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(3)Prose>Dr Saiful Alam Bhuiya - Modern Bangla Poetry
Michael Modhusudon Dutt is the first Bangali poet who embellished Bangla poetry with modern concept of life 
and world literature. He introduced many items of world literature in Bangla language during his short 
literary life. There was no sonnet in Bangla language; Modhusudon first composed Bangla sonnet  and 
established it so high-rootedly that his successors followed him with great devotion and invented new 
patterns of sonnet later, which have been, every conscious reader knows, a great asset for this language. 
Modhusudon had a deep faith in the success of sonnet in Bangla language. He expressed his feelings in a 
letter written to Raj Narain in 1861: “I want to introduce the sonnet into our language and some mornings 
ago, I made the following (It was ‘Kabi-matrivasa’)… … In my humble opinion, if cultivated by men of genius, 
our sonnet in time would rival the Italian.” What a prophetic eye Modhusudon Dutt had! His words have 
been proved true. Besides sonnet, Modhusudon Dutt introduced drama, farse, blank verse and epic in this 
language which offered it a strong spiritual strength, never came in its life before. The Greeks feel proud 
of their Homer’s "Illiad" and "Oddessey"; the English feel proud of their Milton’s "Paradise Lost"; the 
Bangalis feel proud of their Modhusudon’s "Meghnad Badh Kabya". Undoubtedly Modhusudon Dutt is the first 
modern Bangali poet who poured down the light of modernity into the eyes of the Bangalis. No great poets 
were born in this language later who were not indebted to this great epic-poet. Once Bangali poets were 
obsessed with lady-love; Radha was worshipped by them. It is Modhusudon Dutt who first drew the attention of 
all to the love of the motherland. In his famous sonnet ‘Kapatakkha Nad’, the Bangalis first saw the face of 
motherland peeping with eternal affection. Patriotism and humanism first got a room in Bangla poetry by the 
inventory hand of great Modhusudon.

After Modhusudon, the most remarkable poet in Bangla language is Rabindranath Tagore. By the flute of his 
lyricism, this world famous poet filled the fields and valleys of the lives of the Bangalis with sweetnees. 
Rabindranath has enriched Bangla languge with music, rhythm and rhyme which are blended with keen feelings 
and thoughts of the poet. His Song Offerings (Gitanjali) hypnotized not only the Bangalis but also 
the modern English poets like W B Yeats, Ezra Pound and so on. Before Rabindranath was awarded the Nobel 
Prize, six of his poems belonging to the Gitanjali  had been published by Ezra Pound in the world 
famous magazine Poetry in 1912. Those poems are:

i
THOU hast made me known to friends whom I knew not. 
Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own. 
Thou hast brought the distant near 
and made a brother of the stranger. 
I am uneasy at heart when I have to leave my accustomed shelter; 
I forgot that there abides the old in the new, 
and that there also thou abidest.
Through birth and death, in this world or in others, 
wherever thou leadest me it is thou, the same, 
the one companion of my endless life 
who ever linkest my heart with bonds of joy to the unfamiliar. 
When one knows thee, then alien there is none, 
then no door is shut. 
Oh, grant me my prayer that I may never lose the bliss 
of the touch of the One in the play of the many.

ii 
No more noisy, loud words from me, such is my master’s will. 
Hence-forth I deal in whispers. The speech of my heart 
will be carried on in murmurings of a song.
Men hasten to the King’s market. 
All the buyers and sellers are there. 
But I have my untimely leave in the middle of the day, 
in the thick of work.
Let then the flowers come out in my garden, 
though it is not their time, and let the mid-day bees 
strike up their lazy hum.
Full many an hour have I spent 
in the strife of the good and the evil, 
but now it is the pleasure of my playmate of the empty days 
to draw my heart on to him, 
and I know not why is this sudden call 
to what useless inconsequence!

iii
On the day when the lotus bloomed, 
alas, my mind was straying, and I knew it not. 
My basket was empty and the flower remained unheeded.
Only now and again a sadness fell upon me, 
and I started up from my dream 
and felt a sweet trace of a strange smell in the south wind.
That vague fragrance made my heart ache with longing, 
and it seemed to me that it was the eager breath of the summer 
seeking for its completion.
I knew not then that it was so near, that it was mine, 
and this perfect sweetness had blossomed 
in the depth of my own heart.

iv
By all means they try to hold me secure 
who love me in this world. 
But it is otherwise with thy love, which is greater than theirs, 
and thou keepest me free. Lest I forget them, 
they never venture to leave me alone. 
But day passes by after day and thou are not seen.
If I call not thee in my prayers, 
if I keep not thee in my heart—thy love for me 
still waits for my love.

v
I was not aware of the moment when I first crossed 
the threshold of this life. 
What was the power that made me open out 
into this vast mystery like a bud in the forest at midnight? 
When in the morning I looked upon the light 
I felt in a moment that I was no stranger in this world, 
that the inscrutable without name and form 
had taken me in its arms in the form of my own mother. 
Even so, in death the same unknown will appear 
as ever known to me. 
And because I love this life, I know I shall love death as well. 
The child cries out when from the right breast 
the mother takes it away to find in the very next moment 
its consolation in the left one.

vi

Thou art the sky and thou art the nest as well. 
Oh, thou beautiful, there in the nest it is thy love 
that encloses the soul with colors and sounds and odors. 
There comes the morning with the golden basket 
in her right hand bearing the wreath of beauty, 
silently to crown the earth. And there comes the evening 
over the lonely meadows deserted by herds, 
through trackless paths, carrying cool draughts of peace
in her golden pitcher from the western ocean of rest.
But there, where spreads the infinite sky 
for the soul to take her flight in, 
reigns the stainless white radiance. 
There is no day nor night, nor form nor color, 
and never never a word.


