2/17/2015 – Truth in her Dress
“Truth in her dress finds facts too tight; in fiction she moves with ease.” This quote has stayed with me since college freshman days. I’ve pondered it over the years, both as a reader and a writer.
I think of the quote when I read savage satire where the facts are too tight. And I think of the quote when I read historical fiction that helps me with dates, incidents, and characters difficult to remember. In fiction, they move with ease. The quote works on many levels.
But who said it? A quick google search turned up the author: Rabindranath Tagore, a Bengali polymath poet and the first non-European to win the Nobel prize. He lived from 1861 to 1941.
Polymath? What does math have to do with poetry? I looked up the word and learned that a polymath is a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning, a Renaissance person.
Because his mother died when he and his siblings were young and his father traveled, Tagore was raised by servants in a wealthy Brahman family. At eight, he began writing poetry, and
at sixteen, released his first poems under the pseudonym Bhanushima. Over his lifetime, he composed more than 2,000 songs, wrote eight novels, four novellas and several drama-operas, and he was an award-winning poet.
He loathed formal education but he read, traveled, and explored widely, always challenging, experimenting and discovering. As he said, “Proper teaching does not explain things; proper teaching stokes curiosity.”
Here are a few more quotes from this fascinating man:
“Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it.”
“By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower.”
“I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can not go through one door, I’ll go through another–or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.”
“Love does not claim possession but gives freedom.”
He was a humanist, universalist, and internationalist. He denounced the Raj and advocated independence from Britain. Clearly, this is a man worth more than a quick blog.