Jibanananda Das (1899 - 1954)
Jibanananda Das was born in 1899 in the district-town Barishal, in what is now Bangladesh. His father Satyananda Das was an eminent member of the Brahma Samaj, and his mother Kusumkumari Devi was a well-known poet. He matriculated in 1915 from the Brajamohan School in Barishal, securing a First Class. After doing an I.A. from the Brajamohan College in 1917, Jibanananda enrolled in the Presidency College, Kolkata. He graduated with an Honours in English in 1919 and thereafter earned an M.A., also in English, from the Calcutta University in 1921.
His first poem was published in 1919 in a magazine in Barishal; first collection of poems, Jhara Palak (`Fallen Feathers') came out in 1927. Buddhadeva Bose was the first to discuss Jibanananda's poetry in Pragati. Later on, Buddhadeva and his poetry magazine Kavita played a seminal role in establishing Jibanananda as perhaps the most influential of the post-Tagore poets. Many poems, and all the prose fictions that Jibanananda wrote
were discovered after his death in 1954. Buddhadeva Bose alone had published 111 (out of a total of 167) poems of Jibanananda when the poet was alive.
To quote from Jibanananda Das: Selected Poems, translated with an introduction by Chidananda Dasgupta (Penguin, 2006) : "Jibanananda Das's lyricism is unparalleled in Bengali literature. His early poems are vivid, eloquoent celebrations of the beauty of Bengal; his later works, written in the 1940 and '50s, are darker, comments on political issues and current affairs like the Second World War, the Bengal Famine of '43 and Hindu-Muslim riots at the time of Partition.
... While he is best known for poetry that reveals a deep love of nature and rural landscapes, tradition and history, Jibanananda is also strikingly urban, and introspective, his work centring on themes of loneliness, depression and death. He was a master of word-images, and his unique poetic idiom drew on tradition but was startlingly new."
His best known collections of poetry include Banalata Sen (1942) and Rupasi Bangla (Beautiful Bengal, written in 1934 but published in 1957).
Jibanananda died in a tram accident in 1954. In 1955, his Shreshtha Kabita (Best Poems) received the Sahitya Akademi Award.
Published August, 2009
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