An ivory tablet engraved with a poem written in 1916 in Begali, for the Tercentenary of Shakespeare's death, by the great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941).
Tagore (1861- 1941) was a Nobel-prize winning Indian writer, composer, theatre director and philosopher. In 1916, he wrote this poem In Honour of William Shakespeare in Bengali. It praises Shakespeare as a poet not just for England but for the world.
“The day you rose, world poet, above a far shore,
England's horizon found you close to her breast
and reckoned you were her treasure, hers alone...”
Translation provided by Bengali scholar, Ketaki Kushari Dyson, 1994, at the request of Dr L.M. Singhvi, the High Commissioner for India. The full translation can be found in the exhibition handbook.
At the time of the Quatercentenary celebrations for the birth of William Shakespeare, in 1964, the Calcutta Art Society held a ceremony at the newly opened Shakespeare Centre to present an ivory tablet of a poem written in 1916, for the Tercentenary of Shakespeare's death, by the great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941). This tablet, carved following the hand of Tagore himself, joined the collection of translations of Shakespeare's works in the Indian languages which are preserved in the Shakespeare Centre Library.
Rabindranath Tagore was born in Calcutta, the grandson of a Prince, and after studying at the University of London he became a gifted playwright, novelist, poet, actor, composer, teacher, painter, theatre director and philosopher. His life was guided by his faith in the basic goodness of man and he is best remembered for his poetic plays, written, like much of William Shakespeare's work, in blank verse. He wrote in Bengali and translated many of his writings into English (including his poem to Shakespeare). Several of his themes come from the great classic writings of India, the Upanishads and the Mahabharata. Over a dozen of his plays were produced in London between the wars, perhaps the finest being Chitra, which he directed and designed for the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1920. This production became famous for the way it used coloured light instead of painted scenery. Later, in Bolpur, Tagore flouted religious prejudice by himself casting and training his female students in his play Worship of the Dancing Girl.
Tagore was knighted in 1915, but resigned his knighthood four years later in protest against British policies in the Punjab. He died in 1941.