Two Birds by R.Tagore Translated by Ranu

little shag on a perch

little shag on a perch (Photo credit: Brenda Anderson)

A pet Sun Parakeet (also known as a Sun Conure...

A pet Sun Parakeet (also known as a Sun Conure) in parrot cage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read this poem, a number of times, I now have reached the conclusion,Tagore’s poem has a deeper meaning

than just, Two Birds living in two different places ,wanting to live together.

Readers, what do you think?

Two Birds    by Rabindranath Tagore

Two birds,living in separate abodes        one in a gold cage

and the other in a forest.

Once upon a time I don’t know how                they met each other,

it is hard to fathom what the  creator  was thinking.

The bird from the forest uttered                      ‘my brother in the gold cage,

let us go to the forest together.’

Bird in the cage said,                                 ‘bird from the forest,come

let’s stay in the cage quietly.’

Bird in the forest replied , ‘ No,

I refuse to be barred in the cage.

Bird in the cage remarked, ‘alas,

how will I go to the forest.

The bird in the forest sings                            perched outside

all the songs of the forest,

bird in the cage repeats                          everything by rote___

they  spoke  two different languages.

Bird from the forest announced          ‘brother in the cage,

sing a forest song!’

Bird in the cage responded,                ‘my brother of the forest,

let’s learn the song of the cage.’

The bird from the forest answered,  ‘No,

I don’t want to learn  a song that is taught.’

Bird in the cage replied,   ‘Alas,

how will I sing a forest song.’

Bird from the forest announced,                     ‘the sky is deep blue,

I have no barrier ,I am free.’

Bird from the cage said,                                        ‘the cage is neat and clean

it is covered all around.’

Bird in the forest replied,                        ‘set yourself free

and reach the clouds.’

Bird in the cage answered,                ‘in the quiet cozy cage

capture yourself.’

Bird in the forest said,’No,

where will I fly there!’

Bird in the cage replied,     ‘Alas,

where is the place in the clouds to perch!’

The birds,         love each other so much,

still they are unable to stay close to each other.

Between the spaces in the cage               opposite face to face,

they quietly stare at each other.

the two are unable                     to understand each other,

and cannot explain why?

Both alone              flap their wings,

call in a piteous voice,  ‘come closer.’

Bird in the forest cries,      ‘No,

who knows when the cage will be shut.’

Bird in the cage replied,   ‘Alas,

I don’t have strength to fly.’

11 thoughts on “Two Birds by R.Tagore Translated by Ranu

  1. Dear Ranu,

    Thank you very much for this poem.

    I sense that the world has its own gold cage. It’s attractive. By being attracted to it, and entering it, however, perhaps our wings are then born, or at least enabled to grow.

    There is the attraction of the world; one may be seduced by it; and then there are always a few who point to something else.

    All good wishes,


    • I like your explanation, Robert,thanks.When I read the poem,I thought surely he is thinking of something which has a deeper meaning.
      Best wishes to you.

  2. Great poem, this poem can be interpreted in various manners, one interpretation is about man’s eternal desire and quest to know the self by exploring the world and by reaching to the outskirts of this world. Further there are still people who want to live and find meaning in their own surrounding in their own comfort zones, they don’t have desire to leave their safe havens and abodes because they think they have everything that they want. To this approach I personally have no objection.

    The symbolism of cage is very interesting; we apply it to a situation where a certain freedom is restricted. Even the body is a cage where soul is arrested!

    What is the real meaning of cage? We don’t know, we have different opinions, I can say that cage is a barrier that restricts us from knowing the truths of others and hence we remain incomplete towards the total awareness of the self, more so it’s a curtain that is drawn between life and the ultimate reality, a unseen barrier that limits our freedom.

    • Dear Akhtar Bhai,your comment as usual teaches a very important lesson.One that I always look forward to.
      I know you have taken a lot of time to explain everything.Thank you very much. Tagore would be proud to read your comment.
      All the best to you.

  3. I really love the little discussions & expansive variety of comments here. I learned some new perspectives here today from your translation, Chaman, as well as from Robert’s & AWD’s generous interpretations.

    Almost always when these themes come up, I remember the American poet (& lover of nature & peace) Robert Frost & his definition of ‘Poetry” as “Freedom in a harness” — thus Tagore here perhaps allows each of us to recognize our various cages (some of need & birth and some we can/must leave). We can also find the mirrors for our various freedoms in our poets.

    Then perhaps, as I’m just now learning, we will seek a way to “self-integrate” as well as to be generous to ourselves?

    Finally, how might we best integrate with one another when so far away?

    We have found some of the answers here with each other for sure — whether or not we are able yet to speak as to how…

    This is one time I’d love a little of your direction as well, Chaman…

    • First of all Connie,many thanks. When I first read the poem I treated the poem literally.I thought two birds who will be interested.
      Every time I wanted to skip it, I kept going back to it. We have done so much work with Iqbal,how could it not show me the way.
      I decided one day I will read it for the last time and make up my mind ,whether I should go ahead and translate it.Amazingly enough
      my inner self seemed to tell me it is not an ordinary poem it carries a very deep meaning. How did I not see it.I sat down and translated it.
      I am so happy I did it.You most certainly have made my day. You,Robert and Akhtar Bhai have been encouraging me all the time,I am truly glad and
      thankful to you all.As regards integrating I will be more than happy if you don’t mind showing the way,Connie.
      Because I always liked poetry, I read them whenever I found one.I read two or three poems of Robert Frost, not a whole lot.Before I joined the course,
      I only read one or two lines of Iqbal’s poems.I have read Mirza Ghalib,Mir Taqi Mir’s poetry,only because their poems were in our course.
      Tagore is a very popular poet in Bengal, I love his poems and read them.I never thought of translating them. Akhtar Bhai gave me the idea. I think I have translated thirty five poems of Tagore to date.
      I wish I could give you direction,rather I would love to get direction from you.You have experience on your side.

  4. Dear,

    What I was meaning was only that I wanted a clue or two toward understanding the ending…

    I don’t think you need direction AT ALL….ONLY when your book of Tagore translations is in it’s final form…only then do I advise any directions or serious editing from anyone else. I was only meaning that occasionally, I would like a note in prose about either background or meaning — just a little — to help us who are not as well-versed in Tagore & what you know & what he means to you & your culture…

    Par example, if I understand from some readings on Tagore a long time ago…he and his father subscribed to a kind of monotheistic (maybe not a politically correct word anymore?) interpretation of Hinduism…or even beyond that they were part of a new fresh group in their time — a gentle movement which sought to bridge beliefs & cultures? (but i’m so rusty on that…) Or point me to the right links/readings if not too long…

    What you are doing here is divine, I feel this. AWD had done the world a favor to encourage you to take up this work…and Robert is a nurturer to keep on encouraging you.

    I am so grateful!

    • He means when he is dead,he will be in a position to move freely,therefore he says I’ll go to different worlds
      to worship you.
      Tomarey poojitay jaabo jagatey jagatey= tomarey- you
      poojitay- worship
      jaabo -I will go
      jagatey – world
      I have typed the last line using English alphabets.Then I wrote the words separately and typed their meaning.
      Is this what you wanted?

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