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Our Jibananda Dash was great poet of Bangla


Jibanananda (1899-1954) a major Bangla poet and educationist, was born on 17 February 1899 in BARISAL, son of Satyananda Das, a schoolteacher and founder editor of the Brahmabadi…His mother, Kusumkumari Das, wrote POETRY… Matriculating in 1915 from Barisal Brajamohan School, Jibanananda completed his IA in 1917 from B M College, and BA with Honours in English in 1919 and MA in 1921 from Presidency College…He also studied law for some time…Jibanananda started his career as a teacher in Calcutta City College (1922-28)…He then briefly taught at the newly founded Bagerhat Prafulla Chandra College…He also taught at Ramjash College in Delhi (1929-30)…In 1935 he joined BM College in Barisal and continued to teach there till shortly before PARTITION in 1947 when he left for Kolkata…

Jibanananda started writing poems at an early age…While he was still a student, his poem, 'Barsa Abahan', (Invocation to the Rains) was published in the Brahmabadi (Baishakh 1326/April 1919…Many of his poems were published in various magazines… His volumes of poetry include Jhara Palak (Fallen Feathers, 1927), Dhusar Pandulipi (Gray Manuscript, 1936), Banalata Sen (1942), Mahaprthibi (Great Universe, 1944), Satti Tarar Timir (1948), Rupasi Bangla (Beautiful Bengal, written in 1934, published in 1957), Bela Abela Kalbela (1961)…

Jibanananda belonged to the group of poets who tried to shake off RABINDRANATH TAGORE's poetic influence…Inspired by western modernism and the intellectual outlook of the Bengali middle class, this group wrote about the realities of the urban present and of the lonely self even while they drew upon the rural traditions of Bengal…Although Jibanananda's early poems reveal some influences of NAZRUL ISLAM, SATYENDRANATH DUTTA and MOHITLAL MAJUMDER, he shook off these influences to become a towering figure in Bangla poetry. Jibanananda shared Rabindranath's deep feeling for nature, eloquently describing the beauty of rural Bengal in Rupasi Bangla and earning the appellation of Rupasi Banglar Kavi (Poet of Beautiful Bengal)…Unlike Rabindranath, however, he also portrayed distressed humanity as well as the depression, frustration, and loneliness of modern urban life in his poems…Introspection is also an important characteristic of his poetic genius…His poems merge a concern for the present and a sense of history…Many of his poems sound like prose, and greatly influenced subsequent poets…

Jibanananda's poems of rural Bengal played an important role in the political and cultural perspective of Bangladesh…His poems inspired a pride in Bengali nationhood, especially in the 1960s and during the WAR OF LIBERATION in 1971…Though principally a poet, Jibanananda also wrote essays, SHORT STORIES, and NOVELs…As a novelist and short story writer, however, Jibananda's unique talent was realised after his death with the discovery of many of his manuscripts..These novels, which were published posthumously, include Malyaban (Adorned with a Garland 1972), Sutirtha (The Good Pilgrimage, 1977), Jalpaihati, Jibanpranali, Basmatir Upakhyan etc…He wrote about two hundred stories…A collection of his short stories is Jibanananda Dasher Galpa (Stories of Jibanananda Das, 1972)…He also wrote essays on poetry, some of them included in Kavitar Katha (On poems, 1955)…His complete works have been published in 12 volumes, as Jibanananda Samagra (The Complete Works of Jibanananda, 1985-96), from Kolkata. Jibananda's stories and novels analyse the complexities of conjugal life and of sexual relationships as well as the contemporary social and political infrastructure..

Banalata Sen received an award (1953) at the Nikhil Banga Rabindra Sahitya Sammelan (All Bengal Rabindra Literature Convention)…Jibanananda Dasher Shrestha Kavita won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1954…Jibanananda died in a tram accident in Kolkata on 22 October 1954.

