The topic headline about which I am writing is a piece of comparative analysis between the two poets. Generally speaking, we know that Kazi Nazrul Islam is a poet of Bengali literature while George Gordon Lord Byron is a poet of English literature. For perfect analysis we need to know the similarities and dissimilarities between them as poet.
Byron (1788-1824) and Nazrul (1899-1976) are Romantic poets. The Romantic elements are common in their writings. They are also poet of love. Byron was famous for his many love-affairs. His love poems include ‘So We Shall Go no More for Roving’, ‘Stanzas for Music’, ‘She Walks in Beauty’ etc. His attitude to love has been expressed in all these poems. Similarly Nazrul’s Dolon Chapa, Sindo Hindul, Sheuli Mala and other poems are also replete with the theme of love. The following lines bear evidence of the poets’ grief of parting from his first wife Nargis: “Buker jalaya choker jola zadin tumi kadba/ Bozba shadin bozba”.We find similar expression in Byron’s poem ‘When We Two Parted’:
“In Silence and tears;
Half broken hearted,
To severe for years.”
Both of them are rebel poets. They stood against tyranny and oppression. In one of his poems, Nazrul said, “Ami bidrohi, ami ronoklanto…” Byron had new sense of a person at war with society, sometimes gay and witty and sometimes angry and satirical. They were also poet of man and nature. In his love for nature, Byron identified himself with the wild and tumultuous aspects of nature. Despite this, he said in his Childe Herold’s Pilgrimage:
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,”
Nazrul’s reference to ‘Kal boishakhi jhor’ symbolises the violent aspect of nature. In spite of describing the beauty of nature in his poems, he expressed his affinity with mankind:
“Manusher Chaya boro kichu nai/ Nahi kisho mohiyan/ Sob dasha sob kala gora gora ami manoshar gati”. Byron and Nazrul are poet of youth and beauty. Byron in his poem ‘All For Love’ said:
“The days of our youth are the days of our glory; And the myrtle and ivy of sweet two-and-twenty Are worth all your laurels, though ever so plenty.”
Furthermore, in the poem ‘She Walks in Beauty’ Byron describes the beauty, the winning smiles, eloquent voice and the innocent love of his beloved. In the same way there is youthful joy and beauty in Nazrul’s songs and poems. As for example, Nazrul said: ‘Oi nutunar katon ura az tura sob joyodoni kor’. We can easily realize the beauty of the song, ‘Sukno patar nupur paye zolto ranga dau tula sha zay’.
Byron and Nazrul had deep love and support for freedom and the free. Byron broke off literature when he organized an expedition to assist the Greek for their independence from the Turks. His own writing helped kindle European enthusiasm for the Greek cause. This day Byron is revered by the Greek people as a national hero. Byron said about liberty in his sonnet on Chillon:
“Eternal spirit of the chainless mind!
Brightest in dungeons, Liberty! thou art,”
Similarly Nazrul also had his abiding love for freedom and all through his life supported the cause of freedom despite many obstacles. He said, ‘Lathi mar vangra tala, jotosob bandhi shala agun zala’. He was imprisoned many times for his fearless criticism against the British imperialism in India and his indomitable spirit of liberty. He also went to Turkey to join Khilafat Movement. Just as Nazrul was optimistic about the end of British rule in India and the freedom of Indo-Pak Bangladesh subcontinent so was Byron about the freedom of Greece. That is why he said:
“The mountains look on Marathon—
And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,
I dream’d that Greece might still be free;”
Now let us see how the two poets differ from each other. In addition to their difference of language and culture, Nazrul hated class distinction in the society of his time. Pointing at the rich and the aristocrats he said: “Tumora rohiba tatalar pora/Amora rohibo niche/Athocha tumadar devota bolibo/A darona az micha.’
Nazrul also wrote about the lower class of people and their suffering in the hands of the rich while Byron wrote about the upper class of society. Byron came of an aristocratic family. After the death of his uncle, he occupied his inherited seat in the House of Lords. He even became a celebrity of the fashionable London. On the other hand, Nazrul came of a poor middle class family and later on he was made the national poet of Bangladesh. In their level of education, they also differ. Byron attained his M.A. degree from the University of Cambridge. In comparison with him Nazrul had received no university education. Though he read up to class eight, he was a great poet. Nazrul was a God-fearing man. His songs and ghazals are good examples in point. He wrote a very popular ghazal titled ‘Roz hashora Allah amar karo na bichar.’ In contrast with Nazrul, Byron had no moral compunction. Notwithstanding objections of immorality, he did not hesitate to compose Don Juan where in canto 2 and stanza 178 he said:
Let us have wine and women, mirth and laughter,
Sermons and soda-water the day after.
Though Byron’s lyrics are old-fashioned following the Neo Classicist’s type especially, of Alexander Pope, his poetry reflects this in his satirical mood. At the same time, there are some angry and bitter tones in his poetry. Byron is more satirical than Nazrul. His satire is stinging while that of Nazrul is mild and gentle. Byron’s devastating satire can be seen in his ‘Life and Death of George III’, ‘The Vision of Judgment’ and ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers’. Byron was volatile in his temperament. He remained determined to his code of telling the truth and a dedication of the freedom of nation and individuals. On the contrary, Nazrul was in good humor until his incurable illness which led to his death. There is no contradiction about Nazrul’s temperament. Despite this, through much of the 19th Century Byron continued to be rated as one of the greatest English poets and the very prototype of literary Romanticism. As an arch Romantic, he provided his age with Byronic hero that first appeared in Childe Herald’s, then recurred in various guises in the verse romance and his drama, Manfred. Byron finds place in Bertrand Russell’s Western Philosophy not because he was a systematic thinker but because of “Byronism” the attitude of Titanic assertion towards humanity and the world that entered 19th century philosophy. Byron is more philosophical than Nazrul.
In the end, Byron and Nazrul are poets of versatile genius. They are prolific writers. As an author, Nazrul is more prolific than Byron. However, Byron was revolutionary from the beginning to the end. Though for his revolutionary nature, Nazrul is called a rebel poet and the Byron of the east, he is more romantic than revolutionary at heart. Both the poets belong to different centuries but there is modernism in their poems. For instance, Byron’s masterpiece Don Juan is a satire on modern Civilization. Exactly Nazrul’s songs and poems will also inspire his readers of all ages. In spite of their similarities and dissimilarities both George Gordon Lord Byron and Kazi Nazrul Islam are successful as great poets and very dear to their devoted readers.
The writer is a resource person & former VC, Britannia University