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Copyright © 2007
M. S. Thirumalai
Sarojini Naidu as a Nature Poet
N. Murali, M.A., M.Phil., B.Ed.
G. Natanam, M.A., Ph.D.
Poetry is a pleasure-giving medium. This medium is handled by different poets in the world. Most of the poets in India present their poetry in their mother tongue only. Those who present poetry in languages other their own have not succeeded so well as Sarojini Naidu.
There are not many in India who have written poetry in English. Among them, Sarojini Naidu stands first. Her poems are praised not only in India, but all over the world.
Though she has written poems on religion, country, women's freedom, etc., her poems on nature occupy the first place in her poetry. Even in sorrow, her nature poems glow with a touch of her suffering. To strengthen this idea, a detailed discussion is undertaken in this work. It contains six chapters as detailed below.
Chapter 1 It gives an introduction to poetry, types of poetry, its division and a brief history of Sarojini Naidu's life.
Chapter 2 Life of Sarojini Naidu
Chapter 3 In this chapter, Sarojini Naidu's role in Indian English Poetry is discussed.
Chapter 4 This chapter discusses the variety of Sarojini's poems.
Chapter 5 In this chapter, some of her nature poems are discussed.
Chapter 6 Summing up.
Poetry is a medium through which the poets express their emotion and thought with a musical tone by words. In the words of Wordsworth, poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings recollected into tranquillity.
Poetry treats of two kinds of subject matter - that which is supplied by the external objects, such as deeds, events and the things we see around us and that which is supplied by the poet's own thoughts and feelings. The former gives rise to objective poetry, the latter to subjective. In the first, it is about what he has seen or heard; in the latter he brings to bear his own reflections upon what he has seen or heard. The same subject may be treated either way. If the poet views it from without, confining himself that is to say, merely to its externals, his treatment is objective; if he views it from within, giving expression, that is to say, to the thoughts and feelings it arouses in his mind, his treatment is subjective. Simply, it can be said in yet another fashion, i.e., objective poetry is impersonal and subjective poetry personal. In the former, the focus of attention is something that is outward - a praiseworthy act, a thrilling occurrence, a beautiful sight; in the latter, it is the poet himself; whatever the subject may be, his mind is centered round his own thoughts and feelings.
Though, theoretically, subjective and objective poetry belong to two distinct categories, in actual practice, it is almost impossible to separate the one from the other.
Poetry is divided into several types. The major types are given below:
1. The Lyric
2. The Ode
3. The Sonnet
4. The Elegy
5. The Idyll
6. The Epic
7. The Ballad
8. The Satire
Poetry is the effective medium to express the ideas or feelings, which are experienced by an individual, through whom the same experience is aroused in the readers. It is common to all people in the world.
Regarding English poetry, since the medium, i.e. language, is very flexible, all the literary works of certain writers/poets of the world are presented in the English Language. It may also be due to the impact of the English rule all over the world for a certain period.
Indian English Writing
Besides the railway system, the civil service, the game of cricket, IT development and a host of other distinctive aspects of Indian life today, the British bestowed upon us the aspiration of creating literature in the English language. The other British-bestowed elements acquired Indian reincarnations without much effort or delay; but creative writing in English by Indians had to struggle long and hard to obtain a separate identity.
At the beginning, the term Anglo-Indian literature subsumed the early attempts by the Indians to write poetry, drama or fiction in the English language. Edward Farley Oaten's prize-winning essay '1907' at Cambridge did not actually discuss any Indian writing, but the appendix provided at the end of his book lists eleven Indians among the authors of Anglo-Indian works.
In the opening chapter of his massive Indian Writing in English, K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar has given an account of how the Indian writer of English was weaned terminologically away from the 'Anglo-Indian' fold to the 'Indo-Anglican' flock with an involuntary but happily brief sojourn in an 'Indo-Anglican' realm.
Today, the term 'Indo-Anglican' is more or less accepted without dispute as descriptive of original literary creation in the English language by the Indians. Its status in relation to other literatures in the Indian languages continues to be as undefined as the status of English itself in relation to other Indian languages. But, R.K.Narayan's novel, The Guide (1958) has been made into an expensive and popular Hindi film, and this may well be taken as one kind of public approval of Indian writing in English.
