Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

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Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features 

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Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

 

By

Menonim Menonimus

 

Internet Edition by

www.menonimus.org

 

 

Indian English Poets & Poetry-Chief Features,  A collection of Critical Essays on Indian English Poetry by Menonim Menonimus. Indian English Poets and Poetry

 

All Rights Reserved

First Published: 2019

Price: Rs. ……………… /-

D.T.P. by  A K Azad

Printed at:

 

Dedicated 

To

Mrs Dalima

My Mother

Who taught me the Lesson of how much simple 

life may be.

— Menonim Menonimus

 

Contents

1. The Poetry of Henry Derozio– Chief Features

2. The Poetry of Toru Dutt– Chief Features

3. The Poetry of Kasiprasad Ghose– Chief Features

4. The Poetry of Michael Madhusudan Dutt– Chief Features

5. The Poetry of Ananda Acharya– Chief Features

6. The Poetry of Ramesh Chunder Dutt– Chief Features

7. The Poetry of Ram Sharma – Chief Features

8. The Poetry of Brajendranath Seal– Chief Features

9. The Poetry of Swami Vivekananda– Chief Features

10. The Poetry of Manmohan Ghose– Chief Features

11. The Poetry of Sri Aurobindo Ghose– Chief Features

12. The Poetry of Nizamat Jung– Chief Features

13. The Poetry of Sarojini Naidu– Chief Features

14. The Poetry of Harindranath Chattopadhaya-Chief Features

15. The Poetry of Govinda Krishna Chettur– Chief Features

16. The Poetry of Nirodbaran– Chief Features

17. The Poetry of Armando Menezes– Chief Features

Introductory

Indian Poetry in English (Indo-Anglian Poetry) has already established itself as an independent world of literature But its history is not so long. It took birth in the third decade of the nineteenth century with Henry Louis Vivian Derozio. He inaugurated the glorious beginning of Indian English Poetry under the influence of English Romantic poets with the publication of his poetry book ‘The Fakir of Jungheera’  in 1828. After him, many poets have been practising their able hands in poetry and now the storehouse of Indian English poetry is considerably rich. Though Indian English poetry, in style and language, owes its debt to the tradition of English poetry, yet Indian English poetry is full of Indian sensibilities. 

I, as an eager reader of poetry, took to enjoying Indian English poetry during my student life and along with my reading, I liked to write brief criticism on what I read and enjoyed. This book ‘Indian English Poets and Poetry–Chief Features’ is the result of such entertainment. The critical analyses written on some individual Indian poets and poetry are absolutely done from my own understanding. I don’t know what the other critics of this field say about the Indian English poets and poetry.

I, in writing out this critical book, have followed the texts given a place in the anthology entitled ‘The Golden Treasury of Indo-Anglian Poetry selected and edited by Vinayak Krishna Gokak, Published by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.

Hope that my readers would like this book. 

Menonim Menonimus

Shanti Kanan.

Kamalpur, Barpeta, India

 

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

 

The Poetry of Henry Derozio– Chief Features

Indo-Anglian Poetry (Indian Poetry in English) has already established as an independent world of literature as independent as American literature, British Literature, Australian Literature etc. and it has been being prescribed in the syllabi of many universities in India and abroad. But its history is not so long. It took birth in the third decade of the nineteenth century in the hand of an Indian young poet whose name was Henry Louis Vivian Derozio. He was born in 1809 in Calcutta of mixed Portuguese and Indian descent. He began to write poetry in English under the influence of English poets at an early age and he published his first poetry book entitled ‘The Fakir of Jungheera’ in 1828 at the age of nineteenth.  And with the publication of the book the era of Indo- Anglian poetry began. But unfortunately, this first Indo- Anglian poet met a premature death at the age of twenty-two in 1831. 

While he began to write poetry the tradition of English Romanticism was in full swing and it influenced him considerably. But the matter of his poetry is Indian; the only manner (style and technique) is English. He wrote on a variety of themes as- Indian heritage, social blind faith, love and nature. Most of his poems suffer from melancholic and lonely moods. There is a ray of optimism also in his poetry. He wrote in a simple rhythmic language like the English Romantic poets.

As a poet, Derozio is a patriotic one. He loves India very much along with its heritage. He noticed that the heritage of India had been waning day by day for which he lamented and wrote the poem ‘The Harp of India’. In the poem, the ‘harp’ symbolizes Indian heritage. But with the beginning of Western education, this heritage began to break down. In Indian rural areas, there were bards and minstrels who composed songs and sang with the accompaniment of a harp. But with the passing of time, this heritage was seen no more. Derozio wrote in an elegiac tone:

”Thy music once was sweet- who hears it now?

Why doth the breeze sigh over thee in vain?

Silence hath bound thee with her fatal chain;

Neglected, mute and desolate art thou,

Like ruined monument on desert plain.”

The second Indian element that is visible in his poetry is the social scene, especially the traditional religious faith, most of which are blind faiths or prejudices. ‘The Chorus of Brahmins’ is such a poem where he portrays the religious acts of the Brahmins and their beliefs in gods and goddesses. Image worship is much practised in India. The Hindus from time immemorial Practised the ritual of offering human beings in the altar of god or goddess. During the days of Derozio, this practice was alive. Now it has come almost to an end. Derozio had wink eyes toward this religious practice. So he wrote in plain irony:

”High ascending it may please

Him who guides our destinies

Bring the pearl of purest white.

………………………………..

Branches of the sandal tree

Which their fragrance still impart

Like the good man’s injured heart.

This its triumph, this its boast

Sweetest ‘tis when wounded most.”

Thirdly, the theme of love appears very vividly and elegantly in his poetry. His love poems are purely romantic. His attitude toward love, in some of his love poems, is like the English metaphysical love poets of the seventeenth century. His love poems are full of vivid imageries comprise of hyperbole, metaphor, oxymoron and conceits. The poems entitled ‘Song ‘and ‘The Song of Hindustanee Minstrel’ are absolutely romantic love poems from head to foot. In both the poems, the poet desires to escape from human society along with his beloved and wants to live in a solitary place amid joy, happiness and extreme comforts. In ‘Song’ he writes:

”To the depth of the ocean

Come swiftly to me,

I’ll give thee the treasures

No moral can see.”  

In ‘The Song of the Hindustanee Minstrel’ he again writes in the same attitude, as-

”Around us now there is but the night, 

The heaven alone above

But soon we’ll dwell in cities bright

Then cheer thee, cheer thee, love!”

The description of the physical beauty of his beloved is also highly romantic. In the same poem he writes:

”Dildar! There is many a valued pearl

In richest Oman’s sea;

But my fair cashmarian girl!

O! none can rival thee.”

Fourthly, Nature stands in a prominent place in his poetry. His nature poems are also romantic but his attitude towards nature is a deviation from the traditional romantic nature poems. In all his nature poems, nature does not stand as a source of joy, peace and happiness but as a parallel to human plight in society. In his nature poems, nature symbolizes and represents the sorrows and sufferance of human beings on the earth. ‘Sonnet to the Moon’ is such a nature poem. He writes in this poem that nature shares our misfortune and sympathizes with us. He writes:

”And ceaseless gazing on the thousand showers

Of ill that inundate this world of ours

Has touched thy heart, and bid thine aspect be

For our misfortunes, pale with sympathy.”

In addition to all these above-discussed themes, he wrote a few poems on adolescent minds and their inner workings which are introspective and psychological in nature. The poem entitled ‘Poetry’ is such a poem where he has expressed the colourful, fanciful, optimistic imagination of adolescent life. Generally, youthhood is full of fantasy.  A boy or girl in his youthhood desires to do everything adventurous which, in practical life,is impossible to bring into force. He writes in Poetry:

”Sweet madness! – when youthful brain is seized

With that delicious frenzy which it loves

It raving reels, to very rapture pleased,-

And then through all creation wildly roves.”

Linguistically and stylistically his poems are simple. He has the simplicity of Wordsworth, Blake and Byron in him. His imageries are more akin to the English metaphysical poets. Though there is not Shelley in him yet he is lyrical to the root. He, as the first Indian poet to write in English, could not be purely Indian.- his matters and themes are Indian but his poetic feeling and style are English.

