Bard comments

December 1, 1995

Better a witty fool than a foolish wit. A dispute has erupted in the heart of England where a bronze bust of the poet Rabindranath Tagore has been presented to the Shakespeare Centre in Stratford upon Avon by West Bengal.

The bust's plinth was to be engraved with a Tagore poem in praise of Shakespeare followed by the poem's English translation. But which English translation should be etched on to the plinth? Not Tagore's own translation, says Ketaki Kushari Dyson, an Oxford-based Tagore scholar and writer, because it has little literary merit. According to India Today she would prefer her own translation instead. Shakespeare's birthplace trust initially wanted a translation by the poet William Radice, but now supports Tagore's version; meanwhile John Bayley, former professor of English literature at Oxford wants Dyson's version. Why not inscribe them all, following Shakepeare's Domitius Enobarbus in Antony and Cleopatra, who said: "I will praise any man that will praise me."

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