Summary of ‘Flute Music’ by Rabindranath Tagore

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The poem ‘Flute Music’ unveils the life of a bachelor clerk who is constantly at war with his poverty. The article attempts to provide a summary of the thought provoking poem ‘Flute Music’ by Rabindranath Tagore.

The poem portrays the life of a poor clerk named Haripada who lives in the alley of a milkman named Kinu. The room is dark, shabby and unhygienic, difficult for human habitation. One could see the picture of Lord Ganesha, the bringer of good fortune hanging on the wall. Apart from the clerk, a lizard hold a share of the room. The clerk with a monthly salary of twenty five rupees has to make his living. He manages his food from Datta’s house for teaching their children. To mitigate the expenses of light he spends the evening in the Sealdah station where he becomes a witness to the cacophonous bustle of the city life. He returns home half past seven, tired and worn of his dark alley and monotonous life.

His relatives use to stay on the banks of the river Dhaleswari. He was supposed to marry with his aunt’s brother-in-law. However, the marriage could not materialize as he ran away from the holy ceremony thinking of the innocent girl, her future plight and his own unfortunate self. The eternal reminiscent of that moment, the image of the bridal dress- the Dacca sari, vermilion on her forehead.


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During the monsoon the cost of the ‘tram’ fair raise, but his wage gets curtailed due to late arrival at the office. As, such the alley looks like a heap of garbage, a foul smelling hell to be compared with. The umbrella with numerous holes make his drenched and the walls of his room are total damp. A deep psychological misery intertwines his life and leads him to desperation.

Amidst such a grim atmosphere, the poet introduces the character of Kantababu. A man of culture, a typical Bengali Babu who is indeed a great connoisseur of music. Sometimes he would play in the morning, and at times during the afternoon and midnight. On that particular day, he was playing the Sindhu-Baroya raag which highlighted the theme of ‘eternal pangs of separation’. A feeling of disgust and a current of intensified pain made its way straight into the clerk’s heart and reminded him of his perpetual  separation with his would be wife.

The girl with the bridal dress would flange in his mind, reminding him of his unfulfilled desire. The poet now makes some interesting concluding remarks. “Nothing distinguishes  the clerk from the Emperor Akbar.” This is because of the fact, “our sweetest songs are those which tells us the saddest thought.” The raag of Kantababu accentuates the pain of Haripada, which at times Akbar might also had felt listening to music. The sad music unites their heaven, being the pleasure of their pain.

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