Rabindranath Tagore: Poems & Biography

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Rabindranath Tagore a Nobel Prize winner and poet from Calcutta, was known for his beautiful poetry and influential way of looking at life and people. In this lesson we will discuss his life and his poems.

His Life

Rabindranath Tagore was born in Calcutta in 1861, along with 13 surviving siblings. His family was deep into the arts, and held many events for theatre, poetry, and art within his home. Yet, his father wanted Tagore to be a lawyer or barrister, as they were called. Since his father was rarely home, due to travel, and his mother had passed away during his earliest years, Rabindranath and his siblings were raised by servants.

Although the Rabindranath did try to follow his father's wishes and become a barrister, he eventually quit school to study the arts on his own and was passionate about poetry, music, painting and plays. In fact, he has thousands of works to his name in all of these different genres.



Rabindranath wrote eight books, some were about the nationalism of India and violence due to religious zealousness, and others about the pursuit of self-identity of the Indian people. Although some of his books were dark and violent, he also had brighter work which showed he was a strong believer in the strength of women. In addition to these books he also had Golpoguchchho, which means 'bunch of stories,' much like our anthologies of today. It contains 84 different short stories.


Rabindranath must have had a passion for all arts, but his 50 volumes of poetry may show that, for him, his poetry was the most important thing. It was his poetry that won him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, specifically Gitanjali, as it became his most well know collection of poetry. This made Tagore the first Asian to be given a Nobel at that time. Although originally written in Bengali, here is a translation of some of his poetry below:

My poet's vanity dies in shame before thy sight.

O master poet, I have sat down at thy feet.

Only let me make my life simple and straight,

like a flute of reed for thee to fill with music.

This poet became so famous for his works that translations happened in many languages, and his popularity grew all over the world. He then started to lecture and travel to discuss his works.

A few of his other works are:

Some Songs and Poems from Rabindranath Tagore

The Hungry Stones and Other Stories

The Religion of Man : Being the Hibbert Lectures for 1930

The Child

Broken Ties and Other Stories.

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