THE WORLD WRITERS: BRIEF BIOGRAPHIES

 

 

 

Menonim Menonimus

 

 

 

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The World Writers: Brief Biographies (a collection of Biographical Essays on World Writers) by Menonim Menonimus.

 

 

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Internet Edition: 2019

 

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CONTENTS

(The World Writers: Brief Biographies)

  

Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace) 

Charlotte Bronte

Emily Bronte 

George Bernard Shaw

Henry Vaughan

John Millington Synge

William Shakespeare

William Wordsworth

Thomas Stearns Eliot

George Herbert

Dylan Thomas

Samuel Beckett

Robert Frost

Ernest Hemingway

Virginia Woolf

William Butler Yeats

Andrew Marvell

John Donne

William Blake

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the People’s President

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THE WORLD WRITERS: BRIEF BIOGRAPHIES (TEXT)

 

 

QUINTUS HORATIUS FLACCUS (HORACE)

Quintus Horatius Flaccus, briefly Horace (65 B. C.– 8  B. C.) was an ancient Roman poet. He is famous through the centuries as a writer of odes and satires. English odes and satires were greatly inspired and influenced by him.

He was born at Venosa in Apulia about 65 years before Jesus Christ was born. His mother died when he was quite young. His father’s name is not known, but it is evident that his father was a slave in his early life. But later on, he was freed after compensation. By his self endeavour and educational carrier, he became able to hold a high office in the state. In that day, Greece, as well as Rome, was culturally rich and there had many schools and even universities like that of our times. Horace’s father sent him, in his tender age, to school and took care of educating him properly. But his school days were bitter because his fellow students, who generally came from upper classes of society, often bullied and insulted him, because he happened to be a son of a freedman. His school teacher, Orbilius was a man of cruel heart, who flogged his students mercilessly. This multiplied Horace’s bitterness of school life. Horace tolerated all insulation with patience and thus with a bitter experience he had ended his primary education at Rome. Horace had goodwill towards higher education; so his father, who already became somewhat well to do, willingly sent Horace to the University of Athens. At Athens, Horace read Greek literature with curious attention and became a scholar. There he also read Greek history and philosophy and came into the contact of many literary men of that time.

While he was still a student at Athens, he heard the news of the assassination of Julius Caesar, the director of Rome. Horace did not like Caesar’s directorship. He was a votary of Liberty and Republicanism. So Horace went back home making an end of his education and joined the Republican army of Brutus. Brutus was an advocate of Republicanism and he took the leadership of the Republic Movement in Rome. But the Republicans were defeated at the battle of Philippi. Since then Horace drew away himself from the army and devoted himself with heart and soul to writing poetry.

Horace’s age was an age of political unrest but of heroism, economically it was an age of prosperity, religiously it was an age of image worshipping with less devotion, socially it was an age of fashion but morally it was an age of degradation. Horace began his writing in such an age and all these phases were reflected in his writings. 

At the age of thirty or so, he wrote his first poetry-book of odes. At that time he fell in appalling poverty, but some well-wishers and some of his friends assisted him to be rescued from it. One of such friends and well-wishers was Virgil. Virgil was an epic-poet of the age. Horace was much encouraged by him and gave Horace his company.

As soon as Horace’s first book of odes came to light, it caught warm welcome of the general readers. Though ode as a form of literature had been in circulation much earlier before him, yet he had not written his odes after the imitation of them. He wrote with some innovation both in theme and style. He introduced for the first time in Roman literature, common events, common themes, common thoughts, neat language, sparing imagery, genial mood of expression and well-suited form—for which the average reader easily could grasp his poetry with a warm heart. Thus he gained both fame and popularity. One by one being inspired by the success of his first book of odds, he wrote out other three books of the same kind. He wrote on a variety of themes—on love, on friendship, on patriotism, on countryside, on gods, on death, on poet and poetry.

After writing the books of odes, he took to writing satire in the form of an epistle. His satires are comic in character. Through his satires he portrayed the follies and vices of his time. He expressed them with a genial mood with a view to arise laugher and thus he made the general mass to become conscious of their follies and vices.

At his last age, he wrote the fourth book of odes and some lyrics modelled on Greek poets. Then the Emperor of Rome was Augustus. Horace had a good friendship with him. Augustus gave him patronage and being inspired by him Horace wrote Carmen Saculare.

He wrote some Epodes (additional song) in which he expressed his political views and patriotism. The epodes have not the terseness, polishes and vigour of expression which mark his odes and epistles.

At last, he wrote a book of theory on poetry and drama. The title of the book was Arts Poetica (The Art of Poetry) in which he discussed poetry—about its arts and style and little about drama of his day. It is a critical book on poetry. His criticism was based on realism.

Horace as man was a moralist as well as an idealist. He had a jovial temperament. He paid homage to simplicity, morality, courage and kindness. 

His life on earth was a fortunate one. He had good affectionate father, liberal education, friends like epic-poet Virgil and patronage like Emperor Augustus, popularity, independence, honour and good environment to express his genius. Once, Emperor Augustus offered him the post of the private secretary of the emperor, but Horace refused that post with modesty as he did not like to lead a life of dependence. Living a happy and honourable life he died at the age of 57 in 8 B.C.

Centuries and after centuries have passed after his death, but still, he is a source of inspiration for many poets, especially the poets who write odes and satires have been deriving inspiration from his model of writing. Though Horace wrote poetry in which imagination was the main ingredients, yet his thoughts were based on realism for which many lines of his writings are read as proverbs. Time will pass, century will follow one after another and the world may lose his poetry, but still, then his name would be pronounced with great respect as one of the most influential poets of the world. 0 0 0

 

 

 CHARLOTTE BRONTE

Once in England, three sisters came of a pair of husband and wife became novelists—the name of the three sisters were Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte and Anne Bronte. Of these three Charlotte Bronte was the eldest and even greatest who wrote novels with a difference which at random may be called Poetic Novels.

Charlotte Bronte was the third child of her parents. She was born in 1816 at Thornton. The name of her father was Mr Patrick Bronte, an Irishman. He was at first a teacher and then a curate at Hartshead in Yorkshire. In 1812 he married Maria Branwell who gave birth to six children, the first five children were girls and the last one was a boy. They were—Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Patrick. In 1820 the family moved to Haworth. In 1821, Mrs Maria Branwell died after giving birth to her last child Patrick. And then the family with six little children fell in pathetic condition and so to help in bringing up the children Miss Elizabeth Branwell, the sister of the late Mrs Bronte, came to the Bronte-family as the housekeeper. 

Mr Patrick Bronte was a very odd and strict man of discipline who kept his children away from the company of other children of their age. He was impatient, morose and selfish in nature. On the other hand, Mrs Bronte was a gentle, loving and delicate lady who always looked at the bright side of life. While Mrs Bronte died suddenly, Mr Bronte proposed to marry a woman by the name of Miss Burder, who rejected her proposal and then he gave up his desire to marry the second time. 

Patrick Bronte sent the first four children to a school where the children of the clergymen were taught. Their experience at school was very bitter. The living conditions of the school were so poor. At the meantime, the first daughters Maria and Elizabeth died of consumption. Charlotte and Emily were soon withdrawn from the school and they spent the next six years studying at home. 

After that, Charlotte was admitted to a school at Roe Head for the second time where she studied for five years and returned home as a teacher. Then Charlotte opened up a school where both Emily and Anne, her two younger sisters had been her students, but the school came to an end as no other students came forward to join it. 

As the children were growing young, the family began to face an economic crisis. Then the Bronte sisters began to think of literature as a means of livelihood. Charlotte wrote some poems and sent them to Southey, the poet laureate of that time, who gave a disappointing comment on the poems. Yet with an optimistic desire, the three sisters decided to write poems and so was done and at last, they arranged a small collection of poems from each other and had them published in a book form. After their wishes, a volume of poems appeared in 1845 under the title Poems. The Bronte sisters published the poetry book under pseudonyms as—Currier Bell, Ellis Bell and Acton Bell. But the book was proved a failure. 

Being received a loss, the three sisters then decided to practise novel. As was the decision so was the action, Charlotte wrote a novel by the title, The Professor. Emily and even Anne also wrote novels—each one. They wrote novels but found no publisher to publish them. At last, after looking for a publisher with anxiety they found one who published the novel of Emily only but neither of  Charlotte nor of Anne.  After this Emily began to write another novel (as the title of her first novel was “The Wuthering Heights” which is considered a great one) but suddenly she was attacked by consumption which had already killed her to elder sisters—Maria and Elizabeth and after suffering from it, Emily died in 1848. 

In the meantime, Mr Bronte became nearly blind. Patrick Bronte, the youngest male child of the family was a spoilt one. He had some talent as an artist. So his father sent him to London to pursue his study but the family could not finance his expense for which he had to return home and took a job of clerk in which he proved himself disabled and so he was driven away from the job. After a year both Mr Patrick and Anne died and some few months later Patrick Bronte, the only male child of the Bronte family also met a premature death. All of the family, except Charlotte, died untimely. Then Charlotte’s heart broke down and yet she continued her writings. In 1847 he wrote, “Jane Eyre” in 1849 “Shirley” and in 1852 “Villette”. Her first novel found no publisher, but her last three novels luckily found a publisher and sold well. In 1854 Charlotte married Curate Nicholls and began to live a happy married life but the same curse of death also fell upon her as her other sisters and brother met and  Charlotte died in 1855 at the age of thirty-eight only. 

As a novelist, her younger sister Emily Bronte wrote only one novel, “The Wuthering Heights by which she became able to keep her name in the history of English literature. Charlotte Bronte wrote four novels—the first of which is poor as a novel, but the remaining three, as pieces of art, are rich. Her novels are psychological in themes, poetic in language, autobiographical in the method of narration and in the plot they are a beautiful combination of both romanticism and realism. Many lines of her novels are read like a splendid piece of poetry.  0 0 0  

 

 

EMILY BRONTE

By writing a single book in life, only a few writers of the world could have earned both fame and recognition and of those few, Miss Emily Bronte was one. She was an English novelist of the first half of the nineteenth century. She wrote only one novel in her life by which she earned both fame and recognition as a great female novelist. She met a premature death at the age of thirty, while she was on the way to maturity.

This great novelist of a single novel, Miss Emily Bronte, was born in 1818 at Bradford. Her father’s name was Patrick Bronte. Her mother’s name was Maria Branwell. Both her parents were evangelical-minded, touched by the teaching of the Methodist Movement in England. Her father was a man of strict discipline and principles. He was impatient, morose and selfish in nature. Her mother Maria Branwell was a gentle, loving and delicate lady who always looked at a bright side of life. In occupation, her father was a priest of the parish of Thornton. He had, by Maria Branwell, six children, the name of whom were-Maria, Elizabeth, Charlotte, Patrick, Emily and Anne. Emily was the fifth child of her parents. Patrick was the only male child of the family.

While Emily was only two years old, her mother gave birth to her sixth and last child and died suddenly. Then all the children became orphan. At that time, while their mother died,  all the children were attacked by scarlet fever. The family fell into the climax of pathos. Then a sister of the late Mrs Maria Bronte arrived at their home and took charge of the Bronte household. She took care of the motherless children with a sympathetic heart and gave the children motherly love and affection. At that time Mr Patrick Bronte proposed to a woman by the name of Miss Burder. She was a former sweetheart of Mr Patrick Bronte, but she rejected his proposal of marriage. While Miss Burder became unwilling to enter into the marriage bond with Mr Bronte, then he decided to remain a widower for the rest of his life. At the meantime, a woman, by the name of Tabby came to the Bronte family and serve the family for more than twenty years. 

At the age of six, Emily was sent to the School of Cowan Bridge, where she studied only for some months. Already her two elder sisters Maria and Elizabeth contracted an illness and both died at the age of eleven and ten respectively. After the death of her two elder sisters-Emily and Elizabeth- she left school forever. But she got rudimentary instruction from both her aunt and father.

Her father had a small library at their home. Emily spent some of her time everyday reading books. Besides this, she gained the knowledge and experience of life observing her surroundings. For some months a drawing master and a music master frequented their home from whom Emily and her other sisters learned something which impressed their mind somehow.

All the children of Mr Bronte were smart in understanding things, but all were of shy nature. Emily seemed even more; she took delight in playing under an open sky beside the moors. 

Charlotte, Emily’s elder sister was admitted to a school at Roe Head, for the second time where she studied for five years and returned home as a teacher. As the family was not sufficiently prosperous, so Charlotte decided to run a school and she, along with Emily, went to Brussels to have training as teachers. There they,  especially Charlotte, became proficient in French and English and thus having finished their training they returned home and opened a school, but the school was in vain as no pupil came forward to join it.

The three sisters: Charlotte, Emily and Anne had an interest in literature and in writing though none could know their interest. Emily already, while she was hardly twenty, had written some poetry and had hidden them off from the eyes of others. One day, by chance, Charlotte discovered some loose manuscripts of some verses written by Emily. Then the three sisters decided to exhibit their genius in poetry and so Charlotte and Anne also wrote some poems. At last, they agreed to arrange a small collection of poems from each of them and had that published. After their wishes, a volume of poems appeared in 1845 under the little ‘Poems’. The Bronte sisters published the book under the pseudonyms as Currer Bell, Ellis Bell and Acton Bell. This volume of poems was a little success. The poems were sweet in tone, pathetic in taste. But it is a matter of sorrow that their productions of verse were so meagre and of small worth that they could hardly fall any impression in the history of English poetry.

