These are modern English translations of poems by the great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), who has been called the "Bard of Bengal" and "the Bengali Shelley." In 1913 Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Tagore was also a notable artist, musician and polymath.
The Seashore Gathering
by Rabindranath Tagore
loose translation/interpretation/modernization by Michael R. Burch
These are Christmas poems by Michael R. Burch. Some are darker Christmas poems and heretical Christmas poems.
The First Christmas
by Michael R. Burch
’Twas in a land so long ago . . .
the lambs lay blanketed in snow
and little children everywhere
sat and watched warm embers glow
and dreamed (of what, we do not know).
And THEN—a star appeared on high,
The brightest man had ever seen!
It made the children whisper low
in puzzled awe (what did it mean?).
It made the wooly lambkins cry.
boys in pressed suits, girl's milk white gloves.....holding
melting chocolate bunnies
some moments of, pause
children who aren't wanted
to weep as God does
more precious than trite desires
the shallow don't deserve them
At a Little League baseball game
some parents shouting, fighting
with other parents in the stands,
children watching, embarrassed,
This in America-Land,
the children are the parents.
Child cheated on a test,
realized she was wrong,
not doing her best,
Yet, her parents argued with her teacher,
the children are the parents.
the children hunger
fill their bowls
heart of the harvest
with my two sons
ages 3 and 4 1/2
in our yard
as our fire expired
we were treated
to what felt like
a personal fireworks show
then, snuggled together,
we pondered owls and bats,
drifting into belated restlessness
by ten Mattheus slept peaceably
while Lucien tossed, turned, snored,
and woke, until 6:30: "Papa, can we
sleep in the tent again tonight?"
Give me your hand, oh little one!
Like children be we two;
Yet I am old, my day is done
That barely breaks for you.
A baby-basket hard you hold,
With in it cherries four:
You cherish them as men do gold,
And count them o'er.
And then you stumble in your walk;
The cherries scattered lie.
You pick them up with foolish talk
And foolish glad am I,
When you wipe one quite clean of dust
And give it unto me;
So in the baby-basket just
You talk of riders on the flat, of nerve and pluck and pace --
Not one in fifty has the nerve to ride a steeplechase.
It's right enough, while horses pull and take their faces strong,
To rush a flier to the front and bring the field along;
Bur what about the last half-mile, with horses blown and beat --
When every jump means all you know to keep him on his feet.
When any slip means sudden death -- with wife and child to keep --
It needs some nerve to draw the whip and flog him at the leap --
I HAVE two sons, wife—
Two, and yet the same;
One his wild way runs, wife,
Bringing us to shame.
The one is bearded, sunburnt, grim, and fights across the sea,
The other is a little child who sits upon your knee.
One is fierce and cold, wife,
As the wayward deep;
Him no arms could hold, wife,
Him no breast could keep.
He has tried our hearts for many a year, not broken them; for he
Is still the sinless little one that sits upon your knee.