Kazi Helal can express the bright excitement in the consciousness and the flow of events spread in the brain cells together with the emotions and love of the heart in poetry. Regarding the representation of history in poetry, the poet TS Eliot in his essay ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’ says, ‘Although the contemporary sense of history is temporary, it is this element that makes a writer traditional, and at the same time it is what makes a writer about his place in time. , makes him most acutely aware of his own contemporaneity’ so that when modern conscious man writes literature, contemporary history overshadows that literature; The time in which the writer lives, the time comes alive in the writing of the writer. From Jibanananda to Sunil Gangopadhyay, the poems of various poets express the desperation of the post-World War I period, protest against the events of political ups and downs in the country, and sometimes, the poets wrote words of hope. During the independence and anti-dictatorship movement, the feelings and history of that tumultuous time have come up in the poems of Bangladeshi poets. In the poems published in Kazi Helal’s ‘Pankaudi’s Diver’ and ‘Shravani’s Eyes Sthalpadma’, betrayal, love and nature are depicted along with history. Sometimes famous historical figures come alive in his poems, sometimes the Seventies, sometimes dictatorships. The contemporary corona epidemic and the chains of invisible racism are also recorded in his poetry.
While writing the history, the place and time are specified, but the reader has to resort to literature to understand the emotions of that time, the feelings of the people of that time. Although there are many facts about Julius Caesar from history, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is found in the reader’s love, passion, and tears. And so modern poets write poems about famous or discussed people of contemporary times. American poet Walt Whitman wrote his famous poem “When Lilac Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Apart from the literary value of these poems, the historical importance is also outstanding.
The motivator of the War of Independence ‘Shaheed Janani Jahanara Imam, social reformer Raja Rammohan Roy, Alexandria’s mathematician and philosopher Hypesia, Marathi revolutionary leader Jhansir Rani, Baishali’s dance Patiasi Amrapali, Sipahi Mangal, Mangal Mangal, Mangal, Mangal, Mars. Charu Majumder, the leader of the Naxalbari peasant movement, and many others have taken pride of place in Kazi Helal’s poetry. The poet presents his vast historical knowledge in an extraordinary poetic Munsiana in the poem.
The emotion of the poem inspires, energizes, and inspires the reader. The best examples of this in Bengali poetry are the songs and poems written for Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendra. ‘I will fight to save my little flower’ – this poem contains the cry of ‘this time’s struggle for freedom’. To understand the period of 1971, along with history, these poems help the reader to understand the emotions of that time. Poet Shamsur Rahman wrote in Raktajhra 1, ‘To get you, O freedom, / How many times must I float in the river of blood?’ To put the context of Bangabandhu’s 7th March speech in the pages of history after independence, poet Nirmalendu Guna wrote ‘How the word freedom came to us’. These poems give the reader a sense of the tumultuous times of the 1970s. So even today the poetry of freedom is loved by readers. Kazi Helal wrote about the power of the slogan ‘Jai Bangla’ in his poem ‘Epic of Two Words’,
‘The words of such a great epic
It was not sounded before any day, will not be at any time!’
In her poem ‘Brain Defect Pakhi’, the young victim of the freedom fighter who ran to the call of war in 1971 wrote the narrative of the burdened silence of the bride.
‘The silence of the grave around! Shunshan wind!
The water of the Ganges flows upstream, Katha to keh nahi kay.
Kazi Helal wrote several poems about Bangabandhu, the spirit of the 1970s and the feelings of the 1970s, including ‘God’s Son’, ‘Unfinished War Padavali’. In the poem ‘Ekattarare Ekatmata’, friend of the Liberation War, referring to the ‘Concert for Bangladesh’ by singer George Harrison, Apamar said about the liberation war and its glorious achievement of freedom with the participation of the people.
Like ‘beloved leader Martin Luther King
We also declared with a loud voice—
Finally we are free
Thank God Almighty.’
Language movement is another great achievement in the history of Bangladesh. Almost all poets have written poems on this subject. Kazi Helal wrote several other poems including ‘Bayannar Bharadupure’.
A dark chapter in the history of Bangladesh is the period of the dictator. Kazi Helal was a university student during the violent student movement in the country’s educational institutions demanding the fall of the illegal military ruler. At that time the national poetry festival was organized where gunpowder was lit. At that time, the poet Mohammad Rafiq wrote in the context of the anti-tyranny movement, “Sab shala kabi hobe, pipade gon dhacherhe udbei, / Tadtal syor will come and sit on the king’s throne.” The rulers were shaken. The warmth of the heart of a fellow soldier roaring in that heat, movement is found in Kazi Helal’s poetry. The reader will walk down the memory lane of the anti-dictatorship student movement while reading the poems ‘Nisanga Paribrajak’, ‘Shalapadam in the eyes of Shravani’, ‘Mdhyahne Jotsna phool’.
