Ireland and India: on connection

In the center of the Irish county seat, Sligo, sits a statue of Rabindranath Tagore, gifted in 2015, commemorating the Nobel prize winning National Poet of India. In a country with only 50,000 citizens of South Asian descent, Tagore shared a connection with William Butler Yeats, the poetic voice of Ireland. Both poets were interested in the relationship of poetry, music, spirituality, the struggles of everyday life, connection, and anti-imperialism. They followed each other’s work, and finally met in London.

Across continents, their works served as moments of identity shared between the Colonized. I call it ‘Partition poetry.’ Notably, both poets won the Nobel prize, 10 years apart, Tagore in 1913 and Yeats a decade later, in 1923. Although far from ideal, as by default Ireland was both a colonizer and the colonized, their fascination with the work of the other is striking. And inspiring.

I ranted to the knave and fool,
But outgrew that school,
Fit audience found, but cannot rule my fanatic heart.
-Remorse for Intemperate Speech
(William Butler Yeats, 1931)

Freedom from fear is the freedom.
I claim for you!
Freedom from the insult of dwelling in a puppets’ world,
Where movements are started through brainless thoughts repeated through mindless habits.
(Rabindranath Tagore, 1913)

Beannachtai na Feile Padraig.

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