His span of literary career is very brief. He died at an early age while he only began to pave his way to poetry, so his poetic career could not bloom fully. There, in him was much probability of a glorious future. His place in the history of Indian English Poetry may not be high, yet his name would be pronounced with great honour as the great exponent of Indian English poetry. 0 0 0

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

The Poetry of Toru Dutt– Chief Features 

Toru Dutt (1856-1877) was the first distinguished Indian English poetess (female poet). Her advent in the sky of Indo-Anglian poetry was like a meteor. She appeared with all the brightness and glory of a versifier but was cut off suddenly by premature death. During her short span of life, she wrote only two books of poetry- ‘A Sheaf Gleaned in French Field’ which is an anthology of French lyrics translated from original French into English. It contains one hundred and sixty lyrics all by seventy different poets. The second book of poetry by her is ‘Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan’ which is her original creation in English. As a poetess, she is a romantic one. Like Keats,  she combines beauty and like Wordsworth, she inputs reflectiveness in her poetry. Her poetry is full of Indianness. Besides being a romantic poetess, she is a successful poetess of Indian legends and mythology also. Her style of poetry is a combination both of Wordsworth and Keats though she could hardly achieve their proficiency. 

To begin the explanation, we can consider her poem entitled ‘The Lotus’ which is a typical nature poem. In it, she seeks beauty in nature, especially in lotus as a kind of flower. To the poetess, the lotus is superior to the rose and lily; because it bears the redness of the rose and whiteness of the lily. The poetess says:

”…flora gave the lotus, ‘rose red’ dyed

And ‘lily white’ the queenliest flower that blows.”

‘Our Casuarina Tree’ is another nature poem. As a nature poem, it is grand as Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey; because like Wordsworth, she, in this poem, combines a description of nature, especially of the Casuarina tree with her reflection on childhood life. The description of nature in this poem is vivid and sensuous, as-

”The giant wears the scarf and flowers are hung

In crimson clusters all the boughs among

Whereon all day are gathered bird and bee;

And oft at nights the garden overflows

With one sweet song that seems to have no close

Sung darkling from our tree, while men repose.”

In the third stanza of the poem, she recalls her childhood days which were full of joys and pleasures under the tree. Here the tree stands as a token of memory. She says:

”But not because of its magnificence

Dear is the Casuarina to my soul:

Beneath it we have played, though year may roll

O sweet companions, loved with love intense, 

For your sake shall the tree be ever dear!

Blent with your images…… .” 

The second theme of her poetry is pertaining to Indian legend and myths. In the poems with these themes, she revives the glory of ancient India. The poem entitled ‘Lakshman’ is such a poem. The matter of the poem is taken from ‘The Ramayana’. In it, the poetess shows the social condition of ancient India and along with it she shows Sita’s love and devotion to her husband, Ram.

Though she died at an early age like Keats, yet she could achieve a glorious maturity in poetic style. Her poems are full of sensuous imageries, as:

”Like a huge python, winding round and round 

The rugged trunk indented deep with scars

Up to its very summit near the stars,

A creeper climbs in whose embraces bound

No other tree could live.”

The imagery of heroism is also present in her poems which are fascinating to the heart, as:

”The lion and the grisly bear

Cower when they see his royal look,

Sun-staring eagles of the air

His glance of anger cannot brook

Python and cobras at his tread 

To their most secret coverts glide

Bowed to the dust each serpent head

Erect before in hooded pride.”

The language of her poetry is neither easy nor difficult. Wordsworth’s simplicity and Keats’ difficulty are equally present in her poems. 

No poetess could achieve proficiency and maturity like hers within such a brief span of life. In this respect, she may be called the Keats of Indo- Anglian Poetry though in the use of poetic imagery she is not as grand as Keats. But as a young poetess, she is a wonder in the whole range of Indian English poets. 0 0 0

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

The Poetry of Kasiprasad Ghose– Chief Features

It is generally said that Henry Derozio was the first Indian poet who wrote poetry in English. But he was not an aborigine of India because he came from mixed Portuguese and Indian descent. Kasiprasad Ghose (1809-1873) who was the first pure Indian who wrote poetry in English because he was an aboriginal Indian descent. On the other hand, the themes and style of Henry Derozio’s poetry were half English and half Indian. But both the themes and style of Kasiprasad Ghose were pure Indian, except only language. Both in matter and manner, he was full of Indian sensibilities. He wrote on Indian blind faith, Indian natural scenery, Indian wild beings and so on. 

‘To a Young Hindu Widow’ is a poem in which he has expressed the sorrows and sufferance, social negligence and hatred suffered by an Indian widow. In Indian society till the time of Kasiprasad Ghose, a Hindu widow could not enter into a second marriage and all her remaining life she had to suffer inestimable social hatred and negligence. She had to give up all the joys and comforts of life. Her widowhood was a living tragedy; a living death. Her sorrows and sufferance were ended in her death only. The poet writes:

”Thou mayst not, dar’st not, must not hope

A joy upon the world beneath;

But thou must ev’r with sorrow’s cope,

Sorrows which only end in death.”

Till Kasiprasad Ghose, there were poets and poets in India, but none seemed to portray the sufferance of a widow in poetry.

‘The Shair’s Farewell Song’ is another poem in which the poet portrays the natural beauty as well as his love and praise for the natural beauty of India. In this poetry, the poet says that an individual whose title is ‘Shair’,  goes to the sea, being grief-worn, to make an end to his life and thus to get rid of his grief. But before jumping down to the sea to commit suicide, he climbs up the rock beside the sea to enjoy the natural scenery of his motherland and sings a song in praise of her beauty. The description of the beauty of his land is realistic and heart-penetrating. He sings:

”Farewell my lovely native land!

Where roses bloom in many a vale;

Where green clad hills majestic stand

Where flowers woo the scented gale

……………………………………

Where mighty Ganga’s billows flow

And wonder many a country by

Where ocean smiles serene below,

Beneath thy blue and sunny sky.”

To a Dead Crow is another individual poem in which the poet expresses his love for Indian wild beings. The crow is a wild bird. None heeds on the bird and its voice. Everybody hates it as an inauspicious bird. But for the poet, it is a “gay minstrel of the Indian clime”. In this poetry, the poet sympathizes with the crow. He writes:

”Gay minstrel! nev’r had death before

It’s dart destructive, sharpened more

To pierce a gayer, mortal heart

Than thine, which ah! hath felt the smart!”

There are poets who write poetry in praise of cuckoo, skylark, and peacock; but it was Kasiprasad Ghose who wrote poetry in praise of an ugly and inauspicious bird like a crow. 

From the above discussion, it is clear that the main themes of Kasiprasad Ghose’s major poems are Indian and the sympathetic portrayal of these themes proves that he had a great love for his motherland. And hence he may be called a great patriotic Indo-Anglian poet. 

Pathos is the main tone of his poems. All themes taken by him for his poetry are pathetic and thus pathos have been portrayed with sympathy and this sympathy is enough to prove him that he was a great lover of his motherland with all its objects and beings. 

The style of Kasiprasad Ghose is also Indian. Poets before him and even many poets after him wrote poetry imitating the style of the English poets. But Kasiprasad had written poetry not imitating the English poets but imitating the Indian style of the Bengali lyrics.

The imagery of his poetry is consciously free from the net of English imagery. He employs simple but native imagery and always keeps himself away from the complexity of the English imagery.  His imageries are mainly visual. But here to say that though his imageries are simple, yet his portrayal of the fact, feeling, or idea is so vivid that his readers experience it in such a manner as if it has been happening in front of our eyes. Like his imageries, there is not any complexity and difficulty in word and phrase formations.

At last, it is reasonable to come to the conclusion that Kasiprasad Ghose was the first Indo-Anglian poet whose poetry is replete with national sensibilities. 0 0 0

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

The Poetry of Michael Madhusudan Dutt– Chief Features

Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824- 1873) was a major poet of the introductory age of the Indo- Anglian Poetry. He added a new vitality and grace by employing lofty themes of Indian legends and comparatively higher style to the Indo- Anglian poetry, which was recently given birth to by Henry Derozio and nursed tenderly by Kasiprasad Ghose till him. For his poetry, he selected those themes from Indian legends and myths which bore the pride and glory of ancient India.

