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The Sailor – Rabindranath Tagore

Stanza 1

The boat of the boatman Madhu is
Moored at the wharf of Rajgunj.
It is uselessly laden with jute, and
has been lying there idle for ever so long.

Meaning
  • Moored – Anchored
  • Wharf – A level quayside area to which a ship may be moored to load and unload.
  • Jute – Rough fibre used for making twine and rope or woven into sacking or matting
  • Idle – Without any purpose
Questions & Answers
  1. Why does the poet think that Madhu’s boat is uselessly laden?
  2. Where is Madhu’s boat moored?

Stanza 2

If he would only lend me his boat,
I should man her with a hundred oars,
and hoist sails, five or six or seven.

Meaning
  • Lend – Give on rent
  • Man her – Manoeuvre the boat; Move the boat; sail the boat.
  • Oars
  • Hoist
  • Sail – The large sheet of canvas that is fastened to a pole (mast)
Questions & Answers
  1. What will the speaker do if Madhu’s boat is handed over to him?
  2. How is the poet different from Madhu?
  3. Do you think that the poet will be able to do all that he proposes to do? Why?

Stanza 3

I should never steer her to stupid markets.
I should sail the seven seas and
the thirteen rivers of fairyland.

Meaning
  • Steer – Take the ship to
  • Stupid markets
  • Seven seas
    1. The Mediterranean,
    2. The Black Sea,
    3. The Aegean Sea,
    4. The Red Sea,
    5. The Adriatic Sea,
    6. The Persian Gulf,
    7. Arabian Sea.
Questions & Answers
  1. Why does the poet call the markets ‘stupid?’

Stanza 4

But, mother, you won’t weep for me in a corner.
I am not going into the forest like Ramachandra
to come back only after fourteen years.

Meaning
  • You won’t weep for me
  • In a corner – In the corner of her house.
  • Ramachandra – King/Lord Ram of Ayodhya
  • I am not going into the forest
  • Fourteen years – Ram had been sent into the forest for fourteen years.
Questions & Answers
  1. Who is Ramachandra?
  2. Why does the poet say that he will not be like Ramachandra?

Stanza 5

I shall become the prince of the story,
and fill my boat with whatever I like.
I shall take my friend Ashu with me.
We shall sail merrily across the seven seas
and the thirteen rivers of fairyland.

Meaning

Questions & Answers

  1. What does the poet intend to do by sailing in Madhu’s boat?

Stanza 6

We shall set sail in the early morning light.
When at noontide you are bathing at the pond,
we shall be in the land of a strange king.

Meaning

Questions & Answers

Stanza 7

We shall pass the ford of Tirpurni,
and leave behind us the desert of Tepântar.

Meaning

  • Ford – A shallow place in a river where one can cross the river without using a boat.
  • Tirpurni – A river, (if not fictional) probably in the old Bengal
  • Tepântar – Probably a fictional desert in the old Bengal

Stanza 8

When we come back it will be getting dark,
and I shall tell you of all that we have seen.
I shall cross the seven seas and
the thirteen rivers of fairyland.

Meaning

Questions & Answers

What do you think?

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