Written in 397 A.D., The
Confessions of Saint Augustine
contains perhaps one of the earliest human reflections on the nature of Time. In
Book Eleven, he wonders, “What then time is”, before going on to confirm time’s
enigmatic entity by himself responding, “If no one asks me, I know: if I wish
to explain it to one that asketh, I know not.” Jibanananda
Das does not pose any conceptual question about time as such; not because he
was never a spiritual person, but perhaps questions about time have lost their
fascination for twentieth century man. This fundamental issue apart, time
occurs in the poetry of Jibanananda in various forms and performs various functions.
For one, time is personified as an omnipresent observer. The poet asserts: “Standing
before Time, we must bear witness / To what we have done and what we have
Jibanananda observes that Time continues to be awake when everyone’s waking
comes to an end. Jibanananda
Das essentially views Time as god; albeit a non-religious god.
For Jibanananda it is human existence “... on the weird
dynamo of the earth” that is
a matter of perennial concern. It seems to him that there is no difference
between Mahin’s horses busy chewing grass and man’s life. In the moonlit field
of late autumn, Mahin’s horses graze with a primordial craving for grass—no
different from Paleolithic horses. Jibanananda
seeks a significance to human life which is more than mere biological survival
and reproduction like that of other creatures. Conscious of his temporal
existence he asks, “Many ages have passed useless; / Will it be the same all through?” It
can be shown that Jibanananda’s pre-occupation with time is essentially one
about human existence.
Trying to figure out what time is, Saint Augustine toyed with the question: “What
did God do before He made heaven and earth?” This denotes man’s inherent
incapacity to conceptualize eternity. Our human concept of eternity is not
endless; nor is it without a beginning. Jibanananda’s
concept of time, too, includes a ‘beginning’ and an ‘end’; — the beginning and the
end of human existence on earth, to be specific. Reflecting on life,
Jibanananda comes to the conclusion that life is a dot of light situated
between two seas of darkness. Obviously
this is a portrayal of human life at the individual level. However, he sees human existence
helplessly situated between a past and a present. He accepts death as a natural
destiny while he is haunted by the history of mankind.
Time is important to man because it is a self-exhausting
resource; man’s access to time
discontinues with death. Sartre lamented, “Man’s misfortune lies in his being
time-bound”. In Jibanananda there is no lamentation as such. Time is important
to him because man lives in time as part of the same. Jibanananda emphasizes
time because time to him is man’s lived experience. In his own capacity he is
capable of evaluating and interpreting this experience. Frequent temporal references
in the poetry of Jibanananda reflect his unabated anxiety about life. This
anxiety results from his evaluation of future possibilities vis-à-vis his
current situation which is inexorably linked to human history. The consequence is an intense consciousness of
self-existence—a consciousness that is grounded in an authentic perception of
reality—reality of men’s futile existence on earth. By way of reflecting on his
own reality, Jibanananda connects to the present surrounding him, reflects on
the past and contemplates the future.
Time as historicity
Jibanananda referred to a myriad of historical places and
figures in his poems. It started with his very first collection of poems
published in 1927 under the title Jhara
Palak (Fallen Feathers) that, by and large, bears evident marks of
apprenticeship. The collection includes a poem titled ‘Ostochande’ (Dimming
Moon) where he compares himself (the narrator) to a troubadour from Provence during
the Middle Ages, a robber on horseback in the Sierra Nevada of Andalusian Spain;
he conceives his dream-girl wielding as
much power as an Assyrian Emperor; he
refers to the cities of Ur and Babylon in ancient Mesopotamia, the pyramids of
Egypt and the devotional platform of Isis, goddess of life and magic. In
another poem, titled ‘Anupam Trivedi’, there are references first to Plato, Rabindranath,
Freud, Hegel and Marx and then to Stalin, Nehru, Bloch and M.N. Roy. Except for Stalin and Nehru, the rest are, one
may argue, textual rather than historical in nature.
However, textual references as such are no less important in
understanding a man’s philosophical disposition. A man is embedded not only in
his social surrounding; nor only he is a
part of the human lineage. A thinking man has the prerogative of being part of
the history of thought in this world too. Textual references in poems like
‘Anupam Trivedi’ indicate Jibanananda’s awareness of men’s history of thought.
Reference to historical places and figures is an indirect
representation of time in poetry. While the concept of time remains
impregnable, time necessarily unfolds in space as events take place. Therefore,
indirect reference to time as such is only legitimate. However, this also reflects
the poet’s consciousness of mankind’s historical presence on earth. Historical
referents indicate not only the poet’s affinity with his ancestry but also capture
his sense of distance from the first man on earth. Indeed Jibanananda refers to
the first man on earth in one of his poems presumably to speculate on how
modern man differs. It may
be noted that such historicity derives from the poet’s intrinsic motivation to
connect himself with his past, not only the immediate past, but the remotest
past—as distant as human history ab initio.
