindranath Tagore

Gitanjali (Song Offerings) is a collection of poems Rabindranath Tagore wrote to express devotion to God. The word gitanjali is composed from “git”, which means song, and “anjali” which means offering, and thus mean “an offering of songs”. I decided to read a work by Tagore to take part in Blogger Buku Indonesia (BBI)’s project for October which is to review any work by Nobel laureates, because of these reasons:

  1. I have been a fan of Western poets such as Sir Walter Ralegh and Robert Frost, but I have never tried reading poems with flavors of the East. From that, I would like to pick a well-known poet from the East.
  2. Tagore was the first non-European to be awarded Nobel Prize in Literature.
  3. Gitanjali was originally written in Bengali and then translated into English by the author himself.

I believe you have read reason number #2 and #3. In today’s words, I would say that those two reasons are “DOUBLE AWESOMENESS!” And so I read all 103 songs of Gitanjali. From the very first song I felt like I was thrown up in the sky to behold the majesties of God, but in such a familiar way. Reading it felt heavenly, but still natural, as if seeing face to face with your own father.

The first song opens like this:

Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail vessel
thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.
This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales,
and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.
At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limits
in joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.
Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of
mine. Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.

In Gitanjali, the author distinguish The Creator and His creation; he presented the human character as a lowly being, dressed in rags, full of debts and failures, waiting for the Lord to pass by her house. He also praised highly the beauty of nature in his songs. However, I am puzzled that in some songs Tagore addresses God as my friend, my master, my king, and my Father. This resembles how Christians address God (especially “my Father”). I even found a similarity between some lines from Gitanjali and some lines from the Scripture. Here it is:

“In the night of weariness let me give myself up to sleep without struggle, resting my trust upon thee.” (Gitanjali: 25). Is this not similar with Psalms 4:8: “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.” ?

Don’t ask for my favorite part of Gitanjali, because there are so many. However, the songs that I love the most are Gitanjali 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 95, and 101. You can read Gitanjali 35 in this post.

On the whole, the feeling I had when reading Gitanjali was close to the feeling when reading Psalms. It is divine and comforting. It made my heart burst with freshened love to the Lord.

This is my prayer to thee, my lord—strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart.

Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.

Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.

Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.

Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.

And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love.

(Gitanjali: 36)

#postingbareng BBI bulan Oktober 2012 tema karya pemenang Nobel Prize for Literature

13th review for The Classics Club Project

P.S.: This is my first time ever to review a collection of poems, so please forgive me if this post is somewhat short.

Book details:

Gitanjali (Song Offerings), by Rabindranath Tagore
123 pages e-book, with an introduction by W.B. Yeats. E-book published on 2008 by Uttam Pal.
My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

About the author


Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941) was a Bengali artist who wrote novels, short stories, poems, plays, essays, and also composed music. In 1913 he was awarded Nobel Prize in Literature “because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West.”


Gitanjali (Song Offerings) is his best known work along with Gora (Fair-faced), and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World). In music, his compositions were chosen by two nations, India and Bangladesh, as their national anthems. And the composer of Sri Lanka’s national anthem was a student of Tagore, and the song is inspired by Tagore’s style. Tagore was highly influential in introducing the best of Indian culture to the West and vice versa, and he is generally regarded as the outstanding creative artist of modern India. (source: Wikipedia)

34 thoughts on “Gitanjali (Song Offerings) – Rabindranath Tagore

  1. Those phrase and quotes are beautiful Mel, and I’m not a fan for poetry …
    I’ve hear about Tagore from Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan, it’s mention that this character, who never learn how to read and write, capture by the beauty of Tagore’s poems, keep her mind peace while her life so hard and lonely … seeing your quotations, I can understand “her” feeling too …


  2. Such an unique review it is indeed
    Since much capability in literature is needed
    to review such an exotic works till complete
    But, Mel, as usual you are succeed
    making a nice review like this you did
    This, i am offering you my deed
    To save this book in my shelf and i will read
    it, …. sometimes wkwkwkwk

