‘ The last Bargain’ is a poem written by Rabindranath Tagore. This poem has a deep message to understand the power of innocence and selfless offers that reflect freedom instead of any bondage. The study material here includes a summary, meanings of words in every stanza and explanation of every stanza.
Overview of the Poem ‘The Last Bargain’
This poem by Rabindranath Tagore explores the concept of bargaining and reaching an agreement between two parties. The narrator of the poem is depicted as God in the form of a labourer who is desperately seeking work. While walking on a stone-paved road, he encounters a king in a chariot holding a sword who offers to hire him with his power, but the narrator declines the offer. Later, an old man with lots of money and gold tries to hire him for work, but the narrator turns away. A fair maid also tries to hire him with a smile, but ends up crying and going back alone into the dark.
In the end, an innocent child playing with shells asks for the narrator’s name and offers to hire him with nothing. This simple gesture of kindness strikes a bargain between them and the narrator feels liberated and free.
Summary of ‘The Last bargain”
Summary in English
The poem “The Last Bargain” tells the story of a man who is in search of employment. Initially, a King offers him a job based on his power, but the man rejects the offer since power holds no value to him. Later in the day, an old man offers him a job using his wealth as a lure, but the man is not swayed and declines the offer. As evening falls, a young woman offers him a job with her smile, but the man realizes her smile hides sorrow and she disappears into the darkness. Finally, he meets a child at the seashore who offers him a job for nothing. The man accepts this offer joyfully as it frees him from any obligations.
Summary in Hindi: The last bargain
यह कहानी एक ऐसे व्यक्ति के बारे में है जो नौकरी ढूंढ रहा था। राजा ने उसे अपनी शक्ति के साथ काम करने की पेशकश की थी। व्यक्ति को शक्ति की आवश्यकता नहीं थी और उसने पेशकश को अस्वीकार कर दिया। दोपहर में, जब सभी घरों के दरवाजे बंद होते हैं, एक बूढ़ा आदमी ने उसे अपनी संपत्ति के साथ नौकरी के लिए पेशकश की। व्यक्ति को सोने के सिक्के उस व्यक्ति को पर्याप्त नहीं लगे या कहें तो उसे अपने जीवन में इन सोने के सिक्कों का बहुत मोल समझ नहीं आया और उसने इस पेशकश को अस्वीकार कर दिया।
बाद में शाम को, एक युवा महिला ने उसे अपनी मुस्कुराहट के साथ काम करने की पेशकश की। उसकी खुशी केवल दुःख के रूप में थी अरथार्थ उसकी मुस्कुराहट के पीछे दुख था , और वह अंधेरे में भाग गई ।
अंत में, वह समुद्र तट पर जाता है जहां उसे एक बच्चा मिलता है जो उसे एक नौकरी का प्रस्ताव देता है बिना कुछ मांगे। वह खुशी से इस प्रस्ताव को स्वीकार करता है क्योंकि इससे वह एक स्वतंत्र व्यक्ति बन जाता है।
Stanza Wise Explanation ‘The Last Bargain’
“Come and hire me,” I cried, while in the morning
I was walking on the stone-paved road.
Sword in hand the King came in his chariot.
He held my hand and said, “I will hire you with my power,”
But his power counted for naught, and he went away in his chariot.
- Hire: to employ someone for a job or task in exchange for payment.
- Stone-paved: a road or path made of stones fitted or laid closely together.
- Sword: a weapon with a long metal blade and a handle, used for cutting or thrusting.
- Chariot: a two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle used in ancient times for transportation or racing.
- Naught: nothing; zero; of no value or importance.
This stanza portrays a scene where the speaker (poet) is walking on a stone-paved road and calls out for someone to hire them. Then, the King arrives in his chariot with a sword in hand, and the speaker exclaims that he is willing to work for the King. The King responds by saying that he will hire the speaker with his power, but the power of the King ultimately proves to be insufficient, and he departs in his chariot.
The stanza could be interpreted in different ways depending on the context in which it is read. However, it could be seen as a metaphor for the idea that power and authority are not always enough to solve a problem or achieve a goal. The speaker is willing to work and offers his services, but the King’s power is not enough to hire him. This could be seen as a reflection of how, in real life, individuals with power and influence may not always be able to accomplish everything they desire, and the help of others may be necessary.
In the heat of the mid-day the houses stood with shut doors.
I wandered along the crooked lane.
An old man came out with his bag of gold.
He pondered and said, “I will hire you with my money.”
He weighed his coins one by one, but I turned away.
- Mid-day: The middle of the day; noon.
- Shut: Closed or fastened securely.
- Crooked: Not straight; bending or curving at irregular intervals.
- Pondered: To think about something deeply and thoroughly.
- Hire: To engage the services of someone in exchange for payment.
- Weighed: To determine the weight of something by using a scale or balance.
- Turned away: To move or direct oneself away from someone or something.
The stanza describes a scene that takes place in the middle of a hot day, where the houses in a particular lane have their doors shut, indicating that the residents are probably indoors avoiding the heat. The speaker is wandering along the crooked lane, likely aimlessly, when an old man emerges from one of the houses with a bag of gold.
