We offer this reflection from Tagore as a contrast to Frank Thompson’s poem of two days ago. He urged his beloved to forget him, Tagore insists on the sweet sorrow of parting, as a foretaste of death: parting and death do hurt, they cut through the false pride that Thompson accused himself of.
War always brings parting and death, realities that Romantics like Thompson and Brooke minimised, at least before seeing combat.
ON BOARD A CANAL STEAMER GOING TO CUTTACK, August 1891
The quiet floating away of a boat on the stream seems to add to the pathos of a separation—it is so like death—the departing one lost to sight, those left behind returning to their daily life, wiping their eyes. True, the pang lasts but a while, and is perhaps already wearing off both in those who have gone and those who remain,—pain being temporary, oblivion permanent.
But none the less it is not the forgetting, but the pain which is true; and every now and then, in separation or in death, we realise how terribly true.
Glimpses of Bengal Selected from the Letters of Sir Rabindranath Tagore.