After publishing the Poems, the three sisters decided to write novels. And after their decision, the following year, Charlotte wrote out a novel by the title ‘The Professor’ Anne wrote ‘Agnes Grey’ and Emily wrote a novel by the title ‘Wuthering Heights’ which was Emily’s only novel. They wrote out the novels, but they found no publisher to publish them. After looking for a publisher with anxiety, they found, at last, a publisher, ‘Smith and Elder’ who managed to publish the novels after an agreement of bearing the fifty per cent of expenses by the authoress. The sisters agreed to contribute the half expenses and then, at last, the novels appeared in printing form. The novels of Charlotte and Anne were of little success. Emily’s Wuthering Heights became successful but faced much adverse criticism. 

Wuthering Heights by Emily is a novel of love and revenge. It has both improbability and probability in the story. Emily for the first time, in the novel, introduced ‘outside narrator’ as a method of expression. Later on, being inspired by this method, Joseph Conrad, another great novelist, grasped up this method and wrote novels with success. The story of the novel is based on realism but coloured by supernaturalism, the characterization is strong and in perfect view, the structure is complicated, the dialogues are sparing and something emotional. 

After this, Emily began to write another novel, but suddenly, she was attacked by consumption which had already killed her two elder sisters at their tenth. Emily knew that she would meet death soon, so she was unwillingly to take medicine. After some months of her illness, she died silently in 1848 at the age of thirty. A rose had dropped down while it was about to spread its petal with fragrance. 

Miss Emily’s mortal body is swept away by dust, but her only novel, ‘Wuthering Height’ has been being liked and loved ad studied by lines of readers throughout the years. 0 0 0

 

 

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW

Once the earth was trodden by a man with erect strong figure bearing grey beard and long but half-closed eyes, who in his lifetime became a living legend as a man of exceptionally complex personality as well as the most talked of dramatist of exceptionally free ideas—the name of that strange man was George Bernard Shaw. 

George Bernard Shaw, the man of wonder was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1856. His father, George Carr Shaw, was the youngest in a family of thirteen children, who first became a minor official at the law court in Dublin, and later on, became a grain merchant in which he proved himself to be unsuccessful. Moreover, he was a drunkard and incapable of managing the family. 

His mother was a daughter of an Irish landowner. She was twenty years younger than her husband. She had a good singing voice who sang for an opera. George Bernard Shaw learned much knowledge of music from his mother. 

Shaw had got little chance to go to school. So his education was ordinary enough. For some years only, he had been to school; but he did not like to follow the school routine. Soon, school seemed to him to be a ‘penal servitude’. So he left school while he was hardly fifteen. Though he had not good education, he used to frequent the Irish National Gallery to study the pictures. 

As the family was financially unprosperous enough, so George Bernard Shaw had to find a job. Soon he met his fortune and became a clerk and afterwards cashier in a land agent’s office unit 1876. As his father was a drunkard and inefficient to manage the family, his mother, along with her two daughters, left home and went to London where she devoted to music to earn his livelihood. Both his father and mother seemed to take less care for their children. So George Bernard Shaw enjoyed freedom. At the mean time, he left his job as a clerk and went to London, There he joined his mother but received little love from his mother. 

In London, he did not allow his hours went idle. There he began to contribute criticism to the journals. First, he wrote criticism on music and then as a critic of plays for ‘The Star ‘and for ‘The Saturday Review’ respectively. His criticisms, contributed to those journals, were witty based on realism. 

As Bernard Shaw grew older, he became more and more rational and new and strange ideas began to grow in his mind. At the age of twenty-five, he abstained from meat and became a vegetarian. He lost faith in Christism in his early age, as he said that Christism had lost its original path and it, as a religion, became corrupted. But he was not irreligious. He gave value and honour to morality, truthfulness and simplicity in lifestyle. He himself shunned every kind of luxury. He never took any stimulant which other man took in order to restore spirit or to forget their pain and worries. He never joined any games. He thought walking to be the best exercise for everybody and he himself did the same. He never seemed to be the same person for fifteen minutes together. At one moment, he talked with earnestness about the destiny of human race on earth, and at the next moment, he changed to talk about certain issues of life with ridicule, burlesque and thus he made his listeners laugh. Shaw had the ability to add sugar to pill as whenever he found it necessary to call anyone mad or stupid he did it so charmingly that the victim could not make any retort. Shaw was always in favour of social justice and righteousness, but sometimes he was so much free in thought that he advocated the freedom of sex. He was against royal hood and even against democracy. He was against every kind of creed of worship. In short, he was an iconoclast. All those made him exceptionally a man of a complex personality. 

By writing criticism, as a critic, to the journals, he earned only a little which was not enough to meet his own expenses. So for the first ten years in London, he depended upon his mother. During his life in London, besides writing criticism, he began to lay his foundation for his future career. He began to attend the public meetings, congregation and in many social functions. One day in 1884 he went to a meeting where an American economist by the name of Henry George delivered a lecture on the necessity of socialism. He advocated that the national revenue should be raised by a single tax on land values, instead of numerous taxes on a variety of things. His lecture fell a deep influence upon Bernard Shaw’s mind. Then he used to frequent the ‘Fabian Society’ that wanted to bring about a gradual evolutionary change, not a sudden and violent one, from capitalism to socialism. There he met Mrs Annie Besant, who was an ardent supporter of the independence of India. She was a great admirer of Shaw, later on, Shaw was somewhat influenced by Besant while she became the leader of the theosophists. Thus George Bernard Shaw broadened his store of thought. After gathering new and free outlook towards life, George Bernard Shaw took to writing creative literature. His first attempt was in the field of novel and wrote out three novels which were replete with his own free ideas on life. Having the manuscripts with him, he went door to door but found no publisher for his novels. Then he gave up his attempt to write novel and took to writing plays. At the meantime, he studied some plays of Shakespeare, the plays of Henrick Ibsen and the plays of Anton Chekhov which inspired him to devote himself to play-writing. In 1892, he completed his first play Widower’s House which was performed in London. The play dealt with evils of London Slums. In this play, he portrayed the unhealthy and exploited condition of the wretched and poor. On such a subject, this play was the first play written in the English language. This play had no success until he wrote ‘Mrs. Warren’s Profession’, ‘Arms and the Man’, ‘The Devils Disciples’ and ‘Candida’. At the mean time in 1898, he married Charlotte Payne Townshed and began to live with her in London and devoted himself earnestly to creating plays of free ideas. In 1904 his plays met success in the stages which brought him both reputation and money enough to live on. Then he became a leader of thought and a champion of intellectual freedom. 

As was George Bernard Shaw’s personality so were his plays. His plays were the face of his thoughts and ideas. Though he was inspired by Shakespeare, Ibsen, Chekov and other Irish playwrights, he did not take their model in writing his plays. He wrote absolutely in his own way. He took the realistic theme for his plays representing his own thought and ideas through them. He often said, “The purpose of my writings is to convert my nation into my opinion”. So his plays became his artistic success. The structure of his plays is often marked with the weakness of unity. His characters are not full-fledge, but one-sided which showed their intellect only. The dialogues of his plays are often witty and satiric. So it is reasonable to say that his plays are artistically a failure though the ideas expressed in his plays are worth praising. But it is also reasonable to admit that his ideas are not absolute, they are coloured by his whim and his stub-bornness. As for example, he advocated the freedom of woman. He was in favour of giving equal status to woman as is enjoyed by man, but in the matter of sex and marriage, he advocated free sex and wanted to violate the institution of marriage and family which only a few can support. Biologically, his thought of free sex may be reasonable but socially it is unwholesome because if freedom in the matter of sexual relationship is given, it would beget disorder, indiscipline and chaotic.

His ideas and thoughts expressed through his plays are lack in generalization for which his new ideas and thought could not fall any permanent impression on the human mind. 

In 1935 he was awarded the Novel Prize in literature. Though his plays are artistically a failure, yet thematically they are a success. And it is for his realistic theme and ideas, his dramas were in the height of popularity during his later years. Between 1904 and 1907, his eleven plays met more than seven hundred performances. In 1923 he wrote ‘Saint Joan’ which is said to be his best play. It become popular not in England but in America also. Besides, giving new ideas through his plays, he gave a new thing into the art of playwriting that is—a detailed preface which is necessary to understand his plays better. Moreover, his stage direction and the detailed account of his characters given within brackets are new things in plays. 

His complex personality, as well as his dramas of new ideas, drew the attention of general mass so much that his name become a rumour, almost as a legend, during his last decades and the world applauded Shaw as the greatest dramatist of his age. 

Enjoying great popularity, he died in 1950 at the age of ninety-four, contributing as much as fifty-four plays in the storehouse of English plays. 0 0 0

 

 

HENRY VAUGHAN

Henry Vaughan was an English poet of the seventeenth century, who is bracketed with the term of the ‘Metaphysical School of Poets’. He wrote poetry on a variety of themes; but his best poems are dealt with mysticism, for which he may be called a mystic poet.

This mystic poet, Henry Vaughan, was born on the 17th April 1621 at Newton St. Bridge in Wales. His chosen name was ‘Silurist’. The ‘Silurist’ is a name pertaining to a locality on the Welsh borders. The name ‘Silurist, was given to those people who, in olden time, lived in that locality. Henry Vaughan spent his early life with intimate love of the Welsh mountains and valleys, with their craggy rocks and rippling streams. Hence his childhood environment was poetic that made his mind inclining towards poetry. But it is a matter of sorrow that there is not available genuine biography of him, so much about his life cannot be known. 

From the sources that have come down to us, it is known that he was born twin along with his brother named Thomas. Perhaps they, Vaughan and Thomas, lost their parents at an early age for which they had taken shelter under Matthew Herbert, the then rector of Langattock. He took the care for nursing and schooling them. After completing their school education they- both Vaughan and Mathew- went to Jesus College, Oxford in 1633. Henry Vaughan wished to be a priest, for which he acquired sufficient skill in the Latin language. But somehow, he had to give up his wish later on and so left Oxford without taking a degree and then went to London with a hope to study law. But while he arrived in London, his wish changed and began to study medicine. After practising medicine for some years he took the profession of a physician in the region where he spent his childhood. 

Though he was a physician, he had a mind inclining towards literature. From his childhood, he liked to spend his leisure time reading books, especially the poetry of the Elizabethan poets and the poetry of John Donne. While he began the life of a physician, self-establishment came to his life and then he had to depend upon none. At that time, he took pen in his hand and began to write verses. First, he began his poetic career by translating some Roman satires of Juvenal. His first book of poetry appeared in 1646 under a volume called ‘Poems, with the Tenth Satire of Juvenal Englished’. It was only a preliminary work of a bright genius. The poems of this volume dealt with the theme love for Nature, but there was nothing in that volume that became the distinctive quality of his poems in the volume entitled ‘Silex Scintillans’ published in 1650. In that first volume of poetry, he showed a kinship with Johnson and Donne but there was little originality in that volume of poetry. 

His second volume of poems appeared in 1650 under the little ‘Olor Iseanus’ which means ‘The Swan of the Usk’ (Usk is the name of a river in Wales). The theme of this volume of poetry is especially his reminiscences of friendship. This second volume of poetry was somewhat developed in thought and style than that of his first volume.

As Henry Vaughan has not left any autobiography nor anyone of his contemporary left any genuine biography, so much of his personal life is not known definitely; yet some of his poetry included in the volume Olor Iseanus make us believe that during the fifties he took part in the civil war that happened between the Royal Forces and that of Cromwell. 

Since the publication of his second book of poetry Olor Iseanus a turning point came to his life. After that, a painful sickness attacked him which nearly killed him. He himself thought to be at no great distance from death. As he was anticipating death, so he hoped to make an amendment for his miss-spent youth. And that is why his mind took a bend towards spiritual thought. By his time, he met the opportunity to read the works of George Herbert, a predecessor to him, who wrote distinctively great religious poems.  He was greatly influenced by the poems of George Herbert. His third volume of poetry, by which he is known today, appeared in two parts between 1650 and 1655. The title of this volume of poetry was ‘Silex Scientillans’. It is his masterpiece, most poems of which are mystic. In this volume, Herbert’s influence is apparent both in thought and style. The poems belonged to this volume are characteristically different from that of his first two poetry books. ‘Spiritualism’ is the main theme of this volume of poetry, but his Spiritualism is mystic in appreciation. Some of his poems of this volume are conformed to that of Herbert for which it is figuratively said that while he was writing the poems belonged to this volume, he soaked his pen in Herbert’s verse.

His language is concrete, but the imageries are metaphysical full of conceits and the mood and expression is dramatic like that of Herbert, but his language is less refined. 

After publishing his masterpiece ‘Silex Scientillans’ (The Sparkling Flint), he published his fourth book of poems in 1674 after a long silence. To his credit, there are some prose works and some translations from Latin also but those are of little importance. 

Here it is to say that though he is distinctively called a mystic or religious poet, yet some of his poems deal with his love to nature which is fundamental to him. His love to nature is Wordsworthian, for which he may be called a nature-poet before Wordsworth. 