The old man seems to be in need of someone’s help, and after pondering for a moment, he tells the speaker that he will hire them with his money. The old man then begins to weigh his coins one by one, perhaps to show the speaker the amount of wealth he possesses.
However, the speaker turns away from the old man and his offer, and the stanza ends with this rejection left unexplained. The reasons for the speaker’s rejection are not clear, but it could be that the speaker is not interested in the old man’s wealth or is simply not in need of his employment.
It was evening. The garden hedge was all aflower.
The fair maid came out and said, “I will hire you with a smile.”
Her smile paled and melted into tears, and she went back alone into the dark.
- Garden: a piece of ground where plants, trees, or vegetables are grown
- Hedge: a row of shrubs or small trees planted close together, especially when forming a boundary
- Aflower: covered in flowers or blossoms
- Fair: beautiful or attractive, often used to describe a woman
- Maid: a young unmarried woman or a female domestic servant
- Hire: to employ someone for a job in return for payment
- Smile: an expression on the face that shows happiness, friendliness or amusement
- Paled: to become less bright or intense, fade or diminish
- Melted: to become liquid as a result of heating or warmth, here it means the sorrow causing tears
- Alone: without anyone else; solitary
This stanza describes a scene in a garden at evening time. The garden hedge is in full bloom, creating a beautiful and serene atmosphere.
A fair maid appears and offers to hire the speaker (Poet) with a smile, suggesting that she is looking for someone to work for her. However, something seems to upset her, as her smile quickly fades and turns into tears. She then retreats back into the darkness of the garden alone.
The stanza suggests that something has happened to cause the maid’s sudden change in mood. It could be that she is going through a personal struggle or is feeling overwhelmed by something. The contrast between the beauty of the garden and the maid’s sadness adds a poignant touch to the scene.
The sun glistened on the sand, and the sea waves broke waywardly.
A child sat playing with shells.
He raised his head and seemed to know me and said, “I hire you with nothing.”
From henceforward that bargain struck in child’s play made me a free man.
- Glistened: shone brightly and reflected light
- Waywardly: in an unpredictable and unmanageable manner
- Shells: hard, protective outer layer of some sea creatures
- Hire: employ or engage the services of someone
- Bargain: an agreement between two parties
- Henceforward: from now on, in the future
- Bargain: agreement, deal, contract
- Struck: made, created
- Child’s play: an activity that is simple or easy to do
- Free man: a person who is not enslaved or no longer bound or obligated to someone else
The stanza describes a scene at the beach, where the sun is shining on the sand and the waves of the sea are breaking in a random way. In this setting, a child is playing with shells.
The child notices the speaker and says, “I hire you with nothing.” This line can be interpreted as the child offering the speaker a job or task without any payment or expectation of payment. It can also be seen as a metaphor for the child’s innocence and freedom, as he has nothing to offer but his playfulness.
The final line of the stanza, “From henceforward that bargain struck in child’s play made me a free man,” suggests that the speaker has accepted the child’s offer and feels a sense of liberation or freedom from this interaction. The idea of being hired with nothing may represent a release from the pressures of societal expectations and obligations. The child’s simple gesture of play has allowed the speaker to become unburdened and free.
Poetic Devices in the Poem ‘The Last Bargain’
Apostrophe: The poetic device of apostrophe is used when the speaker addresses an absent or imaginary person or an abstract concept. In the first stanza, the speaker addresses potential employers when he cries out, “Come and hire me.”
Imagery: The use of vivid language to create mental images in the reader’s mind.
For example, “stone-paved road,” “King came in his chariot,” “went away in his chariot,” creates a visual image of the scene.
In the second stanza, the use of sensory imagery helps to convey the oppressive heat of the midday sun as the houses stand “with shut doors.”
Symbolism: Symbolism is the use of symbols to represent an idea or concept.
The sword in the King’s hand symbolizes power, and the old man’s bag of gold symbolizes wealth. The fair maid’s smile symbolizes pleasure, and the child’s shells represent innocence and playfulness.
In the third stanza, the fair maid’s smile is a also symbol of her promise to hire the speaker. Her smile pales and melts into tears, symbolizing her inability to keep her promise.
Alliteration: the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words
“The sun glistened on the sand, and the sea waves broke waywardly”, “made me a free man”
Repetition: The repetition of the phrase “I will hire you” throughout the stanzas, emphasizes the speaker’s desire for employment and his willingness to work.
Metaphor: A metaphor is a comparison between two things that are not alike, without using the words “like” or “as.”
The fair maid’s smile “paled and melted into tears” is a metaphor for her change of emotion from happiness to sadness.
In the final stanza, the child’s statement that he hires the speaker “with nothing” is a metaphor for the speaker’s newfound freedom. The speaker is not bound by the expectations or obligations that come with being hired for money or power.
Personification: The sea waves are personified by the use of the word “waywardly,” giving them human-like qualities.
Allusion: The line “That bargain struck in child’s play” alludes to the idea that life is like a game, and the speaker has finally found the key to freedom.
Irony: The contrast between the King’s power and his inability to hire the speaker emphasizes the speaker’s rejection of the traditional sources of power and status.