by Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941)
Translation by Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941)

When I bring to you colour'd toys, my...
Language: English  after the Bangla (Bengali) 
Available translation(s): GER
When I [bring to you colour'd]1 toys, my child,
I understand why there is such a play of colours 
On clouds, on water, and why flow'rs are painted in tints:
When I give colour'd toys to you, my child.

When I sing to make you dance,
[I truly know why there is]2 music in leaves,
And why waves send their chorus of voices
To the heart of the listening earth:
When I sing to make you dance.3

When I bring sweet things to your greedy hands,
I know why there is honey in the cup of the flower
And why fruits are secretly filled with sweet juice:
When I bring sweet things to your greedy hands.

When I kiss your face to make you smile, my darling, 
I surely understand what pleasure streams 
from the sky in morning light, and what delight 
that is that is which the summer breeze 
brings to my body - when I kiss you to make you smile.

M. Trotta sets stanzas 2, 3, 1

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
Note: in Gitanjali, the poem has no title; but in The Crescent Moon, its title is "When and why"
1 Carpenter: "bring you coloured"
2 Trotta: "I know why there's"
3 Trotta adds "We are free", and in the last repeat, "We are one."


Based on

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in German (Deutsch), a translation by Anonymous/Unidentified Artist ; composed by Jan Pieter Hendrik van Gilse.

Other available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2014, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 18
Word count: 163