Tagore: Heart To Give Thee My All
Posted by Preeta Bansal on Dec 14, 2014
I had gone a-begging from door to door in the village path,
when thy golden chariot appeared in the distance
like a gorgeous dream and I wondered
who was this King of all kings!
My hopes rose high and methought
my evil days were at an end,
and I stood waiting for alms to be given unasked
and for wealth scattered on all sides in the dust.
The chariot stopped where I stood.
Thy glance fell on me
and thou camest down with a smile.
I felt that the luck of my life had come at last.
Then of a sudden thou didst hold out thy right hand
and say `What hast thou to give to me?'
Ah, what a kingly jest was it
to open thy palm to a beggar to beg!
I was confused and stood undecided,
and then from my wallet I slowly took out
the least little grain of corn
and gave it to thee.
But how great my surprise when at the day's end
I emptied my bag on the floor to find
a least little gram of gold among the poor heap.
I bitterly wept and wished
that I had had the heart to give thee my all.
There are so many nuggets (literally and figuratively) in this passage that continue to move me. I've been thinking about it recently as I work with the MIT Media Lab to try to design effective solutions for rural communities in India -- to help with community development in a way that avoids disempowering, top-down solutions and to focus instead on trying to actually empower each person, no matter what their material position in life, to recognize their many inner assets and to realize they already have much to give to one another within their community.
I was reminded of the passage when I replayed (with my family recently) this beautiful recent rendering of a holiday favorite, Little Drummer Boy, by the completely a capella group Pentatonix -- about the power of discovering that we each have something to give that's fit even for a King. The lyrics are beautifully rendered (Little baby ... I am a poor boy too ... I have no gift to bring ... That's fit to give our King ....), so please do listen: