About the Poet:
H.L.V. Derozio (1809-1831) was a Eurasian poet- patriot. He was born in Calcutta. He was a journalist and teacher. His inspiring lectures caused much thinking and social rebelliousness among his students. He loved India deeply as his motherland and wrote inspiring patriotic poems. His early death was an unfortunate loss to Indian literature in English.
Henry Lewis Vivi… Derozio was born on 18 April, 1809, in Calcutta. He was an Anglo-Indian poet, teacher and journalist. His father was Portuguese and mother English. His father, Francis Derozio, served in a mercantile firm and was a man of considerable means. He had a house in Calcutta and had five children. Francis died in 1830, and all his children died young, with the exception of Henry who also lived only up to the age of 23 years. He got his early education in a famous school in Calcutta, run by David Drummond. During his school years he came under the influence of his revered teacher Drummond. It was there, too, that he developed his high patriotic sentiments. For a time he served in the firm where his father was employed, but due to ill-health he went to Bhagalpur to help his uncle’s business and recover his health. It was there that he saw and experienced the weal and woe of the common people. Now he came to know intimately the real India. He regarded India as his motherland and wrote patriotic poems.
In 1826, he was appointed as lecturer in English History and Literature in Hindu College, Calcutta. He was a greatly inspiring teacher with high ideals. “His inspiring lectures on rationalism, the philosophy of eighteenth-century Western Enlightenment, were at the root of the well- known Young Bengal Movement. This caused so much free thinking and social rebelliousness among his Hindu students that he was dismissed from the College (Editor).” He started publishing & editing an evening daily newspaper called The East Indian in June, 1831. He soon turned the paper into an organ of the Anglo-Indian community. Unfortunately he died of cholera in Calcutta on 26 December, 1831.
Critical Appreciation Poetry:
‘Poetry is a charming poem written by H.L.V. Derozio. Derozio is generally regarded as the first Indian to write poetry in English. He was born in 1809 in Calcutta of a mixed Portuguese and Indian descent. He spent the most part of his poetic career on the bank of the Ganges at Bhagalpur. Amidst the beautiful scenes on the banks of the Ganga, the poet in him articulated in a typically romantic strain. Obviously influenced by the English Romantic poets, he composed poems revealing love for Nature and a pervasive wistful melancholy. The major themes of his poetry are patriotism, death, love or transistorizes of life. His poetry has a gay abundance of Indian myths, imagery and sentiments. But the inspiration is derived from English Romantic poets. Besides there is full exploitation of Greek mythology also. At times the mixing of the two mythologies fails to achieve proper fusion. In the present poem, Derozio gives vent to his concept of poetic creation. Like the nineteenth century romantic poets, he finds in poetry a process of recollection, a wild tour of imagination, an enchanting look at the past, a passionate love for Nature, and a powerful invocation of the Muse.
The poem begins with the invocation of poetry as “sweet madness”. Madness is a state of mind and poetry is the product of this state of mind. Shakespeare equates poets and madmen because both type of men are very sensitive in nature. This view has found expression in this poem also. Like Shakespeare, Derozio, is of the view that poetry is the product of “delicious phrenzy”. It gives us great joy and ecstasy. When the youthful mind of the poet is filled with it, he moves from the high Himalayas to the deep sea below and gives birth to a poem which is “a thing of beauty and joy forever.” Sometimes it travels to the scented sea-beach of Arabia, sometimes it makes a trip to Greece which was a center of classicism and at another it makes an imaginative tour to the ruins of Italy. Sometimes, it looks at the beautiful lip of a girl and at another, it sees the brave fortune of heroes. It also rivals nightingale and dove which sing melodiously about love. It also tries to give birth to such songs which were produced by the lyre of seraph. The expression, “immortal harpings”, here, stands for the tradition of poetry.
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The sonnet is Petrarchan in form and it illustrates Derozio’s concept of poetic creation. His view of the processes involved in the creation of poetry is similar to that of William Wordsworth when he says “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings and emotions recollected in tranquility.” The expressions, “sweet madness”, “delicious frenzy” and “strains of fire” stand for spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. Reference to Himalaya and Arabian sea are topographically native. The language of Derozio, here is simple, sensuous and passionate. Derozio wrote mostly lyrics and sonnets, but he also wrote a long narrative poem, ‘The Fakir of Jungheera’. His other poems are ‘Song of the Hindustanee Minstrel’, ‘Song’ and ‘To the Moon. His ‘Song of the Hindustanee Minstrel’ is as good as a monologue. The only speaker is the poet himself and the only person who is addressed to is his beloved. His other poem To the Moon’ depicts the sorrow as the moon for us, the human beings living on earth. And the Moon being so near to earth cannot bear seeing creatures on earth suffer all sorts of troubles and sorrows. The poet is very sensitive about the function of a teacher. In the poem “To The Pupils’ the poet says “I am careful to see that my students get more and more knowledge day by day. I try to remove the difficulties that come in their way. Pupils are like buds in the beginning but they expand their knowledge gradually. They blossom like flowers”.