Tagore's 'Gitanjali' or 'Song Offerings' that contains his own English prose translations of Bengali poetry was published in 1913 with an introduction by the Irish poet W. B. Yeats.
This book won Tagore the Nobel Prize for Literature that year. Here's an excerpt from his introduction that helps us realize that "We had not known that we loved God, hardly it may be that we believed in Him…"
- Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads! Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut? Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee!
- He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the pathmaker is breaking stones. He is with them in sun and in shower, and his garment is covered with dust. Put of thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil!
- Deliverance? Where is this deliverance to be found? Our master himself has joyfully taken upon him the bonds of creation; he is bound with us all for ever.
- Come out of thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and incense! What harm is there if thy clothes become tattered and stained? Meet him and stand by him in toil and in sweat of thy brow.
- When the creation was new and all the stars shone in their first splendour, the gods held their assembly in the sky and sang 'Oh, the picture of perfection! the joy unalloyed!'
- But one cried of a sudden - 'It seems that somewhere there is a break in the chain of light and one of the stars has been lost.'
- The golden string of their harp snapped, their song stopped, and they cried in dismay - 'Yes, that lost star was the best, she was the glory of all heavens!'
- From that day the search is unceasing for her, and the cry goes on from one to the other that in her the world has lost its one joy!
- Only in the deepest silence of night the stars smile and whisper among themselves - 'Vain is this seeking! unbroken perfection is over all!'
- In one salutation to thee, my God, let all my senses spread out and touch this world at thy feet.
- Like a rain-cloud of July hung low with its burden of unshed showers let all my mind bend down at thy door in one salutation to thee.
- Let all my songs gather together their diverse strains into a single current and flow to a sea of silence in one salutation to thee.
- Like a flock of homesick cranes flying night and day back to their mountain nests let all my life take its voyage to its eternal home in one salutation to thee.