RE: Jibonananda Das

Between 1925, when his first poem appeared, and 1954, this shy professor of English literature who hardly ever traveled out of Bengal (except for a few months' stint of teaching at Ramjas College in Delhi), penned some of the most powerful verses in Bengali….Nearly half a century after his death, his poems, with their magical lyrics and tapestry of rich imagery, continue to haunt us…Jibanananda was a very private person; only one book of his verses was published in his lifetime, and there have not been translations of his books of poems even long after his death; the beauty and magic of Jibanananda's poetry has largely been confined to original Bengali…Clinton B. Seely at the University of Chicago, researched well over two decades on the life of Jibanananda, described him as the "..acknowledged successor to Rabindranath as Bengal's poet laureate" in his biography of the poet titled A Poet Apart…the English translations are taken from Prof. Seely's biography…Note the richness of imagery, and weaving of life and death in these works.

Banalata Sen is the most widely quoted poem by Jibanananda.

For thousands of years I roamed the paths of this earth,
From waters around Ceylon in dead of night to Malayan seas.
Much have I wandered. I was there in the gray world of Asoka
And Bimbisara, pressed on through darkness to the city of Vidarbha.
I am a weary heart surrounded by life's frothy ocean.
To me she gave a moment's peace - Banalata Sen from Natore.

Her hair was like an ancient darkling night in Vidisa
Her face, the craftsmanship of Sravasti. As the helmsman,
His rudder broken, far out upon the sea-adrift,
Sees the grass-green land of a cinnamon isle, just so
Through darkness I saw her. Said she, "Where have you been so long?"
And raised her bird's-nest-like eyes - Banalata Sen from Natore.

At days end, like hush of dew
Comes evening. A hawk wipes the scent of sunlight from its wings,
When earth's colors fade and some pale design is sketched,
Then glimmering fireflies paint in the story.
All birds come home, all rivers, all of this life's tasks finished.
Only darkness remains, as I sit there face to face with Banalata Sen."

Banalata Sen was a recurrent theme is Jibanananda's creation with its rich tapestry of imagery…Was there a Banalata Sen? There is no documentation that there was indeed someone by that name in his real life. Expressions suggesting end of time, and use of words like "darkness remains" suggest end of life themes, that were common in Jibanananda's works related to Banalata Sen, but nothing beyond is hinted in these works. In "thousands of years merely play" he wrote, for example,

Thousands of years merely play like fireflies in darkness.
Pyramids all about. The smell of coffins.
Moonlight upon sand. Here and there shadows of date palms
Like disintegrated columns. Assyria stands dead - humbled.
Stench of mummies on our bodies: all of life's business is finished.
"Remember?" she asked. I queried merely, "Banalata Sen?"


In spite of his nuclear family of wife and two children, Jibanananda Das was a very lonely person…The poet Buddhadev Bose once commented that he was the "...most alone of our poets." In a reflective, as if premonitory piece on the tram tracks of Calcutta, he once wrote:

"....It is late - so very late at night.
From one Calcutta sidewalk to another, from sidewalk to sidewalk
As I walk along, my life's blood feels the vapid, venomous touch
Of tram tracks stretched out beneath my feet like a pair of primordial serpent sisters.
A soft rain is falling, the wind slightly chilling.
Of what far land of green grass, rivers, fireflies am I thinking?
Where are the stars?
Have those stars been lost?
Beneath my feet the slender tram track - above my head a mesh of tangled wire
Chastises me...."

Sixteen years after he wrote these lines, in a fateful evening, while returning home from his evening walk, he was run over by a streetcar…Eight days later, he lost his battle…

Jibanananda Das was a unique poet for his generation…For his genre of poets, his entry into publication of poems was at an older age than most of his peers…In his lifetime, recognition came slow for him, and most of the time, too little, too late…It's ironic that the greatest poet of the post Tagore generation of Bengal never lived to see better times… Even in his centenary year, Calcutta, which prides itself to have more streets named after poets and litterateurs than any other, doesn't have one for her own son who lived and died in her streets and city-blocks…Yet, through it all, we want to believe all these are too trivial for the poet who once declared (in Windy Night):

"....My heart tore free from the earth and flew,
Flew up like a drunken balloon into an ocean of blue wind,
To the mast of some distant constellation, scattering stars as it flapped
away like some mischievous vulture...."

Jibanananda Das will live in our hearts forever.

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