How do the activities in Rabindranath Tagore's poem "The Railway Station" become a metaphor for life?
What does our life lack when juxtaposed with the image of a railway station which is full of life? Please explain with instances from the poem "Railway Station" by Rabindranath Tagore.
The scenes and incidents described in Rabindranath Tagore’s poem “The Railway Station” can be seen as metaphors for life in a number of different ways, including the following:
- The speaker comes to the station each morning and evening (1), just as we participate in life on a daily basis.
- The speaker takes pleasure in witnessing the movement of people in the station (2), just as we often take pleasure in witnessing the hubbub of life around us.
- People at the station are engaged in various but common activities, as is also true of most people in life (3-5).
- Some people are succeeding at the station while some are failing, as is common in life as well (6-7).
- Some people are acting as groups, as also happens in life (8-11).
- Groups form, dissolve, form, and dissolve – as also happens in life (12-15).
- Groups can suddenly appear and then disappear from sight, as is also true in life (16-18).
- We can rarely if ever genuinely or deeply know the people in a train station, just as the same is also true in life:
The hurry disguises their joys and sorrows,
Masks the pressure of gains and losses. (19-20)
- The passing of time is a constant source of pressure at the station, just as it is in life (21-24).
- The station is full of movement, variety, and unpredictable change, just as is true of life (25-38).
- People depart from the station (as they do from life; 39-42), just as new people also constantly arrive. The station, like the world, is a place that stays very much the same even as it continually changes.
- Mutability is a key fact of life in the station, just as it is in life itself (43-51). The life that appears in the station, like life in general, is (as Shakespeare once said) an “insubstantial pageant.”
- Ultimately, life is mysterious, leaving us in the end more with questions than with answers (54-55).
Our individual lives are perhaps never as full of exciting change and stimulating activity as is the railway station, but our personal lives are nevertheless sufficiently full of change to resemble the movements that occur in such a station.
The entire proceedings of the railway station mirror the events that we encounter in our daily life, if not directly.
In the beginning, Tagore expresses the way in which there are people everywhere, trying to achieve their goal (which happens to be purchasing a ticket, in this case). In life, too, here's a great jostle when it comes to grabbing opportunities in impatience - everyone wants to get their way, and fast.
The parallel failures and succeses that dfferent groups of people experience is also expresed in the poem. Tagore shows us how the ones that take a little extra effort manage to catch the train, whereas some others miss theirs by mere minutes. This is a situation rampant in our daily lives, charecterised by the anecdote 'Time and Tide Wait for No Man'.
Life is a canvas indeed, as the poem avidly portrays. Circumstances and situations can change with the blink of an eye, aquaintances can be made or broken. Our entire life seems to be a juxtapositin of contradicting events.