AN ANALYTICAL VIEW OF THE POETIC WORKS OF POET PERCY B. SHELLEY AND POET KAZI NAZRUL ISLAM.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was one of the major English Romantic poets, and is regarded by some as among the finest lyric poets in the English language. Shelley left many similarities of his literary works with a Poet of the East--who is Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. Both were lyricists, romantic and rebel in nature.
If we analyze their works from any of their poetic creation of romantic poems or invigorating poems we will find Poet Nazrul excelled his poetic talent as Shelley did. They both left the imprints of their literary virtuosity superbly in this world of literature.
In the lyrical drama ‘Prometheus Unbound’ Shelley portrayed the social reformist Prometheus who had a hope for peace and love. In Greek mythology Prometheus was an ordinary man lived in the kingdom of Jupiter and fought in a heroic way with power-greedy Jupiter (Zeus) for his oppression and social injustice. In this poem Shelly spoke the words of Prometheus while he was in prison. Prometheus had a vision that he could usher an age of peace and prosperity for all through love and forgiveness.
“To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than Death or Night;
To defy Power which seems Omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope, till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates. . .”
Similarly Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976) in his lyrical poem ‘ Euphoria of Cataclysm’ portrayed Shiva, the Hindu mythological God as reformist who could destroy all evils and start afresh where injustice and oppression will not prevail.
“There comes the future dance-frenzied lunatic
With an apocalyptic obsession, the bolt
Of the door he broke with the gust of gale!
From a deadly deep dark hole
Like the furious rampant Mohakal—
There comes the dreadful,
Lamp he kindles with the flame of thunder!
O that terrifying is laughing there!
O you all, welcome the hero with shouts and ovation!
Welcome the hero with shouts and ovation!!”
There is a hope that the long night will dawn again with a smile in the land of India. The baby nation will feel comfort under the shadow of a leader like Shiva. So, he should be welcomed like a hero with cheers and ovation.
When Poet John Keats died Shelley wrote an an elegy, ‘Adonais’, a lament on the death of John Keats.
“Weep for Adonais—he is dead!
Oh, weep for Adonais! though our tears
Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!
And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years
To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers,
And teach them thine own sorrow, say: "With me
Died Adonais; till the Future dares
Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be
An echo and a light unto eternity !”
Poet Nazrul also wrote a poem when Mrs. M. Rahman died. This poem is both an elegy and eulogy to lady Rahman and a gesture of respect and recognition to her contributions in the society.
Mrs. M Rahman was Mrs. Masuda Khatun(1885-1926), one of the pioneering women in Bengal (India) who fought for the women’s rights and equality in the conservative society of both elites and common people of Bengal. She was a writer, columnist and an activist. She was a secularist and committed to Hindu-Muslim unity.
Poet Nazrul’s poem emanates the deep respects and pain:
“Like an amulet your soul is clean
And holly containing the words divine,
Those who creat’d high tide in your sea of pain,
Where are they now? Where dies the moon
When the sea is dri’d up? For those you sacrific’d
Your life untimely, let your sacrifice
Be meaningful through their uprisings!
That flame of your life was extinguish’d, O mother,
Again as a victorious mark on the parting of hair
Of all women of the world let it be blaz’d!
On the path of life towards the death you walk’d,
Leaping o’er the death do you walk
Today towards the life?”
Her death would be meaningful only through the uprising of the suffering women of world. Her soul was clean like a sacred amulet that contained divine words. In the sea of pain like a moon she created a high tide.
Shelley wrote many romantic poems so did the versatile genius Nazrul. One of the Shelley’s best known romantic poems ‘Music, when soft voices die’, we read:
“Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory—
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
Live within the sense they quicken.
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the belovèd’s bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.”
Music lives in the memories though it ceases to be played; when the sweet flowers decay and die, their pleasant fragrance still remains and when the rose dies, its leaves are used to adorn the bed of a beloved one. When his beloved goes away love still slumber in lover’s thought, in his heart.
Likewise, Poet Nazrul wrote a romantic poem‘ It is my pride’.
“In my dream, in the seat of my mind—
With whole splendor thou art my queen!”
In my tears, in the deceitful melody of my ballad,
In my language, in my pain and torture,
In my poetry thou callest me in gesture,”
In the poems of Poet Shelley and Nazrul, the core theme is same which is ‘Love never fades away from the heart. Love for the beloved always remains in the deepest seat of lover’s heart.’
‘Stanzas Written in Dejection, Near Naples’ is one of Shelley’s finest and most emblematic Romantic poems. Poet Shelley was in a state of dejection and loneliness. It is an expression of an estranged mind while Shelley was along the shore of Bay of Naples at night.
“I see the Deep’s untrampled floor
With green and purple seaweeds strown;
I see the waves upon the shore,
Like light dissolved in star-showers, thrown:
I sit upon the sands alone,—
The lightning of the noontide ocean
Is flashing round me, and a tone
Arises from its measured motion,
How sweet! did any heart now share in my emotion.
Alas! I have nor hope nor health,
Nor peace within nor calm around,
Nor that content surpassing wealth
The sage in meditation found,
And walked with inward glory crowned—
Nor fame, nor power, nor love, nor leisure.
