About the poet –
Rabindranath Tagore was an Indian poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter. He reshaped Bengali literature and music as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of the “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful” poetry of Gitanjali, he became in 1913 the first non-European and the first lyricist to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Tagore was known by many nicknames: Gurudev, Kobiguru, Biswakobi.
Read the poem
When my play was with thee is the 97th poem in Rabindranath’s Noble prize winning poetry collection Gitanjali. The poet addresses to God in the poem. He refers to his innocence that was present during his childhood, and its loss as he welcomed adulthood. His innocent soul played with the Lord gleefully without questioning His existence.
"When my play was with thee I never questioned who thou wert. I knew nor shyness nor fear, my life was boisterous. In the early morning thou wouldst call me from my sleep like my own comrade and lead me running from glade to glade."
The poem begins with the line “When my play was with thee I never questioned who thou wert.” Here, ‘thee’ refers to God. Childhood is the most innocent period of one’s life. In this stage, a child’s mind with filled with nothing but positivity and purity. He happily played with God without questioning about him. He wasn’t shy or afraid. Instead, his life was ‘boisterous’ meaning full of energy. In the morning God would whisper in his ears, to wake him up. Then they would run in the forest like friends.
"On those days I never cared to know the meaning of songs thou sangest to me. Only my voice took up the tunes, and my heart danced in their cadence."
Tagore again refers to his innocent childhood. On those days he didn’t want to know the meanings of the songs God sang to him. God used to sing songs in melodious tunes, but the poet was too young to understand the meaning of those lyrics. He simply sang the songs in the tune, without learning its meaning. His heart too danced to the tune and rhythm of those songs happily.
"Now, when the playtime is over, what is this sudden sight that is come upon me? The world with eyes bent upon thy feet stands in awe with all its silent stars."
The concluding lines of the poem takes place in the present day. His innocent days of childhood is now over. His playtime is now over, and he is no longer a child. There is a sudden change of events. As the poet grew up, he distanced himself from God. The more he gained knowledge, he started growing distant from his childhood friend God. He is surprised at the sight he sees now. The entire world is lying on God’s feet while closing their eyes, like silent stars. They are afraid of the same God who used to play with the poet in his childhood.