“Unending Love”

My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs” — Rabindranath Tagore

Valentine’s Day is coming, and I’ll be the first to admit it can be a guilt-inducing Hallmark holiday. As hard as I try to avoid playing the sentimental fool, lately I’ve been jumping at any chance to celebrate the people I cherish. I’ve lost a few in recent years — so I’m burying old grudges and trying not to leave any of my love unsaid.

Reading Tagore‘s “Unending Love” for the first time, I knew it was the perfect poem to give my husband, whose birthday falls on Valentine’s Day. Doug and I met in art class in ninth grade, and immediately felt as if we’d been best friends for ages. We married several years later, after college, and we’ll gratefully celebrate our 30th anniversary this year.

This poem was Audrey Hepburn’s favorite, and if you click here, you’ll hear a reading dedicated to her by Gregory Peck. Love to all! — CL

Unending Love
By Rabindranath Tagore

(Translated by William Radice)

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, its age-old pain,
Its ancient tale of being apart or together,
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge
Clad in the light of a pole-star, piercing the darkness of time:
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount
At the heart of time love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers, shared in the same shy sweetness of meeting,
the same distressful tears of farewell —
Old love, but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you,
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life,
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours —
And the songs of every poet past and forever.

–Reprinted from Selected Poems, by Rabindranath Tagore (with an introduction by William Radice); Penguin Classics; 2005

— Photo: detail from a collage by Cindy La Ferle —

10 thoughts on ““Unending Love”

  1. Cindy, You say you’ve avoided playing the “sentimental fool.” I’m here to tell you, go for it! Embrace it and have a blast. In our home, the past few years we’ve made it routine to celebrate the smallest of holidays, even Groundhog’s Day, with some small, even teeny, token of love. An ice-cream gift card, a paperback book, something that well, okay, brings a little Christmas to every holiday. It adds many special days to our lives. Enjoy! And don’t forget, President’s Day is next week 🙂

  2. Oh, this poem makes me swoon.
    The cadence, the everything. And to think of it now with your love painted on the words. Beautiful. I don’t mean that I’d heard it before, I haven’t . So thank you .
    We aren’t a very Hallmark family. But that doesn’t mean we are short on love and romance. As you said on my post, there is a lot of love in our house. And that painting attempt of mine was in our old house, years ago. I still can’t believe I did it, as I cannot draw at all. And I am a neutral is best decorator.

  3. Cafe Pasadena, glad you liked it, and man oh man, if I lived in Pasadena I’d be at those workshops you noted in your current post! Wishing… Anyhoo — how does someone in Michigan know about Tagore? Hey, we’ve got some cultural creatives here, and a fair share of unemployed English Lit majors with extra reading time on our hands. 🙂

  4. Gorgeous poem- made me cry… My marriage has been so hard over the past few years and it can be a challenge to look at the underlying beauty. Our songs have been of work and commitment, a necklace that feels a bit heavy. I am touched to hear that you have been with your husband for so long and still connect with this poem/romantic love.

  5. I am so happy to have come here today and be touched by this poem. I adore Tagore but had not read this one, so thank you. Brought sweet tears to my eyes reading it, and also thinking of the great love that you and Doug share. You are so blessed. (As am I to have known such love…)Happy Valentine’s Day to you too!

  6. Cindy, that’s the most beautiful love poem. I couldn’t read it without tears.

    Denny and I found each other later in life. We look back at the time ‘before’ and wonder now how we lived then. It’s sweet when love becomes not an addition but part of the path.

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