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Literary Analysis of the Poems of Poets William Wordsworth and Kazi Nazrul Islam

Written by: Mustofa Munir

ABSTRACT:

Poets Wordsworth and Nazrul have some poems that resonate with similar themes of sorrows and happiness. They demonstrated their ability and avidity to find out some moments of contentment and joyousness from the brink of melancholy, unhappiness and desolation, occurred in their life, through the varied nature and imagination. They manipulated the image of an unknown and unseen girl or a detached lover as a vital source, power and volition to create classic poems.  A poem cannot take shape itself without the poet’s flowing feelings and creative imagination. The two romantic poets used their meaningful imagination to roam around within their poems with superb literary sense and poetic talents. They utilized their elevated emotion, passion, resentments and sorrows along with the beauteous nature, reachable to all common readers, as their fundamental condition to write a poem. Poet Wordsworth’s poems ‘The solitary reaper’ and ‘Surprised by joy’ and Poet Nazrul’s poemsDeep in sleep’(Bengali poem: Ghumiye geche sranto hoiye) and ‘My lover without a name’(Bengali poem: O-namika) were taken as the material source of analysis. Both poets have created an image that was descriptive and that image conveyed an accurate reflection on their poems with extreme reality. Their imagination is not just faithfully copied from the nature rather it is mingled with their own elegant poetic testimony and manifestation.

 

 INTRODUCTION:

 

 In his preface of Lyrical Ballads Wordsworth succinctly stated about the mind of the man as “..we are fitted to take delight, the Poet principally directs his attention. He considers man and nature as essentially adapted to each other, and the mind of man as naturally the mirror of the fairest and most interesting properties of nature and thus the Poet, prompted by this feeling of pleasure.”  This statement: “And the mind of man.. the fairest mirror and interesting properties of nature” is the most accurate and brilliant piece of bulletin dispatched by Wordsworth to the world literature and it will remain ever engraved in the heart of the million readers and poets of the world. This message has been reflecting on every piece of his works as well as on the works of Poet Nazrul. They derived a feeling of pleasure from the nature since ‘man and nature as essentially adapted to each other’.

 In ‘The solitary reaper’ Poet Wordsworth connected his imagination with emotion and they both co-existed–

 

 “O listen! for the Vale profound 
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt 
More welcome notes to weary bands 
Of travellers in some shady haunt, 
Among Arabian sands:”

 The poet tried to improve and heighten the pleasure that co-existed with passion. The passion of the Narrator in the poem was the sweet song of the Reaper girl.

Wordsworth’s famous definition of poetry  poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity : the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind” has been applied to his poetic creation all along his life.” fits very much with his poems.

 

In the poem ‘Surprised by joy’ he was surprised and overwhelmed by a joy and so joyful he was that he had to say—

 Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind 

I turned to share the transport—Oh! with whom 

But Thee, long buried in the silent Tomb, 

That spot which no vicissitude can find? 

 

Poet Nazrul can fit himself easily within the glorious poetic statement of Poet Wordsworth that “we are fitted to take delight”. Poet Nazrul took delight in writing lyrics and romantic poems relentlessly throughout his poetic life. These two poems he wrote ‘Deep in sleep’ and ‘My lover without a name’ were created from a kind of complex feelings of deeper passions intermingled with painful feelings resulted from the death of a dearest one and a pain of estrangement from an unseen lover. Those two poems can be considered as a journey he made through love, pain, and mysticism— 

In ‘My lover without a name’ he wrote—

 Altruistic lamp of thine is yet to be kindl’d in my lightless

Home! O the infinite! Thou comest not at the finite edge!”

 “That one love I drinketh pouring into many cups --That wine elixir!”

 Or his painful lamentation in ‘Deep in sleep’ nature’s melancholic breaths echoed in the murmurings of leaves when his son died—

 “Oh! No buds will burgeon forth tomorrow from

The creeping tender vines, O listen! Whose

Melancholic breaths that in the leaves murmur!

Flew far away my singing bird, exists

Now only an empty nest there,

 

The captivated Nazrul looked at the nature with joy and bewilderment while writing romantic poems. He used his powerful imagery to create lyrical emotion.

 

 

 ANALYSIS

 ‘Surprised by joy’— Poet W. Wordsworth

 Surprised by joy, the fourteen lined-sonnet, was written by William Wordsworth in 1815 after the death of his four-year-old daughter Catherine.

Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind 

I turned to share the transport—Oh! with whom 

But Thee, long buried in the silent Tomb, 

That spot which no vicissitude can find? 

Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind— 

But how could I forget thee?—Through what power, 

Even for the least division of an hour, 

Have I been so beguiled as to be blind 

To my most grievous loss!—That thought’s return 

Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore, 

Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn, 

Knowing my heart’s best treasure was no more; 

That neither present time, nor years unborn 

Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.” 

 

Literary Analysis: Surprised by joy

 Any feeling of mild shock caused by something that we do not expect can be considered as a surprise incident. The narrator had chosen the title of the poem Surprised by joy so appropriately. But what was source of that joy that he wanted to ‘share the transport’ was not clearly mentioned in the poem. Only we could trace it from this line—“That spot which no vicissitude can find?” ‘that spot’  the graveyard and its tranquil vicinity captivated the narrator so much that he asked himself— was there any vicissitude that could find that spot? The prolonged calmness of the graveyard and the beauteous nature around it suddenly penetrated deep into the heart of the narrator (Wordsworth) and created a joyful rhythm within him. He was surprised by the joy that jolted his heart. By being so joyful he was “impatient as the Wind”. He was bewildered not knowing whom he could communicate that joy—“to share the transport”. Then he himself replied — “Oh! with whom but Thee”. It is none but the narrator’s daughter Catherine would be shared with the delights of the dramatic ambience that overwhelmed him so powerfully and he only could express— “That spot which no vicissitude can find?” But that was an ephemeral moment, the narrator regained his sense and reminded him that he was standing in front of his daughter’s silent tomb where she was long buried. The affection and love for the dear daughter brought him back to the reality.  He asked himself if he was beguiled and blind to that most dire loss—

 “Have I been so beguiled as to be blind 

To my most grievous loss!”  

He got back his feelings of enormous pain that he wanted to save as “one” and “one only” as long as he stood there forlornly. He realized he lost one of the most treasure of his heart—his daughter and neither that day nor any day of the coming years could bring forth his daughter’s heavenly face again to his vision—

  “That neither present time, nor years unborn 

   Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.” 

 

 

 

Poet Kazi Nazrul wrote this poem ‘Deep in sleep’ (in BengaliGhumiye geche chranta hoie’) when his four-year- old son Bulbul died in the year 1930. The tragic untimely demise of his son shattered him terribly. The poet constructed the entire lyric with the words that emanated from his wretched heart— that heart was grabbed profoundly with grave pain he experienced after his death.  He started reading and translating the Farsi Rubaiyats (Quatrain, Four-line stanza) from ‘Dewan-i-Hafiz, a book of Persian Sufi Poet Hafiz in order to divert himself from the stress of bereavement and soothe his bereft heart with the mystic words of the Rubaiyats.

 

 Deep in sleep— Poet Nazrul

 

 “Deep in sleep is my wearied songbird

Nightingale, all the flowers of evening 

Cast at him their plaintive look, his song

Made the morning-flowers bloomed,

Then which cruel hunter’s arrow silenced him

Forever? The evening-queen in the forest there

Wails for his death in her disheveled hair,

Oh! No buds will burgeon forth tomorrow from

The creeping tender vines, O listen! Whose

Melancholic breaths in the leaves murmur!

Flew far away my singing bird, exists

Now only an empty nest there,

In my voice crowd not anymore my words,

His illusionary light can entice no one anymore”  

© mustofa munir

 

 

 

 

 Literary Analysis: Deep in Sleep

 In this lyric the narrator’s (poet) deceased son is the ‘songbird Nightingale’. It is an elegy to his son.  The theme is the lament on the death of his dearest child with a heart burdened with deep sorrows. The narrator upholds a veritable approach in bringing up features from the nature in the midst of his infinite griefs and lamentations. He adorned his pain-stricken feelings with the nature’s elements— morning and evening-flowers, flower-buds, vines, leaves and the nightingale. The evening-flowers, vines and leaves bemoaned the death of their companion. The narrator described his song-bird nightingale was tired and in eternal sleep. In the morning the flowers were bloomed with his sweet notes, after that he could not sing anymore. So, in the evening all flowers gazed at him for his silence with plaintive look—

“Deep in sleep is my wearied songbird

Nightingale, all the flowers of evening 

 Cast at him their plaintive look, his song

Made the morning-flowers bloomed,”

 

The emotional narrator wanted to know—

“Then which cruel hunter’s arrow silenced him

Forever?”

