• Translation

Unfit Gifts by Rabindranath Tagore


At sunrise, I cast my nets into the sea,

dredging up the strangest and most beautiful objects from the depths ...

some radiant like smiles, some glittering like tears, others flushed like brides’ cheeks.

When I returned, staggering under their weight, my love was relaxing in her garden, idly tearing leaves from flowers.

Hesitant, I placed all I had produced at her feet, silently awaiting her verdict.

She glanced down disdainfully, then pouted: "What are these bizarre things? I have no use for them!"

I bowed my head, humiliated, and thought:

"Truly, I did not contend for them; I did not purchase them in the marketplace; they are unfit gifts for her!"

That night I flung them, one by one, into the street, like refuse.

The next morning travelers came, picked them up and carted them off to exotic countries.


loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



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