In "The Fist Jasmines," what does Tagore mean by the lines "Autumn sunsets have a bride raising her veil"?

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Vikash Lata eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To Tagore, “these white jasmines” are reminiscent of his joyous childhood days. They conjure up the old fond memories of the time “when I (the poet) was a child.” Swayed into the thoughts of “Many a glad day”, the poet recalls “the first day when I filled my hands with these jasmines, these white jasmines.”

The sweet-smelling jasmines remind him of the time he would spend in the company of nature’s various forms. The comforting images of the past are evoked at once in his mind, including those of "the sunlight, the sky and the green earth," “the liquid murmur of the river,” “many a glad day,” “festival nights,” and “the evening wreath of bakulas.” He sounds nostalgic but not sad.

The poet's no more a child. In the line quoted below, the poet accepts his present state in a very cheerful way.

Autumn sunsets have come to me at the bend of a road in the lonely waste, like a bride raising her veil to accept her lover.”

Both the season of autumn and sunset have been traditionally associated with the old age. The poet knows quite well that the prime of his youth has already passed away and that he is growing older. The phrase “Autumn sunsets” stands for his declining years that "have come to me at the bend of a road in the lonely waste.“

Unlike many Romantic and Victorian poets, Tagore doesn't wish to become a child again nor does he lament growing old. Instead, he accepts the inevitable reality in an unexpectedly cheerful way.

He finds “autumn sunsets” of his life as gorgeous as a bride. The comparison of the approaching old age to “a bride raising her veil to accept her lover” is quite unusual and highly innovative. The uncomplaining poet seems to be celebrating his growing old as if it were his wedding ceremony.

This line expresses the poet's unconventional attitude towards ageing. Far from being depressed and mourning, he is in a celebratory mood, eager to embrace his advancing years as a man would embrace his bride. 

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rabindrath Tagore utilizes varied figurative language in his "The First Jasmines" to depict the beauty of his memories associated with white jasmines.  In the beginning of the poem, the speaker reflects on his first memory of holding white jasmines and his love for the natural world.  In line seven, the speaker uses a simile to compare the arrival of "autumn sunsets" to "a bride raising her veil" (7-8). 

Rabindrath's use of figurative language equates the sunsets to something pure, unseen, and beautiful.  The unlikely comparison between the setting sun and the "bride raising her veil" not only creates a lovely image in the mind of the reader, the comparison also imbues the moment with the same joyful feeling that might accompany a marriage ceremony.