Coincidences in literature are rather rare. Coincidences in literature across cultures are even rarer. So you can guess my surprise when reading Tagore’s “The question” from his Lipika collection of the 1920’s I found the following lines:
The father returned from the crematory.
The boy of seven – his body bare, a gold amulet round his neck -was alone by the window above the lane.
He was unaware of his own thoughts. (…)
A man selling green mangoes came to the lane, called several times, then went away.
The reason for my surprise came because many years ago my Latin American literature professor had taught me how extraordinary was the line:
A man selling green plantains and eggs walked down the street.
(Y paso un hombre vendiendo huevos y platanos).
That line came from Domingo Moreno Jimenes (an early 20th century caribbean poet) most famous poem: Poema de la hija reintegrada (Poem of the reinstated daughter, 1934) The poem’s subject is the death of his daughter, Maria. The poem includes Tagorean lines like:
Tu infancia y tu silencio me parecen hermanos.
(Your childhood and your silence strike me as siblings).
Hija mía, para ti la mañana no será clara ni fresca;
verás envuelta el alba en la noche,
y las cosas de mayor transparencia
tomarán ante tus ojos la actitud de un largo crepúsculo.
(My daughter, for you the morning will no longer be light and fresh;
you’ll see the dawn covered by the night’s darkness,
and even the most transparent things
will seem to your eyes like sunlessness without end).
Hija, resígnate a que lo blanco no sea blanco
y a que lo negro no sea negro.
(Daughter, accept that white things will no longer be white,
and black ones, no longer black).