A Nobel Prize Winner Visits Albion

rabindranath-tagoreRecently it was announced that Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, but did you know that he was not the first musician to do so?

In 1913, Rabindranath Tagore, an Indian poet and songwriter, became the first musician (and first non-European) to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 1916, he traveled to America to visit with a school with a cause near and dear to his heart: Starr Commonwealth.

Tagore’s father had founded a school for boys in Bengal named Santiniketan, or “Abode of Peace”, and after hearing about Floyd Starr’s then newborn institution, he added Starr Commonwealth to his list of places to visit when he came to the United States.

Floyd Starr later said that when Rabindranath Tagore appeared in Albion, “The boys greeted Tagore cheerfully upon his arrival, and not one of them stood in any awe of the great poet.” They spent the two days he was on our campus looking at slides from Santiniketan and talking about life at the Indian school, as well as singing some his songs and talking with the boys.

When Tagore left Albion, he sent a letter to Uncle Floyd, saying, in part, “Amidst a desert of unprofitable days my visit to the Starr Commonwealth was like an oasis with its well of living water. While things of greater dimension will be forgotten, my visit to your school will go with me to the end of my days, for there I found Truth.”