Fourteen Songs by Rabindranath Tagore
learned, translated and introduced at the Bard’s wish by Arthur Geddes

By (composer) Rabindranath Tagore Translated by Arthur Geddes Edited by Marion Geddes and Claire Geddes

Fourteen Songs by Rabindranath Tagore
Paperback, 40 pages £12.50
Published: 5th May 2011
ISBN: 9780857840226
Format: 284mm x 222mm


‘Nothing gives me the same sense of attainment, of achievement, as the making of a song!’ said the great Bengali poet and song-writer, Rabindranath Tagore. to Arthur Geddes early one morning in 1923.  Having often heard Geddes play back his songs to him on the violin, Tagore asked him to translate some of these songs from Bengali, so that the English words would fit the melodies.  In a letter dated 18 February, 1926, Tagore wrote to Arthur regarding translations of his songs into English, ‘Please write the accompaniment yourself. I can trust you.’ This book is thus a direct fulfilment of Tagore’s wish.
    In the text that accompanies the songs, Arthur Geddes discusses the life and work of Tagore, the sources from which the poet took his inspiration, and the translator’s own efforts in trying not only to faithfully translate Tagore’s words but to convey the imagery, rhythms and verse forms of the originals.
    The fourteen songs are presented in modern musical notation for singers and instrumentalists, divided into three sections:

–  five songs from the song-drama ‘Raja’ (‘The King of the Dark Chamber’)
–  seven songs of prayer, resolution and mourning
–  two songs of youth and Santiniketan

What is remarkable about this volume is that the songs are not just authentic translations conveying the spirit of Tagore’s words, but are ‘singable’. This book  will allow Tagore’s songs to transcend Indian borders and bring them to an international audience, reaffirming Tagore as an international poet and song-writer.

- Bashabi Fraser, poet and writer

Arthur Geddes

Arthur Geddes (1895–1968) lived in India from 1921 to 1924, assisting the rural reconstruction projects of Rabindranath Tagore at Sriniketan in West Bengal and the town-planning work of his father Patrick Geddes in other parts of India. The geography of Bengal was the subject of his doctoral thesis ‘Au Pays de Tagore’ (‘In the Land of Tagore’) submitted at the University of Montpellier, France.  In 1927 he returned to Scotland and worked in the Department of Geography at Edinburgh University until 1965. He died before completing this book.  It has now been edited by two of his daughters, Marion and Claire Geddes.

Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941), who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, is recognised as one of Bengal’s greatest poets and writers. Although his poetry is well known in the west through translations of works such as ‘Gitanjali’ , ‘Crescent Moon’ and ‘The Gardener’, his songs are less familiar to people outside India. And yet he wrote some two thousand two hundred songs, including two which are now the national anthems of India and Bangladesh (‘Jana Gana Mana’ and ‘Amar shonar Bangla, ami tomay bhalobashi’, respectively). Ezra Pound said of Tagore that he sang Bengal into a nation. 

Publication Details:

Binding: Paperback, 40 pages
ISBN: 9780857840226
Format: 284mm x 222mm

BISAC Code:  MUS049000
Imprint: Resurgence Books

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