Friday’s edition of the New York Times features an article by Eric Weiner about his trip to Shantiniketan, the town where the Bengali poet and activist Rabindarath Tagore (1861-1941) founded a school that still thrives today. The article quotes Tagore’s final poem, which he dictated 9 days before his death.
Today my sack is empty. I have given completely whatever I had to give. In return if I receive anything — some love, some forgiveness — then I will take it with me when I step on the boat that crosses to the festival of the wordless end.
I hope that when my time comes, I too can look back and say “I have given completely whatever I had to give.” I, too, would like to die with my sack of potential gifts utterly spent. Honestly, I do not think I have given enough in my life, which is why my New Year’s resolution is to give more.
If you read the Times article and are intrigued by Tagore, I highly recommend Amartya Sen’s collection of essays, The Argumentative Indian. It’s a great survey of Indian culture, and it includes a couple of essays on Tagore, with whom Sen studied in Shantiniketan.