A portrait of Tagore published three years after his death. In Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson's excellent biography of this great man (Bloomsbury, 1995), there appears this translation of this poignant poem:
Karma (The Worker), 1896
No sign of my servant this morning
The door stood unlatched my bath water was unfetched
The rascal didn’t show up last night.
Where my clean clothes were I had no clue
Nor where my meal was coming from.
Time passed, the clock ticking I sat, irritation pricking–
I really would tell him off, I would.
At last quite late he came greeted me in the same way
As usual, palms pressed meekly together.
I was seized by a fit I cried, ‘Go, get out,
I do not want to see your face!’
He heard me like a dunce as if stunned for once,
He searched my face in surprise.
Then he said, ‘Last night – ‘ he choked, ‘at midnight –
My little girl, she died.’
So saying, in haste cloth on shoulder he went to face
His daily chores alone.
And, as on any other day, he cleaned, polished, scrubbed away,
Left not a single task undone.