Analysis of Endless Time by Rabindranath Tagore

Endless Time
Time is endless in thy hands, my lord.
There is none to count thy minutes.

Days and nights pass and ages bloom and fade like flowers.
Thou knowest how to wait.

Thy centuries follow each other perfecting a small wild flower.

We have no time to lose,
and having no time we must scramble for a chance.
We are too poor to be late.

And thus it is that time goes by
while I give it to every querulous man who claims it,
and thine altar is empty of all offerings to the last.

At the end of the day I hasten in fear lest thy gate be shut;
but I find that yet there is time.

Rabindranath Tagore

Background:
Rabindranath Tagore is one of the greatest poets and writers in modern Indian literature. In this poem he speaks about the nature of time. We mortal beings believe that time has certain limitations and we usually feel the need to accomplish a lot before our life comes to an end as we believe that there is time only till we meet our death. The poet presents the idea that time is endless and is in the hands of the almighty, who is the creator. He further adds that for God there is no limit to time as he has seen centuries pass by and will continue to do so for centuries to come. Time is infinite for the almighty. We mortals seem to be in a hurry to do as much as possible, fearing that we might be late to do certain things and may lose out on certain opportunities. In doing so, we tend to get impatient when we feel like time is running out of our hands and yet there is a lot to achieve. The poet wants to convey that time is divine, yet one must not cling to it. We must value time as it is a precious thing but must also learn to live for the moment.

Structure:
The poem has been written in Early Modern English as we can see the use of words like ‘thy’, ‘thou’ and ‘thine’. It has no rhymes or a regular rhythm.

Metaphor has been used in the poem. The comparison of passing of ages to the ‘blooming and fading of flowers’ and centuries passing by like a ‘small wild flower’, are two such examples.

The poet uses a sarcastic tone in the stanza where he says ‘we have no time to lose’ as he is indicating the impatience of men and is actually speaking about the infinite nature of time.

The last line of the poem leaves the reader with a sense of uncertainty as the poet might hint at the metaphysical aspects of reincarnation or afterlife. He may also simply mean to say that the doors of God are always open for everyone.

Analysis:
Time is endless in thy hands, my lord.
There is none to count thy minutes.

The poem begins with the poet addressing the almighty and saying that time is endless in his hands as he is the creator of time. There is no one who can count his minutes as the life of mortals comes to an end, but time doesn’t. The poet says that for God, time is infinite. It has no beginning and no end.

Days and nights pass and ages bloom and fade like flowers.
Thou knowest how to wait.
Thy centuries follow each other perfecting a small wild flower.

Days and nights pass and time goes on for ages. The poet says that the almighty patiently watches as ages pass by and for him they’re like watching the blooming and withering of flowers. Centuries after centuries follow each other. The metaphor ‘wild flower’ is used for someone who travels constantly and does not settle at one place. The passage of time is being compared to the same as time does not stop at any point and it keeps going on for centuries.

We have no time to lose,
and having no time we must scramble for a chance.
We are too poor to be late.

The poet uses a sarcastic tone in this stanza as he says that men act like there is no time. They feel that it is very limited and they must act quickly in order to not miss out on opportunities. Men do not want to risk being late in accomplishing things and usually want to rush through everything as they feel they have time only till their life comes to an end.

And thus it is that time goes by
while I give it to every querulous man who claims it,
and thine altar is empty of all offerings to the last.

Men keep complaining about the pace at which time keeps passing as they feel it keeps racing ahead. The poet talks about the impatient nature of men. They usually rush through things and forget to value each moment. Time is divine and for God it is infinite.

At the end of the day I hasten in fear lest thy gate be shut;
but I find that yet there is time.

In the last stanza of the poem, the poet talks about the end of one’s life when they feel that their time has come to an end. It is only at the time of death does one realize that even though they may cease to exist, time goes on for ages and it cannot be stopped or held onto.

but I find that yet there is time’, in this line the poet leaves a kind of uncertainty as he might mean that life goes on even after death or he might be hinting at the process of reincarnation. He might also mean that at the end of our lives we find the gates of heaven open for us and we realize that time is divine in nature and will continue to go on.

Summary:
The poet says that time is in the hands of the almighty and is infinite in nature. One cannot count his minutes as time has no beginning and no end. Days and night pass by and so do ages, just like flowers keep blooming and withering. God has watched all this patiently over centuries and centuries which seem to follow one after the other. Time does not stop at any point. We mortal beings feel the need to rush through things as we feel we have no time to waste and have to accomplish a lot in this one lifetime. We do not want to miss out on opportunities and in our rush we often forget to value each moment. Men tend to get impatient with time as they feel it keeps passing by and there is a lot one has to do before their life comes to an end. It is only at the time of death that one realises that time is divine in nature and his existence may come to end but time will continue to go on for ages.

Theme:
The basic idea being conveyed through this poem is that of the infinite nature of time. The poet says time is endless and is in the hands of the creator God. Time has no beginning and no end and hence cannot be stopped. It goes on for ages and ages even after one perishes. One’s life comes to an end and it is then that one realises that time will continue to exist and he may not know what happens after his death but one door always opens after another closes.

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A. Garg

A. Garg

I am a software engineer by profession and poetry is my hobby. I like literary works and visiting ancient works. Some of my works are available with this website...
A. Garg

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