He died in 1692. As a religious poet, his place is after his master, George Herbert only. 0 0 0

 

 

JOHN MILLINGTON SYNGE 

John Millington Synge was a great poetic dramatist of Ireland who met an untimely death at the age of thirty-eight after writing only six plays.

John Millington Synge was born in 1871 at Rathfarnham near Dublin in Ireland. John was the son of a Protestant barrister who died a year after John’s birth. One of his distant ancestors was a good singer who sang so sweetly before Henry VIII of England. The king asked him to use the surname Synge and hence the family began to use ‘Synge’ after their names. From his mother’s side, he had inherited a strong evangelical mind. 

At due time, his mother, as his father died while he was a child, gave him education by a private tutor at home. Later on, he was sent to Trinity, Dublin where he studied for four years from 1888 to 1892 and took a simple degree as he was not (as a student), a good one; but he had a good interest in music, history and Irish myths and legends. 

After having his schooling completed at Trinity, Synge went abroad to Germany with a view to pursuing his interest at music. But it was a matter of sorrow that he did not have the courage to play before an audience for which he bade a farewell to Germany as well as to music. Then after giving up his interest in music, he went to Paris to adopt a literary career. There, as he made to manage with a small amount of money sent by his widow mother, he lived in a squalid condition. During his stay in Paris, he taught English and learned French and engaged himself to the practice of literary criticism. There, fortunately, he met William Butler Yeats, a poet-cum- dramatist. They exchanged their ideas and especially Synge was much fascinated by the career of Yeats. Then while Synge asked Yeats’ advice in the field of Synge’s writing, then Yeats advised him to go to the Aran Islands to study the realistic lifestyle of peasants and fisher-folks there. Synge took up Yeats’ advice and paid visits to the Islands at least five times and studied the life way of the natives of the Aran Islands. The Aran Islands are a group of some islands situated to the south-west of Galway. There, he found his realistic materials for his writings. 

Already, W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory and some others founded a dramatic as well as a literary movement in Ireland with native sensibilities. John Millington Synge had taken participation to the movement and began to write plays. In 1903 he wrote out his first play, The Shadow of the Glen. It is a comedy which deals with the simulations of death by an elderly wife with her young lover. That was the beginning and then plays after plays began to come out through his pen. In 1903-4, he wrote Riders to the Sea, his second play, a tragedy.

Little of Synge private life is known to us that he fell in love with a play-mouth sister named Cherry Matheson who rejected Synge. Another brief affair came with the actress Molly Allgood, but this affair also came to a futile. But later on, it was proved that Moll’s love to Synge was deep for which she became nearly frantic for Synge when Synge’s death seemed to approach. 

Synge from his early years had been suffering from Hodgkin’s disease for which he had to get operation for several times. At last, he was admitted to a hospital, but no doctor could cure him. In 1909 he met his death at the age of thirty-eight only, leaving behind him nothing but six plays which are characteristically Syngian as they are true representation of the true life of Ireland. The themes, the settings, the environment and the language—all are replete with the real spirit of Ireland. His plays are poetic through they are written in prose. They are poetic because the language of his plays bears the emotions of life which are poetic. He wrote all total six plays only among which Riders to the Sea is his masterpiece. Amongst his contemporaries as—W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and George Moore—his (Synge) place as a dramatist is above all. 

About his temperament, it is said that he was habitually a shy and reticent person. He seemed to be obstinate to his opinion. He had the capacity to remain a spectator rather than a participant. He had a keen skill-power to scrutinize things and matters.  0 0 0

 

 

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

William Shakespeare, the emperor of English literature, was born on the 23rd of April 1564 at Stratford-on-Avon in the district of Warwickshire. His father John Shakespeare was only a tradesman. His mother Mary Arden was a woman of a religious mind. 

About the age of six Shakespeare was sent to a village Grammar school, where he learnt the English language to read and write well. And more he learnt something about Latin and Greek.

At the meantime, his father’s trade fell down for which he could not continue his schooling and against his will, he left school forever and began to help his father in the business. But in spite of their struggle, they could not prosper in their business. 

In 1583, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, who was eight years senior in age to Shakespeare. The marriage was said to be a happy one. 

When in 1587, his father fell in extreme poverty and was dipped in debt, Shakespeare went out of home and arrived in London, where he, fortunately, met the manager of a theatre company and was taken up by the manager first as a page-boy and then he was promoted to a minor actor. 

During his day in the theatre, he had to travel all over London and even outside London and came into contact of various sorts of people with their varied cultures and thus gained a huge experience about dealings of people. Moreover, in the days of Shakespeare, the actors of the theatre had to memories the dialogue of their roles, and thus they happened to acquire a lot of practical knowledge on style, technique and language of drama. 

But during those days the number of English dramas was very limited, so the director or the manager of any theatre company frequently suffered from the problem of getting new dramas. One day noticing the manager sitting in melancholy, thinking about finding new dramas, Shakespeare took the responsibility to provide the manager with new dramas. Then he took up a quill and began to compose one. It is said that his first plays was Titus Andronicus, a tragedy. After writing this tragedy, he submitted it to his manager, who went through every page of the manuscript and found the play a fine one. Then, with thanks and slapping on Shakespeare’s shoulder, in affection and gratitude encouraged him to go on writing more plays. Thence Shakespeare’s literary life began. 

During the rest of his life, he had composed thirty-seven plays including both tragedies and comedies. 

The themes and stories of his plays are mythological and historical. The main themes of his tragedies are the sufferance of humans for their own fault. The element of melodrama, the tragic hero, the inner as well as outer conflict of the hero, the element of supernatural, the sense of moral order and element of poetry are the main characteristics of Shakespeare tragedies. 

His comedies are not pure comedies. They begin in tragic vein and ends in a comic union. Hence his comedies are called tragedy-comedies. Except for plays, Shakespeare was skilled in writing poem also. He had written a sequence of 154 sonnets in praise of the Earl of Southampton and the Dark Lady. Moreover, he had written two long narrative poems entitled ‘Venus and Adonis’ and ‘The Rape of Lucrece’. 

Shakespeare’s works bare so much literary value and significance that his place in English literature is after none but at the top of all. But his genius and greatness was unknown to the world till Coleridge brought him out through his discriminating criticism and comment. 

William Shakespeare, the greatest all the English playwrights and poets, had left this mortal world on 23rd April 1616. 0 0 0

 

 

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

In the fringe end of the eighteenth century England there was born a great poet who made bold defiance against the age-long poetic tradition and successfully gave rise to a new tradition of poetry both with theory and practice which is called the ‘Romantic Tradition’—the name of that great prophet-poet was William Wordsworth. 

William Wordsworth was born on 7th April in 1770 at Cocker mouth in Cumberland. His father John Wordsworth was an attorney at law and his mother Mrs Anne Wordsworth was a good-natured house-wife. 

Wordsworth spent his childhood partly at Cockermouth and partly at Penrith with his mother’s parents. In his childhood, he was of a morose and violent temper for which his parents were anxious about his future. His parent had five children among whom Wordsworth was the second. 

In 1778, while Wordsworth was eight years old, his mother died of a cold. In the same year, he was sent to a grammar school at Hawkshead. There he was boarded along with other boys in a college of Anne Tyson, an old dame of the village. His school days at Hawkshead were a happy one as he spent his leisure hours after reading whatever books he liked. 

In 1783, while Wordsworth was fourteen years old, his father died leaving the children under the guardianship of their uncle. In 1787 Wordsworth was sent to St. John’s College, Cambridge. His college career was not so much good as he disliked the college curriculum and college discipline. Instead of that, he liked to read widely in the literature. In 1790 he paid a visit to France and in 1791 he took his B.A. degree somehow. 

Next in November in 1791 he went to France and visited Paris, the Legislative Assembly and ruins of the Bastille. He passed through revolutionized Paris with satisfaction and sympathy. Then he went to Orleans and then to Blois. In Orleans, he came in contact with the revolutionary army officers and notably with Beaupuy, an enlightened republican in politics. This visit to France gave rise to his mind the idea of freedom under natural law that had been latent in Wordsworth since his childhood. At Blois, Wordsworth met a France girl by the name of Annette Vallow with whom he fell in love. He did not marry her but had developed a carnal relationship with her and as a result, an illegitimate daughter was born to them. 

In 1792 he returned from France to his native land. The next few years of his life were full of unhappy wanderings. In 1793, he published his poetical works, An Evening Walk and Description Sketches, but they were poorly received by the reader community. During this time, he met Godwin and had talked with him and learnt from him the lesson on the Ascendency of Reason over Feeling.

In 1795 he settled with his sister Dorothy at Racedown in Dorsetshire and wrote out some poems as, Guilt and sorrow, The Borderers, the Ruined Cottage and some few. In the same year, he met Coleridge and made a life-long friendship. Coleridge had admired his poetry before their meeting. The meeting between them was a chemical mixture of gold and diamond. 

In 1797 William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy moved to Alfoxden where Coleridge lived along with his wife. There they began to live in the happiest intimacy. Wordsworth and Coleridge became hand and glove friends. Under their mutual understanding, a book of poetry appeared in 1798 under the title, The Lyrical Ballads which was to be a landmark in the history of the Romantic Movement in Literature. First, this volume of poetry was poorly received by the readers and critics, but in 1799 its second edition appeared with a long and detail preface in which Wordsworth laid down his new poetic theory. 

In 1798 he visited Germany with a view to learning German. But he was disappointed in learning German. In 1799 he returned to England and settled at Dove Cottage, Grasmere. After returning to England Wordsworth married Marry Hutchinson. They reproduced five children, two of whom died in infancy.  The years of Dove Cottage were the most productive period in Wordsworth’s literary life. 

In 1813 Wordsworth moved to Rydal Mount, his final home. As he was financially poor, so a friend of him by the name of George Beaumont helped him and in 1814 he was appointed a stamp Distributor for Westmoreland Country. In 1814 he visited Scotland, Switzerland, Italy and Netherland. But his later years became cloudy as he lost his brother John Wordsworth,  sister Dorothy and his daughter Dora. 

On Southey’s death in 1843, Wordsworth accepted the poet laureateship on the understanding that he would not be asked to write an official poem.

His last days seemed entirely peaceful and calm one. On 23rd April in 1850, he died of a sudden attack of cold and was buried in Grasmere Churchyard as he had wished. Thus the life of a great poet came to an end. 

Wordsworth was a healthy man, who became bald in his later age. His temperament was cold but emotional and sometimes melancholic. He loved to live in contact with nature. Travelling was his hobby. 

His writing, especially poetry is voluminous. Amongst his poetic works ‘The Lyrical Ballads’ (1798), ‘The Prelude’, ‘The Excursion’ etc. are worth mentioning. His poems deal with two themes—Nature and Man. 

His Nature poems are mainly romantic. In his nature poems, he portrays Nature as a source of joy, delight, wonder, as a teacher and then as a mystic representation of the almighty. 

His poems dealing with the theme of Man is generally realistic. He for the first time brought the lower classes of people, into the domain of poetry. They read like a twentieth-century short story and they are a real representation of the poor people who live in close contact of Nature. 

His method of representing the theme is subjective. He first observes Nature as it is and then he lets his imagination run on after the appeal made by the objects of Nature. 

He lacks humour and wit; but replete in pathos and melancholy. His style and language is easy and simple. Being inspired by him many poets after him practised this kind of poetry and soon this romantic tradition ran on to other branches of literature also.

Note: Prophet-poet: a poet who propounds a new poetic theory and himself practices it. 0 0 0

 

 

THOMAS STEARNS ELIOT

Thomas Stearns Eliot was a great literary figure of the twentieth-century world who began his writings with innovation both in theory and practice and became a world-wide renowned poet, dramatist and critic and himself became an institute for many. 

Thomas Stearns Eliot, briefly T.S. Eliot, was born on 26th September 1888 at St. Louis, in Missouri, an industrial city in the centre of the U.S.A. His ancestors, on his father’s side, had migrated to America in 1668 from East Coker in Somersetshire, England. His father; Henry Ware Eliot, was a businessman in brick trade at St. Louis in which he was very successful. His grandfather was a Unitarian minister who founded the Washington University at St. Louis. Eliot’s mother, Charlotte Chauncey Stearns was a woman of literature and wrote romantic poetry. 

The child Eliot was first sent to a day-school at St. Louis where he studied till 1905 and he completed his preparation for college at the Milton Academy in Massachusetts. At school, he showed a good career and proved himself to be a brilliant student and in 1900 won a gold medal for Latin. During this time of schooling, he began his writing and showed a marked technical proficiency and sense of humour.

In 1906 he entered Harvard University where he pursued a wide-ranging course of studies in language and literature as—the classics, German, French and English. It seemed that he had a keen interest in the comparative study of literature. His two teachers—Irving Babbit and George Santayana, influenced him profoundly. Around 1908, he read Arthur Symon’s book the Symbolist Movement in Literature and was largely inspired by French Symbolist poets, especially by Laforgue, Baudelaire, Mallarme and Corbiere.

