[Ads-l] Tagore Quote

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Thu Oct 6 05:31:12 EDT 2016

According to hathitrust (unconfirmed) "life was joy" and "service was joy" both appear on page 149 of Message of the East, Vedanta Monthly [Boston] in either v. 30 1941 or v.31 1942 (bound together).


From: American Dialect Society <...> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <...>
Sent: Wednesday, October 5, 2016 12:09 PM
To: ...
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Tagore Quote

The bartleby.com website has an interesting thematically related poem.
The phrase "life was beauty" appeared instead of "life was joy".
Also, the word "duty" was used instead of "service". The attributed
author died in 1848. Tagore lived from 1861 to 1941.


[Begin excerpt]
Beauty and Duty
By Ellen Sturgis Hooper (1812-1848)

I SLEPT, and dreamed that life was beauty;
I woke, and found that life was duty.
Was thy dream then a shadowy lie?
Toil on, sad heart, courageously,
And thou shalt find thy dream to be
A noonday light and truth to thee.
[End excerpt]

The entry at bartleby.com is based on a 1903 anthology. Here is an
instance in "The Dial" in 1840.

Date: 1840 July (Reprint in 1901)
Periodical: The Dial
Quote Page 123


[Begin excerpt]
I SLEPT, and dreamed that life was Beauty;
I woke, and found that life was Duty.
Was thy dream then a shadowy lie?
Toil on, sad heart, courageously,
And thou shalt find thy dream to be
A noonday light and truth to thee.
[End excerpt]

Here is an attribution of two lines to Tagore circa 1942. This version
used "duty".

Year: 1942
Book Title: Being alive: human structure and functions
Author: Worldcat lists one author: Clifford Lee Brownell
Authors: GB lists three authors: Clifford Lee Brownell, Jesse Feiring
William, William Leonard Hughes
Publisher: New York; Cincinnati: American Book Company
Quote Page GB 287
Database: Google Books snippet; data may be inaccurate. 1942 copyright
notice is visible in snippet. Worldcat entry also specifies 1942

[Begin excerpt]
Tagore, the Indian philosopher, wrote,

"I slept and dreamed that life was joy.
I awoke and learned that life was duty."

What duties do you discern with respect to the facts you have learned
in this book?
[End excerpt]

Here is another attribution to Tagore with "duty". The book was
published in 1979 according to Worldcat, but it was based on a thesis
from 1951. So the excerpt below might be in the 1951 thesis at Temple.

Year: 1979 (An outgrowth of the author's thesis, Temple University, 1951)
Book: Jesse Herman Holmes, 1864-1942: A Quaker's Affirmation for Man
Author: Albert J. Wahl

[Begin excerpt]
It was his duty - a thought, we may be sure, which was for him only
reinforced by his friend Rabindranath Tagore:

I slept and dreamt
That life was joy
I awoke and saw
That life was duty
I acted and behold
Duty was joy.

This joy in duty was constantly stressed, as in the time (1917)...
[End excerpt]

Please double-check all information in this message before using it.


On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 10:42 AM, Shapiro, Fred <...:
> The following quotation is often attributed to Rabindranath Tagore, without precise citation:
> I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
> I awoke and saw that life was service.
> I acted -- and behold, service was joy.
> Can anyone help me to trace this quote to an actual source in Tagore's writings, or at least to early mentions of it in secondary sources?
> Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list