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Humpty Dumpty is illustrated as the naughty, smiling egg, sitting on the edge of a stone wall, threatening to fall off. Often the illustrations extend to the next page, where the egg is cracked and broken, its inner contents spilling out while a couple of chess pawns stand around watching.
The nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty appears prominently in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, as a poem that depicts the silliness of nonsense poetry. But perhaps there is more to the rhyme than just this.
Some speculate that the rhyme is a re-telling of the story of King Richard III, who died after reigning for twenty-six months. He fell off his horse and was bludgeoned to death so badly that he could not be put back together. He was depicted as a humpbacked man in Shakespeare's play and therefore resembled an egg.
Humpty Dumpty illustrated as a broken egg Image source: Wikimedia Commons
A larger agreement of the tale behind the rhyme sees fulfillment in the narrative that Humpty Dumpty is a pseudonym for a cannon that was used during the 1648 Siege of England. The cannon was called Humpty Dumpty to veer away the attention of the enemy while calling out orders. The enemy was sharp enough to spot it, however, and attacked the top of the wall it stood on. The cannon fell to the ground and was completely shattered.
The idea that Humpty Dumpty is more than an egg is certainly something that leads to giving it more than its due. Humpty Dumpty could be anyone or anything associated with royalty, that supposedly fell off a wall and was irreplaceable. The King's horses and King's men is often understood as a reference to chess, but perhaps, they belong to some valorous battle in history.
Keywords: Humpty Dumpty, Rhyme, Poetry, War
The late Jnanpith award-winning author Indira Goswami was a great literary writer of her generation and a feminist icon. Most of her major works have been translated from Assamese into English; however, some of her works are yet to be discovered by a larger audience. "Five Novellas About Women" (Niyogi Books) represents a cross-section of her writing, with a special focus on the courage of women under trying circumstances.
Sensitively translated, with detailed notes on the translation, these stories bring to light the human condition that Goswami portrayed in her writing. The lives of the rural poor, the situation of widows, the plight of the urban underclass, and various social constraints under which people are forced to live are depicted in these impactful narratives.
Indira Goswami wrote about people rarely represented in Indian writing women, the marginalized, the powerless, the unfortunate. | Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash
The deft use of language, striking imagery, and strong characters are a hallmark of Goswami's writing. The stories in this selection exhibit these unique characteristics of her work in abundance. These nuanced translations bring the literary creations of one of the great writers of our times to new life and a wider audience.
An Introduction, Translator's Note, and Author's Timeline add value to the book by discussing the nuances of the translation process as well as contextualizing the author's life and work.
Indira Goswami (1942e2011), who wrote as Mamoni Raisom Goswami in Assamese, popularly known as Mamoni Baideo, wrote about people rarely represented in Indian writing women, the marginalized, the powerless, the unfortunate.
India's highest literary award, the Jnanpith was honored to Goswami in 2001 | Wikimedia Commons
Apart from India's highest literary award, the Jnanpith (2001), Goswami was also honored with the Sahitya Akademi Award (1983), and the Principal Prince Claus Laureate (2008), She was also an editor, poet, professor, and scholar, best known for her novels such as "The Moth Eaten Howdah of the Tusker", "Pages Stained with Blood" and "The Man from Chinnamasta".
She is also known for her attempts to structure social change, both through her writings and through her role as mediator between the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the Indian government through the People's Consultative Group, a peace committee.
Translator Dibyajyoti Sarma has published three volumes of poetry (the last being "Book of Prayers for the Nonbeliever", 2018) and two books of translations of Assamese poets Sananta Tanty and Kamal Kumar Tanti, and an academic book, besides numerous writing credits in edited volumes, journals, and websites.
He was born in Assam and now lives in Delhi, where he works as a journalist and editor and runs the independent publishing outfit Red River. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Women, Assam, Poetry, Writer, Sahitya Akademi Award, Jnanpith, Principal Prince Claus Laureate, Scholar
The most significant feature of Indian literature is its diversity which is due to the presence of the country's variety of languages and sub-cultures. And one of the greatest genres of Indian literature is its poetry which can be traced back to the sixth century B.C. From Vedic Sanskrit poems to Urdu poetry that flourished under the Mughal Empire. Since the early 19th century when the Britishers colonized the country, numerous Indian texts were translated to English and were widely read all over the world. . India has historically been the land of notable poets whose exemplary work is world-renowned. Be it romance, sadness, happiness, and all-out other emotions are beautifully described in the pure form of Indian poetry.
Kalidasa is one of the greatest Sanskrit poets of India from the 5th century. He is regarded as one of the greatest poets of all time and he has had a major impact on not only Indian poetry but on world literature. Although most details of his life are subject to speculation. His two epic works of poetry, Kumārasambhava ("Birth of the War God") and Raghuvaṃśa ("Dynasty of Raghu" ) are among the most revered in Indian literature to this day. His plays and poems are primarily based on the Vedas, Puranas, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The drama "Shakuntala" written by Kalidasa was the first Indian drama ever it was later translated into English by Sir William Jones.
A saint respected and admired by Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, Kabir was a towering figure in 15th century India. He penned down all his poems in the Hindi language and mixing some bits from various dialects including Avadhi, Braj and Bhojpuri. The themes he worked around were on various aspects of life and faith. He is known for being critical of religion – primarily Hinduism and Islam, and the various rituals that came with it. Kabir is most renowned for his Does that are still hugely popular in India and there is numerous reference to them in popular culture.
