Tagore: Those who are near me do not know

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Those who are near me do not know that you are nearer to me than they are
Those who speak to me do not know that my heart is full with your unspoken words
Those who crowd in my path do not know that I am walking alone with you
They who love me do not know that their love brings you to my heart.

    —Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Gitanjali. He translated the poems into English himself.

The original Bengali poem (1901) and other Tagore poems can be found here. Thanks to Sourav Guha for the source.

   যারা কাছে আছে তারা কাছে থাক্‌, তারা তো পারে না জানিতে--
     তাহাদের চেয়ে তুমি কাছে আছ আমার হৃদয়খানিতে ॥
যারা কথা বলে তাহারা বলুক,   আমি করিব না কারেও বিমুখ--
     তারা নাহি জানে ভরা আছে প্রাণ তব অকথিত বাণীতে।
     নীরবে নিয়ত রয়েছে আমার নীরব হৃদয়খানিতে ॥
তোমার লাগিয়া কারেও, হে প্রভু,   পথ ছেড়ে দিতে বলিব না, কভু,
     যত প্রেম আছে সব প্রেম মোরে তোমা-পানে রবে টানিতে--
     সকলের প্রেমে রবে তব প্রেম আমার হৃদয়খানিতে।
সবার সহিতে তোমার বাঁধন   হেরি যেন সদা এ মোর সাধন--
     সবার সঙ্গ পারে যেন মনে তব আরাধনা আনিতে।
          সবার মিলনে তোমার মিলন
                   জাগিবে হৃদয়খানিতে ॥

 

Photo used by kind permission of Daniel Schwabe.


Elizabeth Jane Howard: They never die for the people who love them

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The tragedy of somebody dying is that they only die for themselves; never for the people who love them. To those who love them they remain, poised on the last moments before the last farewell. They leave a room or a house, shut a door or a gate, and disappear; but they do not die.

Elizabeth Jane Howard (1923–2014), The Beautiful Visit 



Photo: Vivian Dawson Graham, an Australian soldier who died of pneumonia at age 18 in France, 1916. From Maurice S on Flickr. His parents put this in the newspaper:

A handsome happy Australian boy, His soldier spurs yet hardly won,
A father's pride, his mother's joy,
Our only son.
He answered to the nation's call,
We ill could spare our one and all,
And prayed God would not let him fall—
Our only one.
But fortune failed him in the strife,
Our pride was in a moment gone;
We start again, just man and wife,
Without a son.


Wen Tianxiang: Since ancient times, who has not died?

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Since ancient times, who has not died?
Let me keep a loyal heart to shine from the pages of history.
 
Wen Tianxiang (1236–1282) 文天祥, "Crossing the sea of Lingding" 過零丁洋. Wen is still known as a patriotic hero for his resistance to the Mongol invasion of China.
 
人生自古誰無死 
留取丹心昭汗青
 
 

Adélia Prado: Our verbs are not eternal

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Dear God,
don't punish me for saying
my life was so lovely!
We're human,
our verbs have tenses,
they're not like Yours,
eternal.


Adélia Prado (1935—, Brazilian poet), "Woman at Nightfall" (2013), translated by Ellen Doré Watson

Ó Deus,
não me castigue se falo
minha vida foi tão bonita!
Somos humanos,
nossos verbos têm tempos,
não são como o Vosso,
eterno.

"Mulher ao cair da tarde"

 

 

Photo by Barbara Jackson on Pixabay


Lin Yutang: It was a good show

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One can learn such a lot and enjoy such a lot in seventy years, and three generations is a long, long time to see human follies and acquire human wisdom. Anyone who is wise and has lived long enough to witness the changes of fashion and morals and politics through the rise and fall of three generations should be perfectly satisfied to rise from his seat and go away saying, 'It was a good show,' when the curtain falls.

Lin Yutang (1895–1976), The Importance of Living (1937)

 

Photo by StockSnap on Pixabay


Bossuet: What a lot of time where there is no me!

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What a lot of time there has been when I didn't exist yet! What a lot there will be when I won't exist any more! What a tiny place I occupy in this vast abyss of years!
 
Jacques Bénigne Bossuet (1627-1704), French bishop and court preacher to Louis XIV at Versailles
 
Qu'il y a eu de temps où je n'étais pas! Qu'il y en a où je ne serai point! Et que j'occupe peu de place dans ce grand abîme des ans!
 
 
 

Fitzgerald: Not one returns to tell us of the Road

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Strange, is it not? that of the myriads who
before us passed the door of darkness through
not one returns to tell us of the Road
which to discover we must travel too.
 
Edward Fitzgerald (1809–1883), translation of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam(Omar Khayyam was a Persian mathematician, and astronomer, and possibly poet, 1048–1131. His authorship of the poems attributed to him is not certain). The translation is considered a work of excellent poetry itself; not all the verses are to be found in the original Persian.