Critical appreciation: Henry Louis Vivian Derozio’s “To The Pupils of Hindu college”.

“For in both Keats and Derozio there was a passionate temperament combined with unbounded sympathy with nature and fellowmen. Both died while their powers were not yet fully developed” – Mr. Oaten.

Derozio was enabled to become a teacher of English literature in the Hindu College when he was only eighteen. A poet as well as a teacher of poetry, Derozio loved India and loved nature; and he also loved his students which is best exhibited in his present sonnet, To The Pupils of The Hindu College.

It was the glorious past Ind and the plight of British rule made Derozio apostrophized his country and his beloved students. Poor though his abilities may be, he will to his dying breath sing in defense and in praise of his country. And the moral social and political strength of a country rests upon its youth who are the building block of nation. Thus Derozio addressed his sonnet to his pupil as – 

Expanding like the petals of young flowers,
I watch the gentle opening of your mind,
And the sweet loosening of the spell that binds
Your intellectual energies and powers …………

Youth is the time of development of characteristic faculties. The moral and intellectual construction of a being is possible at his youth and Derozio comparing his fellow students as expanding, blossoming flowers where each of the soft petals are the tender awakening of knowledge. They are as soft as flowers, as fresh as speaking petals – are the beauty Derozio learns in his teaching life.

The intellectual journey of a student with its full vitality, energy and powers can be mounded in its circumstance and alike freshening April showers early knowledge would sprout new leaves of moral being. Unbounded desire of learning would create new perception in their outlook and drive it to the every field of social awakening or flourishes. Thus they will become most influential force of the nation. Brave and occult, steadfast and irremovable, unchangeable and firm willed young students will learn the truth and defend the it. Bravely they will worship Truth’s omnipotence –

O! now the winds
Of circumstance and freshening April showers
Of early knowledge, and unnumbered kinds
Of new perceptions, shed their influence,
And how you worship Truth’s omnipotence!

Derozio has enormous faith upon his students – the young Bengali Turks. He would well see in the mirror of futurity the chaplets, laurels, feathers won by his pupils in long run of their living. The joyance would rain upon the devoted teacher with the yielding fruits or results of his students in their route of perfection. Being a friend, guide and philosopher, Derozio’s ultimate desire of a teacher is to watch his students’ perfect social mould with the worldly perception and intellectual beauty –

What joyance rains upon me, when I see
Fame in the mirror of futurity,
Weaving the chaplets you are yet to gain –
And then I feel I have not lived in vain.

As a poet, Derozio was obviously influenced by the Romantics – notably Byron, Scott, Moore; but he knew his Shelley and Keats also very well. He seems to have been particularly fond of the sonnet form. His present sonnet at once gives his vent to his itch for being ideal teacher as well as its lyrical grace. With beautiful similes and metaphors he has decorated his sonnet. Like a true romantic, he is hopeful about his students and their great enterprise. His is the notion that Indian hopes in intellectual flourishes and political empowerment rest upon Indian youth .The zeal for up lifting this patriotic cause he finds springs of tomorrow among the hostile present in colonial captivity. His students’ like buds in the April showers bloom everywhere, every sphere, every cause of developing his beloved country. If his devotion and faith is taken into account the sonnet is itself a rightful assertion of his patriotism. Lyrically, the simplicity and sincerity of tone makes the sonnet immortal.