‘Banalata Sen’ remains an eloquent example of how Jibanananda
translates time into space. Although this lyric belongs to the poet’s earlier phase
of creativity, it encapsulates much of the predominant elements of his poeticity.
The first stanza reads as follows:
It has been a thousand years since I started trekking the earth
A huge travel in night’s darkness from the
to the Malayan sea
I have been there too: the fading world of Vimbisara and Asoka
Even further—the forgotten city of Vidarbha,
Today I am a weary soul although the ocean of life around
continues to foam,
Except for a few soothing moments with Natore’s Banalata Sen.
— ‘Banalata Sen’
As can be seen, Jibanananda conceptualizes Time essentially as
a long human journey on earth. Dimensionality of time is captured by the spatial
spread of mankind as well as the length of our existence on earth. First he
refers to a voyage from the Ceylonese waters to the Malayan sea. Then he refers
to man’s presence during the ancient regimes of Vimbisara and Asoka. Vimbisara was
the King of Magadha, a city under the Gupta dynasty which ruled India for about
150 years around 320 to 550 CE. Asoka (304
- 232 BC) was the great Maurya emperor of India from 273 to 232 BC. Finally,
he refers to Vidarbha,
an old city of ancient civilization, now in Bera in India. Notably, in the very following
stanza, the poet compares the hair of Banalata Sen to dark nights in Vidisha—a
city of great antiquity, mentioned in the Sanskrit epics Mahabharata and Ramayana.
Indeed, Jibanananda often historicizes human life and, in
doing so, switches from transient individual life to the continued existence of
mankind. The ‘I’ in the opening sentence of ‘Banalata Sen’ is not the poet but
the voice of all mankind. References to historical epochs and places as in ‘Banalata
Sen’ capture his consciousness about the human journey through an ‘eternal’
flux of time. Jibanananda considers his being on earth as part of human
existence from the very first day. ‘Banalata
Sen’ is an autobiography of mankind.
As far back as 1927, Heidegger drew attention to the fact
that words and figures for temporality in Western language are primarily
spatial in nature. However,
notwithstanding spatialization noted above, the pertinence of Heidegger’s
observation to Jibanananda needs investigation with much care. This is because
Time directly recurs in his poetry over and over again giving temporal specificity
to events, figures and objects. Also, the fabric of Jibanananda’s poetry is
studded with numerous metaphorical representations of time that form the metaphysical
contour of his poeticity. Heidegger, it seems, is directly pertinent if one is willing
to explore Jibanananda’s philosophy of life and examine his mode of existence.
Specificity in temporal references
One may justly call Jibanananda a poet of temporal
references. He published only 167 poems during his life time while hundreds remained
unpublished including the manuscripts of Rupashi Bangla and Bela
While many poems got lost, the number of poems recovered after his death is not
negligible. As of 2008, as many as 788 poems in total have been collected in
different anthologies, inclusive of some drafts and unfinished ones. In over three
hundred of them there are direct references to time in some form or other. His
standard referential style is to mention the time of an event or object as
borne out by the following excerpt:
Somewhere the deer are hunted
Hunters entered the forest today.
I too seem to catch their scent,
As I lie here upon my bed
Not drowsy at all
In this spring night.
—‘Camp-e’ (In Camp)
There are three references to time in this short stanza. Immediately
after, in the next stanza, there is a reference to ‘April breeze’. Except for ‘April
breeze’ which performs more of an attributive function, the three of ‘tonight’,
‘today’ and ‘this spring night’ in succession point to the time of occurrence. All
together, the poet is prone to convey to the reader the exact time of deer
being hunted in the forest, close to which he has pitched his tent and is passing
a sleepless night. In Jibanananda, temporal references frequently include time
of the day and a season or month of the year. Also, long period of time is
referred to as in the following excerpt:
When I saw you, ten-fifteen years
Going within the background—when
time, hiding within
The black clouds of your hair,
ignited the lightning in
Your intense woman’s face—
—‘Potobhumir bhitore giye’
(Within the Background)
Such time-specificity is indeed very characteristic of
Jibanananda Das. All through his poetry there are numerous lines like “Last
night it was an intensely windy night—a night of countless stars” and
“Tonight there is nothing left to be done anymore.” It
is rare that Jibanananda, as in the following lines, refers to time without
That was a disjunct day we were
Our death comes
on a more sickly time.
—‘Ei shatabdi shandhitey mrityu’ (Death at the Juncture of the Century)
Sometimes reference to time upgrades from a documentary to an
attributive function. In the poetry of Jibanananda there are numerous lines
like “Here the earth is rugged with its cracks and fissures of an April field” or
“Orange light of an autumn afternoon.” Such attributive references reflect poet’s
awareness of his physical environment. Two cases are examined below.