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Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan' popularly known as 'Mirza Ghalib' is one of the most influential poets of Urdu and the Persian language. He began writing at the tender age of 11 and was married by the age of 13. He spent his life writing poetry for patrons at the Mughal court. Although Ghalib wrote in several genres, he is most popular for his ghazals. Ghalib penned down his poetry reflecting on various topics such as philosophies, existentialism, mysteries of life and many more.
'Amir Khusrow' was popularly known as the Father of Urdu Literature for his poetry Wikimedia Commons
Born in 1253 Sufi Poet, 'Amir Khusrow' was popularly known as the Father of Urdu Literature for his poetry. He has been credited to create the 'qawwali' style in his songwriting. Amīr Khosrow's pentalogy "Khamsah" deals with general themes popular in Islāmic literature. In addition to his poetry, he is known for his several prose works, including the Khazāʾin al-futūḥ ("The Treasure-Chambers of the Victories"), also known by the title Tārīkh-e ʿAlāʾī ("The History of Ala").
A devotee of Lord Krishna, Mirabai was born in 1498 wrote poems exploring topics of divinity, mysticism, and love. She was born as a princess, granddaughter of Rao Dudaji, the third son of Rao Jodhaji, who established the kingdom of the Rathod Dynasty in Rajasthan, she left the kingdom to completely devote herself to Lord Krishna. Although there are no surviving original manuscripts that were penned down by her, as we recollect facts from the ancient time it is discovered that she had been known as a highly influential figure in poetry traditions
Mir Taqi Mir
Born in 1722 in Agra, Mir Taqi Mir entered the world of Urdu poetry at a time when it was considered to have been at its formative stage. His work explores themes of love and spirituality and is rich with pathos drawn from his tragedies including untimely deaths of family members – first his father, then his daughter, son, and wife. Mir Taqi Mir is remembered as Khuda-e-Sukhan which means 'God of Poetry'.
Sarojini Naidu was not only a highly influential poet of Modern India but she was also a highly regarded freedom fighter who served as the President of the Indian National Congress. She is known for her contributions to India's independence against the British. She is popularly called the "Nightingale of India". Her work explores themes such as love, death, patriotism, among others, her poetry has been highly influential and set the tone for modern Indian literary traditions. Her first collection of poems, the widely acclaimed The Golden Threshold, was published in 1905.
Sri Aurobindo Ghosh
Aurobindo Gosh is one of the few Indian poets who blended both western and eastern poetic sensibilities. His poetry revolved primarily on themes of spirituality and mortality, as well as involved commentaries on and translations of Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. Later he became a spiritual reformer introducing his visions on human progress and spiritual evolution. "Life" and "The Golden Light" are a few of his popularly known works.
Born in 1934 in Kerala, Kamala Surayya is known for her one-time penned down a ipoem, "Madhavikutty". In this famous piece of writing, she talked about love, betrayal, female sexuality and politics. She was known to portray the women in her poems as human; with desires, pain and emotions just like men. Her writing consisted of vivid descriptions of menstruation, puberty, love, physical intimacy and much more. She is one of the boldest, fearless and among the most influential figures in Indian-English language poetry. Kamala Das (Surayya) has published five collections of poems. In all, she has to her credit more than 200 poems.
Among the most influential and recognized figures from modern Indian literature, Tagore wrote poetry primarily in Bengali. He published his first major poetry collection, Bhanusimha Thakurer Padabali, at the age of 16. His best-known work in poetry, Gitanjali, was published in 1910. for which Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel prize for Literature. Tagore was the first Indian poet to achieve a permanent place within the canon of world literature. His poems express intense romantic and mystic sensibilities. He wasn't just a poet; he was also a composer of highly revered novels, dramas, short stories and even paintings. Tagore composed the national anthems of two nations, India as well as Bangladesh.
Keywords: Poetry, India, poets, Urdu, Persian, Hindi
An integral part of Sangam Literature, Agam and Puram poetry constitute the primary cultural lens into the erstwhile Tamil kingdom. These poems are a central part of the Tolkapiyam, which is the most important text of the time, written by Thiruvalluvar.
Agam poems deal with love. They are an insight into the many different kinds of love that bordered on caste, kingdom, and religious differences. Some of the lost manuscripts which were stored in Oxford, UK, were translated by A.K. Ramanujan and rendered in the modernist style. What was originally a poem of 13-30 lines, was condensed to around 4-5 lines. These poems, however, keep the crux intact, and through them, cultural practices like illicit affairs, flora, fauna, and appearances of the people according to region are illustrated in detail.
Kurunji (mountains) and marutham (crops) Image source: wikimedia commons
The Puram poems deal with economy, state affairs, and kingship. These poems are longer and more diplomatic. They were probably read out in court, and had to be indirect in intent. Some of these poems talk about the religious influences on kingdoms, and draw heavily from regional epics.
Both the Agam and Puram poems are an important indicator of geography during the Sangam period. They are classified based on the type of landscape they feature. The five main landscapes mentioned are, kurunji (mountainous regions), mullai (forests), marutham (cropland), neithal (seashore), and palai (dry land). The use of words related to these landscapes signified either where the poet lived, or sought to live. Some of the flowers and animals referred to in the poems also indicate where the action is happening.
A map of Sangam landscapes (thinais) Image source: wikimedia commons
The Sangam period was a prosperous time in the history of South India, and the literature from this time reflects this. There are instances of war, but they are not large-scale. They were a people who had their own language, religion, epics, and literature, but only a few of these have survived to today's culture.
Keywords: Agam poems, Puram poems, Sangam literature, Tolkapiyam, Landscapes