‘The Captive Lady’ is a poem the matter of which is taken from a historical legend of eleventh century India. Through this poem, the poet has portrayed the devotion of an Indian woman to her husband. The heroine of the poem is the royal daughter of the King of Kanuj. The king did not want to give his daughter in marriage to the King of Delhi. But eventually, the King of Delhi married her. Some years later to that marriage, the Sultan of Ghazni named Mahmud invaded India and crushed the king. The Queen of Delhi then burnt herself on the funeral pyre of her dead husband. 

‘King Porus- A Legend of Old’ is another poem the matter of which has been taken from the history of ancient India. Through this poem, the poet has delineated the patriotism of King Porus. Besides, being a patriot, he was a great hero also as he fought very bravely against Alexander the Great. In the battle between the two, King Porus was defeated and then he was taken to Alexander from whom Porus demanded the treatment of a king. In the words of the poet:

”King Porus was no slave;

He stooped not- bent not there his knee-

But stood as stands an oak, 

in Himalayan majesty

‘How should I treat thee?’ Asked

The mighty king of Macedon

‘Even as a king’, he replied

In royal pride.”

Like these poems, all his major poems deal with the Indian legends through which he revived the pride and glory of ancient India. In ideal, the Indian legends are lofty and it was Mr Madhusudan Dutt who first revived them in poetry with a new spirit and held them up outside India. 

He, besides Indian legends, took the Biblical themes also. The poem with the title ‘Satan’ is such a poem. In it, he has shown the sufferance of Satan after his fall from heaven. 

As the themes and matters of his poetry are lofty so is his style. In the Indo- Anglian Poetry before him, the use of imagery was limited. The poets prior to him used simple and common imagery. But Madhusudan employed higher imageries which are self-explaining in themselves. His imageries are vivid and perfect. In other words, to say, his imageries are grand if compared to the imageries of his predecessors. In the poem ‘Satan’ he uses two imageries to show Satan’s forlorn state after his fall. He stated Satan’s downfall in the hand of God through the following grand imagery, as-

”…..like a barque which oft had walked the deep 

In queen like majesty- and proudly brave-

But by the fiery hand of some fiend

Nursed in starless caves of ocean shorn

Of all its beauty in the boundless surge

A phantom of departed splendor tone.”

The imagery reminds us of the imagery used by John Milton in ‘Paradise Lost’. Though all his imageries are not like that of Milton, yet it is visible that his imageries have a new grace and spirit of spontaneity than the imageries used by his predecessors. For example, the following lines may be quoted:

”Loudly thy midnight tempest sang

Ah! It was thy dirge, fair to liberty!

And clouds in thundering accents roar’d

Unheeded warning from on high;

The rain in darksome torrents fell,

Hydaspes waves did onward sweep

Like fiery passions headlong flow. 

To meet its awakened calling deep

The lightning flashed bright- dazzling like

Fair woman’s glance from ‘neath her veil,

And on the heaving troubled air, 

There was a moaning sound of wail!”

This imagery symbolizes the immediate peril presaging the invasion of Alexander the Great. Moreover, Madhusudan Dutt proves himself to have the commanding power of creating similes. He uses four similes to express the strength and heroic courage of King Porus, as-

(i) dauntlessly there stood

King Porus, towering ‘midst the foe

Like a Himalaya peak

With its eternal crown of snow.

(ii) he stood- as stands the ocean rock

Amidst the lashing billows

Unmoved at their fierce thundering shock.

(iii) …..stood as stands an oak

In Himalayan majesty

(iv) Thou standest like a lofty tree

Shorn of fruits- blossoms- leaves and all-

Of every gale……..

The simile is a common and much-used figure of speech. But most similes are simple and generally show the comparison of names only. The similes which are developed to show the characteristics of the thing compared may be called grand similes. And if it is called so, so are the similes of Madhusudan Dutt.

Besides this, the poet used dashes abundantly like that of Emily Dickinson, an American poetess. The use of some of them is appropriate,  some have played the roles of Aposiopesis (it is a figure of speech by which a writer or speaker suddenly breaks off from what he was going to say and leaves the sentence incomplete as if unable to continue or unwilling to say) and some of which are superfluous.

In the poem entitled Satan, a fourteen-line poem, he has used seven dashes many of which are superfluous. 

From the above illustration of Madhusudan Dutt’s poetry, it has come to the clarification that he as a poet was a grand addition to the list of Indo- Anglian Poets of the initial stage. 0 0 0

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

The Poetry of Ananda Acharya– Chief Features

Ananda Acharya is less popular but a great Indian English poet with a difference. He was the first Indo- Anglian poet to utter humanitarian tenets in poetry. As a humanitarian poet or a poet of man, he gave emphasis on human brotherhood irrespective of caste and creed and on the understanding of the inner soul of man than the material world. As a poet, he thought that understanding the greatness of human soul and love for man should be the main motto of an artist. And in doing so, his poems become spiritual, religious, mystic and moral.

In the poem, ‘The True Immensity’ he says that human soul is the greatest subject to be perceived and understood the Divine Soul; because he believes that God expresses Himself through human beings. He says:

”True immensity

Is in the grass-star-blossom of my soul

Not in this vastness

Of land and air and sea

Which is so narrow.”

In the poem  ‘A Tear’ he experiences that human love is bestowed by God.  A meditative heart can experience it. So he demands to have divine love in the poem. He says, in a dream, he saw a woman’s image whose face was as sweet as the morning. She gazed at the poet’s eyes but spoke nothing. Then the poet felt that all the love of heaven has entered his soul. In the poet’s words:

”….. I felt all the love of the heavens

Entering into my soul

As I fell into trance- it was a sleep 

Within rings of sleep.”

The above-quoted lines are truly mystic in tenet.

The poet loves man. Love to man is his main motto. Wherever he goes, he embraces everybody and receives love from everybody. He is willing to share international brotherhood. So in the poem Hail, Norway he says:

”I walk among the towns and

Villages, the hills and valleys, as

Thy friend: and over thy holy

Name, o Norway, I have built a

Perfumed rainbow-arch of love.”

In the poem ‘The Youthful Prophet’ he shows that love for man is the only means to build human brotherhood. And it is love only by means of which human beings can be one or united. In his poem, the poet says that fraternity cannot be built by gold and riches, by sword or gun or by menace or tyranny. The poet expresses through the mouth of the youthful prophet:

”Let me go to each man’s door, o king,

And bid him search his heart and

Find the One.’

The message of brotherhood and love can never remain confined to a fixed place. It flies swifter and embraces everybody. Guru Nanak was among some who preached human love and brotherhood. Preaching the messages of love and brotherhood, he went to Baghdad where he found a true disciple of him named Balol. He was so much inspired by the words of Guru Nanak that in far off Baghdad there was built an engraved inscription with the teaching of Guru Nanak. Besides India, Guru Nanak is loved and honoured in Iran also only for his words of love and brotherhood.

The style and language of Ananda Acharya are simple, easy and prosaic. He uses a few figures of speech except simile. But the use of simile is charming, as-

(i) A tear rose to my eye and fell on my

Palm like a frozen pearl.

(ii) Balol has rested on the master’s word-

Like a bee-poised on a down-lit

Honey- rose.

(iii) …… innocent as the smile

Of a dreaming babe.

To conclude it can be said that Sri Ananda Acharya, as a poet, is single-sided- only humanitarian. His only fault is that he lacked a diversity of theme and style. 0 0 0

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

The Poetry of Ramesh Chunder Dutt– Chief Features

Ramesh Chunder Dutt (1848-1909) was an Indo-Anglian poet of late nineteenth-century India. During his lifetime he published two volumes of poetry, as (1) Lays of Ancient India (Selection from Indian poetry rendered into English verse) and (2) The Ramayana and The Mahabharata (condensed into English verse). Almost all the themes of his poetry are mythological. Through his poetry, he reawakened the legends and myths of ancient India and added new vigour to them and thus he held up the cultural pride of ancient India in front of the world in a very lucid and easy style. Even a rough and hurried study of his poems proves him to be so.

For illustration, we can take the poem entitled ‘Buddha’s Death’. It is based on the legend of Buddha who was a sage, reformer and founder of a new set of Hinduism called after him Buddhism. Through this poem, he has portrayed Buddha’s greatness, wisdom, and teachings which are full of ideals. Buddha gave emphasis on the piety (holiness) of the human soul. The poet writes:

”Not by flowers or sandal powder

Not by music’s heavenly strain, 

Is the soul’s true worship rendered,

Useless are these things and vain!”

