Tagore’s 1906 collection of poems, Kheya (“The Ferry”) marks a distinct movement towards his preoccupation with religious themes that reaches its culmination in the poems of Gitanjali (1910) and Gitimalya (1914). In the present volume the poet evaluates the Indians’ general activities of his time in the light of the spiritual achievements of ancient India. With great despair he records the triviality of the basis on which contemporary life of his fellow people rests in comparison to the high spiritual ideal of ancient times. Here he really undertakes a symbolical journey from this sense of spiritual inertness to a newer world of activities. “Arrival” by Rabindranath Tagore is a short lyric from this poetic volume where this spiritual symbolism finds an exquisite rhythmic efflorescence.
Ordinary peopie’s lack of preparedness in receiving the Divine grace is a recurring theme in Togore’s poetry, and “Arrival” is designed in the same line. Here the poets religious awareness arrives at a fine coalition with his poetic maturity. The poem begns with the reference of the spiritual darkness of the speaker and his associates as they were unaware of the arrival of anyone that night:
“Our work was over for the day and now light was fading.
We did not think that anyone would come before the morning.
All the houses round about
Dark and shuttered for the night.”
Only a few illuminated ones could sense the arrival of the King of Grief and Night, and they tried their best to make others aware: “The King of Night is coming” But for the gross sensualists, it was not possible to apprehend any such happening, and so they laughed away their suggestion:” We just laughed at them and said, no one will come ’til morning” .The signals of His arrival still come to them through the sounds of knockings on the main doors and the chariot clatter, though are ignored sometimes as blow of the wind and sometimes as the sounds of distant thunder:
“And when on out the doors, we seemed to hear a knocking noise,
We told ourselves that’s only the wind.
……… ……. …….. ……. ………..
One or two were saying hear how the wheels of this chariot clatter
Sleepily we said, no, no, That’s only distant thunder.”
But making a surprise to the poet and poet-like persons. He arrives:
“With night still dark, there rose a drumming loud and near”
Somebody called to all. “Wake up, wake up. Delay no more ”
Now everyone starts shaking with fear and springs up saying
“We must delay no more.”
But no time is really left for them to give a ceremonious welcome to the king
“where are the lights, the garlands, where are the signs of celebration?
Where is the throne? The King has come, we made no preparation.”
And it is even too late for such lamentations and He has to be received with empty hands in barren rooms, with wide open doors and lowly conch’s boom.
William Radice considers the poem to be one about the discovery of divine grace by the human soul, the King being the symbol of that grace. Initially the soul may be indifferent to this grace, but ultimately is bound to welcome it, overcoming the barriers of anguish and confusion. The terror and the storminess of the poem arise out of the sudden discovery of this realization. The title’ Arrival’, therefore, symbolically highlights this theme of arrival of the Divine grace in the form of the King. In one of his essays, Tagore made his earnest prayer to the Almighty for physical and spiritual strength so that he can welcome the King of Night in complete wakefulness with poem is a superb example of Tagore’s use of simple words and opulent lyricism.