Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Independence Day 2012

Just a couple of days ago I read a poem translated into French by André Gide (1869-1951,) an author and winner of the 1947 Nobel Prize in literature. The poem was originally written by the Bengali philosopher Robindranath Tagore (1861-1941,) also a Nobel Prize winner in literature but for the year 1913 (the first non-European to win it.) I thought this would be an appropriate poem for the 4th of July for 2012 after hearing strong animosity in political speeches and much disinformation. (English version below.)

Là où l'esprit est sans crainte

Là où l'esprit est sans crainte et où la tête est haut portée,
Là où la connaissance est libre,
Là où le monde n'a pas été morcelé
entre d'étroites parois mitoyennes,
Là où les mots émanent des profondeurs de la sincérité,
Là où l'effort infatigué tend les bras vers la perfection;
Là où le clair courant de la raison ne s'est pas mortellement égaré
dans l'aride et morne désert de la coutume,
Là où l'esprit guidé par toi s'avance
dans l'élargissement continu de la pensée et de l'action -
Dans ce paradis de liberté, mon père, permets que ma patrie s'éveille.

- R. Tagore, traduit par Andre Gide

English version -

Where the mind is without fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake.

- Rabindranath Tagore, 1861-1941 Indian Poet, Philosopher and Nobel Prize of Literature 1913

I would say “let my country stay awake.” The United States of America is a Republic and its sovereignty resides with its citizens. This sovereignty was given to them by the brave people who signed the Declaration of Independence and who risked being hanged for treason by the British government. The 4th of July is a celebration of freedom, but freedom is fragile and citizens need to stay vigilant to keep the country a republic and not to let it turn into a plutocracy (government by the wealthy – where a few wealthy rule.) “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. “ ~Thomas Paine

The 4th of July is a happy time. Everyone likes a parade and to watch the colorful fireworks -

Happy 4th of July to all!

"Fireworks” 4 July 1953 painted by Ben Kimberly Prins, Dutch born American, 1902-1980


Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Happy 4th of July to you too. Our country does seem to have a few "narrow domestic walls" lately as Tagore said.

Lonicera said...

Hope it's a happy day for all. I remember studying André Gide at school, and ploughing through L'École des Femmes - because we had to read it in French, and most of us weren't competent enough with the language to tackle such a book!

DJan said...

I hear you, VB. Let my country STAY awake. We have been very fortunate to have our freedoms but they don't stay without effort. Thank you for the lovely poem by Tagore and I also wish you a meaningful Independence Day! :-)

Rosaria Williams said...

What a majestic poem! Thank you for sharing it, on such occasion as this. And thank you for your statement too, a great reminder of what a democratic republic must continually be.

GaynorB said...

Well said!
Happy 4th of July

Arti said...

Happy July 4th to you Vagabonde, from your Canadian friend. Thanks for a most apt poem for the occasion... in both languages. Despite living in a bilingual country, I admit my French isn't at the level to appreciate the poem. Having just finished Midnight's Children, I've learned to appreciate Tagore more. And French? I'm joining the virtual tour to "Paris in July". So, it's everything France this month on my blog. Again, have a wonderful July 4 week! ;)

Gail Dixon said...

Well stated! Very scary times we're living in right now. I love the poem also. July 4 happens to be my youngest son's birthday! So it is an extra special day for me. :)

Vicki Lane said...

Such a good poem for the occasion! And I love your choice of pictures.
A good Fourth to you and yours, Vagabonde!

Ann said...

Happy 4th to you my friend!!!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

So well said, my dear...And you are so right about this.

Hoping you and yours have a very Happy 4th Of July!

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, thank you for the wonderful inspiring and thoughtful words by Tagore. I so agree with you that we must STAY awake and I fear that right now the partisanship in our country is driving a deep wedge that might end with our loss of freedom.

I know that you have and treasure a collection of postcards, many of them vintage. Here's a site someone sent me that shows the postcards for all the states of the Union, under state and then county.



Diane said...

Happy 4th of July we will soon be celebrating the 14th :) Hope you are enjoying the TDF and all the beautiful views of France. Take care Diane

Reader Wil said...

A beautiful post! As always! Merci de votre commentaire! Je suis maintenant en Australie chez ma famille!

Anonymous said...

Bien expliqué. J'espère que tu as passé un bon 4 Juillet!

Kay said...

Happy 4th to you! I do think that many people forget just how much of a struggle it was to become our own nation.

claude said...

Je suis en retard, comme d'hab'.
J'espère que tu as passé un bon 4 Juillet. C'est important de na pas oublier ceux qui ont combattu pour l'indépendance.
Nous, le peuple a fait la révolution contre les riches, et vois-tu cela n'a rien changé, puisqu'il paraît qu'il y a de plus en plus de pauvres et de plus en plus de riches. La classe moyenne va bientôt disparaître si ca continue.

Dianne said...

the poem is wonderful, makes me a bit sad since the America I love is not so prevelant these days

the painting is beautiful

Pat said...

Thank you for the poem and translation and a Happy Fourth to all Americans.

This is Belgium said...

Happy time, je suis trop tard pour le 4 et trop tôt pour le 14!

maría cecilia said...

So nice visiting your world again Vagabonde. Hope you had a great 4th of July time!!

Ginnie said...

I missed being with my extended family over the 4th, Vagabonde, but did NOT miss the heat...or the political rhetoric!

CrazyCris said...

très inspirant ce poème!

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