AD's English Literature : Remembrance: Henry Louis Vivian Derozio –An Overview of His Poetry (1809-1831)

Remembrance: Henry Louis Vivian Derozio –An Overview of His Poetry (1809-1831)

  • Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, our first Indian English poet, is , paradoxically, remembered as a ‘Forgotten New Anglo Indian Poet’ which is the subtitle of the only available collection of his work, Poems of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio published by Oxford University Press. Derozio’s brief , but brilliant, career is a fascinating subjects of study. 
  • By birth Derozio was an Anglo-Indian, born of an Indo-Portuguese father and English mother. he received an English education at David Drummond’s Academy. 
  • By the early influence of his mother and teacher, establishing the experiences which went in to the Fauquier of Jungheera (1828), his long narrative poem. From his early age of 16, he contributed to the India Gazette. 
  • His first collection of poems published 1827 which earned him a little bit of reputation in the small literary circle in Calcutta. He became the assistant editor of the India Gazette and also contribution in the Bengal Annual, The Calcutta Gazette at barely so years of age. He achieved great renown during his short stint as a teacher at Hindu College.  
  • Hardly twenty himself, he was remarkable influential, brings several new, largely European ideas, to his pupils. It had ben a great blow on the face of the Hindu orthodoxy and decadence. He had been a herald to rationalism and free thinking. 
  • Regarding Derozo’s literary publications, his two volumes of verse poems (1827) and The Fakeer of Jungheera: A Metrical Tale and other poems (1828) appeared in his tife time. 
  • The Fakeer of Jungheera: A Metrical Tale is a long poem about Nulelni, a high-cast Hindu window, who is about to be burnt on the funeral pyre of her husband. A robber chieftain rescues her from becoming a forced sati. The story is rather romantic and narrated in rhyming iambic tetrameter. Nuleeni is widowed a second time when she loses her robber-chief tan and claps the dead body frantic calmly: “as if she dreamed     of him in her embrace; but they who thought that life was tenanting her breast, and sought some answer from her heart to push the doubt found that its eloquence had all burned out.” 
  • It is in his shorter poems that Derozio’s forte as a poet lies. Many of these are sonnets with some what unconventional rhyme scheme. M.K. Naik commenting on Derozio’s verse says that it bears a strong impress of British romantic poetry, especially that of By on. 
  • While Derozeo’s language is reminiscent of Byron and Moore, his ardent love for his country, his passion for social reform and his tender and courageous humanity, are inventively his own. Even on his death bed, he did not lose either his equanimity of his brave faith. Like Donne, Derozio faces the awful mystery of death challengingly, triumphantly: “But man’s eternal energies can make   An  atmosphere around him, and so take     Good out of evil, like the yellow bell     That sucks from flowers malignant a sweet treasure tyrant fate! Thus  shall I vanquish thee For out of suffering shall I gather pleasure.” 
  • Derozio eminently qualify to be considered nationalist. In The Harp of India he qualifies himself for the hope of renewal of our past glory. Derozio is aware of his being a front runner in this process: “ Harp of my country, let me strike the strain!”. To give an another example, his To India-My Native Land gives the ideology of nationalism quite directly: “ My country! In thy day of glory past  A beauteous halo circled round thy brow.” On 26 December 1831, barely at the age of 22 hebreeathd his last. He was one of the architects of young Bengal and still inspires us for his fearless and independent mind who champion the liberal values.  

        Ardhendu De
Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert     
     2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature
      3. Microsoft Students’ Encarta

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