Nation on the March

Nation on the March
Nation on the March

Sep 25, 2011

Twin Poets: Kalapi of Gujarat and Keats of England :

In the princely state of Gujarat in western India, in 1874, poet Kalapi ( his pen name) was born in a royal family as Sursinh ji  Gohel. He had realized  in the early age that he was not  inclined towards the statecraft and politics and so, gave away his right to the throne to remain a poet!

Kalapi  died at a very young age of 26 in 1900 and is considered even after 100 years as the poet who gave us the most recitable and memorable couplets from his wonderful poems.

His twin brother poet John Keats was born in 1795 and died at a very young age of 26 in 1821. Robert Bridges (1844-1930) , a doctor by profession and poet by passion wrote that "If one English poet might be recalled to-day from the dead to continue the work he left unfinished on earth,  it is probably that  the crown would be set on the head of John Keats". 

As some critic has well said: "Reading Keats is a luxury, a rare chance to experience the English language as a work of art." 

So immersed was   Keats  in love that he wroteI have been astonished that men could die martyrs for religion - I have shuddered at it. I shudder no more - I could be martyred for my religion - Love is my religion - I could die for that. 

Keats asserts that it's the imagination, not our expression of it, that is the most powerful  went on to write the famous lines: 

“Heard Melodies Are Sweet, but Those Unheard Are Sweeter”  and " A thing of beauty is a joy forever, its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness."

The young poet wrote, rather prophetically boasted : 

"I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest",   
The poet and his work were reborn twenty-seven years after his death 
when the first biography of the English poet in 1848 and  
in our hearts shall live on and on.......!

Of the other twin - Kalapi  , it is a lesser known fact that he had a fan  in Mahatma Gandhi , who prayed regularly twice a day, be he alone, or in public or in jail.  A collection of Gandhi's  multi-religious, thoughtfully chosen and soul-elevating prayers "Ashram Bhajanavali"  is a very popular even today in thousands of homes. 

Gandhi  had chosen a poem by  Kalapi for inclusion his prayer book, but some one, who 'mis'understood it as a purely romantic poem advised  Mahatma Gandhi against its inclusion in a book full of prayers.   Repenting his mistake, that person confided in 1932 in his jail years to the  poet Umashankar Joshi that " I have done a great injustice to Kalapi by giving a wrong advice to Mahatma Gandhi".

Here is that wonderful poem "Aapni Yaadi" - written in his last year -  which describes beautifully that the beloved's memories are here,  there and everywhere, " wherever I set upon my eyes".  It has always been  and will be always regarded as a romantic poem. There will hardly be any one who has read it and can't recite its few lines and re-live  the romance .

But, just once, for a brief while, if the reader changes his point of view , he suddenly realizes that  the beloved here  is none other than the God Almighty ( as in Sufism) ,  dwelling in each of the five key elements of the universe, namely earth, water, light, air and sky and these insights into the poet's mind render the reading of this poem even a greater pleasure than ever before. 

Be it Kalapi or Keats: such is the power of youthful poetic genius. 
One gave up the throne and another his medical profession
- both to be and remain poets . 
It is no accident that people continue to shower their unfettered affection on them 
by daily reading or remembering what they wrote, making them immortal.

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