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146th Death Anniversary of Michael Madhusudan Dutt

The pioneer of Bengali sonnet

Published : 28 Jun 2019 04:11 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 03:15 PM

Today marks the 146th death anniversary of Michael Madhusudan Dutt and the whole nation should remember his outstanding contribution in Bengali literature, which mainly comprises of sonnets.

Madhusudan was a popular 19th century Bengali poet and dramatist born in Sagardari, a village in Keshabpur Upazila in the district of Jashore on the bank of Kapotaksha.

His famous work ‘Meghnad Badh Kavya,’ is a tragic epic. It consists of nine cantos and is quite exceptional in Bengali literature, both in terms of style and content. He also wrote poems about the sorrows and afflictions of love as spoken by women.

Born to a Hindu family, he converted to Christianity to the ire of his family and adopted the first name, Michael. However, he was to regret his desire for England and his wishes to follow the English culture and norms. He mentioned the accident in later life, when he talked ardently about his homeland in his poems.

The life of Dutt closely parallels the life of English romantic poet Lord Byron in many respects. Like Byron, Dutt was a spirited bohemian, albeit being born on the other side of the world, and as a recipient subject of the British imperialist enterprise.

“Where man in all his truest glory lives,

And nature's face is exquisitely sweet;

For those fair climes I heave impatient sigh,

There let me live and there let me die.”

The poet was a gifted linguist and polyglot. Besides Indian languages like Bengali, Sanskrit and Tamil, he was well versed in classical languages like Greek and Latin. He also had a fluent understanding of modern European languages like Italian, French, and could read and write the last two with perfect grace and ease.

His major works include ‘Sarmistha’ (1859), ‘Buro Shaliker Ghare Ro’ (1860), ‘Ekei Ki Bale Sabhyata’ (1860), ‘Padma Vati’ (1860) and so on. ‘The slaying of Meghnada’ (1861), is considered to be the finest blank verse in Bengali literature. ‘Chaturdaspadi’ (1866), are the compilation of his sonnets.

His life was a mixture of joy and sorrow. Although, it is being argued that the loss of self-control was largely responsible for his pitiable fate, his over-flowing poetic novelty for joy was to become immortalised in his oeuvre.

Shortly after coming to the then Calcutta, Michael Madhusudan Dutt fell ill due to his drinking habit. His health began to fail and he died on June 29, 1873, three days after the death of his wife Henrietta.