|Legendary Hindi-Maithili poet-novelist Nagarjun (1911-1998)|
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I pay my obeisance to them.
Those whose dedicated arrows
Proved either blunted or went astray;
The brave who emptied their quiver
Much before the battle came to the end
In their little boats;
And themselves got submerged therein
Their wishes remaining unarticulated for ever
|Premchand's speech on new literature as founding President of Progressive Writers' Association in 1936 is not very different from Pablo Neruda's ‘Towards an Impure Poetry’ written in 1935.|
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Against this historical backdrop, the poetic achievement of Nagarjun, born Vaidyanath Mishra at Darbhanga in Bihar and who acquired the name ‘Nagarjun’ after the famous Buddhist scholar on embracing Buddhism early in life to study Buddhist literature, is something that can only evoke awe and inspiration among the contemporary generation. It is so, because Nagarjun at his own level was already experimenting with both the content and the form of his poetic expressions in a manner that these manifestoes tried to push forth in the form of a well-articulated theory. Moreover, even though, Nagarjun associated himself with the left-oriented and progressive movement in literature, he remained completely individualistic in his approach thereby saving his poetry from getting typecast.
|Like D H Lawrence (1885 –1930), Nagarjun remained completely individualistic in his approach thereby saving his poetry from getting typecast|
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|Nagarjun's poems on Jack-fruit, twigs of neem tree, chorus of old pair of shoes, cadamba, khichdi, mongoose, roasted corn-cob, little flowers etc. are comparable to the beautiful elemental odes of Pablo Neruda on themes as common place as bicycles, bees, village movie theatre, stamp album, suit, wine etc.|
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In an article on the Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1911-1984) another flag-bearer of the poetry of protest and Nagarjun’s contemporary who also wrote equally moving personal and sensuous poetry, the eminent theorist of Post-Colonialism, Edward W. Said (1935-2003) , imagines Faiz as ‘a poet whose poetry combined the sensuousness of Yeats with the power of Neruda’.
|If Faiz Ahmad Faiz combines Yeats with Neruda, his contemporary, Nagarjun, combines DH Lawrence with Neruda|
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Considering that Nagarjun brings with himself a baggage of individual genius that can not fit in any progressive or romantic or modern school of poetry in Hindi literature, he can be compared with Neruda on the one hand in the manner he juxtaposes the personal with the impersonal and with D H Lawrence on the other. With Lawrence more so for withstanding, albeit like an archetypical outsider, the onslaught of poetic and literary manifestos with personal and literary honesty and a sense of discrimination underlining, like the British novelist, the essential imperfectness of art as its creators themselves are always in the process of evolution.