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‘Freedom’ is a short poem written by Rabindranath Tagore. It details on the kind of freedom the poet’s persona wants India to achieve.
About the Poet:
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was a prominent poet who wrote both in English and Bengali. In 1913, he was a awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his work ‘Gitanjali’. After being knighted in 1951, he renounced it in 1991 following the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Famous works of his include ‘Gitanjali’, ‘Ghare-Baire’ and India’s national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’.
The theme of this poem, as the title suggests, is the idea of freedom. The persona expresses their desire for independence, their longing for their country, that is, India, to achieve liberty from the hands of the British.
Freedom from fear is the freedom I claim for you my motherland! Freedom from the burden of the ages, bending your head, Breaking your back, blinding your eyes to the beckoning call of the future; Freedom from the shackles of slumber wherewith You fasten yourself in night's stillness, Mistrusting the star that speaks of truth's adventurous paths;
This is a poem that is addressed by the persona to their motherland, India. The first thing they state about the kind of freedom they wish for India to achieve is freedom from fear in itself, for fear is the main factor that holds back people. They want the kind of freedom that frees India from the burden of its past beliefs and stereotypes, that shames it and restrains it from the bright possibilities of the future. They want the kind of freedom where India isn’t as still and quiet as the night, not protesting. They thus want a freedom where India not just believes in ideal kind of freedom but delve into daring adventures to seek it.
Freedom from the anarchy of destiny Whole sails are weakly yielded to the blind uncertain winds, And the helm to a hand ever rigid and cold as death. Freedom from the insult of dwelling in a puppet's world, Where movements are started through brainless wires, repeated through mindless habits, Where figures wait with patience and obedience for the master of show, To be stirred into a mimicry of life.
Again, the persona wishes for the kind of freedom that is not constrained by abstract destiny, a freedom which is not puppeteered by authorial hands which makes people merely a mindless mob, filled with insensible patience and obedience. The persona thus wants a freedom that is true to its name- to make people ‘free’.
This is a poem that details on how the true essence of freedom, which was not present at all at that period of time, to be acquired. Instead of going after false pretenses of freedom, the persona wishes to attain freedom in every sense of the word.