In 1910 he graduated from Harvard and being fascinated by the French Symbolist poets, he went to France and spent a year at Sorbonne University at Paris, studying widely in many contemporary writers. From Paris, in 1911, he went to Germany and came into contact with many German writers and their works. Then he returned to Harvard and studied philosophy, particularly Indian literature and Indian philosophy. He studied Sanskrit literature under Lehmann and the Vedas under a German teacher. He studied the Indian philosophy under J.H. Woods and was much inspired and influenced by the Hindu philosophy. In 1913 he was elected the president of the “Harvard Philosophical Club”. The very next year, he undertook another trip to Germany to continue his philosophical study there. But with the outbreak of the First World War, he left Germany and went to England and pursued his study at Oxford till 1915. There he took the job of a school teacher to meet his finance. Already, during his Harvard day, he took a thesis to be completed for the doctorate degree and from England he submitted his thesis paper on the philosophy of Bradley, but never went to Harvard to receive the degree. In London, in 1914 he met Ezra Pound, a great poet and through him he began to be well-known in England and by Pound, he was considerably inspired to go on his writing. In July 1915 he entered into the marriage bond with an English girl by the name of Vivienne Haigh and began to live in London permanently. 

In 1917 Eliot gave up his job of schoolmaster and entered the foreign department of Lloyds Bank, where he worked till 1925. During this period he wrote, especially verse, vigorously and several times became ill with overworks. Besides this, he worked as an assistant editor of  ‘The Egoist’ from 1917 to 1919 and in 1923 he became the editor of The Criterion which he continued to edit till the outbreak of the 2nd World War. In 1925 he entered the new publishing company “Faber and Faber” and soon became the director and he worked in it till his last day. Already in 1922, he published his well-known book of poetry “The Waste Land” which drew the public welcome. 

After the First World War, his outlook toward life and the human condition on the earth became more and more realistic, pessimistic, gloomy and philosophic and in his writing, all these outlooks began to fall vigorously. 

In 1927 he became a British citizen and joined the British Church that very year. The event marked an epoch in his career as his poem after this event began to be more religious and philosophic. Hence his reputation began to grow here and there and during his hey-day as a poet, he paid a short visit to Harvard in 1933, to lecture there as a visiting professor. At this time, Eliot became interested in drama and began to write poetic dramas with a new theory and along with writing poetry and drama, he took to writing criticism under his own innovated theory.

Hence his fame and reputation as a poet, dramatist and critic began to glow worldwide and won the recognition as one of the great literary figures of the century. He visited the U.S.A. several times as visiting professor and continued to write his essays and articles up to his death. After the recognition of his genius, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1948 and The British Order of Merit and many other International distinctions. In 1947 his first wife Vivienne Haigh died and then he married his private secretary, Miss Valerie Fletcher. His second wife had been his best companion till his last days who nursed him very affectionately when he fell ill in 1964. In 1965 he died and with him, a prolific and versatile genius of the twentieth-century literary world came to an end. He was buried in the little village of  East Coker in Somerset from where ancestor Andrew Eliot had migrated to the U.S.A. in 1668. 

T.S. Eliot had a cosmopolitan personality. He was born in America and lived in England; travelled to France, Germany and widened his experience. He had a simple but attractive personality for which he could attract the attention of all that came to his contact. He presented himself in a British manner with an umbrella, striped trousers and a bowler hat. He liked English cheese very much. He had a religious heart and was accustomed to living a simple and moderate life which might be a good idea for many. Physically he was tall, pale, thoughtful, absorbed, and speaking in a measured and solemn tone, even when he was humorous. 

As he was a poet, dramatist and critic, so his writings fall into three categories: poetry, drama and criticism. His poems were a new thing in the history of twentieth-century poetry. His poems are mainly the representation of his contemporary society. As complex was the age so complex was his poetry. His language is simple, prosaic but his imagery and symbols made his poetry a complex one. The Wasteland is a poem which illustrates the typical characteristics of his poems. There is a marked presence of mysticism and a note of religion with conflict both external and internal in many of his best poems. 

His second career is in plays what is called twentieth-century poetic plays. He took to writing plays with his own theory. His poetic plays are far more different than that of the Elizabethan Playwrights. His poetic plays are based on realism but its language is neither prose nor poetry. He as a dramatist could achieve less success but as a theory giver of poetic plays he was successful because by his theory of poetic play he popularized his new genre of poetic plays in the age of prose. He wrote six poetic plays The Murder in the Cathedral (1935), The Cocktail Party (1950), and The Family Reunion (1939) are the stamps of his genius as a playwright. But it is a matter of sorrow that his plays were less successful in the stage. 

The third phase of his writing is criticism, especially literary and theoretical. As a critic, he was realistic and broke down all the previous and prevailing theories of criticism. His criticism was varied as he criticized the Elizabethan poets and dramatists as well as the metaphysical poets of the 17th century. His criticisms done on Dante and other classical writers are inspiring. As a critic and writer of prose, his language and the manner of representation was lucid, analytical and argumentative. 

As a critic, not as a poet and dramatist, his place is higher than his contemporaries, because many, after him have taken up his principles in criticising literature. 0 0 0

 

 

GEORGE HERBERT

George Herbert was an English priest-poet who wrote unprecedented great devotional poetry in the English language. Though he was great as a devotional poet, yet he remained, throughout his life, a secret-poet as he published neither a poetry book nor even a single poem during his lifetime.

This great priest-poet, George Herbert came of a noble family on the 3rd April 1593. He was the fifth son of his parents. His father died while he was three years old. His mother, Magdalene Herbert was also of noble birth. When her husband died leaving her with a family of seven sons and three daughters, she became helpless, but as her shelter, she chose Lord Danvers as her second husband. Lord Danvers was wealthy but two decades younger to Magdalene Herbert. Under Lord Danvers’ shelter, she had all her sons brought up in learning. Most of her sons chose the life of the court or of the army. But the fifth son, George Herbert was a difference. He first read at Westminster school. As a student, he was very talented and smart. After having completed his course at Westminster school, he proceeded to Trinity College, under the University of Cambridge. While he was still a student at Trinity College, he sent, at the age of sixteen, to his mother two sonnets composed by Herbert himself as a New Year’s gift. This was the beginning of his writing. In those two sonnets, he showed a good promise for the future.

In 1616 he completed his study at Cambridge University and became a Fellow at Trinity College. In 1618 he became the Reader in Rhetorics at the same college. But he aspired to the office of the public orator at Cambridge University. As a result, he got the post in 1619 by means of his earnest efforts, and he held the post for eight years. As the public orator, he became official mouthpiece of the University. In this post, Herbert proved to be an adept orator. Thus he was held in such a higher post and had been, by his effort, able to win the royal favour. But his worldly hopes of advancement came to nothing; soon he inclined to spiritual advancement. 

In 1624 Herbert became the Member of Parliament for Montgomery. In the same year, he took a leave from the university post. Here is to make an allusion that Herbert had not been blessed with sound health. From 1624, he began to suffer from sickness. Yet in 1626, he was appointed to the post of a deacon. In1629 he married Jane Danvers. In 1630 he was ordained as the priest of the church of Bremerton. 

Since 1930 his health began to suffer from uncertainty. He began to suffer not only from a physical disorder but also from a mental conflict between the body and soul, between earthly pain and heavenly bliss. Bearing the pain of his uncertain sick health and mental conflict, he devoted to writing poetry laying on his sickbed. He wrote over One hundred and fifty poems the essence of which is his mental conflict between body and soul. The writing of poetry gave him something mental peace. Though the essence of his poetry is conflict, yet his poems are devotional as he hoped recovery devoting his soul to the name of Christ and God.

Writing the poems, one day, when he foresaw that he would remain no more on earth, he called on Nicholas Ferrar, one of his good friends, and submitted his loose manuscripts to his hand asking his judgment whether these manuscripts were worth publishing or not. After a few days, George Herbert’s soul departed to heaven leaving the mortal world in 1633, just before his fortieth birthday.

After Herbert’s death, his friend Nicholas Ferrar published his manuscripts of poems under the title of The Temple in the same year of his death. After the publication of the poetry book, the English came to know that Herbert was a great poet besides being a noble priest. In addition to writing English poems, Herbert wrote a number of Latin poems also. He wrote a book in prose also under the title The Country Parson.

Devotion to God is the main theme of his poetry. His language is figurative but simple, homely and racy. Some critics, after him, have called his poetry metaphysical. It is true that there is a metaphysical element in his poetry, but it would be easy and plain saying that he was a spiritual poet and more a devotional poet equal to whom there is none, but Herbert and Herbert alone. 0 0 0

 

DYLAN THOMAS

Once there was a boy of strangely confused character with weak  lungs  and the cleverness of truancy often suffering from haemorrhage for which he feared that he would die young and yet was  wayward, arrogant, spendthrift enjoying life-long penury and above all was a deadly drunkard who drank at least four bottles to eighteen a night – but later on this boy became a controversially great poet, almost as a legend, of the twentieth country English, speaking world – the name of this queer boy was Dylan Thomas.

Dylan Thomas with such strangely confused character was born on 27th October 1914 in England. He spent his childhood in the suburban district of Swansea, called the Uplands. His surrounding was fascinating and poetic rich with wild beauty.

As he had weak lungs and suffered from hemorrhage he could give little attention to his schooling. Yet he was sent to a private school which was socially superior but educationally inferior to the state primary schools. Dylan read in that school for some years but could learn a little, because he could not cope himself with the environment and discipline of the school and hence sometimes flew away from the school and avoided school examinations. Between his school and his home, there was a farm called ‘Fern Hill’ belonged to his aunt. He frequented there and enjoyed the green grass and trees and boughs there.

At the age of eleven, he was sent to the Grammar school, Swansea in 1925, where his father D. J. Thomas was a teacher and taught English. The school was run by a wise and progressing headmaster who did not force his pupils against their grain, but only what seemed of use to them. Dylan Thomas, from his childhood, seemed to hate academic as well as private discipline and hence he spent his hours not reading the school curriculum but reading the Elizabethan poets and the works of William Shakespeare though he could not penetrate into their meanings. Here to note that he had some extraordinary victories in long distance running race which gave him pride all his life. At school, more significant to Dylan Thomas than study was the friendship with Daniel Jones who later on became his accomplice, inspirer and a best friend. The friendship began with the fight at the age of fourteen. He was impressed by Jones that the later had a strong will to be a composer, poet, novelist, piano- player and a violinist too. The Joneses’ home which was called ‘Warmly’ became Dylan’s second home.

In 1931, Dylan took up the job of a junior press reporter for the ‘South-West Daily’ post.  In his spare times, he frequented Swansea taverns and boasted a great deal and drank more wine than was good for his health. During this period be began to practise his hand at writing verse.

At the mean time, another important theme in his life came when entered into a lengthy correspondence with a young poetess of London by the name of Miss Pamela Johnson. First, the two were pen-friends. In 1934, Dylan went to London to meet her and stays at her home for some days. But as he was feverish and a drunkard and interested in orgy so Pamela reacted him violently and thus the relationship between the two came to an end.

In November 1934 Dylan left Swansea with his father’s blessings to begin his independent life and began to stay in a large room in Radcliffe Street. Here, in London, he became better known to the poets and editors of London. There he wrote reviews in the London Literary Magazines that were of little depth.

In December 1934 he published his first poetry-book entitled 18 Poems. Then Dylan was becoming known mainly due to the championship of Stephen Spender. In London, he began a Bohemian life and drank and indulged in sex-orgies and had to retreat time and again to the seclusion of his Welsh home to recuperate and to write verses. He hired a beautiful but wild place on the coast of Ireland. There he lived in a house which he converted into a studio and there he could have some peace and could write in peace. Soon he was restless and suddenly, one morning he escaped to Swansea once again, without paying his bill. But at Swansea he could not stay long and then he went to London for the second time.

During his second visit to London, he stayed in Sapho. There he drank in the company of Caitlin Macnamara whom he began to love and with Constantine Fitzgibbon, his friend and biographer. All of them led the same kind of Bohemian life. Here he also came in contact with a number of literary figures from whom he borrowed and drank with and who helped Dylan much to his literary fame.

In 1936 he published his second book of poetry, The Twenty Five Poems the three thousand copies of which immediately sold and it made Dylan well known as a poet. At the meantime, Dylan was introduced to a call girl and was caught by a venereal disease. The treatment of it was long and painful and the disease only encouraged Dylan’s sense of sin and pricked his conscience.

In the month of April 1936, Dylan suddenly married Caitlin Macnamara, his former associate and maiden friend in the company of whom he drank during his second stay in London. The marriage ceremony was a bare one as he had no money to spend, no friends or relatives to attend. During this time he spent his days amid extreme poverty and depended on the financial help of his friends and fellow poets.

In 1938 he moved to live in Laugharne where he earned his livelihood by working as labour. During this time, Mrs Caitlin Thomas got pregnancy and Dylan fell in the worries of paying the debt. Although his friend Lawrence Durrell contributed the occasional money, he failed to get a grant from the Royal Literary Fund. Debt drove him back to the house of Caitlin’s mother but pride brought him back to Laugharne again. In 1939 he published his third book of verse, The Map of Love.

His penury drove him to take screenwriting and soon achieved name and fame as a scriptwriter and he continued screenwriting till 1948, for full eight years and then he switched over to B.B.C. Broadcasting.