But the brothers and the sisters,

Man devout and woman holy-

Pure in life, in duty faithful,-

They perform the worship truly!

As Jesus Christ gave emphasis on the piety of the soul so did Buddha and, writing a poem about him, the poet shows the world that there was such a spiritually wise man like Jesus in ancient India also. 

‘Sita Lost’ is another poem taken from Indian mythology. ‘The Ramayana’ by Balmiki is the main resource of the poem. Through this poem, the poet Ramesh Chunder Dutt shows Sita’s virtues and devotion to her husband, Ram. Along with it, the poet shows Ram’s love for his subjects and his honour for public opinion. The poet expresses through the mouth of Ram:

”Pardon, if the voice of rumor drove me to a deed of shame,

Bowing to my people’s wishes I disowned my sinless dame

Pardon, if to please my subjects I have bade my Sita roam,

Tore her from my throne and empire, tore her from my heart and home.”

‘Night of Slaughter: Duryodhan’s Death’ is another such poem through which the poet shows the social as well as the political conditions of ancient India. In ancient India, there was great religious princesses like the Pandavas and likewise irreligious and envious princesses like the Kauravas. But the pious princess and the kings like the Pandavas could influence on the cultural sides of society considerably.

Ramesh Chunder Dutt’s poems are simple in language, no doubt, but the imageries which he has used in his poems are vivid, lucid and appropriate to the matter. He often uses the imagery of heroism and horror in his mythological poems. In the poem entitled ‘Night of Slaughter: Duryodhan’s Death’ the poet invokes imagery of horror when Duryodhan was given a fatal blow by Bhim and he made a loud cry which is vivified in such heart-rendering imagery, as:

”Through the sky a voice resounded as the great Duryodhan fell,

And the earth the voice reechoed over her distant hill and dale,

Beasts and birds in consternation flew over land and azure sky,

Men below and heavenly Siddahs trembled at the fatal cry!”

His poems are free from any obscurity and difficulty in syntax and construction. But his poems suffer from a default that his poems need a pre-study of the backgrounds to comprehend and appreciate them fully. Foreign readers who are not acquainted with the Indian myths and legends well; would face difficulty in understanding his poems. 

Thematically Ramesh Chunder Dutt is not an original poet. His originality lies in style only which is easy and easy to receive. 0 0 0

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

The Poetry of Ram Sharma – Chief Features

Ram Sharma pseudonym of Nobo Kissen Ghose (1837- 1918) was a great but less known Indo- Anglian poet. A study of his poems shows that he was mainly a poet of man and religion. He sympathizes with the state of man in society and glorifies those who are worthy of being glorified. As a poet of religion, he is spiritual, mystic and devotional. The thought of his religious poems is nothing but the poetical transcription of Hindu philosophy.

His poems ‘Lines Addressed to James Scribblerus’ (he was an English editor of Calcutta Daily) is a poem written on an individual. In this poem, the poet displays the personality of James Scribblerus. The personality of Scribblerus was wayward like an eccentric person. He was born in a ‘garret’ which means he came off a very poor family. He was fed on low rations. In search of his livelihood, he left his homeland England and came to India where he happened to do a variety of work. He served as a ward boy, as a driver and so on. Someday he taught the students as a teacher and someday he preached sermons like a prophet and sometimes he begged like a beggar. He hated Bengal and even he hated his own son and abused his children. Many detested him and called him “foul-mouthed dunce”. But the poet sympathized with him and said that though he was a fool he did no ill to anybody. The poet says:

”All detest the bore, the foul-mouthed dunce

Let him jeer on and be a jackass still,

The brute may bray and vex, but do no ill.”

In ‘Memory of Swami Vivekananda’ is another poem on man. In it, he expresses his love, devotion and praise to Swami Vivekananda, a sage-like teacher and preacher of Hindu scriptures of the late nineteenth century. Swami Vivekananda was loved by all and was greeted by all wherever he went. His life on the earth was brief, only forty years. But this brief span of life was full of noble deeds. The poet glorifies him and laments his premature death.

”Blest be the memory of the bright and brave!

Weep on, my country, ov’r thy Vivek’s grave.”

The second outstanding feature of his poetry is the note of religion. Ram Sharma was well-fed on the Hindu scriptures and being influenced by these scriptures his inner soul was more inclined to spiritual thoughts than worldly matters. ‘Music and Vision of the Anahat Chakram ‘is one of the finest specimens of his spiritual poems. In this poem,  he says that the soul is the vital thing in everything. There is no difference between the souls of beings and God. Nature and her activities are the expressions of One Almighty God. The poet says that he hears the sounds of conch and cymbal in his heart which come from Divine Power. In the poet’s words:

”Sometimes the sound of conch I hear, 

Of song and gong and cymbals clear,

As from a distant fane or shrine

Of some benigant Pow’r divine.

And this too, cometh from within

Where soul adores the self unseen.”

In another poem entitled Bhagobati Gita the poet expresses the mystic side of religion. In it, he shows his own mystic experience with Durga. He says, on a Divali night, he was sitting in his chamber alone meditating on the mystic power. Suddenly a bright lighted vision appeared in front of him. He did not heed to that; instead, he mused on still. He saw that the bright lighted vision was nothing, but Durga, the mother of the goddess herself who is the primeval force of everything. She is eternal power. She is life and death. Countless Brahmas, Vishnus, Shivas are fed on her breast. She sheds countless orbs of light and enlightens the universe. In the words of the poet:

”Victory to thee, Adyasakti, Primeval Force!

Of all things and beings thou art mother-sire and source

Energy eternal! Thou art life, and thou art death

Which are but the rhythmic variations of thy breath!

Countless Brahmas, Vishnus, Shivas at thy breast are fed!

Countless orbs of the light Thy beams, o mighty Goddess shed!

Thine, this universe, thy law its full string’d harmony!

Salutation, salutation, ever unto Thee!”

The language of his poems is easy and simple. He uses fewer and fewer figures of speech. His poems are generally rhythmic without regular prosody. To say in brief, linguistically his poems are less poetic. Sometimes he uses alliteration and onomatopoeia to make the reading of his poems canorous. 0 0 0

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

The Poetry of Brajendranath Seal– Chief Features

Brajendranath Seal (1864- 1938) was a major Indo-Anglian poet of the late nineteenth century and of the first four decades of the twentieth century. He wrote two poetry books – ‘The Tales of Ind and Other Poems’ and ‘The Quest Eternal’ which established him as a major poet. As a poet, he is romantic and as a romantic, he is a romantic- nature poet. As a romantic poet, he is interested in the past world of romance- a world of god and goddess and a world of wizards.

His Nature is full of natural objects as- trees, hills, rills, birds, nymphs, goddesses, monsters and so on which are full of wonder and mystery. In the poem ‘The Rime of the Wizard Night’ he visualizes woods far away from human society which is full of wonder, horror and natural beauty. The poet says in the poem:

‘In sunset tide, in green wood wide

Elf accents whisper close!

The deep dark folds of the forest-wolds,

They open like a rose…”

In a poem entitled ‘An Ancient Hymn,’ the poet visualizes a primitive age of chaos when there was no human being on the earth. The poet says, addressing to Coelus, a marine animal in Greek mythology:

”O World- drift cynical!

Coelus! Heaven!

Where wast Thou

In the primal Deep?

When all lay one, a universal grey,

And slept Its sleeplessness away

In dreamless sleep!

Dreams yet were not, nor shadows chased themselves,

As on that sea

On which the sun is setting evermore!”

‘Nature Unveiled’ is another good nature poem by him. In it, he has exhibited Nature in a naked form. Through this poem, the poet expresses his uneasiness in human society and hence he comes out of home and enters into the world of naked Nature far away from human reach. He says:

”All sick and faint I turned; like a mountain rill

That leaps from cavern dark, I wandered wide

Ov’r gorse and purple heather, following oft

A trail of golden mist upon the glades,”

In this poem, he goes not only in closer contact with nature, but he becomes one with the objects of nature and shares himself with every object. He expresses:

”I was one with the woods; my body, the Earth;

I budded in the buds and burgeoned fresh

In the green shoots; the tendrils were my veins

My eyes blossomed on every bush; my arms

Waved in the tall spiked grass; in the white fog

The hill side bathed with me;”

His nature is full of mystery and he often experiences a mystic vision in nature. In the same poem he says:

”Lone I stood, gazing on Creation’s face,

Our mother, ancient, fecund, e’er renewed

I saw her spirit brooding, like the dove.”