Kazi Helal was in the world of writing since childhood. Although he regularly published articles in various newspapers, he could not write anymore due to the busyness of his life. But during the lonely time of Corona, he started writing. In the preface to the poetic book ‘Pankaudi’s Diver’, he wrote, ‘When the whole world came to a standstill during the pandemic in 2020, we were all confined to our homes. How the ink came back to my pen again.’ A small corona virus took the lives of about 70 million people. During this time people had to avoid the proximity of people. The lonely man of that time was in doubt of the transitional period of the whole human civilization. Quiet townships, people under house arrest, even in cremation, people forgot their relatives; Kazi Helal has written those pathetic stories about how a friend’s smile and a friend’s touch became invisible. The helplessness, uncertainty, spirituality, fear, despair and hope of man towards nature’s will are brought out in his poetry. The timing was like God’s curse. He wrote in his poem ‘God’s New Proclamation’,
‘O mankind — I am right from this moment
I took away all your freedom.
I took away your child’s love
Your right to wife, biological joy
I have made all mankind untouchable.’
He wrote in the poem ‘The Story of the Last Man’ in the description of the city stalled by Corona, ‘I am alone in this city, devastated by the epidemic.
I’m going to walk sad.’
Leaving behind corpse after piled corpse—‘
He painted the pain of not being able to see people’s faces in the poem ‘Mukhumukhi Muksha’. The tone of the poems of Corona period is sad, sad, hopeless. But smart and hardworking people always win. There is protest and hope in that war of victory. Kazi Helal in his poem ‘Bhitata Face’ complains,
‘How are you God, your best creatures
Helpless big today to a microbe.’
The horrors of the Spanish flu of 1918 can be found in the pages of history. After the next hundred years, the Corona information will also be added to the pages of history. With that will be added the feeling of a poet Kazi Helal affected by the Corona disaster.
Any piece of literature that casts a shadow over its contemporary history, surrounds the writer’s writings in his time and homeland. Poet Sukanta can be mentioned in this context. The titles of some of his poems are – ‘Chittagram – 1943’, ‘Madhyavitta 42’, ‘September 46’, ‘Fasler Dak 1351’, ‘Poyala May 1 : 1946’, ‘Ekushey November : 1946’, ‘Year 1941′, Rome, 1943’. The poems are written in some background of history. This is how modern poets come up with the notes and feelings of their lives in their time.
A major problem in the contemporary history of Bangladesh beyond the political background is river encroachment, land grabbing and environmental degradation. This unprecedented man-made environmental carnage will be written in black letters on the pages of history. All the great civilizations of the world were once built on the banks of some river. But today the people of Bangladesh are cheering the killing of that river which is the breast of civilization. A very conscious man Kazi Helal wrote in his poem ‘Dead Rivers’.
‘The rivers died with great difficulty…
A canoe does not float in a dead river, a crowd of barges.’
Land grabbing is also happening. People are busy building their own settlement by cutting trees and mountains. Today’s animals perished in deadly environmental disasters, there is a threat of global warming every season. In the pen of Kazi Helal, the fear for the Sundarbans comes up. He utters ‘Ashni Sanket Jaye Boye Heart of Mangrove Penetrates the Deep Sea’ in his poem ‘Ebbing Tide Blue Fig’.
Although today’s world can be called a global village in the light of economy, marketing, trade and tourism industry, the black shadow of racism and imperialism still remains in disguise. All the people of the world are not good together, the hungry children in the mountain valley of Elon Musk’s wealth are still sleepless; Another black man died in brutal brutality in Minneapolis next to Obama’s mansion. Kazi Helal writes in the words of George Floyd in the poem ‘Racism’s Poisonous Tree’ about a recent example of this invisible racism,
‘The director was kneeling over my vocal cords…
Blood drips from the nose and touches the stomach;
It’s hard to breathe, it’s hard!’
The poets of the post-World War I period could not place the contemporary in the atmosphere of eternity. The clash of greed for power and brutality in contemporary history and politics and the endangered public life due to it are depicted in their poems. This element of poetry gradually became characteristic of modern poetry. While defining modern poetry, Buddhadev Bose wrote in the introduction to the book ‘Adhunik Bangla Kavita’, ‘It can be called the poetry of rebellion, protest, skepticism, fatigue, search, and in the meantime, the awakening of wonder, the joy of life, the confidence in the world order has been revealed.’ In this light, Kazi Helal’s poem portrays betrayal, superstition as well as contemporary reality and history to connect the reader to their own lives with contemporary history; will be aware; will turn to history. Talking about poet Kazi Helal’s poetry, poet and recitation teacher Ravi Shankar Maitri has rightly written in the preface to Pankauri’s Dubsantaar book, ‘He is a historical poet. Let history speak in his poetry.’
Author Profile: Ex-Teacher, BRAC University. Currently living in Toronto and working at TD Bank.