L'Offrande lyrique

République des Lettres

Texte intégral révisé suivi d'une biographie de Rabindranath Tagore. "Gitanjali, Song Offerings", publié sous le titre "L'Offrande Lyrique" dans la traduction française d'André Gide, est sans doute l'oeuvre la plus connue du Prix Nobel de littérature 1913. Composé d'une suite de cent trois poèmes en prose, à la fois humble et magnifique fruit des méditations quotidiennes du plus mystique des poètes et du plus poète des mystiques bengalis, le recueil se veut un cantique d'amour, une offrande de prières et de chants à "Celui qui réside en tant que centre de toutes mes activités, mes résolutions, mes peines et mes plaisirs, qui est le point de rencontre de tous les atomes et du vaste univers..." L'amour en effet, compris par Tagore dans sa valeur universelle et dans une vision panthéiste de l'univers telle qu'elle est représentée dans les "Upanishad", et telle qu'elle a été élaborée ensuite par les grands maîtres du "Vedanta", est le principe d'où découle tout bien. Il s'en fait ici le meilleur apôtre avec sa parole lyrique inspirée, l'ampleur de ses images, la lumière, la force et la noblesse de son style.

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About the author

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), l’un des plus grands écrivains indiens du xxe siècle, a reçu le prix Nobel de littérature en 1913. Poète, romancier, dramaturge, musicien, acteur, peintre a lutté pour l’indépendance de l’Inde, contre la partition du Bengale, et a soutenu le mouvement de Gandhi. Quatre chapitres est paru pour la première fois en français aux éditions Zulma en 2005.

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Additional Information

République des Lettres
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Published on
Jan 12, 2017
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Poetry / General
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Rabindranath Tagore
I know not who paints the pictures on memory's canvas; but whoever he may be, what he is painting are pictures; by which I mean that he is not there with his brush simply to make a faithful copy of all that is happening. He takes in and leaves out according to his taste. He makes many a big thing small and small thing big. He has no compunction in putting into the background that which was to the fore, or bringing to the front that which was behind. In short he is painting pictures, and not writing history.

Thus, over Life's outward aspect passes the series of events, and within is being painted a set of pictures. The two correspond but are not one.

We do not get the leisure to view thoroughly this studio within us. Portions of it now and then catch our eye, but the greater part remains out of sight in the darkness. Why the ever-busy painter is painting; when he will have done; for what gallery his pictures are destined—who can tell?

Some years ago, on being questioned as to the events of my past life, I had occasion to pry into this picture-chamber. I had thought to be content with selecting some few materials for my Life's story. I then discovered, as I opened the door, that Life's memories are not Life's history, but the original work of an unseen Artist. The variegated colours scattered about are not reflections of outside lights, but belong to the painter himself, and come passion-tinged from his heart; thereby unfitting the record on the canvas for use as evidence in a court of law.

But though the attempt to gather precise history from memory's storehouse may be fruitless, there is a fascination in looking over the pictures, a fascination which cast its spell on me.

The road over which we journey, the wayside shelter in which we pause, are not pictures while yet we travel—they are too necessary, too obvious. When, however, before turning into the evening resthouse, we look back upon the cities, fields, rivers and hills which we have been through in Life's morning, then, in the light of the passing day, are they pictures indeed. Thus, when my opportunity came, did I look back, and was engrossed.

Rabindranath Tagore


SERVANT. Have mercy upon your servant, my queen!

QUEEN. The assembly is over and my servants are all gone. Why do you come at this late hour?

SERVANT. When you have finished with others, that is my time. I come to ask what remains for your last servant to do.

QUEEN. What can you expect when it is too late?

SERVANT. Make me the gardener of your flower garden.

QUEEN. What folly is this?

SERVANT. I will give up my other work.

I will throw my swords and lances down in the dust. Do not send me to distant courts; do not bid me undertake new conquests.

But make me the gardener of your flower garden.

QUEEN. What will your duties be?

SERVANT. The service of your idle days.

I will keep fresh the grassy path where you walk in the morning, where your feet will be greeted with praise at every step by the flowers eager for death.

I will swing you in a swing among the branches of the saptaparna, where the early evening moon will struggle to kiss your skirt through the leaves.

I will replenish with scented oil the lamp that burns by your bedside, and decorate your footstool with sandal and saffron paste in wondrous designs.

QUEEN. What will you have for your reward?

SERVANT. To be allowed to hold your little fists like tender lotus-buds and slip flower chains over your wrists; to tinge the soles of your feet with the red juice of ashoka petals and kiss away the speck of dust that may chance to linger there.

QUEEN. Your prayers are granted, my servant, you will be the gardener of my flower garden.

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