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What drew Coleman Barks to bring his genius to the Gitangili of Rabindranath Tagore? Speaking of these “Song Offerings,” Barks, known and loved for his exquisite transmissions of Rumi, opens us up to the heart of the Indian mystic, Tagore, whose writings have touched poets throughout the world, among them W.B. Yeats, Hart Crane, Robert Frost, and Ezra Pound. In his introduction, Coleman Barks explains what inspired him to recreate the 1913 English translation. “I am trying to rephrase his insights in language that does not cloud their brilliance. Tagore’s mysticism feels very simple and abundant (Yeat’s adjective for it), like Wordsworth’s like Whitman’s … It is into that more current idiom that I am trying to place in Tagore’s songs.”
About the Author
Rabindranath Tagore was an Indian mystic known for his songs and poetry. His collection Gitangali ("Song Offerings") was first published in Bengali in 1910, and later translated into English in consecutive years. In 1913, he became the first Asian person to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. His writings have been loved by notable personalities throughout the world, such as W.B. Yeats, who wrote the introduction to the 1913 edition, and Gandhi, who asked him to perform Song (#39) as he broke his courageous fast in 1933. Coleman Barks (PhD) is an American poet and former literature faculty at the University of Georgia, known and loved for the accessibility of his English translations of more than a dozen volumes of Rumi's poetry, including The Illuminated Rumi (1997) and The Essential Rumi (1995). Barks’s translation work was the focus of an episode of Bill Moyers’s PBS series The Language of Life, and he has collaboratively produced his Rumi translations with music and dance ensembles, including the Paul Winter Consort and Zuleikha. He has received several awards and recognition for his work.