Introduction

The poem is about the sensitive and intense feelings of a child. He remembers all the things that his mother used to do.

About the Poet

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Indian poet, philosopher, and Nobel laureate, was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata). Tagore wrote primarily in Bengali but translated many of his works into English. Tagore’s writing is highly imagistic, deeply religious and imbued with his love for nature and his homeland. He was awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize in literature for his work Geetanjali, and in 1915 he was knighted by the British King George V. 

Theme

Mothers are the very essence of a child’s being. They provide warmth and affection like no other. They are precious and must be respected and loved. The child here finds remnants of his late mother in little things and rejoices in them.

Stanza I

I cannot remember my mother
only sometimes in the midst of my play
a tune seems to hover over my playthings,
the tune of some song that she used to
hum while rocking my cradle.

The child must have been very young when his mother passed away and so he fails to remember her. The memories are vague but present. He keeps her alive in the little things around him that remind him of her. He recalls the sweet tune she hummed as she rocked his cradle. This euphonious melody lingers in the air surrounding him as he plays.

Stanza II

I cannot remember my mother
but when in the early autumn morning
the smell of shiuli flowers floats in the air,
the scent of the morning service in the temple
comes to me as the scent of my mother.

As the fragrance of the shiuli flowers and the scent of the morning temple prayers evade his senses, he is taken back to the scent of his mother. His mother must have shared the same beautiful scent as these elements and he can not help but sense her as the early autumn air around him.

Stanza III

I cannot remember my mother
only when from my bedroom window I send
my eyes into the blue of the distant sky,
I feel that the stillness of my mother’s gaze on my face
has spread all over the sky.

The poet repeats the line, “I cannot remember my mother” in each stanza to powerfully portray the intense emotions and pain of the child reminiscing his mother’s memories and longing to be loved. When the child gazes from his window, the vast blue sky above him takes his mother’s form, watching him and protecting him, reminding him that he is not alone.