Thou Hast Made Me Endless

Gitanjali: Summary and Critical Appreciation of the Poem No. 1—Thou Hast Made Me Endless

Thou Hast Made Me Endless : The poet says his obeisance to God in a spirit of humbleness and says that it is His (God’s) kindness and His grace that He (God) has made the mortal human being immortal.

 Gitanjali: Summary and Critical Appreciation of the Poem No. 1—Thou Hast Made Me Endless

Summary of the Poem Thou Hast Made Me Endless

Stanza-1

“Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.” 

Word-Meanings:

Thou hast…endless = the poet addresses God and says that He (God) has made him infinite immortal. Paying his obeisance to God in a spirit of humbleness, the poet says that soul is eternal and immortal. 2. Endless= infinite. 3. Such is thy pleasure= it is the will of God that it should be so. 4. Thy pleasure = God’s will. 5. This frail vessel…again = this implies the theory of reincarnation of souls after death. 5. This frail vessel = this human body which is mortal. It is a metaphorical expression. 7.  And fillest…life = Tagore tells us that the matter of which human beings are made, destroys and rebuilds in an order ordained by nature. It also hints the theory of Transmigration of Soul in the Hindu scriptures. 8. Fillest = gives life. 9.  Fresh life = God gives a fresh life to the human soul every time a man dies.

Paraphrase:

The poet says his obeisance to God in a spirit of humbleness and says that it is His (God’s) kindness and His grace that He (God) has made the mortal human being immortal. Such is the will of Almighty. The poet expresses this mortality of human being or, better still, of human soul by comparing himself to a weak and easily breakable vessel (like an earthen pot). But God’s grace and pleasure fill this vessel again and again, after it is emptied. Thus, human life is constantly renewed. Man dies and is born again in another shape. In this way, the poet expresses his faith in the Hindu dogma of the Transmigration of Soul which implies that human body is decayable and that it perishes into dust after death but human soul gets a new body in new shape and appearance de because soul is immortal.

Stanza-2

This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales, and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new. 

Word-Meanings:

This little flute of a reed= human body which is weak by nature. The poet compares himself to a flute made of reeds and God to a flute player, a skilled musician. 2. Thou…new= God plays upon it everywhere, over the hills as well as in the valley and he always plays new and fresh melodies. 3.  Hills and dales = mountains and valleys. 4. Breathed = played on. 5. It = flute. 6. Melodies = music. 7. Eternally = forever.

The poet compares the human being (himself) to a flute made of reed and God is the flute player. He humbly feels grateful for being selected by God to fill the world with his melodies which are always fresh and new. The poet calls himself God’s flute, which God plays upon everywhere and always. The poet implies that his poetical compositions have been made possible through divine inspiration. The poet means to say that his poetic talent is a divine gift. It is God who has enabled him to sing songs, always fresh and new.

Stanza-3

At the immortal touch of thy hands my little loses its limits in joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable. 

Word-Meanings:

At the immortal touch= When God inspires the poet. 2. Loses its limits= under the inspiration of God, the poet forgets his personal identity and physical limitations. 3. Gives birth to utterance ineffable = the mystic union of man and God takes place.

Paraphrase:

When God touches the soul of the poet with His Land, i.e., when God inspires him, he sings with inexpressible joy and for the moment he forgets his physical limits, and loses his personal identity in his union with the infinite. The poet is like a living flute which feels a thrill of joy at the touch of its lord and master. His little heart is happy beyond measure and burst forth into songs in a spirit of joy inexpressible. God’s Bounty is inexhaustible and it gives such joy to the poet that he cannot give adequate expression to his feelings of joy and gratitude.

Stanza-4

Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine. Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill. 

Word-Meanings:

Thy…of mine= God’s gifts are infinite, but the poet can accept them only in his small hands. 2.  Ages pass…to fill= these gifts have come to him through ages and yet they remain inexhaustible. 3. Infinite = limitless. 4. Pourest = pours, bestows.

