What is the summary of Tagore's "On the Seashore?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As with all poetry explication, if there are specific items that must be included, I would reference that more than anything else.  This should be your guide in forming your summary.  The basic idea of the poem is to articulate a world that is vastly different from what is.  In this idea, Tagore seeks to take the inescapable sadness and harsh conditions of consciousness and supplant them with an image that allows individuals to transform what is into what can or should be.  The opening thoughts of the poem help to bring this into light.  Tagore describes a condition whereby children meet “on the seashores of endless worlds.”  In expanding this vision with a description of nature and children’s joys, Tagore is able to construct a particular setting where there is a certain level of joy and bliss.  This is continued with Tagore’ explanation of how children play and the “smilingly” manner they do so, reflecting purity and a sense of perfect contentment.  There is an innocence to them that Tagore describes in how the children are different than the adults in the world.  Yet, the latter half of the poem reflects something more ominous, a condition in the world where natural destruction is evident.  The children fail to recognize the “death- dealing waves” or the composition of the sky.  While “the tempest” is evident, the children still smile and revel in their innocence.  The ending of the poem, thus, that repeats the first line brings to light how children’s joy of life is cast against the natural conditions that takes life from all.  Tagore’s own condition is the first inspiration I see here.  From a child who lost his mother at an early age to a young father who sees multiple children die from different ailments, along with his wife succumbing to death, it seems that Tagore is trying to reconcile the love of life that can be found in the hearth and the love of another with the seemingly cold cruelty of a state of being where death and loss are so prevalent.

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