Mrs Caitlin Thomas delivered her first son Lelewellyh in January 1939 and their second child, a girl, Aeronwy was born in 1943, and the third child a son named Colm was born in 1949. Penury was still a curse upon him and then a man named by Margaret Taylor being sympathetic to him showed his charity by buying a home for the Thomas family at Laugharne. In 1947, with the financial help from the “Society of Authors”,  he paid a visit to Italy and after coming back from Italy he began to live at “Manor House” in Oxfordshire. By now his old father became shrunken and fell in ill and his mother broke her knee and could not maintain her household duty, so he brought his parents to the Manor House at south Leigh in Oxfordshire and began to live with them.

In 1950 he went to the U. S. A. on his first lecture tour arranged by John Malcolm Brinnin. There in his lecture tour of three months, he achieved a roaring success, but there he drank too much night after night that began to destroy Dylan’s health. There he also did another deed of praise that was poetry reading. He had a mellow, sweet voice and by it, he could draw the attention of thousand audiences. He recited the poetry of Yeats, Auden, Lawrence, MacNeice, Sitwell Lewis and finally his own poems.

In June of the same year, he return home from America and began to live in Laugharne and began to write Under Milk Wood which was to be printed in a private magazine run by Princess Catani. In 1952, Brinnin came to Laugharne to tempt Dylan back to America again. After Brinnin’s persuasion, Dylan along with his wife went to America for the second time which was more successful than the first tour but he returned home being bankrupt. On the other hand, his son, Llewellyn, was turned away from school for failure to pay the fees. Dylan too had a succession of illness- pleurisy, bronchitis and gout. At the end of the year, Dylan’s father D. J. Thomas died with a cheerful heart as he saw his son be great and reputed poet what he wished his son to be.

With the death of his father, Dylan began to be reckless more and more about his own death. On the other hand, debt grew bigger. His wife and children demanded food. With such ill health and with debt he went to America for the third time where he received the same and even more honour and praise from his American friends. In short, he was made a lion and was made drunk to delirium. After three months he returned home but when only a few months were passed in Laugharne he again, for the fourth and last time he went to America. There he drank so much at least four bottles to eighteen a night and at last, he died in New York on 9th November 1953.

Dylan Thomas, during his lifetime, wrote five poetry books besides some prose works. Thomas as a man was utterly conspicuous, but as a poet, he was moderate, refined and careful to the minutest use of words. Realism and symbolism were the main basis of his poetry. He, in his writing, was so much careful that he wrote and wrote a piece of poetry and refined it, polished it and sweetened it till it gave him satisfaction. As for example, we may take his poem, Fern Hill of which about 200 drafts are still in existence.

As a poet, his place is after only T. S. Eliot and W. B. Yeats. But as a lyricist, his place is with W. B Yeats. Twentieth-century was a century of free verse, but his lyricism is an exception and exceptionally grand if compeered with other contemporary lyricists. 0 0 0

 

 

SAMUEL BECKETT

Samuel Beckett was one of the popular French dramatists of the twentieth century. As a dramatist, he belonged to the Absurd school, the dramatists of whose school wrote dramas after their own whimsical theme and style repudiating all the conventional theories and techniques of drama. 

Samuel Beckett was born on the 13th April 1906 at Foxrock near Dublin, Ireland. His parents were protestant. He was educated in Ulster at Portora Royal School and then went to Trinity College, Dublin where he studied the modern languages and took his Master Degree from the same university. In 1928, he became a lecturer in the subject of English in Paris. In 1931, he gave up his university life and moved for London, wandered around Europe and finally settled in Paris in 1937.

In Paris, he met James Joyce, a famous novelist of his time. During Beckett’s life in Paris, he began his literary career first as an essayist. He wrote essays on Dante, Burno Vico and so on. His essays impressed James Joyce considerably and thought that Beckett had a promise. Both, socially and intellectually, had good assimilation. Joyce and Beckett both met each other often. During these times, Joyce’s daughter Miss Lucia fell in love with Beckett. But Beckett did not respond to her feelings. Instead, he said that he had frequented their house primarily to see her father.

There was too much a natural bond between the two men. Both of them were chronic victims of depression. Joyce suffered from an elder man’s depression which grows from a life-time of private dedication to his own genius and the public rejection of it. Beckett’s gloom, on the contrary, seemed a condition he was born to. Depression had also been Beckett’s constant theme, emerging more and more powerfully as his age and authority impressed until he reached the climax of despair.

During the World War II, Beckett took part in the French Resistance for nearly two years and the next two and a half years he had to hide from the ‘Gestapo’ (the secret German police during the time of Hitler). The circumstance under which he joined the French Resistance threw much light on his character. When the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, Beckett happened to be in Ireland to spend a holiday for a month with his mother. But he hurried back to his home, Paris. He felt soon so much annoyed with the Nazis. By the end of 1940, he had become actively involved with the Resistance group with agents all over French gathering details of the movements of the German troops. In August 1942, the group was betrayed and out of 80 members, fewer than 20 survived. Beckett and his wife Suzanne were alerted and got away barely half an hour before the Gestapo, come for them. For the next four months, they were on the run making their way through every territory, liable at any moment to be recognized. At last, they were able to cross into unoccupied French, reaching a village high in the mountains behind Avignon. There they remained hid until the German collapsed. Beckett used to work as a farm labourer during the day-time and at night he wrote his fantastic comic novel called  ‘Witt’. His writing helped him take his mind off the war and the German occupation. For these three years, he had to earn his livelihood particularly by means of a farm labourer. Soon he hurried back to Ireland to see his mother. But then he was so reduced physically that many of his old friends failed to recognize him. More than most people, Beckett had the experience of living close to death every minute of the day and saw people butchered suddenly and ruthlessly, by the Germans. He had met the personal experience of fear, suffering and hardship. But he showed a firm determination to stay alive.

In 1945, Beckett returned to his permanent home in Paris and began to dedicate himself to the act of writing. In the next five years, he wrote a series of fine plays as: ‘Eleutheria’, ‘Waiting for Godot’ and ‘Endgame’; the novels- ‘Molloy’, ‘Malone Dies’, ‘The Unnamable’ and ‘Mercier et Camier’. He also wrote some short stories.

The works published by Beckett up to 1950 could hardly attract any attention. When the novel ‘Molloy’ was published it created the air. But his triumph and reputation came when his best work, ‘The Waiting for Godot’  a play appeared in printed form in 1952. Within the next five years of its production, this play was translated into twenty different languages and was performed in the stages in more than twenty countries of the world. Finally, it brought him the world-famous Novel Prize for literature. 

Besides this works, he wrote some plays for Radio, Television and Cinema. But his reputation remains only in his play ‘Waiting for Godot’.

As a dramatist, he was an innovator as he repudiated all the conventional theories and techniques and wrote after his own innovated theories and techniques on the theme of complex human nature imposing comic vein to tragic problems. His dramas are roughly grouped in the Absurd genre. Moreover, as a dramatist, he may not be great but one amongst many who won popularity during his lifetime.  0 0 0

 

 

ROBERT FROST

On the 26th of March 1874, there in San Francisco was born a child, who later on took to writing poetry on the ordinary rural themes in a simple style and became a world-wide famous poet – the name of the child was Robert Frost. He is the only poet of the world who was conferred as much as forty honorary degrees, after hailing him as a great poet, by many universities of the world. Even more, he is the only poet of the world, who for poetry won the famous Pulitzer Prize four times that made him a legend during his lifetime.

His father William Prescott Frost belonged to the state called New England, the inhabitants of which state are familiarly called ‘Yankees’. His mother Isabelle Moodie was a Scot and had come to America from Edinburgh. His childhood was somewhat strange blessed with parental love but fraught with excitement and tragedy. His father died of tuberculosis at an early age of thirty-four while Robert Frost was eleven. His mother was always afraid that her son Robert Frost might catch his father’s tendencies to tuberculosis.

After the death of his father, Robert’s life of comfort and freedom came to an end. His widow mother took her son to New England where his ancestors lived. They went to Massachusetts where Robert Frost’s grandparents lived. In New Hampshire, Frost’s widow mother got a job in a small school. Here to say that Robert frost had a younger sister also. Both brother and sister attended their mother’s school.  There, besides his schooling, Robert had to do all kind of odd jobs to supplement his mother’s income. After attending about three years in his mother’s school, Robert went to the High School at Lawrence. In the beginning, Robert Frost did not show much inclination for study, but during his four years’ stay at the Lawrence High School, he showed his good career in learning. There in the Lawrence High School, he fell in love with poetry and began to write his own verses. His first poem appeared in the High School Bulletin while he was fifteen. He graduated at the age of seventeen. When he was about nineteen, his first professional poem was accepted by a magazine of national circulation and received a payment of fifteen dollars. During that time, he tried to earn his livelihood by various ways. He worked in mills, took to newspaper reporting and taught in schools and in his leisure hours he wrote verses. In 1894, his youthful poem ‘My Butterfly’ was published in the ‘New York Independent’ and then soon afterwards he published his lyrics in booklet entitled ‘Twilight’. During this time, while he was in search of a livelihood, he married a pretty girl by the name of Elinor Miriam White, a classmaid at Lawrence High School. Two year after his marriage, he went to Harvard University and remained there until he was twenty-four years. There he studied philosophy and the classics.

By then, a son was born to him and then he dropped out himself from Harvard University without completing his study. In 1899 his second child, a daughter, was born, but a tragic event occurred in the same year as his son died suddenly. In November of the same year, he lost his mother who was the victim of cancer. Then with a pathetic heart, after the counsel of his wife, he along with his little family went to New Hampshire, where he bought a farm and began to live somehow.

But after living for several years there, he became weary of life and decided to sail for England. His wife supported this and as a result, he sold his firm and settled in Beacons Field, Buckinghamshire. There, in Buckinghamshire, he met the poet-dramatist Lascelles Abercrombie and the poet Wilson Gibson as his neighbours. There he always had an idea in his mind to have luck of publishing his poetry. Soon he found a publisher and his first volume of lyrics ‘A Boy’s Will’ got accepted by Mrs. David and Nutt and was published in 1913. In 1914, his second volume of poetry ‘The North Boston’ was also accepted by the some publisher that attracted so much attention that it was also published in America soon after.

In February 1915 he returned to America and found that his poetry book ‘The North of Boston’ was on sale everywhere and thus by the general reader community he was hailed as a leader of ‘The New Era in American Poetry’.

After returning to America, Frost bought a farm in New Hampshire and there he lived for five years earning his livelihood by farming, teaching and writing. In 1916 he published his third poetry book ‘Mountain Interval’ and from onward to 1936 he spent much of his time in various colleges and universities. In 1938, while the poet was at the height of his career, his wife died. The death of his wife had broken his heart but it could not debar him from his literary production.

Subsequently, he published his other poetry books one after the other; these were- New Hampshire (1923), West Running Brook (1928),  A Further  Range (1936), A Witness Three (1942), and  Steeple-Bush (1947). Besides these books of poetry, he wrote two plays as – ‘A Masque of Reason’ (1945) and ‘A Masque of Mercy’ (1947)

Realism is the main theme of his poetry. He took to writing poetry not with innovation but with traditional theme and style but with fundamental understanding imposing moral meaning in poetry. His poetry begins in delight but ends with wisdom. Realism is the main basis of his theme. Though there is romantic note in his poetry, yet his romanticism is not a mere fancy, but a portrayal natural phenomenon which is sensitive but not Wordsworthian or not like that of other Romantic poets. Realism excels his romanticism. He was, in short, a poet of rural life not of urban life. As a poet, his place is after only Walt Whitman, who was a poet of democratic urban life, but Robert Frost was a poet of natural naive country life.

The language and style of his poetry is simple and easy. He adopted the dramatic monologue of Robert Browning as the medium of expression. Most of his poems bear dual meanings- superficial and deeper.

Frost won many honours and awards in his life. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry four times. He is the only poet to achieve this fourfold distinction. He was given honorary degrees by a number of colleges and universities including Oxford and Cambridge. He won the Gold Medal from the National Institute of Arts and Literature. President Kennedy sent him to the Soviet Union as a representative of the American people. 

This great and world-wide famous poet Robert Frost died in 1963 at the age of eighty-eight with the contentment of honour and reputation.

To sum up, this poet was the poet of real life who had the power of both romantic feeling and realistic idealism. He will have been living, though his body is no more, like Virgil or Theocritus as a legend through the centuries. 0 0 0

 

 

ERNEST HEMINGWAY

Ernest Hemingway was a man of multi-facet career of the twentieth century world — he was a fisherman, a boxer, a hunter, a heroic participant in both the world wars, a suffering lover, a world-wide traveller and above all a Nobel Prize-winning writer who wrote short story and novel on those themes in which he had a share in his practical life. Moreover, it is to note well that he was the most suffered writer-both physically and mentally- of the twentieth-century world who made an end of his suffering life by committing suicide. 

This many facet man of career, Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899 at Oak Park, Illinois in America. His father Clarence Edmunds Hemingway was a doctor in profession. He had deep interest in fishing and hunting. His mother had talent both in music and painting. Ernest Hemingway was the second child of his parents. During Ernest’s childhood there had often a tussle between his father and mother over the future of Hemingway. His mother wanted him to devote to music while his father wanted him to develop his outdoor interests. The battle seemed later on, to have been successfully won by his father who gave Ernest his first fishing rod when he was three years old and when he was eleven his father gave him a shot-gun.