Others I see whom these surround—
Smiling they live, and call life pleasure;
To me that cup has been dealt in another measure.”
Likewisely Poet Nazrul also created a similar theme when he wrote his epic style poem The Sea. When he was Chittagong he found the sea, he saw sea, he felt the sea. He encapsulated his pain, love and passion in the embodiment of the sea. He felt the sea as an estranged lover. The heart of the sea swells up in pain with the rumbling waves.
He aligned his own emotions with the emotions of the sea.
“O the sea, my friend,
The insatiable, the ever-estrang’d!
Which pain had spark’d thee to swell up to the brim?
Something wantest thou to say? But to whom,
O my friend? Blue sky above, shore below longed for thee!
Speak out, O the restless breaker, tell me
In thy heart why so much murmurings
Of the waves? Why’s this unending rumbling?”
“On thy waves of desire dropeth the shadow of thine
Belov’d again and again!
On the waves her shadow breaks, brings attachment!
The endless covertness is yet to over,
Thou cryest, I cry, cries the time! The summer cries,
monsoon cries, cry the spring and winter!
All night long I hear that song
Of wailing, my friend,
With thee cries the estrang’d
Universe, O the sea! Thou cryest, I cry, cries my belov’d!”
Birds, trees and flowers often become the sources of romantic thoughts and sublimity that the poets produce in their poems. They bring the nature and from within the nature the themes sublime with love and beauty of nature.
I will bring two poems of Shelley and Nazrul . They talked to nature. They felt the nature, they praised the nature.
In his poem “To a Skylark”, Poet Shelley exalted the virtue of the skylark bird. It soars high up, it is free and it sings. It travels anywhere, anytime at dusk and at dawn. The bird’s songs are better than the sounds of rain and poetry. It is a blithe spirit rather than a bird.
“Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from Heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.”
We see here how poet Nazrul has picked up a romantic theme in his poem “A rows of betel-nut trees by the window”. He considered the betel-nut trees to be his night awakening companions in a moonlit night. He talks with them intimately. The betel-nut tree is his dream walker.
The murmuring of their leaves are the sweet words of his beloved. It is the parting time— the window will be closed. There will be no shimmering on the window in the moonlit night, and there will be no more silent conversation.
“Good-bye, O my night awakening companions by the window!
O my friends, the parting night is getting pale like a shadow!
As of today moonlight will not shimmer at the window,
No more will be our silent conversation though. ....”
“O the helpless tree, tied you’re firmly with the land, dust
Beneath your feet, above the heat of sky-desert!
Burnt you’re by the heat of sun, at night you’re wet by dew,
Have no strength even to cry, deadly opium made you
Drowsy! If your pain inflict you not, O my friend, no need
Of giving me back my pain from your heart void !
If I come ever by mistake in your remembrance,
Forget me! By mistake if my window is left open,
Close it again! Whom you find not on the land look
Not for him in the dark sky through the lattice.”
Last but not the least, two more beautiful romantic poems of two great poets I will produce unto you. You will feel qualities of the poetry and their literary allusions.
Rarely comest thou
“Rarely, rarely comest thou,
Spirit of Delight!
Wherefore hast thou left me now
Many a day and night?
Many a weary night and day
'Tis since thou art fled away.
I love all that thou lovest,
Spirit of Delight!
The fresh Earth in new leaves dressed,
And the starry night;
Autumn evening, and the morn
When the golden mists are born.
“I love tranquil solitude,
And such society
As is quiet, wise, and good;
Between thee and me
What difference? but thou dost possess
The things I seek, not love them less.”
By Kazi Nazrul Islam
“After so many days at this inopportune
Time— when I dance
Day and night
In the bloody mortal-sport
Like a dust-blinding whirlwind—
O my beloved!
After so many days I came to know
At this inopportune time — through
Generations I know thee!
O the devotee!
That melodic musical mode, that voice,
The eyes, eyebrows, forehead, cheek and face,
Thy phenomenal beauty, thy dangling,
Like a victorious she-swan thy dance-faulty swinging!
I know, I know everything!
On a frustrat’d, wearied, dried up, burnt
Beach of life I found myself in a swoon,
So I call’d thee from my deep heart
O my belov’d!
Thy sweetest name I cherish and utter silently!
In a torn voice I cry out,— I know, I know thee!
Neither art thou a victorious nor a mendicant,
A goddess thou art, a chaste, an ascetic virgin,
My devotee thou art!
Through ages lovest thou this brute!
Thyself thou burnest whilst kindling a lamp in my heart,
Time and again thy devotion made me indebt’d!
My sweet heart I’ve known thee for many generations!
At the setting hour of my life I know thee often times,
After we’re known,
Alone in an unknown
Land I’m without thee,
In an empty parting-raft thou hadst left me!...
The nature and quality of classical literature are always similar to each other. As we see all those verses, in the poems of the two great Poets, are full of allusions and resonance, sublimity and themes.
1.The Major Works, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Oxford University Press,2009.
2.Sanchita, selected poems and lyrics of Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, Outskirts Press Inc.U.S.A. 2015.
3.The Fiery Lute, selected poems and lyrics of Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, Nazrul Institute, Dhaka 2018.