The day was when I did not keep myself in readiness for thee; and entering my heart unbidden even as one of the common crowd, unknown to me, my king thou didst press the signet of eternity upon many a fleeting moment of my life.
And to-day when by chance I light upon them and see thy signature, I find they have lain scattered in the dust mixed with the memory of joys and sorrows of my trivial days forgotten.
Thou didst not turn in contempt from my childish play among dust, and the steps that I heard in my playroom are the same that are echoing from star to star.
-from Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
I love Rabindranath Tagore and featured a quote of his here.
Blogging about national anthems in a previous post set me to thinking about Tagore again because I remembered that he composed India's national anthem. I had selected a beautiful video featuring that national anthem for this post, but today was a Rabindranath Discovery Day for me and I found that he also wrote the national anthem for Bangladesh (making him quite likely the only person ever to have authored the national anthems of two different countries). This piece of golden history dropped onto page one of a search, and why? Because the Bangladesh National Anthem was played at the 2008 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony, and, according to an Indo-Asian News Service report,
Alex Marshall, a freelance journalist specialising in music, tracked down every one of the 205 national anthems that might be heard at this year's Olympic Games, and sat through four-and-a-half hours of listening to them before ranking them by musical quality.
Marshall's choice of best 10 national anthems that could make their countries proud has Bangladesh coming second after Uruguay.
"A wonderful anthem that sounds like it was written for a stroll along the Seine," said Marshal about Bangladesh's Amar Sonar Bangla while delivering his verdict.
Instead of the inspiring video of India's national anthem (which you can view here), I was moved to show one featuring the Bangladesh national anthem, and there are some good ones out there. This is the version I found most musically compelling. It features Bangladeshi Nora Ali of Minnesota, Junior Miss America in 2007 (watch her answer a pageant question). She's a student at Harvard, class of 2011.
You can read Tagore's lyrics for Amar Sonar Bangla, the national anthem of Bangladesh, at Virtual Bangladesh.
Tagore became Asia's first Nobel laureate when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for Gitanjali, a selection of his poetry. Tagore and His India, an article written by Amartya Sen, the 1998 laureate in economics, is by far the most comprehensive piece I've read on Rabindranath Tagore, whom I adore now all the more.