As time began to pass, Ernest Hemingway seemed to be interested in outdoor life. He spent much of his early days roaming about in the woods, with a rifle on his shoulder, or rowing out across the water with a fishing hook in his hand in quest of big Fish. Although the Hemingway had a cottage beside a lake, he usually slept outside in a tent which was kept lighting with a kerosene lantern and there at night he spent many hours after reading.

In proper age of childhood, Ernest Hemingway was sent to school at Oak Park. As a student, he was not so good not so bad as he took an active interest in school athletics and football. During his last two years at school he started writing in the school magazine. Miss Dixons and Miss Fannie Biggs, two of his schoolmistresses, encouraged him to go  on writing story and essay giving emphasis on originality. 

At the age of eighteen, Hemingway graduated from Oak Park High School. Meanwhile, the war had broken out in Europe. Hemingway, after leaving school, did not like to sit idle at home so he wanted to enlist himself in the army, but he was too young and more his eye-sight was poor to get admission in the army. So, being frustrated, he went away to Kansas City, where one of his uncles lived, and there took a job of a newspaper reporter. He liked the writing job but he could not drive away his desire to get into the army. There, in Kansas, he spent some months as a reporter for the newspaper, ‘The Star’. The style-sheet of ‘The Star’ taught him to use short sentence, short paragraph, vigorous English and more taught him to be negative in his outlook. He hardly had spent seven months there as a newspaper reporter, till he met an opportunity to enlist himself as an ambulance driver in Italy. So in early 1918, he gave up his job of the newspaper reporter and joined the Red Cross Voluntary ambulance driver. Once he volunteered for canteen service and was riding a bicycle, handing out mail, tobacco and chocolate to soldiers in the trenches. On his tenth day in Italy, as he was handing a chocolate bar to a soldier, a large mortar shell fell nearby. He was almost buried. His body was filled below the waist with over 250 pieces of shrapnel, but after regaining consciousness, he rescued a badly wounded Italian soldier and while was turning to others then he was hit again, with a machine gun bullet. Thus he was very badly wounded there and was admitted to a hospital. He spent several months in a Red Cross Hospital and there he fall in love with an English nurse called Agnes von Kurowski. For his bravery in Europe during the wartime, he received several medals as —’Croce de Guerra’ with three citations and the ‘Medaglia d’ Argento al Valore Militare’, the second-highest Italian military decoration. Then he was sent home, limping on a cane. He returned home being a different person from the inexperienced young Hemingway to an experienced Hemingway taking experiences on war, death, sufferance, love, and more taking experiences of new people, new language within a short period of time.

After, returning home, Hemingway spent only a few days taking rest till his feet and legs healed. But while he seemed to be healed, he spent his hours by reading and meditating. Still coming home, Hemingway kept up a correspondence with Agnes,  with whom he fell in love at the Red Cross Hospital in Italy. But suddenly, one day he received a letter from her, which had broken his heart. He then retired into seclusion and for days he hardly left his room. On being repeatedly asked by his family, he revealed the matter of the letter that it had come from Agnes who wrote in the letter that she had married an Italian Army major.

Being betrayed in love by Agnes, Hemingway spent some days in a melancholic mood, but at last he determined to forget Agnes and decided to pursue a work interesting to him. So after his will, he set off to Paris for study and to make a living by writing. There he met and became friendly with Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and some others. There he wrote something and sent them to the newspaper editors, but all his writings came back from the editors, being rejected without a single word of encouragement. Hemingway’s heart broke down and became frustrated. One day he was sitting at a sidewalk café on the left bank in Paris complaining to a friend about his ill-luck as a writer as no editor accepted his writings. Observing Hemingway’s writing, his friend said to him that the main cause for which his writing were not accepted by any editors or publishers was perhaps, his writings were lack of sufferance and misery. His friend’s advice made Hemingway conscious of human sufferance and misery and wrote out a novel entitled ‘A Farewell to Arms’ on the theme of love, war and sufferance that he experienced during his life in the Italian Red Cross Army. This novel proved an immediate success and got popularity. Within only four months as much as 80,000 copies of this novel were sold. This novel made him famous and by it, he could  draw public attention as a prolific novelist. 

After being rejected by Agnes, Hemingway married Hadley Richardson in 1920, at the age of twenty-one. In 1923 Hadley gave birth to his first son. In Paris, Hemingway met a dark-haired attractive girl who was a fashion writer. Hemingway fell in love with her, The name of that girl was Pauline Peiffer. In 1927, he married Pauline making an end of his first marriage.

With the publication of his novel ‘A Farewell to Arms’ his reputation as a novelist was established and his name was spread far and wide. In 1929, as he had good interest in fishing, got his first giant martin weighing 468 Ibs. He wrote a book on bull-fighting named ‘Death in the Afternoon’. In 1934 he took a trip to Africa and wrote ‘Green Hills of Africa’. In 1935, he went to Bimini for fishing and in 1936 he returned from Bimini when the civil war in Spain broke out. 

Then he went to Spain, where he felt greatly attracted by bull-fighting and spent several years in that country and took the job of a reporter on Spain civil war for American Newspapers. By this time, he was known as ‘papa’ a bearded huge figure of a man. During his days in Spain he wrote two books as ‘The Fifth Column’ and ‘For Whom the Bell Tools’.

In Spain, Hemingway met Martha Gellhorn, a woman of the real brain and attractive beauty who was also a reporter for the ‘Colliers Magazines’. Hemingway and Martha faced the danger of covering the various battlefronts together. Martha had interviewed Hemingway in Key West and subsequently they fall in love with each other. Hemingway’s second wife Pauline, when came to know Hemingway’s love with Martha, went to Paris and brought Hemingway back to America, but Hemingway could not resist his attraction towards Martha. Moreover, Hemingway had a personal grudge against Pauline for having destroyed his first marriage with Hadley. As a result, Hemingway divorced Pauline and in 1940 he married Martha, who became his third wife.

In 1944, Hemingway flew away with the Royal Air Force to England as a correspondent with the Royal Air Force to spot the flying bombs launching sites and to destroy them. During this World War-II, his relations with Martha Gillhorn deteriorated because she was extremely ambitious and Hemingway had a deep-rooted suspicion of ambitious women. During the wartime, Hemingway fell ill in Paris  and Martha was called for attending on Hemingway but she had certain grudge against him and so she did not go to see him. In Paris, he was attended upon by another woman named Mary Walsh who eventually became his fourth wife.

After then, Hemingway took travelling to Africa with his wife Martha. In Africa he met with two air crashes in course of two days and his obituaries were published in all the leading papers of the world. He read them with relish. On his return to Nairobi, he could get some medical assistance. There, he showed his wife all the good places he had known but he had to cut his trip short because of the accident. Mary was hurt badly and Hemingway had his spine jammed. His eyesight became poor and since then he had been feeling a complaint of injured kidneys throughout the rest of his life. In warfare alone, he was shot through nine parts of his body and sustained six hand wounds.

Then, Hemingway day by day began to fell bone-tired and restless and became more emotional. It is here, to say that Hemingway had built his abode in Cuba, where he had procured all his best belongings such as — his pictures, his books and memories. But with the rise of Fidel Castro in Cuba, the Americans were asked to leave Cuba. Then Hemingway broke down mentally as his good treasures were there and even he loved  Cuba the best. In the mean time, he published a novel ‘Across the River and Into the Trees’ which was harshly treated by the critics. During this period he was completely obsessed with the thought of death and how to meet with it. With his disturbed mind and tired body he wrote and published another novel ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ in 1952 which was acclaimed as his masterpiece throughout the world. It bought him the Pulitzer Prize in 1953, and in 1954, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature — which raised his heart for some time; but the gathering gloom seemed to crush him down. Then he was admitted to Mayo Clinic where he received electric shocks for psychological troubles. He developed a double personality in the presence of doctors and behaved like a normal being but as soon as his doctors left him and he became alone the old troubles began to afflict him.

At last Hemingway lost his mental balance being tired both the body and mind and so on 2nd July 1961, he took his gun in his hand and shot himself to death and thus the life of Hemingway, the multi-faced man of career and a world-wide famous novelist, came to an end.

Hemingway wrote always on those themes in which he had a share in his practical life. His writings are the picture of human struggle against nature and human suffering on the earth with perfect skill. His novels are autobiographical in theme though they are not written in the autobiographical style. He gave rise to a vigorous and spontaneous but plain prose which became a good model of imitation for many after him. In his descriptive prose he was conscious of minute but realistic details. The structure of his novel is coherent and strong. His style is concrete, emphatic as the rain of bullets, largely monosyllabic and rich in the use of connective conjunction ‘and’. Though there is little morality in his writings yet his novels teach us to endure sufferance in life. Here, it is to say that whatsoever he wrote, he wrote with much care and devotion. It is known that he wrote, rewrote and revised the opening sentence of his masterpiece ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ more than two thousand times. 0 0 0

 

 

VIRGINIA WOOLF

Virginia Woolf was one of the great English psychological novelists of the twentieth century. Virginia was born at Hyde Park Gate in London in 1882 in a distinguished literary family. Her father Leslie Stephen was the author of critical, biographical and philosophical essays. Virginia was the younger child of her parents and only one who achieved wide fame. Virginia was born while her father Leslie Stephen was fifty years old. Virginia got a favorable atmosphere of literary pursuit at her house. Her father was a man of literature and established himself as an essayist. He had by then published two books: ‘History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century’ and ‘The Science of Ethics’. After fifty,  he wrote daily and methodically in his study at the top of the house, books scattered around him in a circle. At evening time, he often had a walk with his daughter and a docile dog into Kensington Gardens. He often stimulated her daughter to read what she liked. Later on, the memories of her walking tour made the background of her writings. In their house at Hyde Park Gate, there had always been a haunt of distinguished persons. Amongst them were — James Russell Lowell, Thomas Hardy, Henry James and so on. All of them were literary men. James Russell stood to be the godfather to Virginia.

In 1895 she lost her mother while she was thirteen. The death of her mother affected her deeply. In 1904, she lost her father. Then Virginia with her sister Venessa and her brothers Adrian and Thoby moved to ’46 Gordon Square’. 

During these years they were studying at Cambridge. Virginia for having a poor health could not take to the conventional schooling. She was educated at home, learning among other things, Greek with a teacher. After this, they rented a house in Bloomsbury Square, a literary district. There later on Virginia and others founded literary club called “Bloomsbury Group”. In 1906, her brother Thoby died at the age of twenty-five. In 1907, her sister Venessa was married to Clive Bell. Then Adrian (her brother) and Virginia herself moved to nearby Fitzroy Square. Between 1907 and 1912, Clive Bell was to some extent Virginia’s literary confidant. Already from 1905, Virginia had begun to contribute essays and reviews to ‘The Times Literary Supplement’ to 1912. She published forty essays in that magazine and in nine other journals. She continued to closely associate with the Bloomsbury Group, among whose members one was Lytton Strachey who later on became a distinguished biographer. She had been Thoby’s friend at Cambridge.

In 1912, she married Leonard Woolf. Her marriage with him was a blessing upon her as he enriched her interest and encouraged her to go on her writings with devotion. Two years after Virginia’s marriage to Leonard Woolf, the First World War broke out. For Virginia’s soul, war was a horrible and nerve-shattering experience. She was physically weak and sickly and now she had been suffering from constant fits of depression. However she continued to work harder.

In 1917, ‘The Hogarth Press’ was founded by Mr and Mrs Woolf as a hobby of printing rather than publishing.  From 1915 to 1924 they were living at Hogarth House, Richmond. They also had a lease of Ascham House in Sussex where they spent weekends and holidays. Mrs Woolf went with her husband to labour party conferences, but in public, she took little part in the discussion. She supported her husband in private.

Already, the din and bustle of the Second World War began in 1939 and again Virginia began to suffer from fits and depression. As soon as the war began she lost her faith in life. One day evening in 1941 she went for a walk putting her hat on the head and taking a walking stick in her hand. But she had been suffering so much inwardly that he lost quite her zest for life and then while her depression reached the climax, she drowned herself, leaving her hat and stick on the bank and committed suicide. 

Besides essays and reviews she had written all total nine novels. Her first two novels  ‘The Voyage Out’ and ‘Night and Day’ were written in the traditional technique. After writing these two novels, she achieved maturity and wrote other novels. But amongst all of her novels ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ and ‘To the Light House’ are her masterpieces. In these two novels, she brought the technique of psychological novel into perfection. Her merit and reputation mainly rest upon these two novels. 0 0 0

 

 

WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

Once there was a lanky and ugly boy who seemed to be inattentive to sports and schooling and who liked to keep away from the company of his fellow mates for being called him ‘Black-boy’ ridiculously; but later on, that queer boy, when grew up, became a great poet and dramatist of the world. The name of that boy was William Butler Yeats. 

William Butler Yeats, once a queer sport boy but later on a great poet and dramatist was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1865. His father, John Butler Yeats was a printer. His mother, Susan Pollexfen was a country girl from Sligo. She was a hesitant, unselfish, rustic woman who loved the village than the sophisticated town life. She believed in fairies, ghosts and country lore. William Butler Yeats was the first child of his parents. He was influenced intellectually by his father, and from the side of emotion, he was influenced by his mother.