His nature is not only full of beauty, liberty and mystery but also full of horror. The poet says:

”Dark Monsters of the Deep, sea dragon worth

Ravening rhinodone and strangling octopod

Death’s minions pasturing on some steep

Mountainous mass of coiled ugliness

With universal gurglings, hissings, groans!”

Thus as a romantic nature poet, he was an exception. Before him, in Ind- Anglian poetry, there was another nature poet whose name was Toru Dutt; but Brajendranath Seal as a nature poet is superior to her as his nature is vaster, wider, and more varied than that of Toru Dutt.

Brajendranath Seal as a poet was proficient in the use of blank verse and rhymed verse. The blank verse used in ‘Nature Unveiled’ is like that of Wordsworth. In ‘The Rime of the Wizard Night’ he employed ballad rhyme very successfully. He is skilled in creating vivid imageries of nature which are very sensuous and charming, as-

”The braes were sheen, the shaws were green

Each merry leaf would dance;

On russet brown, the sun came down

In showers of golden glance!”

In using words and phrases he is a tactful master. His poems substantiate that he, like Shakespeare, had a vast vocabulary at his easy command. He could make compound words and phrases after his will as- ‘forest-wolds’, ‘cloud-banks wrought’, rock-fern’ mountain-holds’ etc.

His place as a romantic nature poet may not be like that of Wordsworth, Shelley or Keats but in the whole range of Indo- Anglian Poetry, his place is after none. 0 0 0

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

The Poetry of Swami Vivekananda– Chief Features

Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) was a scholar, a sage, a preacher, a thinker and above all a poet. As a poet, he was religious, philosophical, spiritual, and above all mystical. He both as a man and as a poet was a consummate Hindu. The Hindu scriptures shaped both his body and soul and hence his entire set of poetry is based on Hindu philosophy. 

”The Cup’ is a poem that is replete with the mysticism of human life on the earth. Through this poem, the poet reveals that the world is full of sorrows and suffering. Suffering purifies life of its sins and through sufferance one becomes able to go to heaven. The poet says:

”This is your road-a painful road and dear.

I made the stones that never give you rest. 

I set your friend in pleasant ways and clear,

And he shall come like you, unto My breast.

But you, My child must travel here.

This is your task. It has no joy nor grace,” 

‘Kali the Mother’ is a poem in which he evokes Kali, as the Mother of Death and Destruction- that means the mother or goddess of human beings. In this poem, Kali is shown bearing mighty power whose advent is inevitable to destroy the evils of human society as well as of the human heart. The poet says:

”Dancing mad with joy, 

Come, Mother, come!

For Terror is Thy name,

Death is in Thy breath,

And every shaking step

Destroys a world for e’er,

Thou ‘Time’, the All Destroyer!

Come, O Mother, come!”

‘Peace’ is another philosophical as well as a mystical piece of poetry. In this poem, the poet tries to define or characterize ‘Peace’. Really ‘Peace’ is a mental state. He says that only joy is not peace, only light is not peace, and only beauty is not peace. It is the combination of darkness and light, joys and sorrows. By saying so, he wants to mean that life is full of joys and sorrows and peace comes to him who can welcome both. The poet says in the poem:

”Behold, it comes in might,

The power that is not power,

The light that is in darkness,

The shade in dazzling light.”

Again in the same poem, he says:

”It is not joy nor sorrow, 

But that which is between,

It is not night nor morrow.

But that which joins them in.”

Thus the above analyses of his poems show that his poems are philosophical in nature and mystic in meaning based on Hindu philosophy.

Mystic poems are generally difficult to comprehend and so are his poems. All his poems are written in a compact style that is full of obscurity, ambiguity and complexity. For example, the following lines may be quoted from the poem ‘The Cup’:

”In the deep years of yesterday, I know

This is your road- a painful road and drear,

I made the stones that never give you rest.”

His imageries are also so, as we see in the poem ‘Kali the Mother’:

”The stars are blotted out,

The clouds are covering clouds,

It is darkness vibrant, sonant,

In the roaring, whirling wind

Are the souls of a million lunatics

Just loose from the prison house.”

Some of his expressions are riddle-like as the following lines quoted from the poem ‘Peace’-

”It is joy that never spoke

And grief unfelt, profound, 

Immortal life unlived

Eternal death unmourned.”

To conclude it is to say that he is a true Hindu mystic poet and as a mystic poet he is a greater one. 0 0 0

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

The Poetry of Manmohan Ghose– Chief Features

Manmohan Ghose (1869- 1924) was an Indo- Anglian poet. He came off an educated cultured Bengali family. He along with his younger brother Sri Aurobindo Ghose took his study in Manchester and London. He began to practise poetry at an early age. As a poet, he was greatly influenced and inspired by the English romantic poets. His private life was clouded by melancholy as he lost his beloved wife at an earlier age. Hence almost all his poems are melancholic and elegiac in mood and tone. During his lifetime he published one poetry book entitled ‘Love Songs and Elegies’. He died in 1924 leaving behind him a long poetic play ‘Nollo and Damayanti’, an epic ‘Adam Alarmed in Paradise’ and some lyrical poetry in fragments. After his death, his unpublished poems were published under the title ‘Songs of Life and Death’.

As a poet Manmohan Ghose was romantic. Love for his beloved and beauty in Nature are the two major themes of his poetry. His love poems are apparently autobiographical in theme and elegiac in tone. His love poems are very sensitive and passionate. Love for his beloved was to him a source of inspiration in life. The poem entitled ‘The Garden Passion’ is the finest specimen of his love poems. In this love poem, he has delineated the lovemaking scene between Julian and Irene. Julian was a Roman Emperor and Irene was his beloved. Irene as a maid was very bashful for which she hesitated to meet Julian. But at last, her sense of love for Julian became so vast and hot that she gave away her life and soul at her hand. As a love poem, it is very sensuous and passionate. While Irene and Julian met each other in a garden then Julian embraced her the description of which is amorous as,-

”He takes her hand inflamed with bliss

Her willing trembling hand in his;

And in glad tears she hides her face

Locked in her passionate embrace. 

To his her darling cheek is prest,

Against her own his fevered breast;

Love gleams from her eyes into his

In answer to each glowing kiss.”

‘Can It Be’ is another love poem that is elegiac in tone. In this poem, the poet shows that he was always in deep love with his wife, though she was dead. Everywhere, wherever he looked, he saw the image of his beloved and the beauty of nature became a token of love that reminded him of his beloved. He says:

”I see the roses on her grave

They made my sad heart bleed

I see the daisies shine like stars

And is she earth indeed?”

The second theme of his poem is love for Nature. Nature for him, like Wordsworth, was a philosopher, guide, friend and teacher. Poplar Beech and Weeping Willow’ is such a poem. In this poem, he expresses that he is weary of human society and hence he wants to take shelter in nature which is full of freedom, grace and beauty. The poet says:

”The blue day, the floating clouds, the stars shall your palace

Proffer their pure world of pomp, dawn her rosy chalice

Where the birds are you shall wing and revel to be lonely

In the clear of heaven to spire and sway with breezes only.”

In the same poem, the poet wants to learn a lesson from Poplar tree. He says:

”Teach me your still secrecy of thoughts that never sadden.”

The poem ‘London’ is another poem in which he expresses his love for the natural objects of London. He writes:

”Too long have I drowsed alone in the meadows deep,

Too long alone endured the silence Nature espouses.”

Though he dealt with the themes of love for his beloved and to Nature yet he lacked depth and sincerity in narration and feeling. The style of his poetry is neat and clean. He uses words and phrases with a clear and detailed meaning. There is no obscurity of meaning like in the English Romantic poets. Sometimes he has used alliterations as a figure of speech very skillfully, as-

(I) Beauty into bounty change, bend down the eye that blesses.

(ii) Each fresh face, each figure, my spirit drinks like wine.