Paraphrase:

According to the poet, God’s bounty is so great that it is inexpressible. It cannot be described in words. It is beyond all human description. His gifts are varied and endless. God has scattered His gifts in wild profusion through all nature. But human soul is too little to enjoy the full abundance and profusion of divine bliss. There are many men who are gifted by God with various talents and qualities, but these talents and qualities are laid hidden as meaningless thing because they do not use them in proper way or not at all. Human soul (human being) may be likened to a child with hands too little for the gifts that may be given to it by its parents. God has continued to pour His blessings infinite, only man has not greatness enough and wisdom enough, to make use of those gifts, and this accounts for his poverty and wretchedness.

Critical Appreciation of the Poem:

Introduction:

Rabindranath Tagore‘s Gitanjali, the anthology of his lyrics of devotion is really a remarkable work and the poem Thou Hast Made Me Endless is the first  poem of this remarkable anthology. Humility and devotion are the two main characteristics of this poem. At the very outset of the poem, the poet speaks of God’s kindness in making him, the human soul, immortal “endless’’. In the very next breath he alludes to the Hindu-belief in the Transmigration of the Soul:

“This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.” 

Further he depicts God’s generosity in giving him the gift of poetic talent so that he may write devotional song in His appreciation and spread divine ideas all over universe. He also expresses his gratitude to God.

Thought-Content:

The poet says that the individual human soul is eternal. Just as a vessel can be emptied and filled up again and again with some juice or liquid, in the same way the human body is dissolved again and again only to be renewed with fresh life every time.

The poet then compares himself to a little flute and God to the great Musician. God plays upon his flute, the poet. He (God) also plays upon it everywhere, over the hills as well as in the valley. He (God) always plays new and fresh melodies. The poet means that he can sing and compose poems only when he is inspired by God, and it is only under divine inspiration that is able to sing songs, always fresh and new.

At the eternal touch of God’s hand the poet’s little heart loses its limits in joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable. Under the inspiration of God, the poet sings with divine joy and forgets his physical limitations and the mystic union of man and God takes place. God’s bounty is so great that it is inexpressible. It cannot be described in words. His gifts are varied and endless whereas the hands of man are too small to hold them. God has continued to pour His blessings through the ages, and still His blessings are not exhausted.

The Use of Imagery:

Tagore has made use of concrete images drawn from the world of everyday experience, to communicate highly abstract concepts. Thus, the body is first compared to a ‘frail vessel’ and the ‘soul’ to the water filled in it. Next God is compared to the flute-player and the human soul to a ‘flute of reed’. This mingling of the concrete and the abstract runs throughout the Gitanjali.

The Theme of Devotion:

The human body is the temple of the soul, the human soul is the temple of God. The human soul has no significance unless it is inhabited or filled by the Supreme. Birth and death are but the filling and the emptying of the soul by the Supreme Soul. Hence Tagore sings:

“This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales, and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.” 

The lifeless flute comes to life when the Lord of Brindavan plays upon it-forever piping songs forever new. The human soul is not only God’s temple; it is also Krishna’s flute. Life’s vicissitudes are but new melodies played by the Lord. The poet, therefore, concludes:

“At the immortal touch of thy hands my little loses its limits in joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.

Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine. Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.” 

His Belief in the Doctrine of the Transmigration of Soul:

In the opening stanza the poet likens the human body (or soul) to an easily breakable vessel which God fills again and again and rejuvenates. He thus recognizes the belief in the doctrine of the Transmigration of Soul while expressing his admiration of God’s Bounty.

Diction, Language and Style:

The words used in this poem are easy, simple and highly suggestive. His style is full of colloquial idiom. He employs apt and simple vocabulary to communicate deep spiritual feelings of his style. The use of archaisms like “thee’ and ‘thou’ imparts antique flavour to Tagore’s diction and reveals the soul’s ardent of st yearning for complete identification with God:

“Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.” 

His language is simple and is close to the everyday language of man. There is hardly an unfamiliar word. Simplicity and sublimity run together. He uses short words which are significant both for their sense and their sound. His style is marked by felicity of expression, classical simplicity and austerity which add to loveliness and majesty.

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