(Last Updated on : 02/02/2013)
Assamese poetry in Jonaki era was very much in keeping with the theme of Romanticism of the time. In the case of poetry, even as the conditions of the modern world forced poets to turn to realism and naturalism and adopt a cynical attitude toward man and society, the romantic vision continued to manifest itself in the works of numerous poets who had grown up in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Some of the most significant poets and their works are discussed below.
Chandrakumar Agarwala's poems, published first in Jonaki and collected later in Pratima (Image, 1913) and Bin Boragi (The Wandering Bard, 1923), best exemplify the Romantic ideal of the poetry of this age. His poem ' 'Niyor'' (The Dewdrop) looks at a single drop of dew and, in describing it, evokes an intense longing to discover its origins and the meaning of its beauty. The small drop of dew speaks volumes to the poet, who imagines it to be a pearl dropped from the ornaments of a girl dancing amid the flowers at night or perhaps her tear shed at the sight of sunrise. Poems like this display a Keatsian gaze at an object of beauty.
Agarwala's poems like 'Manav Bandana' (Worship of Humanity) and 'Bin Boragi' glorify man as a reflection of the Supreme Being and are reminiscent of the search for the sublime in eighteenth and nineteenth-century English literature. This search for the sublime and the beautiful is found in a long line of poets following Chandrakumar Agarwala.
In his contemporary Hemchandra Goswami's sonnet 'Priyatamar Sithi' (My Beloved's Letter), the first Assamese sonnet, an examination of poetry and nature is woven into the description of the letter itself. Lakshminath Bezbarua
brought simplicity to the Romantic tradition through poems such as 'Basanta' (Spring) and his 'Bin Boragi.' But beyond that, Bezbarua revived Assam's existing folk-song tradition through his ballads and pastorals. In his poems, too, we find a patriotic idealism and optimism about Assam past and present and its potential. His 'O Mor Aponar Desh' (My Dearest Country) displays an intense pride in his place of birth and has become the state's anthem. Whereas these poets used the simple rhyme schemes and meter typical of the lyric, other Romantic poets used blank verse, too. Padmanath Gohain Barua's poems in his Juroni (1900) utilize the blank verse form of the much earlier classical kavyas (or verses).
Notable among the early twentieth-century poets who first published in Jonaki were Raghunath Choudhari (1879-1968), who was also known as bihogi-kabi, or bird-poet, for his numerous poems with birds as the central character in nature and whose first collection of poems, Sadori, was published in 1910; Bholanath Das (1858-1929), whose poetic contribution preceded Jonaki; and Anandachandra Agarwala (1874-1939), who translated numerous English and American poems and whose collection of original poems, Jilikoni (Glittering), was published in 1920.
Though Romantic poetry was written well into the 1950s and 1960s, this poetry was also contemporaneous in that it included the concerns of a newly independent country. Among the poets of this continuing stream of Romanticism were Ambikagiri Raichoudhuri (1885-1967), whose first collected poems were Tumi (You, 1915) and who brought a revolutionary ideal to all his works; Jatindranath Duara (1892-1968), whose translation of Omar Khayyam's 'Rubaiyat' was a brilliant example of this genre; Parvati Prasad Baruva (1904-64), who, from his first poetic drama Lakhimi (1931) and through his poems and songs, expressed the eternal search for the sublime through contemplation of simple things in nature; and Jyoti Prasad Agarwala
(1903-51), whose poetry was but part of a prolific body of works that enriched Assamese literature immeasurably. The influence of the Jonaki era's Romanticism was far-reaching and is still felt today.