The nightingale, the songbird, brought all the morning-flowers to the joy of blooming with his sweet notes. Then why was he slain?  The narrator imagined his son’s death caused by an arrow of a hunter. So he asked –which deadly arrow of a cruel hunter took his life or which was that cruel hunter?

 The narrator also imagined the evening as a queen who used to listen to the sweet songs of the nightingale, is now utterly devastated with griefs of death, wailing in the forest with her disheveled hair

“the evening-queen in the forest there

Wails for his death in her disheveled hair,”

 Then he lamented—no flower-buds would sprout out from the tender vines anymore since his song-bird flew away from its nest leaving the nest empty. The narrator also wanted us to listen to the melancholic breaths in the murmurings of the leaves—

“Oh! No buds will burgeon forth tomorrow from

The creeping tender vines, O listen! Whose

Melancholic breaths in the leaves murmur!

Flew far away my singing bird, exists

Now only an empty nest there,”

Narrator’s voice was crammed with words before, but now he finds no words in his voice. He also knows that no one will be enticed any more by his son’s illusionary light—

“In my voice crowd not anymore my words,

His illusionary light can entice no one anymore”   

 

 ‘The Solitary Reaper’

 

William Wordsworth’sThe Solitary Reaper’ is a ballad. This ballad was written during a tour that began in August 1803  in the Scottish Highlands. Wordsworth, his sister Dorothy and fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge participated in that tour. The journey lasted about 6 weeks.

The ballad "The Solitary Reaper" is considered as Wordsworth’s one of the best-known works. It is about a Highland lass (girl)— who was singing a song and reaping the corn or rye in a field of northern Scotland during harvest time. 

On September 13, 1803 William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy stayed in an Inn in the village of Strathyre and took walks in the local hills. Wordsworth was inspired to write this poem while he was in the village.

 

“Behold her, single in the field, 
Yon solitary Highland Lass! 
Reaping and singing by herself; 
Stop here, or gently pass! 
Alone she cuts and binds the grain, 
And sings a melancholy strain; 
O listen! for the Vale profound 
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt 
More welcome notes to weary bands 
Of travellers in some shady haunt, 
Among Arabian sands: 
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard 
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird, 
Breaking the silence of the seas 
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?— 
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow 
For old, unhappy, far-off things, 
And battles long ago: 
Or is it some more humble lay, 
Familiar matter of to-day? 
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain, 
That has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang 
As if her song could have no ending; 
I saw her singing at her work, 
And o'er the sickle bending;— 
I listened, motionless and still; 
And, as I mounted up the hill, 
The music in my heart I bore, 
Long after it was heard no more.”

 

Literary Analysis: The Solitary Reaper

  In a far off valley, in a field of Highland village a single and lonely girl was reaping and singing by herself

 ‘single in the field,

Yon solitary Highland Lass’.

While she was singing the narrator beseeched the passersby not to disturb her but to stop or pass gently without making any distracting sound— “Stop here, or gently pass!”

From these words ‘Stop here, or gently pass’ we can infer that the song of reaper-girl had touched the narrator’s heart so vehemently and enormously that he wanted only her singing be continued without any external disturbance and botheration.  It was the melancholic sound of the song that overflowed the valley—

“O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound…”.

 The narrator did not stop there, the rhythm of his feelings he unveiled more and more—

Her doleful tune was more alluring to him than any nightingale’s sweet notes that could possibly rouse a reposeful feeling in the heart of some exhausted travelers while they were under a shadowy place in Arabian desert. That girl’s voice was so thrilling to him no cuckoo-bird  could ever produce such in any spring time, so thrilling it was that broke the silence of the seas in the furthest north-western islands of Scotland.

In the next stanza he asked everyone who might tell him what was the words or theme of the song that she was singing— ‘Will no one tell me what she sings?’ 

Though she was singing in local Scots Gaelic language but it was not the non-English words that bothered the narrator, rather he precisely wanted to know ‘what she sings?’—what was her state of emotion that prompted her heart to sing, what caused her to sing that melancholic song and then in the next few lines he reviewed the possible causes (not knowing fully well yet) that yielded her to render such song— it could be her old, unhappy, far-off things-story that she battled long ago or it could be any simple incident that happened that day— a feeling of natural loss or pain, or that pain had returned and inflicted her again.

Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow 
For old, unhappy, far-off things, 
And battles long ago: 
Or is it some more humble lay, 
Familiar matter of to-day? 
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain, 
That has been, and may be again?

 

At the end in the last stanza he submitted himself saying whatever the theme of the song could be, the song bore a music which had no ending. And he saw her singing while she was in the field, reaping the crops with a bend sickle in her hand. He was still and motionless while listening to that song. Then he climbed up to the top of the hill with the resonance of the music in his heart. When he reached the hill top he spent a considerable time there (Long after it was heard no more). But at one time he could not hear that music any more (possibly she stopped singing or she was thinking something else). The narrator at the end could not hear that music anymore but in his heart, we can assume, that music and the reaper girl left an imprint of long lasting allusion.

 

“Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang 
As if her song could have no ending; 
I saw her singing at her work, 
And o'er the sickle bending;— 
I listened, motionless and still; 
And, as I mounted up the hill, 
The music in my heart I bore, 
Long after it was heard no more.”

 

 

‘My Lover Without A Name’

 

Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam wrote a poem ‘My Lover Without a Name’ (in Bengali O-namika) which has a theme, to some extent, similar to the theme of ‘The Solitary Reaper’. In both themes the girl was unknown and unreachable and yet to be known to the narrators.

 

My Lover Without a Name’ is one of the best known romantic poems of poet Nazrul. The Poet wrote this poem on July 27, 1926 when he was alone in Chittagong, a port city of Bangladesh. The poet was fascinated by the lustrous green canopy of the trees in the city and the sea at the southern part. He found himself in a rainy day amidst those natural beauties with a feeling of estrangement— that inspired him to write this poem. The nine stanza-poem, each stanza comprises twelve lines. I quoted only those lines from some stanzas of the poem that I wanted to analyze.

 ‘My Lover Without a Name’

 I

“I adore thee, my dream-companion, my belov’d!

The arouser of thirst thou art in my heart

For not having thee! Thee I adore...

O my fanci’d frolicsome lover,

Eternal youthful belle, my perpetual companion!

Thee I adore O my lover without a name!

Accept my adoration, my love…

My secret stroller, O the lover fore’er!

Since the day of creation cryest thou hiding behind desire,

Thou didst not surrender,

Altruistic lamp of thine is yet to be kindl’d in my lightless

Home! O the infinite! Thou comest not at the finite edge!”

 II

“In my dream I find thee and lose thee in my dream again,”

“By being The pleasing wine

 thou art conceal’d in grapevine,

But not in my cup!”

VIII

“Still my heart weeps in pain,

Wine’s true, not the cup of wine,

Drinkest thou from whate’er

Cup, thou wilt be intoxicat’d, O my companion for-e’er!

Whome’er I love, she is thou!

Thee I love!”

 IX

“Love is one, lovers are many,

That one love I drinketh pouring into many cups --

That wine elixir!

O the nameless, I drinketh thee from a pitcher,

From a glass, sometime from a cup with many desires!”

© mustofa munir

 

(Quoted from the middle of the stanzas of the poem)

 

Literary Analysis: My Lover Without a Name

 Here in stanza one, the narrator expressed an ardor and passion for love to his dear beloved whom he loved and adored all along his life without seeing and reaching her. He did not have her in his life but a thirst for love he nurtured in his heart so much and she is the arouser of his thirst. Then he expressed—

 The arouser of thirst thou art in my heart

For not having thee! Thee I adore...”

 He considered her as an eternal companion. She exists in his imagination, she is fancied but lively to him.

“O my fanci’d frolicsome lover,

Eternal youthful belle, my perpetual companion!”

 

“My secret stroller, O the lover fore’er!

Since the day of creation cryest thou hiding behind desire,

But thou didst not surrender,

Altruistic lamp of thine is yet to be kindl’d in my lightless

Home! O the infinite! Thou comest not at the finite edge!”

 

She strolls secretly in his heart. She too bears the pain of estrangement since the day creation for not having him wholly. She hides herself behind all her desires to have him in her heart—

“My secret stroller, O the lover fore’er!

Since the day of creation cryest thou hiding behind desire,”

 

But she remained beyond his reach—

“But thou didst not surrender” 

May be it was the circumstance that did not allow her to meet the narrator and that kept her away from him.

