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    Apr 2011

    Default After Rabindranath Tagore, Who ?

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    রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর

    The Next Generation That They would Perish Under His Giant Shadow If They Follow Him -

    Some year ago, I read a book on Tagore by eminent Bangla poet “Buddhadev bose” which said that Tagore commented on his distance between him and his younger contemporaries through a character called Amit Ray in his Novel Shesher Kabita(The Last Poem). Ray talks straightly about Tagor’s lyricism.

    “Now The Time”, he says, for compositions which are sharp and straight – like thorns, arrows, or dagger thrusts – not like flowers at all – like streaks of lighting and the pain of neuralgia.”

    Damayanti Bose Sing, The daughter of Buddhadeva Bose (1908-1974) the leading Poet of the Post-Tagore generation, clarified some of the issues involved. She writes, “The post-Tagore poets of Buddhadeva Bose’s generation never doubted that Tagore was indeed the first ‘Modern’ Poet/Writer of the Bangle and held him in great veneration. At the Same Time, they were greatly aware of the danger of following him: they would perish under his giant shadow. He gave them the light to see the future, but they knew that they had to strive hard and relentlessly to establish their own voice and identity. They consciously and loudly declared themselves as “Modern” and amazingly it proved to their time.”

    The Kolkatta group “Kallol”, and the “Pragati” grop in Dhaka were the two most fearless groups, says troversial authors. Buddhadev Bose was branded as an “obscene” writer after his first major book of poems, “Bandir Bandana” and his first short Novel “Rajani Holo Utala”. He was wis his 20s at the time. He also published and edited “Pragati” from Dhaka which he promoted very different poets – Jibananda Das, for instance, and bishnu day. From 1935-1961, he edited and published from Kolkata, a quarterly called Kavita which showed what moderns meant for him. Bose didn’t ask for a poem from Tagore for the first issue of Kavita, Damayanti says, “which was like blasphemy at the time.
    Only poets of Bose’s generation were included. Perhaps the young editor wanted to make statement through his deliberate action, that the modern poets were self –sustaining. Then he sent the issue to Master, humbly asking for his opinion and requesting him for a contribution for the second issue, with enough trepidation in his trepidation in his heart of his initial defiance. Tagore understood as a father would when a son openly defies a parent for the first time, somewhat more loudly then necessary to establish his adulthood.’

    Dammayanti continues, “Bose always acknowledged Tagore as the first modern poet of Bengal. There started a rather intimate relationship between them which remained till the great man’s demise. Tagore contributed generously to Kavita in spite of his broken health, during the last Six year of his Life. When a “Tagore” is born in a country at any time, the culture itself changes. Every Educated Bengali is indebted to him for all the time come.”

    Now an author in her own right, Damayanti suggested I look at Ketaki Kushari Dyson’s transla tions of Bose’s poems’ both for the quality of the translation and for the informative introduction. By the 1940s’ ‘Dyson wrights, it was no longer the question whether one was following Tagore or rebelling against him, that was dividing Bengali writers, but the question was whether or not one had become a Marxist.”
    Around 1938, she adds, the second conference of the all-India progressive writers’ Association was held in Calcutta, but “such a politically tinged cultural movement was still broadly humanistic rather then narrowly ideological,” Tagore sent a message to the conference, and Bose was on the organizing committee, but made it clear that he did not believe propaganda was the highest form of Literature.

    Regards: Kottu



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