Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) is India's greatest modern poet and the most brilliant creative genius produced by the Indian Renaissance. As well as poetry, he wrote songs, stories and novels, plays, essays, memoirs and travelogues. He was both a restless innovator and a superb craftsman, and the Bengali language attained great beauty and power in his hands. He created his own genre of dance drama and is one of the most important visual artists of modern India. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.
Tagore's poetry has an impressive wholeness: a magnificent loving warmth, a compassionate humanity, a delicate sensuousness, an intense sense of kinship with nature and a burning awareness of man's place in the universe. He moves with effortless ease from the literal to the symbolic, from the part of the whole, from a tiny detail to the vast cosmos.
He is religious in the deepest sense, wavering between a faith that sustains the spirit in times of crisis – or fills it with energy and joy in times of happiness – and a profound questioning that can find no enduring answers. To him the earth is a vulnerable mother who clings to all her offspring, saying 'I won't let you go' to the tiniest blade of grass that springs from her womb, but who is powerless to prevent the decay and death of her children.
This is the revised and enlarged second edition of a substantial selection of Tagore's poems and songs translated with an illustrated introduction, notes and glossary by the bilingual writer Ketaki Kushari Dyson, who lives in Oxford. Poet, novelist, playwright, translator, linguist and critic, she is one of the outstanding Bengali writers of her generation, and has published more than thirty titles in her two languages, including acclaimed scholarly works on Tagore.
"Dyson has succeeded in these new translations in restoring a sense to the reader of Tagore's real and remarkable genius as a poet. Short of learning Bengali one does not see how our sense of him as a poet could be bettered than it is by reading her versions. Her own skills and her own personality of course play a large part… One has the feeling of hearing Tagore's voice, as one hears that of any other great poet… an excellent end glossary of technical terms… if any translation can put Tagore back on the map where he belongs, this one should do it."
"In her effort to lift Tagore's persona out of the shadows of mysticism, and present the poet his rightful place in the realm of contemporary poetry, Ketaki Kushari Dyson surpasses her aim… For all those who value good poetry, the book delivers more than it promises. It is vintage Tagore… It is not often that one comes across work of such calibre…"
The Indian P.E.N. (Bombay)
"Among the English translations available of Tagore's poetry, Ketaki Kushari Dyson's selection I Won't Let You Go perhaps captures more successfully than any other the sensuous Bengaliness of Tagore's works, and the particularity of the weather, both inner and outer, in which the poems exist."
London Review of Books