What is a summary of the short story "The Victory" by Rabindranath Tagore?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rabindrahath Tagore’s short story “The Victory” is a story of love and loss. Shekhar, the court poet, is secretly in love with the Princess Ajita whom he has never met or seen because she sits behind her screen high above the court when he recites his poetry for the king. He only knows her by the soft tinkle of the bells upon her ankles. As time passes, the princess’ maid, Manjari, stops at the poet's home at night as she makes her way to the river. She sits  on the edge of the poet’s carpet, he calls her the “Spray of Spring Flowers,” and their relationship becomes accepted by the King, Princess Akita, and the kings’ subjects. It is a satisfying time for all until a new poet arrives saying, “Sire, I ask for war.”

Pundarik, the poet, was speaking of a war of words with the court poet. The two men battled in this war of words until Pundarik makes Shekhar feel useless. The two thespians battle with their poetry for days. Pundarik questions the words and works of the court poet until the people believe that he is the superior wordsmith.  The King ultimately crowns Pundarik with his string of pearls much to the delight of those gathered in the hall.

Shekhar leaves the hall in shame and returns to his home where he destroys the manuscripts of his works, many of which were devoted to his love. His work seems childish now. He proceeds to spread the flowers he loved so much upon his bed, drinks a poison draught, and lays down to die. As he lays close to death, he hears the faint tinkle of ankle bells as the Princess Ajita comes to tell him that in her opinion he won the contest and with the wreath of flowers from her neck, she crowns him the winner. Unfortunately, her actions are too late as the poet falls back in death.

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