Reflections on Tagore
When I came to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, my brother Chitta taught me Bengali metre. It took him about a week or so. There are four or five main Bengali metres. English also has many metres, such as iambus, trochee and spondee. But Bengali has more metres. Chitta taught me, and my ear was fortunately very trained. He used Tagore’s poems as examples and then he said, “This is how it was done.” There are many, many poems of Tagore’s that are very, very easy to scan. And then there are some metres that Tagore used which are very, very complicated. Those also I learned.
There are two metres that are very common. One deals with the letters of the alphabet, and the other with sound. In India, I wrote both sound and letter metres, but here in America it seems to me I have written the sound metre more than the letter metre. That is how Chitta taught me. When I started writing my song ‘Uthe Jakhan Pub Gagane Savita’, my brother was in the seventh heaven of delight because the metre was correct. Again, I wrote some poems with both metres together — sound metre and letter metre. They were very difficult, very difficult.
Published in Rabindranath Tagore: the moon of Bengal’s Heart