After Robert Burns Tagore was definitely inspired by Ben Jonson English playwright and poet from the 15th CE. Here are some evolved version of it. As much as these tunes are new; Tagore explored and perhaps created what is now known as Fusion.

After this song had been popular for almost two centuries, scholars began to discern that its imagery and rhetoric were largely lifted from classical sources – particularly one of the erotic Epistles of Philostratus the Athenian (c. 170 – 250 BC). This borrowing is discussed by George Burke Johnston in his Poems of Ben Jonson (1960), who points out that “the poem is not a translation, but a synthesis of scattered passages. Although only one conceit is not borrowed from Philostratus, the piece is a unified poem, and its glory is Jonson’s. It has remained alive and popular for over three hundred years, and it is safe to say that no other work by Jonson is so well known.”

Besides Philostratus, a couple of other classical precedents have also been identified.

This literary background helps restore the original intention of the words from the blurring of certain lyrical variations which, while naïvely touching, do conceal the true meaning. In particular, the line “But might I of Jove’s nectar sup” is often rendered: “But might I of love’s nectar sip”. The disappearance of Jove was probably not due to changing fashion, however, but to a popular misreading of the text of early editions. In Ben Jonson’s time the initial J was just coming into use, and previously the standard would have been to use a capital I (as in classical Latin). Thus in the first edition of Ben Johnson’s The Forest (1616), where the song first appeared in print, the line reads: “But might I of Iove’s nectar sup”. “Iove” here indicates Jove, but this was misread as “love”. The word “sup” has also often been changed to “sip”; but “sup” rhymes with “cup”, and is clearly the reading in the first edition. The meaning of the line is that even if the poet could drink to his heart’s content of the nectar of the king of the gods, he would prefer the nectar made by his earthly beloved.

Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss within the cup,
And I’ll not ask for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove’s nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.

I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honoring thee
As giving it a hope, that there
It could not withered be.
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent’st it back to me;
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself, but thee

Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Prize-winning poet from Bangladesh, adapted the tune in his poem “Katabar ‘o Bhebechinu.” A popular Bengali vocalists Helene & Nafisa sang both the versions.

Modern Rendition by Rezwana Choudhury Bannya

Author Profile

Rabindranath Tagore
Bengali polymath, a poet, musician and artist from the Indian subcontinent. He reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of the "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse" of Gitanjali, he became in 1913 the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Tagore's poetic songs were viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his "elegant prose and magical poetry" remain largely unknown outside Bengal. He is sometimes referred to as "the Bard of Bengal".

A Pirali Brahmin from Calcutta with ancestral gentry roots in Jessore, Tagore wrote poetry as an eight-year-old. At the age of sixteen, he released his first substantial poems under the pseudonym Bhānusiṃha ("Sun Lion"), which were seized upon by literary authorities as long-lost classics. By 1877 he graduated to his first short stories and dramas, published under his real name. As a humanist, universalist, internationalist, and ardent anti-nationalist, he denounced the British Raj and advocated independence from Britain. As an exponent of the Bengal Renaissance, he advanced a vast canon that comprised paintings, sketches and doodles, hundreds of texts, and some two thousand songs; his legacy also endures in the institution he founded, Visva-Bharati University.

Tagore modernised Bengali art by spurning rigid classical forms and resisting linguistic strictures. His novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays spoke to topics political and personal. Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced) and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) are his best-known works, and his verse, short stories, and novels were acclaimed—or panned—for their lyricism, colloquialism, naturalism, and unnatural contemplation. His compositions were chosen by two nations as national anthems: India's Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh's Amar Shonar Bangla. The Sri Lankan national anthem was inspired by his work

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