In some of his poems, he has employed pathetic fallacy (pathetic fallacy is a figure of speech in which nature is portrayed as taking a definite interest in human action) very successfully by which he aptly shows the excited state of feeling. And it is pathetic fallacy that adds poetic charm to his poetry. For example, the following lines are worth quoting through which the poet has shown the natural objects to take a definite interest in Julian and Irene’s lovemaking, as:

”It is the fragrance of their hearts

That the rose breathes: the water sound

Answer a feeling near, profound

And flashing, eddying fast and bright

It leaps with their own heart’s delight.

Those sphere of solemn light on high

Shine but in glorious sympathy

And heaven seems for no other sympathy.”

To conclude it is reasonable to say that Manmohan Ghose, not as a nature poet but as a love poet deserves a special place in the annals of Indo-Anglian love poetry. 0 0 0

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

The Poetry of Sri Aurobindo Ghose– Chief Features

Sri Aurobindo Ghose (1872- 1950) was a versatile personality of India. He was a scholar, a sage, a revolutionary, a religious teacher, a philosopher and above all a great writer. As writer, he was a playwright and a prolific poet. As a poet, he was from head to feet a mystic. The mystic theme is the only main theme of his poetry. Like a true mystic, he believed in the existence of only one supreme Divine Soul that expresses Himself through Nature. More like a true mystic, he believed that the human soul can communicate with the Divine Soul through Nature. But as a mystic, his thoughts and philosophy are indebted to the Hindu scriptures, especially to the Upanishads. In his poetry mystic note is so immense that the world of his poetry is an exception from the world of other Indo- Anglian poets. He inundates his world of poetry with the mystic light of the Upanishads. 

The poet is not guided by man-made rules and creeds but by the rules of Nature. In other words, to say, he is governed not by his flesh but by his soul. And it means that he has transcended worldly matters and becomes a total devotee to God. In the poem entitled ‘Transformation’ he admits:

”I am no more a vassal of the flesh

A slave to nature and her laden rule

I am caught no more in the senses, narrow mesh,

My soul unhorizoned widens to measureless sight

My soul is God’s happy living tool, 

My spirit a vast sum of deathless light.”

In the poem ‘Revelation’ the poet experiences a mystic vision on the rock. In it, he says that he suddenly sees someone leaping from the rocks. It was a glimpse of light. He says:

”And a hurried glance behind

And then nothing- as a thought

Escapes the mind ere it is caught

Someone of the heavenly rout

From the veil ran out.”

‘Thought the Paraclete’ is another mystic poem. In this poem, he says that the Divine Soul sometimes appears on the earth like a vision of light and this vision is seen by those only who are meditative, spiritually uplifted and temperate in worldly affairs. He says:

”Drew its vague heart-yearning with voices sweet.

Hungering large-souled to surprise the unconned

………………………………………………….

Disappeared slow-singing, a flame-word rune

Self was left, love, limitless, rude, immune.”

In the poem entitled ‘A Dream of Surreal Science,’ he says echoing the same strain, as-

”A thyroid meditating almost nude

Under the Bo-tree, saw the eternal Light

And rising from its mighty solitude,

Spoke of the wheel and eightfold path all right.”

The above analyses of his poems show that he is a true mystic poet like his contemporary poet Nizamat Jung. But as a mystic poet Sri Aurobindo is different from the English mystic poets. His mystic idea is totally Upanishadian. He believes in the mystic union of the human soul with the Divine Soul through Nature-soul which is possible for him only who is temperate to worldly affairs and meditative to God and here he as a mystic poet differs from the English and American mystic poets, especially from William Blake and Walt Whitman. They believed that the mystic union of the human soul and the Divine soul is possible even without being temperate and without discarding worldly affairs. On the other hand, Sri Aurobindo believes that a mystic poet must be a sage with a pious heart. 

Besides being a mystic poet, Sri Aurobindo was a great epic poet also. He was the first Indian English poet to write a successful epic in English. The name of his epic is ‘Savitri’. It is based on an Indian mythological story. Aurobindo in writing the epic derived inspiration from Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’. It is Miltonic in respect of blank verse, similes and seriousness. His blank verse used in the epic is grand like that of Milton. In this epic, he blends his mystic vision with philosophical creeds. It is his monumental work completed in fifty years written in twelve books containing 49 cantons. He uses a variety of styles in it as dramatic, romantic, and narrative when occasion needs.

In thought and philosophy, Sri Aurobindo was a true Indian; but he used both Indian and western themes and references successfully. His poem ‘The Trojan War’ is written on a western theme. In this poem, he refers to Greek mythological gods and goddesses as- Zeus, Titan, Aegean, etc. with equal skill as he uses Indian gods and goddesses.

His imageries are usually long and grand that fascinates our heart with throbbing delight. For example, we can quote the following lines from ‘The Vision and the Boon’-

”Beauty shall walk celestial on the earth,

Delight shall sleep in the cloud net of her hair

And in her body as on his homing tree

Immortal Love shall beat his glorious wings.

A music of griefless things shall weave her charm;

The harps of the perfect shall attune her voice,

The stream of Heaven shall murmur in her laugh,

Her lips shall be the honeycombs of God,

Her limbs his golden jars of ecstasy

Her beasts the rapture-flower of paradise.”

His language is poetic both in matter and style. In some of his poems, the influence of Walt Whitman is seen in forming words and phrases. Like that of Whitman, some of his sentences are full of internal cadence that runs swift from one to another, as-

”Brilliant, crouching, slouching, what crept

Through the green heart of the forest

Gleaming eyes and mighty chest and soft

Soundless paws of grandeur and murder?”

Sri Aurobindo as an Indo-Anglian poet is great and as a great poet, his place in the lineage of Indian English poets should always be with Michael Dutt and a few others. 0 0 0

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

The Poetry of Nizamat Jung– Chief Features

Nizamat Jung (1871- ?) was a major Indo- Anglian poet with a difference. His poems are mainly religious in which mystic notes predominate and it is the main thematic characteristic of his poetry. His mystic poems are romantic in treatment like that of William Blake. A mystic is he who believes in the existence of human soul, the soul of nature and the Divine Soul (Soul of God) and believes that human soul can communicate with the Divine Soul through the soul of Nature. In other words, to say, mysticism means the unity or oneness or likeness of the human soul, the soul of nature and the Divine Soul. It is the highest and ultimate stage of any religious faith both of Hinduism and Islam. Nizamat Jung’s mysticism is an output of the influences of both sects. During his lifetime, Nizamat Jung wrote and published five volumes of poetry as- ‘Sonnets’, ‘Islamic Poems’, ‘The Legend of Faith’, ‘Medina Mementos’ and ‘Rudel of Blaye’- all are characteristically religious in theme.

His ‘Prologue’ is a poem in which he experiences a mystic vision of God in open Nature. Like a sage, his soul is weary of human society and its din and bustle, its inhumanity and indiscipline. So he comes out of home and seeks peace and chases after the Divine Soul. The poet says:

”My soul was wandering through Eternity

Seeking within the depth and on the height

Of Being one with whom it might unite

In life and love and immortality.”

‘His Spirit of Light’ is another worth quoted poem dealing with a mystic note. In this poem, he says that it is the Soul of God that shows the right path of redemption and He guides human soul to God (Himself) and thus the mystery of life comes out. He says:

”Spirit of Light from starry mansions straying,

Whose flight is o’er his world of woe and strife,

On, on thy course, to mortal hearts conveying

God’s meaning and the mystery of life!”

The poet thinks rightly that when a human soul becomes sense trammelled or weary of the problem of life then it takes shelter in mysticism through which he desires to get peace of mind. The poem entitled Soul-Weariness is such a poem in which he says that all the beings including the poet also with the objects of Nature is the symbol of One God. The poet writes:

”That I, a fragment sundered and afar,

May feel life’s essence in all things that are

But sings and symbols of Thy Deity!”

Like those poems analyzed above, his nature poems are also mystic. But his nature poems are not like that of Keats nor like that of Wordsworth or other poets prior to him. He is bold enough to utter the existence of God in Nature.

Besides being a romantic- mystic poet he is a patriotic poet also. In some of his poems, his love for his motherland is expressed either plainly or in the manner of an elegy. ‘Golconda at Sunset’ is such a poem in which the poet reminds and glorifies the past rich heritage of India. He says:

”Bereft of power though not of fame

Custodians of the past, they stand

In mournful grandeur yet to claim

Dominion over the subject land.”

