Orpheus in Kolkata
About the Author:
Joe Winter was born in London in 1943 and began writing poetry at the age of 19, as a university student. He taught English in secondary schools in London from 1967 to 1993 and between 2006 and 2011. He lived in Calcutta from 1994 to 2006 where he taught part-time as well. All his books of poems have been published by Writers Workshop, India; this is his twentieth volume. He has published translations of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali, Lipika, Atmaparichay (as co-translator) and a selection of Tagore’s poems from first to last (The Golden Boat). He has also translated two collections of poems by Jibanananda Das, Naked Lonely Hand and Bengal the Beautiful (Rupasi Bangla). His most recent works are a translation of Beowulf and Two Loves I Have, a reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Outside of poetry, Winter has written an account of his stay in India, Calcutta Song. Many of his articles have appeared in The Statesman, Calcutta. He has been living in Brighton since 2006.
for Rabindranath Tagore
on his birthday May 7th
in the centenary year of the award of the Nobel Prize, 1913
A hundred years after the boys at your school
marched and marched around in delighted circles
at a stroke of news from the gods – I sit in the cool
shade of a tea-stall, where in Gordon Square Gardens
a light summer crowd drifts and gossips and mingles
at a birthday event. A statue is garlanded.
But a hundred years or a year, Rabindranath:
your celebration on Earth is never ended.
The Nobel Prize – what is that? Your birthday today?
No more than a May leaf’s light. There is a river
that touches the Earth – the Earth does not know it yet –
but you discovered the source of the deepening play
of life and the mind. And of the heart’s endeavour
for truth, you knew. And we will never forget.
A review of the book has been published in Kitaab.