Yeatser Kobitai Naari O Nikunjo by Sujit Kusum Paul, a publication of Bengali Literary Resource Centre (BLRC) Toronto, Canada, published in August 2016.
Niranjan Mandal comes across the amour, elegance and lovability of women depicted in W.B. Yeats poetry
Yeatser Kobitay Naari O Nikunjo (Women and Domain in Yeats' Poetry) written by Sujit Kusum Paul, a member of International Yeats Society, is a surgical analysis of W. B. Yeats' view about the domain of love and beauty, the infrastructure of body, mind and soul, the widening wall between sexuality and love, the upgradation of innocence of virginity towards the fulfillment of the union of two souls.
Yeatser Kobitay Naari O Nikunjo, the first ever book on William Butler Yeats published in Bengali language, portrays how Yeats' love for Maud Gonne vitally worked as the chlorophyll in the photosynthesis of his poetic trees. At the end, the readers get the extract of Yeats' life and verses in the perspective of his attachment with different classes of women who inspired and enriched his faculty of imagination.
Yeats, a member of protestant Anglo-Irish minority in Ireland, was an Irish born English poet, dramatist, essayist and nationalist Irish Senator. He was born in 1865. Though he was in London from 1867 to 1881 with his family, he remained very much attached with the cultural roots of his motherland including the Irish legends, folklore, ballads and songs. Later, he became the editor of collections of Irish folklore and a founding member of the Rhymer's Club in Dublin city.
Yeats, the winner of Nobel Prize in literature in 1923, is not only one of the foremost figures of twentieth century English literature but also a pillar of both Irish and British literary establishment. His verses are dominant with the extract of beauty of women, romanticism, mythology, astrology, mysticism, occultism as well as supernaturalism and deep patriotism. Beauty of woman accelerated his poetic creations. A great critic Sujit Kusum Paul offered us a picturesque representation of women in Yeats' poetry depicting analysis of Yeats' expressions of love for Maud Gonne in particular and the spiritual achievement he derived out of his attachment with women in general.
Maud Gonne, born in England in 1866 as a protestant, converted herself to an Irish revolutionary to free Ireland from the seven hundred years old colony of England. She became a Catholic for being part of the mainstream of Ireland and became the leader of the organization of radical Irish nationalist movement in the southern part of the country dominated by the Catholic majority.
The writer kept no stone unturned to reveal the historic conflict between England and Ireland, and The Catholics and the Protestants. Maud was an actress, social reformer and political columnist. Being an Anti-British Catholic, Maud became a romantic muse of a Pro-British Protestant like Yeats. She was called the 'Irish Joan of Arc' for her rebellious activities on behalf of Ireland's liberation movement. She founded the Irish Nationalist group, 'The Daughters of Ireland' and was outspoken and passionate in Irish politics.
Maud became the most mysterious character in the history of English literature. In 1889, Yeats had madly fallen in love with her. She loved Yeats but married Irish Republican John MacBride. She became mother to Macbride's son Nobel peace prize winner Sean MacBride. Simultaneously, she became 'father' to Yeats' poetry. She was immortalized in poetry by Yeats but scandalized by being mother to Iseult Gonne, daughter of Lucien Millevoye, a French politician. The author justified what Maud did she did everything for the interest of the liberation of Ireland from the tyranny of England.
The key women in Yeats life were Maud Gonne, Iseult Gonne, Augusta Lady Gregory, Olivia Shakespeare, Florence Farr and George Hyde-Lees who inspired him to reach his poetic destination. Yeats and Gregory worked closely together for over forty years and co-founded the Irish National Theatre in Dublin. In 1896, English novelist Olivia Shakespeare wanted to marry Yeats who wanted to marry Maud whose daughter Iseult was in an affair with Ezra Pound who married Olivia's daughter Dorothy whose friend George, finally, became the wife and muse of W. B. Yeats. Sujit Kusum Paul, I am wondered how artistically and masterly, revealed all these facts of diction and contradiction using uncountable similes, metaphors, symbols and literary ornamentations in his book on Yeats.
For Yeats, 'Maud is the most sustained and fully developed Muse in the history of English literature by her unique, compelling beauty and unattainability as well as her passionate involvement in Irish nationalist politics'. The poet says in his poem A man Young and Old:
Until I thought her body bore
A heart of flesh and blood
But since I laid a hand thereon
And found a heart of stone.
After death, Yeats wants to be the golden bird in his poem Sailing to Byzantium:
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.
He doesn't want to come back in this temporal world like the Bengali poet Jibanananda Das. He wants to win death and to achieve immortality. The Principle of non-destructibility of matter, or force or soul is echoed in this poem. The trip is from temporal mechanical life in quest of spiritual life as John Keats writes:
Thou was not born for death, immortal bird!
No hungry generations tread the down.
In the poem Among the School Children Yeats, the last Romantic in English literature, is symbolically in quest of a Ledaen body at the sight of a young beautiful school girl. As he did not meet Maud in her teen age, the school girl has become the replica of young Maud. Right way, the poet recalled the face of Maud in her old age. Wonderful imagination! Thus, the author has successfully flashed the imaginative faculty of Yeats in a metaphysical screen for the common readers with lot of references from different poems of Yeats.
Yeatser Kobitay Naari O Nikunjo is undoubtedly a valuable asset in Bengali literature. The conscious readers can extract precious ores by going through this great writing. The deeper we dive, the more treasure we can have. Sometimes, the terms used are hard nuts to crack for general readers like me. The sentences are sometimes loaded with numerous literary ornaments where readers are lost in a strange world of adversely dense feelings. I am wondered at his wonderfully awesome verbosity, oratory, alliterations, similes, metaphors and above all his mastery over Bengali terms and speeches with vast infra-structural design though he was a student of English literature in Chittagong University.
I am extremely puzzled by the artistic expressions as I headed into reading the book expecting a chronological approach in his twenty three sections aiming at providing the readers with clearly valuable demonstrations, informative and representative explanations of different facts and selections of Yeats's writings. Sujit Kusum Paul, a former Feature Editor of a daily newspaper, very aesthetically prioritized the facts not the sequences. At the end, the readers feel that they have finished a poetic novel with Yeats in the central role.
Undoubtedly, this book on Yeats has been made uniquely precious resources for the students of English literature. In different contexts, Sujit has borrowed lot of lines from Blake, Keats, Shelley, Browning, Austen and many more. The book has become an anatomical dissection of Yeats' poetry, a critical appreciation of his works and a contemplation of his great thoughts that made the author capable of attaining global recognition.The reviewer, a formerly Assistant Professor of English Literature in a college in Bangladesh, now writes from Toronto
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