In proper age, Yeats was sent to the Godolphin School at Hammersmith where he learnt little. Both mentally and physically he was always conscious of himself that he was a difference from his fellow mates and so he avoided the company of other boys of his age. He did not take part in school sports. To defend himself from the funny but ridiculous treatment of his fellow mates, he made friends with a healthy robust boy. He did not pay any attention to the school studies. Later on, he told lamenting upon that his precious time was wasted in school. He was slow to learn, very bad in spelling for which his father used to rebuke him, but there seemed no mending and development.

In 1876, the Yeats family went to London with a view to live there, but Yeats spent his life of freedom in the village of Sligo in holiday mood where his imagination was kindled by the stories of fairies, ghosts, myths and clairvoyance. Though Yeats was inattentive to his school studies, yet he preferred to read the English poets and thus his mind was inclined to verses. Even more, his father encouraged him to practise verses and thus being encouraged, he began to write poems. In 1880 the family returned to Dublin. By this time Yeats met John O’ Leary, the Irish patriot and with him, Yeats became interested in the cause of Irish Nationalism. Then he wrote many lyrics expressing his love for Ireland.

Again the family migrated to London to settle there permanently. There in the ‘Rhymer’s Club,’ he came into contact with some writers as — Ernest Dowson, Lionel Johnson, Arthur Symons and learnt a great deal from them. He made a friendship with Arthur Symons who taught him the poetic process and the technique of symbolism.

In London in 1891, Yeats founded the Irish Literary Society and in 1892, he with some others founded the National Literary Society in Dublin — which were the landmark events in the history of Irish Literature. Till then, there was no individual national plays and theatres in Ireland. Like the theatres in London, the theatres in Dublin were busy producing the plays of Henrick Ibsen and his imitators. It was left to Yeats and his friends and collaborators who founded the “National Theatre Society” and began to create a new type of dramas that were simultaneously Irish in themes, characters and spirit.

In 1899 Yeats met a beautiful girl named Maud Gonne and fell in love with her which proved to be the greatest experience in his life. She was the daughter of an English colonel. She was tall, beautiful, majestic as a queen and had a good interest in fine arts though she became a revolutionary, Yeats’ first love was with poetry but when he fell in love with Maud Gonne who became a fierce revolutionary. Then to impress Maud, Yeats engaged some years to a political movement. For a time, Yeats even joined the secret extreme revolutionary Irish Republican Brotherhood. All this done by Yeats was to attract Maud Gonne to him. Though Maud Gonne seemed to be fallen in love with him, she refused to marry him and married an army Major by the name of John Mac Bride who was a lout and corrupted person. This event had broken the heart and mind of Yeats but it gave a new turn to his writing. Many of his love poems deal with the theme of Maud Gonne.

In 1889, Yeats wrote his first play ‘The Countess Cathleen’ and with other friends and collaborators as — Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn, George Moore, Florence Farr and John Millington Synge, Yeats tried his best to find an Iris National Theatre Society and as a result of their endeavour Abbey Theatre took birth in 1904 and by it they began to stage their plays. At first Abbey Theatre met many obstacles both from the mob and the British Government but due to Yeats and his collaborators’ endless commitment, at last, the Abbey Theatre determined to surmount all obstacles. In that Abbey Theatre, that was how the Irish National Theatre Society was known, his The Countess Cathleen was staged first successfully.

The Abbey Theatre, by 1909, had established itself as the national theatre of Ireland fighting many battles and winning many victories. The last of the battles, was to be fought on the stage in America as Yeats and some of his friends took a tour to America with the Abbey Theatre with a view to perform their national plays. Yeats and Lady Gregory took the directorships of the Abbey Theatre but they met the same opposition in America as they had met in their motherland. But it was due to Yeats and Synge’s incessant perseverance at last the Abbey Theatre could attract the general public, as well as critics and universities as many of Yeats and Synge’s plays, were prescribed in the syllabi of the universities of Ireland and Britain. Thus the Iris Dramatic Movement came to be successful the credit of which goes first to Yeats.

Already being frustrated by his lover Maud Gonne, he developed liaison with a married woman by the name of Diana Vernon; but yet his love for Maud Gonne did not get quenched. So in 1898 he dropped out of politics and thus his political nationalism came to an end and took literature actively by which he rendered his best to wake up the peasants.

His liaison with Diana Vernon had been continuing. Ha had even developed sexual relation with her. In 1916 Maud Gonne’s husband Major John Mac Bride, who was lout and corrupted person, was executed. Hearing this, Yeats went to France and proposed Maud Gonne to marry as still, he had passion for her. But finally, she refused to marry him. Then he asked her permission to propose to her adopted daughter Iseult, but she rejected that proposal also. Being disappointed by Maude Gonne and Iseult, Yeats married George Hyde Less in 1917. Already he published some books of poetry and after the recognition of his works he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1923.

Yeats began his poetic career with the Romanticism and ended in realism. He was the last successful romantic poet. Love to his beloved, love to his motherland and love for Nature and man are the main themes of his poetry; but his love is coloured by the note of mysticism and symbolic imagery. Amongst his contemporaries, he was the most refined as well as the most skilled poet in style and in the use of language. His use of imagery is easy and common not private and difficult as that of T.S. Eliot.

Besides, being a poet he was a great dramatist also. His dramas are poetic like that of John Millington Synge. As a dramatist, his place is after only Synge. The Countless Cathleen, the Green Helmet, the Prayer Queen, the Hour Glass, the Cat and the Moon, Resurrection—are his well known plays. In some poems and plays, he tried to revive the Irish myths and legends and in this respect, he won the Crown of Victory.

During the last years of life, he had been suffering from bodily weakness and mentally from spiritual emptiness for which he went to Majorca in search of peace where he met an Indian sage with whom he pondered over the Upanishads and thus was deeply influenced by the Indian philosophy. He rendered his help to the swami in translating the ‘Upanishads’ and Patangalis ‘Yoga Sutra’. Moreover, he was a great admirer of Rabindranath Tagore and wrote a critical Preface to Rabindranath’s ‘Geetanjali’. He wanted to write a sort of European Geeta. His last poem ‘The Black Tower’ and ‘Under Bon Bulben’ contained the central theme of Geeta. But after writing these poems his health began to trouble him badly and was waiting to meet death till 28th January 1939 and on that day his soul came out of his mortal body and soar up to heaven. He was temporarily buried in the cemetery of Requerbrnne but later on, his dead body was brought to Drumcliff as he wished. In his epitaph there is written:

Under bare Bon Bulben’s head

In drum cliff churchyard Yeats is laid

An ancestor was rector there

Long years ago, a church stands near,

By the road an ancient cross

No marble no conventional phrase!

On limestone quarried near the spot.

By his command these words are cut;

Cast a cold eye

On life, on death

Horseman, pass by! 0 0 0

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ANDREW MARVELL 

Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) was an English poet who belonged to the Metaphysical group of poets of the 17th century. As a poet Marvell was typically Metaphysical both in theme and style. Marvel wrote on the theme of love, religion, nature and patriotism. His poetic style is characterized by the use of far-fetched similes, metaphors, hyperboles and other figures of speech which are commonly called conceits.  Besides these, there are wit, irony, the concreteness of thoughts, condensation of structure, dramatic quality, unification of feeling-emotion-intellect, varied allusions and references and logical arguments. His conceits are not mere decoration but he used them to define, to persuade and to lead his feeling to a definite conclusion. His love poems are amorous. Beauty in women becomes the source of his love poems. His love begins in flesh and ends in mind. 

His poetic output was not bulky but meagre – about forty in English and a few in Latin. But they are a better specimen of perfect art. He, as a poet, was less original because the influence of his contemporary metaphysical poets is apparently visible in his poetry. His concepts are modelled after that of John Donne. His place as a poet, in English literature, rests merely on his amorous verses and as a poet of love, he is next only to John Donne.

He was born in 1621 in Yorkshire England. He took his education at Eton College Cambridge. From his studenthood, he began to pursue poetry. In 1642, after his parents’ death, he took up residence in London. In 1653 he was introduced to John Milton, the epic poet of his day and continued to be his friend throughout his life. For some years he worked as a tutor. In 1658 he became a member of parliament and remained in that post till his death.

In 1678 Andrew Marvel died of malaria. He left no will. He had never married and died as a bachelor. 0 0 0

 

 

JOHN DONNE 

John Donne (1572-1631) was the major and head-poet of the so-called English Metaphysical School of Poetry which broke out in the earlier seventeenth century. John Donne wrote sonnets, satires, songs, sermons, elegies and so on. He did some prose-works also. The main and striking themes of his poetry are two- love and religion. His love poems are full of sensuous and amorous appeal. His feeling of love begins in the flesh and ends in mind. His religious poems are satiric and ironical. His poetic style is quaint and startling which is characterized by the use of far-fetched similes, metaphors and hyperbole (conceits), wit irony, condensation of thought, dramatic and colloquial quality unification of emotion and intellect, use of variegated allusions and references and logic in establishing his feeling and thoughts. He uses conceits not merely for embellishment but as the soul of his poetry. His conceits serve the purpose of argument to define, to persuade and to lead his feeling to a definite conclusion. His style makes him a difference from all his predecessors. His place in English literature rests especially on his love-poems and as a love- poet he is matchless in the whole range of English language.

John Donne was born in London in 1572. His father was a rich iron- merchant. In religious belief his parents were Catholic. He took his education at Oxford and studied law at Lincoln’s Inn. From his studenthood, he suffered from internal as well as external conflict of religion. Gradually he repudiated the Catholic Church and renounced all denomination and called himself simply Christian.

As Donne was quaint in his poetic style, so was his personal life. He studied hard in the morning and led a sort of Bohemian life in the evening. He visited women of ill fame and acquired a practical knowledge of amorous life. In 1596 he joined the expedition of Essex for Cadiz and Azores and on the sea, he found time to write poetry. After coming back home he became secretary to Lord Egerton. There he fell in love with Anne More the young niece to Lord Egerton. This love affair developed deep and he eloped with her and married her. For this Donne was cast to prison. Later on his father-in-law, Sir George More forgave the young lovers and settled a handsome allowance on his daughter. In 1617 Anne More died suddenly and on her death, her father ceased the allowance and Donne was left in extreme poverty. Then he became a preacher and Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

He died in 1631.  0 0 0

 

 

WILLIAM BLAKE 

William Blake was a man of versatile genius. He was an artist, a musician and above all a great mystic poet of England. He introduced, spontaneously the romantic vein in literature which a little later, William Wordsworth consolidated with theory and brought into perfection. 

This great poet with versatile genius was born in London on 28th November 1757. His father was a hosier who lived with his family at Broad Street, Golden Square. William Blake had four brothers and a sister. But amongst them, Blake achieved distinction. He was the second son of his parents.

The economic condition of the Blake family was not too good. So William Blake had to earn money for himself and hence, he could not have long institutional education. Instead, he engaged himself to the art of drawing. At the age of ten, he was sent by his father to a drawing school noticing his eagerness in drawing. As a student of drawing, he earned proficiency at an earlier age. At fifteen, he was apprenticed to an engraver. As an artist, he was influenced by the Gothic style. By the side of studying drawing and the work of engraving he studied poetry and had also acquired the lesson of versification for himself.

At the age of twenty-three, he set out to earn his living as a professional engraver. He did a lot of work in this profession for the publishers and booksellers. During the next twenty years, he earned his livelihood by this profession.

Besides, drawing and versifying he had an acute interest in music also and he pursued this branch of art in private. But he gave much attention in drawing and occasionally in versifying.

In 1783, at the age of nineteen, he completed his first manuscript of poetry which was printed for him by his friends. In the same year, he came into contact with Catherine Boucher, an illiterate daughter of a market-gardener and became enamoured of her and married her. Though Catherine was illiterate, yet he had a heart and mind to understand her artist husband. She learnt to draw and paint well enough to be able to help her husband. Thus she made a perfect wife of him. Their married life seemed to be happy and peaceful. But a matter of sorrow was that Catharine remained childless and survived him by four years.

William Blake, during the years from 1783 to 1787 met a number of distinguished persons. In 1788 he began to experiment with a new method of printing from an etched copper plate. He demanded that this method was revealed to him in a vision from heaven. Then he composed The Songs of Innocence and etched on copper plates with decoration colored by himself. The volume was finished in 1889 and he sold it for a few Shillings. This was the prelude of his remarkable production.

In 1788 he shifted to Hercules Road, Lamberth. His living at this place was full of creative productivity. Here he had written almost all his best poetic creations—amongst which The Songs of Innocence and The Songs of Experience are worth noted. During this period he proclaimed that he often met the visionary spirit of God and thus he inclined to mysticism the trend of which occupied the store of his thoughts and feelings.

In 1795 he produced his feat of a series of large colour-prints which can scarcely be matched in the whole history of art for imaginative content and magnificence of colouring. By 1797 he had completed his series of 537 watercolour designs for Young’s ‘Night Thoughts’.

