Portrait of Rabindranath Tagore, left profile, drawing by Sir William Rothenstein



Despite his body of visual artwork, Tagore remains best known for his writing. His poems, novels and plays were translated into many languages and are still read around the world.

With his work reaching such a wide audience Tagore had many acquaintances and admirers amongst significant artists and writers around the world. One of them was Wilfred Owen, the poet and soldier whose work so powerfully evoked the experience of the British armed forces during World War I.

Owen copied one of the poems from Tagore's Nobel Prize-winning Gitanjali ('Offering of Songs') and took it to war with him. It began:

'When I go from hence let this be my parting word, that what I have seen is insurpassable.'

After he died in the trenches, Owen's mother wrote to Tagore to tell him that her son had quoted the poem when they said goodbye for the last time and had kept these lines with him in his pocket book.