Kazi Nazrul Islam is the greatest poet after Rabindranath. Nazrul was the first poet who came out of the 
realm of Rabindra-poetry and opened the door of true modernity for his successors. He is often compared by 
the critics to Byron and Shelley for his rebellion against prejudice, suppression, oppression and injustice. 
Actually Nazrul is such a poet who cannot be compared to any poet of the world for his originality, newness, 
vigour and courage ever found anywhere in any language before. Besides his famous poem ‘Rebel’, his book of 
poetry named Samyabadi  is a strange creation  full of  prophetic message and universal appeal which 
is unparralel, unique and uncomparable in the world literature. In his poem ‘The Rebel’ Nazrul says:
I am the unutterable grief,
I am the trembling first touch of the virgin,
I am the throbbing tenderness of her first stolen kiss.
I am the fleeting glace of the veiled beloved,
I am her constant surreptitious gaze….

I am the burning volcano in the bosom of the earth,
I am the wild fire of the woods,
I am Hell's mad terrific sea of wrath!
I ride on the wings of the lightning with joy and profound,
I scatter misery and fear all around,
I bring earth-quakes on this world!

I am the rebel eternal,
I raise my head beyond this world,
High, ever erect and alone!
(English translation by Kabir Choudhary)

The poet ends the poem saying:
Weary of struggles, I, the great rebel,
Shall rest in quiet only when I find
The sky and the air free of the piteous groans 
of the oppressed.
Only when the battle fields are cleared 
of jingling bloody sabres,
Shall I, weary of struggles, rest in quiet,
I the great rebel.

**Following the path of Nazrul, some poets emerged in the thirty decade whose eyes were full of the light of 
Europe. They composed poems in Bangla but they had no soil under their feet because they were blind 
followers of European poets. Their language was not modern but they nourished modern thoughts in their 
poems, they believed so. Out of them, only one poet was great and original. He is Jibananando Das born in 
Barisal of Bangladesh. His Banalata Sen and Ruposi Bangla are two famous books of modern Bangla poetry which 
have made him immortal to the Bangali readers.

Another great poet of this time is Jasim Uddin. Unlike Jibananando Das, he composed his poems in very simple 
languge which sowed the seeds of the true modern language. His Nakshi Kanther Math is such a book that made 
him famous home and abroad. 

The true modernity, both in body and soul, started peeping into the poetry of  forty decade. Ahsan Habib, 
Farrukh Ahmad, Syed Ali Ahsan, Abul Hosen, Subhas Mukhopadhyay and so on are the remarkable poets of this 
age who started building up the foundation of modern Bangla poetry. Among them, Farrukh Ahmad was the 
greatest poet in all respects. Sat Sagorer Majhi by Farrukh Ahmad, Dui Hatey Dui Adim Pathor by Ahsan Habib, 
Padatik by Subhas Mukhopadhyay, Ekok Sondhyai Basonto by Syed Ali Ahsan etc. are the classic books of this 
decade.

In the fifty decade some great poets emerged to strengthen the current of modernity in Bangla poetry. 
Shamsur Rahman, Al Mahmud, Shahid Kadri, Hasan Hafizur Rahman, Syed Samsul Huq, Mohammed Mahfuzullah, Fazal 
Shahabuddin, Omar Ali etc. are the remarkable poets of this decade. Among them, Shamsur Rahman and Al Mahmud 
attained the peak of popularity as poets. Al Mahmud’s Sonali Kabin, Shamsur Rahman’s Raudro Korotitey, Omar 
Ali’s Edeshe Syamol Rong Romonir Nam Sunechhi are the most popular books.

Abul Hasan, Abdul Mannan Syed, Al Mujahidi, Asad Chowdhury, Rafiq Azad, Mofazzal Karim, Nirmolendu Goon are 
the remarkable poets of the sixty decade. Among them, Abul Hasan attained the most popularity as a poet. 
Raja Jai Raja Asey by Abul Hasan, Janmandho Kabitaguchchha by Abdul Mannan Syed, Premangsur Rokto Chai by 
Nirmalendu Goon are the mentionable books got from this age.

After the liberation war of Bangladesh, Bangla poetry got a new turn in its faith and strength. Seventy, 
Eighty and Ninety decades offered some great energetic poets who changed utterly the pattern of Bangla 
poetry. They are often regarded as the post-modern poets here. The remarkable poets of these three decades 
are Abid Azad, Khondoker Ashraf Hosen, Moukh Chowdhury, Abdul Hye Sikder, Rezauddin Stalin, Rudra Mohammad 
Shahidullah, Abu Hasan Shahriar, Hasan Hafiz, Faruk Mahmud, Sayeed Abubakar, Tomiz Uddin Lodi, Zafor Ahmad 
Rashed and so on. Most popular books of this period are Ghaser Ghatona by Abid Azad, Manuser Manchitra by 
Rudra Mohammad Shahidullah, Pronoyer Prothom Pap by Sayeed Abubakar, Manob Esechhi Kachhey by Abdul Hye 
Sikder etc.There are many young poets in Bangladesh now who are struggling to make up their own identities 
as new poets. In a word, the modern Bangla poetry has already been a storehouse of wonders which cannot be 
neglected any way.


Sources:
*Adhunik Bangla Jabita by Buddhodeb Basu
*Adhunik Bangla Kabita by Humayun Azad
*Adhunik Bangla Kabita by Sayeed Abubakar
*Kabiter Katha by Jibanando Das
*Suddhatamo Kabi by Abdul Mannan Syed

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Readers' Comments :

comment : 1
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if any one is taken out, the whole structure will fall down. 
Very very well-written. (Md Nazmul Haque ) 

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