In the words of William Wordsworth, "poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings." If I point out how Nazrul's rebellious overflow beautified the Bengali literature it would be quite lovely to see how spontaneously he did it through his marvellous poetry.
Kazi Nazrul Islam (May 25, 1899 – August 27, 1976) wrote poetry in every situation—having a little moral education, is a gripping way to understand his spontaneity.
His nature was visible through his works. He wrote what rang in his mind. He wrote fearlessly without considering any obstacle. Through revolutionary poems, he powerfully shook the British Raj in India. The way his poetic feelings enriched the Bengali language and literature is still a remarkable instance.
He started his poetic journey after publishing "Baunduler Atmakahini" (Life of a Vagabond) in May 1919 and "Mukti" (Freedom) in July 1919. But his poem "Bidrohi" (Rebel), published in 1922, brought him in the frontline and made him renowned as the "Bidrohi Kobi" (Rebel Poet).
The novel "Badhon Hara" and poems "Shatt-il-Arab," "Badol Prater Shorab"' "Kheya Parer Toruni" "Korbani" "Mahram" "Fateha-e-Yazdaham"—all were highly praised.
Poet and critic Mohitlal Majumdar Moslem in an article in "Bharat Portika" praised two of Nazrul's poems titled "Badol Prater Shorab" and "Kheya Parer Toruni" and said "these are written very wonderfully."
His compositions of "Bidrohi", "Bhangar Gaan" (The Song of Destruction), and "Dhumketu" (The Comet) are a great exhibition of his exquisite intelligence.
The British crammed him very well and kept him imprisoned many times. However, this restraint could not stop him from moving ahead, instead, it pushed his writing into a new dimension—from better to the best. Later on, he wrote "Rajbandhir Jabanband" (Deposition of a Political Prisoner) and many others.
Influenced by Rabindranath Tagore and Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Nazrul utilised their quality experience but never followed them in his creation, instead installed a completely new flow—his strong and powerful imaginations were wonderfully displayed.
After reading Nazrul's poem "Tirtho-Pothik" published in "Dhumketu" – a bi-weekly literary magazine – Rabindranath inspired him to write more and wished him to oust iniquity and wake people with his works.
In his poem, "Daridro" (The Poverty), the way Nazrul wrote about his theory of poverty is a strong example of his spontaneity.
Kabir Chowdhury translated his poem "Bidrohi": "I am the hurricane, I am the cyclone/ I destroy all that I found in the path!/ I am the dance-intoxicated rhythm/ I dance at my pleasure".
Rabindranath Tagore wrote a poem titled "Premer Abhishek" long before Nazrul's "Daridro" was published.
Although they appeared to be the same in the syntactic point of view, semantically, Tagore wrote only how he got glorified with a crown and how he became emperor in his career—in the field of Bengali literature.
But, Nazrul was completely different in his creation regarding the thematic exception. That was a great example of how Nazrul learned from Rabindranath but never followed him.
How comfortably Nazrul wrote, "I am creation, I am destruction/ I am habitation, I am the grave-yard"—is an exceptional beauty of Bengali literature, which proved his genuineness in expression without any hesitation, fear, and obstacle.
Nazrul started another era in Bengali literature during the lifetime of Rabindranath who is said to have given birth to a new era in Bengali literature.
It is important to note that he published his poem "Bidrohi" on December 25, 1921. He created his famous poem 'Anondomoyir Agomone' on December 26, 1922, for which he was sent to prison for one year on November 23 by the British authority.
However, within this period—around eleven months, he wrote exactly 293 poems, as mentioned in many books written on him.
Another way Nazrul glorified the Bengali language and literature, was to bring words from different languages, like Urdu, Hindi, Persy, and Arabic—mostly from the works of Persian poets Hafez, Rumi, Omar Khayyam, and many others.
Others used too, but fortunately, only Nazrul was successful in that era to use foreign words in Bengali literature. Many of the words he used had become his resources in Bengali.
Some Arabic and Persian words were used skillfully—still kept and have become famous as Bengali words, like, "Himmat", "Jahannam", "Iman", "Janaza", "Asman", "Insan", "Ahad", "Murda", etc.
According to Syed Mujtaba Ali, "Nazrul was able to read the spirit of neighbouring foreign poetry even though he did not know Arabic and Persian like professionals."
However, that practice of using foreign words didn't give him fluency in his spontaneity. Instead, what he was spontaneous in was his intelligence of expressing himself as he was—a fighter against fascism and oppression.
He wrote in "Bidrohi", "I'm tough/ I break everything!/ I'm irregular". This was how he wanted to bring out his thoughts to revolt against all sorts of wrong deeds that happened around his surroundings, especially he wanted to write on India's freedom.
That is why, leaving the British Army, he started working as a journalist in a press in Calcutta and was able to create his stable literary world.
His folk plays are another way to understand him with his spontaneous overflow in Bengali literature. Some of them are "Chasar San" (The Story of a Farmer), "Shakunibandh" (The Killing of a Vulture), "Akbar Badshah" (Emperor Akbar), "Rajputrer San" (The Story of a Prince), and many others. All these were produced in a manner that Nazrul was born for this.
Although he wrote short stories, novels and plays, he is still better known as a poet. He gave birth to a new genre in Bengali poetry—Islamic music or ghazal', in addition to which he also composed many excellent 'Shyamasangeet' (songs) and Hindu devotional songs. According to a BBC survey, Nazrul composed around 3000 songs which are now known as 'Nazrul Sangeet' or 'Nazrul Geeti' and are especially popular.
Throughout 77 years—a massive history of creation and creativity, this genius Bengali poet not only made the Bengali language and literature very rich but also showed how spontaneously literature can be produced.
In a survey of BBC Bangla in 2004, Kazi Nazrul Islam came third in the list of top twenty Bengalis ever born on earth. Let's remember this great poet on his 44th anniversary of death.
The writer was a chaperone for the International Writing Programme (BTL2020) at the University of Iowa, USA. He writes on contemporary issues, education, and literature.