It is often the case with great poets that new generations of readers tend to put new interpretations to their works. The Rebel Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam had always been popular, and his message was not only relevant but also revolutionary.
A revolutionary surge in course of time loses its steam. Yet, over the last ninety years Nazrul's flame shows no sign of dimming. The twenty-first century would find it extremely profitable to revaluate his poetry in light of the challenges and contingencies of present times.
In social context, poetry - and any literature for that matter - can only play a limited role. Poetry can mirror society; it can hardly ignite the fire to burn down what is crass superstition and the cobweb of antiquated customs in society.
Nazrul's fire burned for more than twenty years, till 1942 when he lost his faculties. And it is still burning. The 21st century needs him as much as the 1920s needed him. If Nazrul had to contend with religious bigotry, today those who stand in the way of progress are not just the bigoted ones of yesteryear; in today's parlance they are called Fundamentalists. They have their own world view and are, to an extent, even politically empowered and are posing a threat to the progressive aspirations of the masses.
Nazrul was a Rebel - not only against exploitation and repression, but against archaic and crippling social mores. He himself broke many rules - the antiquated rules. This signal was picked up by an eager youth. It is also a part of Nazrul's original genius that he was able to remain unaffected by two powerful influences of his time. One was Rabindranath Tagore and the other was Muslim League's communal politics.
Rabindranath's influence in the literary milieu was so pervasive that it was a challenging task to strike out a course distinct from Tagore's, and resplendent with one's individuality. Nazrul succeeded; his style was very distinct and very much his own. Take his most famous poem Bidrohi (The Rebel). Apart from the iconoclastic message its style was innovative and the metrical arrangement unconventional. It was written when he was just 22. It was his secularism which has further made him relevant to present times. What can be a better testimony than the fact that Nazrul chose to remain aloof from Muslim League's politics.
Perhaps more than his rebellion and his revolutionary message, Nazrul is a poet of love. Love saturates and suffuses his poetry. His romantic yearnings are powerfully expressed in his songs. Some songs contain fine ripples of romantic nuances which can move the heart of even the most discerning listener. His songs greatly helped to modernise and romanticise the social setting. This is his durable contribution.
Poetry does not engage the casual reader like novels do. Instances of a poet reaching out to the masses are rare. Nevertheless, Nazrul was read by the common people and his books of poetry had commercial success too. The ordinary citizen found in his poetry a kind of spiritual rapport.
Thus, even in death, his rebellious words continue to inspire generations.
Source: Team M3.tv
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