Then he devoted himself to his symbolic works which never produced any adequate return by their sales. He even laboured over a long poem ‘The Four Zoas’. During this time he faced difficulty in earning his livelihood as his works got no proper sale. In 1800 Blake with his wife and sister moved from London to Felpham in Sussex in order to work at some engravings for William Hayley, spending there three years he returned to London with a great sense of relief. During these three years, he was mentally disturbed, as he claimed, by mystic vision. In January 1804, Blake was brought to take on a charge of having used treasonable words against the royal hood of England. But he was acquitted because it was proved that the charge against him was false. 

Then he was called for by Cromek for the production of a series of engraving for Robert Blair’s ‘The Grave’. But Cromek paid him a small sum of money and then employed another artist to engrave them. Thus he was deceived by Cromek. 

In 1809 Blake held an exhibition of his works at the house of his brother Jame in Broad Street, Golden Square. Sixteen pictures were exhibited, including his large painting on Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Pilgrims’. But the exhibition was proved futile.

The years from 1810 to 1819, Blake fell into complete obscurity. He did nothing remarkable during this period—because he had been suffering from mental disturbance. The mystic vision had disturbed him much. Once he was confined to a mental hospital.

In 1818 Blake entered upon his last phase of life and had been leading a happy life till his last breath. He became the centre of many young artists who regarded him with affection and reverence. In 1821, he executed his most widely known art, the Illustrations of the ‘Book of Job’. In 1825, he was asked to make an illustration of Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ and to engrave them. He completed a hundred colour designs of which seven were engraved. But suddenly after a quick illness, while still, he was working upon this book, he died on the 12th August 1827. His mortal body was buried in an unmarked grave in Burnhill Fields Cemetery. Thus a busy life of a versatile genius came to an end.

To say about his personality it is known that he was a man of painstaking labour and unsteady mind. He began work in random and struck to that till he could finish it. His mind was not, as seemed, systematically cultivated. He often said that he had been chased by the divine spirit which caused a disturbance in his mind. In spite of his mental turmoil, he could pursue mental integrity in dealing with his fellow men. He was deeply religious and lived an honest and sincere life. His wife was a bliss upon him. Though she was illiterate yet, he could cope with her and vice-versa.

The credit of being the creator of fourteen poetry books goes to him. Amongst his books, ‘The songs of Innocence’ and ‘The Songs of Experience’ are his masterpieces. Most of the poems in these volumes are mystic. His poems are short but replete with deep meaning. This volume is equally enjoyable to the children, to the young and to the old people. His poetry teaches that the world is the expression of the Divine Spirit. His poetry is both of sight and sound. He used symbolism abundantly in these poems. His poetry bears almost all the characteristics which are generally present in the poems which are called romantic poems. As a poet he was a follower of none. He composed poems under his own style inspired by divinity. But though, all the characteristics of the Romantic Tradition of Poetry are present in his poetry yet the honour of being the originator of Romantic Tradition in literature goes to William Wordsworth and it is because William Wordsworth made the theory and practising this genre of poetry with many of his followers brought the Tradition into perfection. In as much as William Blake introduced the romantic trial in practice, which a little later was brought into perfection by Wordsworth, so Blake may be called the Herald of Romantic Movement. 0 0 0 

 

 

A.P.J. ABDUL KALAM THE PEOPLE’S PRESIDENT

On 15th October, 1932 a child was born with a broad face, dark complexion, pointed nose and thoughtful look to a middle class illiterate parents in a small village in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu who with the passing of time became a reputed scientist, great inspiring teacher, generous humanitarian and the 11th President of India. His parents, Jainul Abedeen being his father and Asiyamma his mother, named him Avul Pakir Jainulabedeen Abdul Kalam, metaphorically known all over the world as ‘Missile Man of India’ and unanimously hailed by the Indians as ‘the People’s President’. His father Jainulabedeen was only a boat-man who fed his family by ferrying pilgrims between Rameshwaram and Danushkudi. His mother Asiyamma was a simple, compassionate, pious, generous housewife who took pride in feeding outsiders at their home regularly.

Little Kalam learnt compassion from his mother and strict discipline from his cousin Jalaludeen, who was nearly sixteen years elder to him and religious tolerance and social integration from his father. 

Kalam the fourth but youngest amongst four children of his parents was born in such time when few parents sent their children to school. But Kalam’s parents, though illiterate were anxious to educate his children and when Kalam was about six years old he was sent to a nearby village school where he learned his mother tongue Tamil and some English. As a student Kalam seemed not to be brilliant enough though he was not a dull one. Since the very beginning of Kalam’s schooling, he seemed to have special attraction to Mathematics. In addition to studying his curriculum, he formed a habit of reading books after books. There was a man by the name of A. C. Manikan in his neighbourhood who owned a private library and Kalam frequented the library and read books voraciously which did not only increase the store of his knowledge but also widened his outlook towards life. During Kalam’s school life his parents fell into economic hardship and Kalam had to sell newspaper in his off time to earn some extra money to meet his own expense.

After completing his Primary Education, Kalam was admitted into Ramanathpuram Scartz High School. One day during his High School life, when the class was running on, Kalam was walking about outside the classroom for which the teacher got angry with him and punished him in presence of all the students.  After few months of that event, Kalam secured hundred per cent mark in Mathematics in the examination and then the same teacher (who punished him) became very happy and in praise of Kalam prophesied, “This boy would carry on pride to our school in future.”

After completing Matriculation in Ramanathapuram Scartz High School, he went to Tiruchirappalli in 1950 for higher education and obtained B. Sc. degree in Physics from the esteemed St. Joseph’s College in 1954. During his college life, Kalam became interested in English literature and read out the writings of Sir Walter Scot, Thomas Hardy, Leo Tolstoy and some others. After becoming a Bachelor of Science he went to Madras Institute of Technology to study aeronautical engineering and obtained a diploma. He wanted to be a pilot but the chance did not favour him. 

As his hope of becoming an aeroplane-pilot nipped in the bud, he searched for a job and soon got a position at the Directorate of Technical Development and Production at Delhi in 1955. 

Three years later of that he was posted to the Aeronautical Development Establishment at Bangalore. Here he designed and operated the country’s first ground-effect machine or hovercraft called NANDI, which attracted a great deal of technical and political attention. Although a flying prototype won excited praise from Defense Minister V. K. Krishna Menon. Fortunately Menon the then Director of TIFR was quick to recognize Kalam’s unusual abilities, drive and passion which led to Vikram Sarabhai the then head of the Indian National Committee for Space Research hired Kalam in 1964 as a Rocket Engineer at the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station near Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum). There Kalam led a series of programmes including fibre-reinforced plastic technology development, and became Chief Designer for a Rocket-Assisted Take-Off system for aircraft and became a popular figure among the engineers working there. They affectionately called him ‘Kalam Iyer’. 

In 1963 Kalam was sent to the USA for a six-month training programme on sounding rocket launching techniques. Kalam had learnt the space technology during that visit, but what attracted Kalam most was a painting at the Wallops Island depicting Tipu Sultan’s soldiers using rockets against the British during the Anglo- Mysore war in the 18th century. After the successful launches of sounding rockets, Sarabhai began conceptualizing an Indian Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV). 

Meanwhile, in 1972, Satish Dhawan had taken over as Chairman of a reorganized ISRO and Kalam was appointed Project Manager of the SLV-3 mission.  But the first launch failed. However, the second one launched a year later succeeded. Failure of the first launch began to be seen as the first step to success. The outlook of the organization as a whole about their own capabilities became much more confident and made it possible for them to dream of bigger enterprises. In short, what later became famous as ‘ISRO culture’ was born.  

As SLV development was completed, Kalam went on to become the Director of ISRO Launch Vehicle and moved to Headquarters in Bangalore. During his tenure at ISRO, India launches some satellites as PRITHVI, ROHINI, AGNI, TRISHUL, NAG etc. 

In 1999 Kalam was appointed as the Chief Science Advisor of the Government of India. The Government gave him the status of a Cabinet Minister. But Kalam resigned the post and joined Anna University in Chennai as a professor. 

Dr Abdul Kalam was elected, winning over ninety per cent of votes, as the 11th President of independent India in July 2002. As a President, he shared his vision for India, addressing youth and old with the same passion which formed his entire life. Dr Kalam was passionate for transforming society through technology especially in inspiring the youth of India to harness Science and Technology for human welfare. During his tenure of Presidentship, he worked day and night for all-round development of the nation and he tried his best to keep contact with all the classes of people.

A. P. J. Avul Pakir Jainulabedeen Abdul Kalam was a teacher of extraordinary personality. Whenever he went, during his Presidentship and even after he took retirement, he met students, talked with them and inspires them to be ignited from within. He appreciated best that the future of a strong and powerful India depends on her student community. He realized the truth that if the citizens of a nation are well-educated with value power then they can lead a nation ahead with glory. Hence he often talked with the students and exchanged thoughts with them. He was a teacher not that he taught the students within the classroom but that wherever he went he woke up their thirst for knowledge. Thus he was a great teacher in the truest sense of the term.

He gave emphasis on the value power of man and he thought that it should be inculcated to the students from their initial stage of life.

Here to say that this Oath propagated by the great teacher A. P. J. Abdul Kalam should be prescribed in all educational institutes to be uttered solemnly by the students every day, especially in the morning assembly.

Abdul Kalam was an ideal symbol of piety, honesty, simplicity, generosity and communal integrity. He had great faith in God and performed salat (prayer) according to Islamic tradition. He realized that only religion can keep one’s mind in balance. It teaches humans the lessons of love, brotherly affection, kindness, honesty and all other humane qualities.

All his life, Kalam led a self-controlled life. He gave much importance to work culture that he never married nor did he have any children. He did not crave for personal wealth nor did he run after comforts of life. ‘Work for a better nation’ was the motto of his life and he observed this motto in every walk of life. 

There are ample instances of his simplicity and generosity among which one is that when he as the 11th President of India entered the Rashtrapati Bhawan he had a bag in his hand and after the end of his tenure of Presidentship he came out of the Rashtrapati Bhawan with the bag in hand and nothing else. What a wonderful man he was! 

To say about his personal property there were six long pants two of which were uniforms presented by DRDO, a pair of shirts and two thousand five hundred books. Besides these, he had a website, a twitter, an Email address and 16 Doctorate degrees bestowed upon him by 16 different universities of the world. Unlike every other he did not have any T. V. set nor did he have any bank balance, nor a motor car. In addition to these, he had a personal flat but he donated it to a science institute for research work. He donated the lion’s share of his salary that he was paid during his Presidentihip to various NGOs and along with these, he donated all the money that he got as pension to the Panchayat of his village for development work.

He never thought himself to be VIP or a special one for which when he was offered especial chair in any seminar or meeting he denied taking the privilege.

In the Rashtrapati Bhawan, there is a tradition of arranging an Itfar Party every year. Abdul Kalam became the President of India in the month of Ramadan, 2002 and as the tradition he had to arrange the ‘Ifter Party’ but when he calculated that it would cost an amount of about 22 lacs then he decided to cancel the party and instead he donated these amount of money to an orphan house for buying food and clothes.

When he was asked how one should be remembered for? Then he replied, “You have to evolve yourself and shape your life. You should write it on a page. That page may be a very important page in the book of human history. And you will be remembered for creating that one page in the history of the nation – whether that page is the page of invention, the page of innovation or the page of discovery or the page of creating societal change or the page of removing the poverty or the page of fighting injustice or planning and executing mission of networking of rivers.’’

There is no doubt that Abdul Kalam was a man of action and one of the busiest persons ever born on the earth yet in between his busiest time he had wrote some valuable books among which mention may be made of ‘Developments in Fluid Mechanics and Space Technology’,  ‘India Vision 2020’, ‘Ignited Minds’, ‘The Luminous Spark’, ‘Mission India’, ‘Inspiring Thoughts’, ‘Indomitable Spirit’, ‘You are Born to Blossom’: ‘Take My Journey Beyond, Turning  Points: A Journey Through Challenges’, ‘Target 3 Billion’, ‘My Journey: Transforming Dreams into Actions’, ‘A Manifesto for Change’, ‘Forge Your Future’, ‘Reignited: Scientific Pathways to a Brighter Future. Etc.

Most of his books are autobiographical which reflect his journey from dream to action and reality. His books may work as sources of inspiration for the young generation in making their life meaningful. Besides these books mentioned above, Kalam wrote some poems occasionally. His poems may not be rich in poetic qualities but they are full of inspiring messages. Love for man and love for motherland are the chief themes of his poetry.    

Avul Pakir Jainulabedeen Abdul Kalam, who is called the ‘Missile Man of India’ and hailed as the ‘People’s President’ won may honours and awards as recognition of his contributions to the nation among which mention may be made at random of: sixteen Honorary Doctorate Degrees from various Universities of the world, Hoover Medal (from ASME Foundation, USA), International von Karman Wings Award (from California Institute of Technology, USA), King Charles II Medal (Royal Society, UK), Ramanujan Award (from Alwars Research Centre, Chennai),  Veer Savarkar Award (Government of India),  Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration (Government of India), Bharat Ratna (Government of India), Padma Vibhushan (Government of India), Padma Bhushan (Government of India).

Avul Pakir Jainuabedeen Abdul Kalam passed away on 27th July 2015 as he had just begun to address students at the Indian Institute of Management at Shillong leaving behind him a legend to draw inspiration for the future generations.

 *The End*

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