The establishment of Indo-Anglican literature as a valid and distinct form of Indian literary writing has not, however, solved the epistemological problem of such Indian writing as is available in translation in English. Oaten's 1907 list includes Michael M.Dutta's Is This Called Civilization? as an Anglo-Indian Work' without conceding that it is a translation of the original Bengali play Ekeyi ki beley savyata?
As recently as 1960, Dorothy M. Spencer's introductory essay to her annotated bibliography, Indian Fiction in English makes no serious distinction between Indian novels written in English and Indian language novels translated into English. V.K.Gokak, in concluding his powerful plea in favour of recognizing what he calls 'Indo-English literature', says,
"I cannot help thinking that one of the befitting ways of honouring the message and significance of Gitanjali is to create a body of Indo-English writing, which will wear Gitanjali as a jewel in its crown. I cannot help thinking that the area so persuasively opened by Prof.Gokak needs to be sharply defined and delimited in order to forestall any boundary disputes" (1972,p.22)
Those who have read and invariably derived benefit from Gokak's pioneering book, English in India, will have noticed that he has devoted a separate chapter to Indian Literature in Trasnlation wherein he has argued that scholarly translations into English from classical Indian literary works - not only in Sanskrit, but in the older regional languages as well - should constitute valid post graduate work towards the doctoral degree in the department of English or of Comparative Literature in Indian Universities.
The historical evaluation of Indian writing in English is also bound to deal with the patterns of continuity and differentiation which have marked out the various phases and movements in its complex and often overlapping, growth. Literary history does not flow so smoothly, for the progression of creative concentrations and transitions reveals the operation of a multiple causation, of which the individual personality or achievement is but one, if readily discernible factor.
The Carlylean approach to literary history as primarily a collective literary biography has no doubt done its necessary service in the cause of identifying and establishing an essential frame of reference for the appreciation of Indo-Anglican literature as a coherent, self-consistent and autonomous tradition; but it must now give room for a more comprehensive and qualitative histriographical and comparativistic strategy. Indian writing in English, produced over the last hundred odd years, does not reveal a homogenous continuity, but rather a complex cyclical continuity.
In its initial stages, one witnesses a self-conscious approximation of the 'singing strength' to the ferment of ideas and the corresponding upheaval of talents during the so-called Indian Renaissance. The Indian mind was at this time concentrating on a patriotic rediscovery of a national identity and a national destiny. The first writers like the writers of colonial and revolutionary America, or the expatriates of Colonial Australia, had used the gift of the English language of a direct descriptive statement of the physical discovery of a newly accessible experience. They were engrossed in the immediacies of political argument, social rethinking, and dissemination of modern enlightenment and revaluation of the Indian Spirit. Their rhetorical simplicity and forthrightness were more conducive to effective debate rather than to an imaginative discourse.
The Indo-Anglican pen was employed in the battle of wits and in the collision of arguments and perspectives with a simple urgency commensurate with the new-won power of an expressive resource. The process has continued, with the result that it overlaps the next successive phases.
From Vivekananda to Aurobindo, from Raja Ram Mohan Roy to Tagore, from Tilak, Gokhale, and Gandhi to Nehru, Radhakrishnan and Rajaji, the Indian writers of English Prose have been primarily concerned with the exploration of thought on a level of stylistic empiricism rather than with the pursuit of vision on the level of creative imagination. Nevertheless, the polemical effectiveness and the empirical vitalism of their writing have tempered and refined the linguistic idiom itself. In a sense, their writings represent a substantial frame work of preparation for the aesthetic and creative transformation of our interest in the English language.
The next distinctive, chronological phase in the growth of the Indo-Anglican literature reveals our writers aiming at a consciously enhanced and heightened discourse, and their literary production reflects the whole process of absorption, assimilation, synthesis and creative tempering of the language.
At the same time, Indian writing in English enters the mainstream of modern Indian vernacular literatures, adumbrating, within the specific structures of its own distinctive myth, discourse and logos the same cyclicality of influences, movements, dimensions and extensions.
First, Romanticism appears in a variety of local habitations and their co-ordinate mutations. From Toru Dutt and Sarojini Naidu and Derozio to Armando Menezes, Bhushan and Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, one finds the activization of the romantic impulse with its mixed vintage of idealism, mysticism, regionalism and nationalism.