    *digebuk melisa pake kamus


  3. hebaaaat mel, bisa ngebaca dan review poems =) aku bukan fans poetry or poems, mungkin kurang sabar untuk memahaminya =D tapi menarik juga karna banyak versi yg mirip dengan alkitab ya..oh well, mazmur itu kan emang kumpulan puisi juga sebetulnya ya hihihi


  4. Nice review… I’m not sure I could make such analytical review of poetry. May be I should try someday.


  5. Like Astrid, I’m not a fan of poetry either 😀 Especially if it doesn’t form any story. The only poetry-style book I’m longing to read now is Dante’s Divine Comedy. Maybe if I succeed to conquer it, I’d try to read Tagore 😛

    Oh, I did not know that Tagore was a music composer too.


  6. Aahaa..sepertinya saya bakalan suka Gitanjali ini,
    oiya.. Tagore ini orang Asia yang pertama kali mendapat nobel, orang Asia kedua adalah Yasunari Kawabata.
    Katanya sih..bliau pernah ke Indonesia, dan bertemu dengan Ki Hajar Dewantara


    1. Akhirnya ada yang tertarik baca 😀 iya sejarahnya Tagore menarik. Jadi ingin tahu siapa-siapa aja sastrawan dunia yang pernah mampir ke Indonesia


  7. *Menjura*
    Mel hebat, bisa ngerti puisi. Puisi bagiku tuh beneran macam kutipan yang aku tulis di WA.
    Beneran mabok dibuatnya. hehehe


  8. Wow…keren bisa review puisi. Aku suka sih baca puisi, tapi seringnya gagal nangkap maknanya. Apalagi yg negara lain punya. Makanya lbh suka pujangga lokal aja macam Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana ato Rendra ato Remy Silado.

    Tapi mel, yg lebih hebat lagi…reviewmu pendek tapi bikin penasarann


    1. Hehe makasih. Seperti komen balesanku buat Ally diatas, aku gak selalu bisa dapet maknanya puisi. Tapi tetep suka cara penyair bermain dengan kata.


  9. Melisa keren euy.. bisa mendeskripsikan Gitanjali dengan baik, sampai-sampai merasa kaya “bertatap muka” langsung dengan ayah. :’)



    A new book entitled: RABINDRANATH TAGORE, THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE IN 1913, AND THE BRITISH RAJ: SOME UNTOLD STORIES is now in the Press waiting for publication. It is profusely quoted with evidences that perhaps the 1913 Nobel Prize was given to Rabindranath Tagore mainly for political reasons.

    On the part of Rabindranath Tagore, he started gaining huge popularity only after getting the Nobel Prize. Without the Nobel Prize he could never become so much popular in spite of his literary genius and high value literature.

    The book RABINDRANATH TAGORE, THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE IN 1913, AND THE BRITISH RAJ: SOME UNTOLD STORIES will be of about 250 pages. The content chapters of the book are as follows:


    1. Some Introductory Notes
    2. British occupation of India and patronage to non- Muslims
    3. Rabindranath Tagore followed the foot-steps of Raja Ram Mohan Roy and such others
    4. The influence of Prince Dwarakanath Tagore
    5. The influence of Kalidas, Lalon Fakir and D. L. Roy etc.
    6. Terrorist movement in Bengal
    7. British colonial rulers continued patronage of the elite non-Muslims
    8. Shifting of capital from Calcutta to New Delhi
    9. Brahmo Samaj & Tagore
    10. Rabindranath Tagore’s Western and Jewish contacts
    11. The Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913
    12 Rabindranath Tagore was awarded Nobel Prize as an “Anglo-Indian poet”
    13. Why Rabindranath Tagore was not present for receiving the Nobel Prize
    14. Rabindranath Tagore in the 21st century

    A select bibliography on Rabindranath Tagore



    The publishers, book-sellers, book-distributors and agents are cordially welcome to contact using the following address for any query as to terms, etc.:

    Mobile telephone: +880-1911482175

    Your co-operation and assistance is earnestly requested.

    Thank you for your consideration.


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