 

The narrator lamented that her unselfish lamp of love is yet to be kindled in his lightless home—

“Altruistic lamp of thine is yet to be kindl’d in my lightless Home!”  

 

The narrator considered her as an infinite entity. He bemoaned, she did not come nearer to the finite edge of her infinite entity so that he could reach her.—

“O the infinite! Thou comest not at the finite edge!”

 

So, she was a dream to him all along—

“In my dream I find thee and lose thee in my dream again,”

In the following lines of the poem we find that wine has become an alluring metaphor for love and it is vividly postulated by the narrator with an imaginative and sensitive emotional style. She is a pleasing wine to him but concealed in the grapevine—his cup is yet to be filled up with that pleasing wine—

“By being The pleasing wine

 thou art conceal’d in grapevine,

But not in my cup!”

 The narrator brought again a pleasant metaphor of wine for love to manifest his true love. His love is true like a true wine which remains the same no matter in what glass or cup it is contained. So, he conveys to his beloved that from whatever cup she drinks his love she will be intoxicated—

“Wine’s true, not the cup of wine,

Drinkest thou from whate’er

Cup, thou wilt be intoxicat’d, O my companion for-e’er!”

 There are many lovers but the love is one and for one only“Love is one, lovers are many,”

The narrator poet Nazrul emphasized again on true and one love. That one love—the love of his frolicsome beloved—the wine-elixir he drinks by pouring it into many cups.  He told his nameless lover that he drinks not only her love, he drinks her whole true self (‘I drinketh thee’) from a goblet, or from a glass, or from a cup with many desires that he amassed in his heart—

 

 “Whome’er I love, she is thou! I love thee!

Love is one, lovers are many,

That one love I drink pouring into many cups --That wine elixir!

O the nameless, I drinketh thee from a pitcher,

From a glass, sometime from a cup with many desires!”

 

CONCLUSION:

 Poet William Wordsworth and Kazi Nazrul Islam did not depart from their poetic instincts in the midst of griefs and utter bereavements, rather they inquired into the nature’s alluring qualities that could kindle their emotion to brighten up the themes of their finest poems they were about to create. They contemplated upon and articulated those instincts in their poems above very poetically and produced literature’s best classics in their own way.

Though the forever-unknown lover—the dream companion or the unknown solitary village reaper-girl is far away from the narrators; though both were unseen, unreachable and nameless to them but yet the poets adored their entity, their whole essence and the resonance of the music produced. They considered the image of the unknown and unseen girl or the lover to be the realm of their pleasure, passion and emotion.

Poet William Wordsworth revolutionized the style of writing poetry in English literature. He was one of the first British poets who made the poetry accessible to common man with their words.  In the 18th century Romanticism movement his ideas to keep the freedom of emotion and nature in the poetry, reachable to common man, made him a great poetic philosopher of this world of mankind. Similarly Poet Nazrul had revolutionized a thousand years old Bengali literature by using the words of common people in his poems, lyrics and other literary works from their everyday speech to make their words as the language of literature. Both poets borrowed the themes of emotion and passion from the life and blended them with nature. They used their minds as the recipients of external stimuli to create their poetry. In one sense they are the receiver and creator both.

 

Sources:

  1. Selected poems of Williams Wordsworth, by William Wordsworth

Introduction by Stephen Gill, March 29 2005. Penguin Classics.   ISBN 9780140424423

  1. Sanchita, Selected poems of Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, Mustofa Munir Outskirts Press, Inc. USA May 2015. https://outskirtspress.com/search?addsearch=sanchita ISBN 9781478755739
  2. Sandhya maloti, Lyrical Book, Nazrul Rochonaboli,Vol. 7, Bangla Academy, November, 2012.  
  3. Preface to Lyrical Ballads. William Wordsworth (1800).

 https://faculty.csbsju.edu/dbeach/beautytruth/Wordsworth-PrefaceLB.pdf

 

  1. Kazi Nazrul Islam Birth Centenary Commemorative Volume, Paschimbongo Bangla Academy, 2014

Publisher: Secretary, Paschimbongo Bangla Academy, 1/1 Acharjya JagadishChandra Bose Road, Kolkata 700020 ISBN 81-7751-031-2

 

 

© Mustofa Munir, July, 2019, USA