Stylistically his poems are simple. He uses nature imagery very often, but nature in his poems stands as a symbol of the Divine Soul. His poems are free from the trammels of figures of speech except for some familiar similes and alliterations. The following lines may be invoked as an example of simile used by him as-

”As one who wanders lone and wearily

Through desert tracts of Silence and Night.”

The alliterative phrases and words are like- “masques and minarets”, “garb of grey” etc. The construction of his sentences is sometimes complicated, incongruous and difficult to annotate. And it is the main demerit of his poetry.

In conclusion, it is right to say that he is great not as a religious poet but as a nature mystic poet.  0 0 0

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

The Poetry of Sarojini Naidu– Chief Features

Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949) was a versatile woman personality of twentieth-century India. She was a highly cultured woman, a freedom fighter, a theosophist and a poetess. As a poetess, she, after Toru Dutt, was a great Indo-Anglian career. She is especially a romantic poetess. The themes and imageries of her poetry are primarily Indian. Three loves- love for man, love for her motherland and love for Nature are the main themes of her poetry. Her language is lyrical, alliterative and full of individual similes. Moreover, her poems sometimes bend to mysticism. Indian myths and legends also meet in her poems with a romantic outlook.

Love is the primary theme of her poems. Her love poems are passionate to the point of eroticism. The poetess is very deep in love with her mate. In the poem ‘If You Call Me,’ she says that she is willing to have a call from her mate. She is very eager to meet and join her mate defying all the obstacles. She writes:

”If you call me, I will come

Swifter than desire,

Swifter than the lightning’s feet

Shod with plumes of fire.

Life’s dark tides may roll between,

Or Death’s deep chasms divide-

If you call me I will come

Fearless what betide.”

Her love poems remind us of Robert Burns’ ”My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose” in which the poet expresses his eager love to his beloved and determines to meet her anyway.

The bulk of her poems deals with the theme of Nature. Her Nature is full of trees, woods, birds, peace, freedom and beauty. She desires to take shelter in Nature being tired and wearied of man-made society and its artificiality. ‘Summer Woods ‘is a Nature poem dealing with such a tenet. In this poem he says:

”O I am tired of painted roofs and soft and silken floors,

………………………

I am tired of strife and song and festivals and fame

And long to fly where cassia woods are breaking into flame.”

In the same poem she says again:

”You and I together Love in the deep blossoming woods

Engirt with love-void silence and gleaming solitudes.

Companions of the lustrous dawn, gay comrades of the night

Like Krishna and like Radhika, encompassed with delight.”

‘The Bird Sanctuary’ is another poem dealing with the theme of love to Nature. In the poem, she says that Nature is a sacred place full of Joy, beauty and freedom. In the poetess’ language:

”In your gracious garden there is joy and fostering freedom

Nesting place and singing space for every fearhered thing,

O Master of the Birds, grants sanctuary and shelter

Also to a homing bird that bears a broken wing.”

The third theme of her poetry is love for her motherland. The poetess is very aware of India’s slavery under the British and she is very passionate and emotional to free India from the yoke of the English. Sarojini Naidu believes that to get freedom, the people irrespective of caste and creed must come out. In the poem entitled ‘Awake’ she says:

”Waken, O mother, thy children implore thee,

Who kneel in thy presence to serve and adore thee!

The night is aflush with a dream of the morrow, 

Why still dost thou sleep in thy bondage of sorrow?”

Besides those above analyzed themes, some of her poems are bent to mysticism though not apparently. Her heart and soul are so much sensitive that she feels the human soul be akin to the soul of Nature. Nature is the expression of the human soul as well as of the Divine Soul. In the poem Caprice she says:

”You held a wild flower in your finger tips,

Idly you pressed it to indifferent lips,

Idly you tore its crimson leaves apart…

Alas! It was my heart.”

Like a true mystic, she makes communication of her soul with the Divine Soul. In the poem ‘The Soul’s Prayer’ she shows to have communication with God and dramatically her soul speaks to and converses with the Divine Soul. The poetess seeks the solution to the mystery of life and death from God and God is shown to have said:

”I bending from my sevenfold height

Will teach thee of My quickening grace

Life is a prism of My light

And Death is the shadow of my face.”

In addition to the themes analyzed above, the poetess takes some themes and allusions from Indian myths and portrays them with a romantic outlook. ‘Songs of Radha Kanhaya’ and ‘Songs of Radha the Quest’ are some poems dealing with mythical themes. In ‘Songs of Radha Kanhaya ‘she speaks of Lord Krishna’s childish frolic. It is a poem dealing with the theme of the love of Radha to Krishna.

The linguistic style of Sarojini Naidu is lyrical, alliterative and full of similes. She often employs two-lined rhyme schemes (couplet) and sometimes uses the rhyme scheme as- ababcc of six lines. Her use of alliteration is praiseworthy. She uses it often with skills as- ”soft and silken”, “festivals and fame”, “praise and prayers” etc. She is very artful in the use of similes with the touch of novelty, such as-

(i) Seven queens shone round her ivory bed

Like seven soft gems on a silken thread.

(ii) Her glides and fillets gleam

Like charming fires on sunset seas.

(iii) A young queen eyed like the morning star. 

Her imageries are also exquisite, though not often, but sometimes. For example, we can quote the following lines from the poem entitled ‘The Purdah Nashin’, as-

”From thieving light of eyes impure,

From coveting sun or wind’s caress

Her days are guarded and secure

Behind her cavern lattices:

Like jewels in a turbaned crest, 

Like secrets in a lover’s breast.”

Sarojini Naidu as a romantic poetess is a combination of Wordsworth, Blake, Keats and Shelley with something of them in her though not in full. 0 0 0

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

The Poetry of Harindranath Chattopadhaya– Chief Features

Harindranath Chattopadhaya (1898-?) was a major Indo- Anglian poet of the twentieth century. Thematically and stylistically his poetry is something different and special in the whole range of Indo- Anglian poetry. His poetic career occupied a long span of time and he had published about twenty books of poetry on a variety of themes. But his representative poems are metaphysical from head to heels. He wrote on such metaphysical themes as birth, death, life, God, angel, heaven, hell and on the fundamental problems of Nature and the universe. His style is as special as- lyrical, simple, brief, easy and aphoristic. As his poems are metaphysical so they are religious, spiritual, philosophical and mystical.

In his poems he deals with the fundamental problems of the universe which is above science and human explanation and to say in other words, obscured. The mystery of life and the universe is thought of by him as a law of Nature to which no answer is possible. They always remain the same. To say in other words, the mystery and problems of life and the universe are the same as they were in the past and shall remain as they were. In the poem ”Mystery’ he says:

”Time with his magic wand is a necromancer,

All birth is but hypnotical suggestion

Life is a question to which there is no answer,

Death is an answer to which there is no question.”

God is omnipotent and omnipresent. He expresses Himself through Nature. The poet, like a mystic, admits in the same poem:

”He who through the volcano’s mouth 

Vomits red lava, knows

The withdrawn tranquility

Of a redly- burning rose.”

It is God who gives shape to a baby in a mother’s womb. The poet says in the poem entitled ‘Creator’:

”Toils in a mother’s womb and moulds

A baby as soft as a bud.”

Abut life and death the poet says in the poem ‘Beside a Death Bed’:

”Death is the highest bidder

Life is the lowest one

Why all this struggle and strife

This brevity of proud breath

Since man is the coffin of life

And life is the cradle of death.”

The poet thinks that sorrow and suffering are divinely bestowed upon man. It is the joy and pleasure of God. In the poem ‘Sorrow’ the poet says:

”Sorrow is what the Creator creates for-

An arrow waits for

The breast of the dove;

Sometimes, the mate must be lost if the lover

Desires to discover

The depth of his Love.”

The poet’s feeling of time is expressed in the poem ‘Time’. He says:

”Time like a hind in sore distress

Travels on solitary ways

Across a tangled with nights and days

Dappled and stained with nights and days.” 

