I Cannot Remember My Mother by Rabindranath Tagore

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.

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

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.

Summary

A child who lost his mother in infancy has only faint recollection of her now. The poet states that he cannot remember his mother now. However, he feels her presence pervading into his life, when he is in the middle of his play with his playthings, he senses a tune hovering over him. It is the tune of his mother’s song which she used to hum while rocking his cradle.

When it is the early autumn morning, the smell of shiuli flowers floats in the air. Then the poet smells the scent of the morning service in the temple. In that smell, he senses the scent of his mother.

When the poet is in his bedroom, he looks out into the blue of the distant sky. He feels the silent, steady and protective gaze of his mother being cast down at him from her heavenly abode. Her face seems to be spread all over the sky.

Analysis

A Child who has lost his mother at a tender age misses her every moment. He remembers her and feels her presence everywhere, yet he repeats ‘I cannot remember my mother’ probably because he cannot remember how she looked and has just a faint recollection.

The poet has used vivid, diverse and powerful imagery to depict the feelings and pain of a child who has lost his mother. The child poet says that he can feel the presence of his mother as, sometimes the tune of that song that she used to hum while rocking his cradle, seems to hover over his playthings. The fragrance of shiuli flowers and the scent of the morning prayer service, appears to be the fragrance of his mother.

The poem is both emotional and moving. The poet feels the presence of his mother all round him though he has only a faint recollection of her real self. The different occasion on which he is haunted bu her memory show his longing to be loved and cared for by his mother. Even though his mother is not alive, she has significant role in his life. He knows his mother is always with him. When from this bedroom window he looks at the blue of the distant sky, he feels the gaze of his mother, showering all her blessing, lovingly. This comforts him and makes him feel protected.

The poem does not have a rhyme scheme or a fixed length for each line. Yet it is poetry. It is because the poem has richness of imagery, colors, nature, religion, and lyrical beauty. It is full of cultural, religious or humanistic relationship with the things described. Moreover, it is highly musical and touches the innermost part of our soul – the spiritual aspects. It is just like the music of nature – irregular but incomparable.

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