With the fading away of the romantic impulse, the Indo-Anglican sensibility seems to have turned increasingly towards Realism and its ancillary modifications of Regionalism and Naturalism.
Further, it is considered that there has been Indian literary activity in English for the past 200 years. It began with the insistence of the reformist Rajaram Mohan Roy and other like-minded Indians that for India to take its rightful place among nations, a knowledge of education in English was considered essential. English literary activity took on a new aspect with the independence movement whose leaders and followers found in English the one language that united them.
Among the first poets were Henry Derozio, Kashiprasad Ghose and Michael Madhsudan Datta, all of whom wrote narrative verse. In the following generation, there was Toru Dutt, the most important among the women poets in this genre. Carrying on this tradition was Sarojini Naidu, judged by many as the greatest of women poets; among her poetic collections may be mentioned The Golden Threshold (1905), The Bird of Time (1912) and The Broken Wing (1917). Best known of the Indian poets in English was the Bengali Rabindranath Tagore, who, whoever, wrote most of his verse first in Bengali, and then translated it into other languages including English. A very different figure from Tagore is Sri Aurobindo.
The independence movement gave a strong impetus to expository prose. Important contributions to this genre were Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who edited an English journal Maharatta, Lala Lajpat Rai, Kasturi Ranga Iyengar and T. Prakasam. Mahatma Gandhi, too, wrote widely in English and edited Young India and The Harijan. He also wrote the autobiography My Experiments with Truth (originally published in Gujarati, 1927-29), now an Indian classic. In this he was followed by Jawarhalal Nehru, whose Discovery of India is justly popular.
Prose fiction in English began in 1902 with the novel The Lake of Palms, by Romesh Chunder Dutt. The next important novelist is Mulk Raj Anand, who fulminated against class and cast distinction in a series of novels, The Coolie (1936), Untouchable (1935), Two Leaves and a Bud (1937) and The Big Heart (1945). Less fierce, though a better craftsman, is R.K.Narayan, who has published nine novels (as well as many short stories) among hem The Guide (1958), The Man-Eater of Malgudi (1961) and The Vendor of Weets (1967) are famous; his work has a wider circle of readers outside India than within. Other Indian novelists in the English medium are Santha Rama Rao, Manohar Malgonkar, Kamala Markendeya and Khshwant Singh. The most popular is Raja Rao, whose novels Kanthapura (1938), The Cow of the Barricades (1947) and The Serpent and the Rope have attracted a wide audience.
LIFE OF SAROJINI NAIDU
Of all the celebrated women of modern India, Mrs. Sarojini Devi Naidu's name is at the top. Not only that, her birthday is celebrated as 'Women's Day'. She was born on February 13, 1879 in Hyderabad. Her father, Dr.Aghornath Chattopadhyaya, was the founder of Nizam College of Hyderabad and a scientist. Her mother, Mrs. Varasundari was a Bengali poetess. Sarojini Devi inherited qualities from both her father and mother. Sarojini was a very bright and proud girl. Her father aspired for her to become a mathematician or scientist, but she loved poetry from a very early age.
This is only the beginning part of this book. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.
A Study of Auxiliaries in the Old and the Middle Tamil | Content Analysis of "Disability Communication" in the Daily Newspaper DNA (Daily News Analysis) - A Short-term Study Report | Authority: What Is It? | The Trading Community in Early Tamil Society Up To 900 AD | The Use of Setswana as a Medium of Instruction, A Core Subject and A National Language: Is It Not A Negation Of Affirmative Action? A Study of Botswana Linguistic Situation | The Auxiliary Verb POO in Tamil and Telugu | A Study of Idiomatic Expressions in Lurish and Persian | A Survey of Factors Contributing to Language Change in English With Special Reference to Lexical Change | Sarojini Naidu as a Nature Poet | HOME PAGE of November 2008 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR
M. Murali, M.A., B.Ed., M.Phil.
Department of Science & Humanities
Sri Ramanujar Engineering College
Tamil Nadu, INDIA
G. Natanam, M.A., Ph.D.
Department of English
Government College for Men (Autonomous)
Tamil Nadu, INDIA
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