Such, as discussed above, is his poetry that deals with the ever-long and ever-present problems of life and the universe. Though his themes are metaphysical, yet he is not metaphysical in method and expression. His method of expression differs from the seventieth-century metaphysical poets like Donne and his followers. Their metaphysical poems were argumentative. In their metaphysical poetry, a problem is propounded first and then through arguments or persuasive reasoning, the problem is led to a solution or conclusion. But Harindranath Chattopadhayaya’s poetry is not so. His poems are metaphysical only in theme. In his poems, there is no argument leading a problem to a definite solution.

Though he is a metaphysical poet yet there is also a romantic note in his poetry. In the poems dealing with romantic themes, he praises the beauty of Nature and accepts the mystery of Nature as they are.

To say about his style is that his poetry is brief, easy, simple, aphoristic and lyrical. The above-quoted lines are enough to prove his poems to be so. There is no difficulty of any kind in his language and phrases. He is endowed with the characteristics of George Herbert’s simplicity and William Blake’s mysticism. 0 0 0

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

The Poetry of Govinda Krishna Chettur– Chief Features

Govinda Krishna Chettur (1898-1936) was a minor Indo-Anglian poet. As a poet, he is metaphysical as well as romantic because both elements are present in his poetry. Love for his beloved, love for Nature and love for God are the main themes of his poetry. Poems dealing with the themes of love for God are generally metaphysical but his metaphysical poems are not as apparent as that of Sri Aurobindo or Nizamat Jung. The poems dealing with the themes of love for his beloved and love to Nature are romantic.

The poem ‘Lord of Unnumbered Hopes’ is metaphysical. In this poem, he admits God to be the Lord of every being including the abstract hopes and aspirations of human being. God is the guardian that guides all. The poet says:

”Forgive what we have been and what we are,

For that in which in time’s fullness we shall be!

Thou art the Light, and in thy shadow we

Move in our pathways like a growing star.”

In the poem ‘Aspiration’ there is a touch of metaphysics. In it, he has expressed the philosophy of life. He thinks that pain and sorrow are the two mediums of sufferance that one can apprehend through what is beauty and lonely in man and thus one can feel the greatness of God. The poet says:

”I have dreamt dreams and blindly groped my way

Among the shadows- drink deep from the bowl

Of swimming ecstasy and steeped my soul

In pain and known the loveliness of day.”

His romantic poems deal with the themes of love to his beloved. He loves his ‘beloved’ because of her beauty and eventually, his love aspires to spiritual love. Sometimes his beloved becomes ambiguous and it refers to two things as- first his earthly lover and secondly, it refers to God metaphorically. The poem entitled ‘Beloved’ is so ambiguous. Plainly the term ‘Beloved’ refers to his lover and metaphorically it denotes God. He says:

”You are the greatness of me,

My thoughts are Beauty shaped exquisitely

To the rare pattern of your loveliness

Exceeding all excess:

And the strange magic of this mystery,

Steals weight from burdened hours, and woe from weariness.”

‘Choche is a poem in which he expresses joy in Nature especially joy in the song of a wild bird. He says:

I think I love that little bird

Who makes such music of that word,

And I can never hear that call, 

Most sweet, most sad, most magical,

But my heart leaps exultantly.

For love of you, Chochee, Chochee.”

‘Mysore’ is another poem written in a romantic tone. In it, he has praised the beauty of the city. He says:

”Mysore fond city of a monarch dream,

There, fadeless Beauty holds dominion, 

Dwells in each dome, each minaret, each spire,

And walks in pleasances that glint and gleam,

By fountains that jet forth their hearts of fire,

And waters, still as mirrors in the sun.”

His language is lyrical and simple. He uses fewer figures of speech except some phrases made of alliterations, as- ‘glint and gleam’, dear delightful’, ‘magic of this mystery’, ‘woe from weariness’ etc.

To sum up, it is to say that though there is a romantic vein in his poetry his poems are bent on metaphysics. 0 0 0

 

The Poetry of Nirodbaran– Chief Features

Nirodbaran is an Indo-Anglian minor poet. He is basically a mystic poet because like his previous poets  Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo and Nizamat Jung, the mystic note play an important role almost in his best poems. Like a mystic, he believes in the existence and immortality of tri-souls- human soul, Divine Soul and the soul of Nature. And more as a mystic poet, he believes in the communication and union of human soul with the Divine Soul. His only anthology of poetry ‘Songs from the Soul’ is replete with his mystic vision.

In the poem ‘Resurrection’ he experiences the vision of God in Nature. First, the poet sees a bird in a silent night, but instantly it turns into a glow of light which the poet believes to be the Spirit of God. He says:

”But like a resurrection comes

A sudden glow,

Of a limitless gold dripping sun

And melts the snow.”

The poem entitled ‘Primal Source’ is a great mystic poem. In this poem, the poet says that the universe is nothing but the self-expression of God. Everything comes out of the Divine Spirit and takes different shapes, in the very first stanza of the poem, the poet says:

”In a strange thrill of fire my spirit leaps

As I remember thy mysterious face;

All beauty seems a spark born from thy grace;

Even the dim invisible flame that sleeps.”

In the same poem, the poet believes that his spirit and the Divine Spirit are the same things. There is no difference. The poet meets unification with God as he says:

”My solitude is filled with thy delight;

Drinking thy beauty like a passionate wine

My flickering mortality grows divine,

A shadow less image of Infinite.”

The ‘Unknown Creeper’ is another poem that also bears the mystic note, but the mystic note in this poem is not as apparent as is seen in the two above-analyzed poems. In the poem the poet says:

”The Dark One has put on the gold garland,

On her delicate brow is the flame of red sandal-

The Eternal Memory from the earth’s forgotten depths.”

From the above discussion, it is seen that Nirodbaran is a true mystic poet. But it is to allude here that his mystic poems are akin to that of Nizamat Jung especially in experiencing the vision of God in Nature.

The language and the style of Nirodbaran’s poetry are easy and simple as that of Swami Vivekananda. Though he wrote only a few mystic poems yet his few mystic poems are great. As a mystic poet, he deserves the same place as his previous Indo-Anglian mystic poets deserve.

 

The Poetry of Armando Menezes– Chief Features

Armando Menezes (1902-?) was a minor Indian poet who wrote in English. He was a poet who is hard to include in any distinctive group or school of poets or poetry because he wrote poems on trifling. The opening of his poems seems to be a child’s frolic; but some of his poems though begin in trifling, end in wisdom. Hence his poems may be called philosophical. Like a philosopher and a mystic, he wants to appreciate the greatness of God through the study of Nature and her objects including human beings. 

The poem ‘Play’ is such a poem that deals with the sports of a boy with a painted toy. A boy likes a toy, but he does not know why he likes it. A mother loves her baby. A husband loves her wife. So it seems that the sun plays with the cloud, the moon-light plays with water. Thus everybody and everything plays with one another and rejoices.  From this trifling, the poet arrives at a philosophic conclusion that one who knows God or appreciates the greatness of God can rejoice like a baby who plays with a toy and feels joy. The poet says:

”And who knows the vast Divine

Bumps this world with shade and shine,

Romps with mortal grief and joy

As you, Baby, with your toy?”

‘To-night’ is a purely philosophical poem through which he expresses his philosophy of life and of Earth. The poet thinks that the world is a valley of grief and human life on it is full of pain. There is a pleasure also but the pleasure is brief. The eternal pleasure lies on God and one who can love God can be the heir of Immortality. The poet says:

”Let the world be: I made it not, nor marred

And he who made it so, perhaps is just.

To-night I question not life’s mystery…

But bring the warm breast closer, kiss me hard,

And let me once forget that man is dust:

To-night I’m heir of immortality.” 

Armando Menezes had the intellect to philosophize everything and every trifling. ‘The Train’ is such a poem. In it,  he personifies the vehicles ‘Train’ and says about how it goes. He thinks the train has the sense of feeling. The poet says:

”A little pause, and off I go…

My simple art

Touches to music with my bow

Earth’s silent heart.”

The poem ‘Chairs’ is another such piece of poetry in which he distinguishes the mentality of a child from a grown-up man. The poet says:

”To you a car is a moving chair:

To them a chair a rocket.

The wealth you hoard from life to life

They pull out from their pocket.”

To say about Menezes’ poetic style is that he is lyrical and simple in language and in him there is fewer linguistic ornament. 0 0 0

Indian English Poets and Poetry-Chief Features

The End

 

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Menonimus
I am Menonim Menonimus, a Philosopher & Writer.

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