Published:  12:56 AM, 13 August 2017

Scintillating arrival of a mighty wordsmith on Bangladeshi poetry

Scintillating arrival of a mighty wordsmith on Bangladeshi poetry Onyo Ganger Gaan, Samudrasaman by Abdullah Al Muktadir, Publisher - Platform, in February 2016

Liton Chakraborty Mithun gets amazed by the expressions,  emotions and thoughts of the poet

'Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.' - said Paul Engle. I do not know who this Paul Engle is; maybe he is a poet, perhaps a big one. I googled some catchy quotes about poetry and found this one quite interesting. As I leafed through the pages of Abdullah Al Muktadir's debut volume of poems, I felt almost the same about poetry as articulated in the quote above. Since he has been my Facebook friend for a long time now and a senior in Dhaka University's English Department, I know him as a young poet with a huge prospect and a noticeable fan-following.

I read quite a few of his poems showing up in my Facebook newsfeed and in the literary pages of several Bangladeshi Bangla dailies, especially the Dainik Sangbad. But, the volume titled Onyo Ganger Gaan, Samudrasaman (2016) appears to me as a brilliant package of what this promising, young poet has on offer. Let me make you my co-passengers in our reading journey through the opening collection of Muktadir.

Muktadir, like most other Bengali poets, is basically romantic. Love, romance, sweet longing for the beloved and painful experience of separation and betrayal are the key features of the kind of romanticism that Bengali poets mostly deal with. This is not for nothing that Bengalis are called a nation of poets and romantics.

Almost all literate Bengalis (especially in the wake of youth or adolescence) try out a couple of love verses to impress, or in memory of, their beloveds. Our passionate poet, who ceases to be an exception, lends voice to his romantic self by saying "Ekta phuler gondho keno emon bishal bhari? / Joog choley jay, joog choley jay… tobu, sei ekta prothom raatey / barey barey andhakarey khub puraton jwoley utha chand." (p. 09) (Why is the fragrance of one flower so heavy? / Ages after ages pass…yet, on that one first night / flashes repeatedly in the dark the age-old moon.).

These lines encapsulate timelessness of romantic experience, perhaps, of rendezvous between lovers or a married couple. I felt thrilled as soon as I tumbled on this stanza. However, Muktadir took my heart out and, I reckon, will yours too with the lines "Ekbari kebal brishti chhilo, tumi chhiley, hasnahenar gondho chhilo. / Bohukaler diner pore ekbari khub sondhya holo. / Amader hajar itihaser ei ekta kebal bolar moton." (p. 10) (There was rain there only once; you too were there along with fragrance of a night-queen. / After ages of daytime came one single evening. / Out of our thousands of memories, this is the single event worth it.). Many readers must take a nostalgic ride back to their individual moments of such intimate romantic encounters. 

Percy Bysshe Shelley said, 'Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds.' Our very poet Muktadir must have been in some moments of euphoria while writing the poems. Otherwise, how could he spell out such expressions as "Prothom birjopater sukh bukey niye je balok / sedin ondho howar ashay brishtibheja bosechhilo, / ager jonmey shey chhilo byakul Radha'r khonpar phul. / Taro ek jonmo agey / Arjun-er Krishna-kator teerer fola. / (p. 14)" (The boy who, with the joy of first ejaculation bearing in heart, / remained seated rain-soaked that day to become blinded / was the flower in the hair-lock of passionate Radha in the previous birth. / One birth before, he was the arrow-head of Arjuna, the passionate admirer of Krishna.)?

Only a moment of emotional explosion can force out such a wild imagination. I hardly heard any such soulful utterance in years. However, rivers and this river-soaked land are common features of Bengali lovelore and imaginary, and our poet invariably played them out. He invoked the river by saying, "Jora-puraton buker gobhir thekey megher joley khunjbo tomay nodi. / Shyaola-sobuj holey amar ghor, Ichhamati, eso shravan mashey./ Jadi samasta akash bhijey thakey, tarar agun Jodi nibhey jay." (p. 20) (From the deep of wornout heart I will explore you river in cloud water. / If my house turns mossy green, dear Ichhamoti, please come in Shravan; / also If the whole sky remains wet and if the fire in the star dies out.). These lines are undoubtedly an outcome of "spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions" reminding us of Wordsworth's proverbial take on poetry.

Dear reading folks, by now you must have caught the core of Muktadir's poetics. Please do not get complacent as we have a little more to explore. Our poet, our very own romantic poet Muktadir holds a mirror up to the psychological drama of human love. Lovers take emotional rollercoster rides and switch between a host of ever-changing and enigmatic feelings and reactions. The poet, conscious of such phenomena, goes on to exclaim "Tumi ami eto eto bhalobasi tobu / duniya bondho korey aro koto biroho jomtey thakey. (p. 22) (You and I love each other so much, yet more and more feeling of separation mounts).

This tension prevails in love no matter how serious, and the poet pointed that out. On top of that, the poet turned metaphysical as he explored the interplay between love and life beyond the physical confine. He vented his romantic disappointment saying "Agun chharai anek alo jwoley duniyar sob ratey ratey. / Shorir chharao manusher monera joog-joog bash korey, / shorirer bairei morey morey hazarbar pochey othey." (p. 43) (Even without fire many a lamp lights up at night. / Even without a body, the human mind lives through ages, / and rots by dying thousands of times.).

He further goes onto sympathize with the pathetic consequence of a person perhaps jilted in love: "Sagor-nodi-jolhin manushti samudrasaman dheu tuley, / nodi ar brishtir koley goley goley morey gelo." (p. 28) (The man without a sea, a river and water died/ after having raised a wave as large as a sea and melting in the lap of the river and rain.). Echoing a famous line of late Bengali poet Abul Hasan, I can claim that "Uccharonguli shoker" (These utterances are mournful /sorrowful).

You are, therefore, right in your conclusion that Abdullah Al Muktadir exemplifies best as a romantic poet. The Sirajganj-born wordsmith is indulged in the world of love, imagination, dreams and illusions. His imageries are fresh and vivid. His language is powerfully evocative, racy and bouncy. Diving deep into his poetry is an experience worth it. My love for poetry found a new lease of life thanks to the sheer strength of his poems in the volume. Following the words of the poet e. e. cummings, I can make a request to Muktadir - 'Well, write poetry, for God's sake, it's the only thing that matters'.


The reviewer studied English literature at Dhaka University and can be reached at litonchakrabortymithundueng@gmail.com

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