Don’t go there, Suranjana, I beg
Don’t speak to that young man,
Come back, Suranjana—
In this night of silvery fire
stretched across the sky.
—‘Aakaashleena’ (Come Back, Suranjana)
Now at day’s end three
beggars—more or less unmarried—
are blissfully at ease.
They take a deep breath in grey
air—their faces are cleansed,
street-side, in the grey breeze.
—‘Loghu Muhurto’ (Idle Moment)
In both these cases temporal references are attributive
rather than documentary. The romantic mood that overwhelmed the poet and led him
to approach Suranjana is captured in the phrase “night of silvery fire
stretched across the sky”. In the second poem, the beggars of the Calcutta street are now at
ease because the day’s drudgery of begging is over as the day has come to an
One of the poems of Jibanananda starts, “This autumn night
the tale of Subinoy Mustafi
crosses my mind”. In the following poem of Mahaprithibi, the
opening line is “Now, at this winter night, shows up Anupam Trivedi’s face”. In both these cases, the poet is in a
mood of recollection. He is in the present, reminiscing about the past. Time
allows memory to be unfolded. The first line of the poem titled ‘Subinoy Mustafi’
quoted above may be legitimately rephrased as follows: “Some autumn night the
tale of Subinoy Mustafi crosses my
mind”. Without changing the theme and essence of the text, it can as
well be replaced also by, as for example: “Sometimes the tale of Subinoy
Mustafi crosses my mind”. Let us read the whole poem—
This autumn night the tale of
Subinoy Mustafi crosses my mind.
This all-knowing young man had
the amazing power of making the cat
and the mouse held between its
jaws laugh all at once.
The white cat playfully biting on
or the anxious mouse being torn
oblivious of how far they were
from heaven or hell
—would make room at a very cheap
for the feel of living a few more
on this turbulent earth of half
light and shadow.
Yet the cat would be giggling and
until seized with a cramp
‘Hurrah’, would shout the mouse
and burst into laughter
As if to resonate with those
—‘Subinoy Mustafi’ 
Does reference to a particular autumn night have any relevance
to the rest of the poem?
One can take a greater liberty and remove the time element
altogether from the first line: “I shall tell you about one Subinoy Mustafi”.
This will exclude three things: first, the reader will not be told that the
poet is actually remembering one Subinoy Mustafi he used to know; second, that the remembering is taking place
one autumn night; and finally, that matters relating to this man are quite a
story. In the poet’s composition, one can legitimately assume a subtle connection
between the gentleman named Subinoy Mustafi and a certain autumn night.
However, as one reads through, it becomes clear that this assumption has not
been justified at all. In the other poem titled ‘Anupam Trivedi’, too,
Jibanananda provides no justification for a reference like ‘this winter night’.
The poet however provides additional information that Trivedi is long dead; — it
is the stillness of the winter night that reminds of him.
In both these cases, reference to specific day and time is
neither attributive, nor documentary. Nevertheless, it is not insignificantly referential
because the specified temporal reference, ‘this autumn night’, as explained
above, is pregnant with meaning that is left to the reader to decipher. Perhaps
more important is the fact such specificity infuses realism into the text. One
can feel that specificity of time enlivens fictive figures, events and objects—renders
them part of the daily journal; and translates
imagination and thoughts into experience.
That in Jibanananda reference to specific time or period
often carries no direct documentary or attributive meaning can be further discussed
with regard to ‘One Day Eight Years Ago’—one of the most celebrated poems of
Jibanananda. The poet narrates the story of an unexplained suicide that
apparently took place eight years ago. That the suicide took place eight years
ago is mentioned no where except in the title of the poem. Notably it is ‘eight’
years—not ‘nine’, nor ‘seven’. Why eight? A curious reader may inquire if there
is any clue to a personal episode hidden in the temporal reference of the title.
It is important to observe that nothing of the text—no word or meaning—would
change at all if the poem’s title was altered to ‘One Day Five Years Ago’,
replacing ‘eight’ with ‘five’. However, the title as it is, or even with the
change in time reference, connotes a recollection. The title informs us that
the suicide took place in the past. The poet is in the present recollecting a
long past event. One can reasonably conclude that the poet has a sense of the
past that works within his psyche.
In another poem Jibanananda refers to a period of time in the
If I meet her again twenty years
from now !
Again in twenty years—
Beside a sheaf of grains,
In the month of Kartik—
When the evening crow goes
home—the yellow river
Flows softened through reeds, kash-grass into
the fields !
Perhaps no grain is left in the
There is no need for haste. ...
—‘Kuri bochhor porey’ (After Twenty
In this poem, the poet repeats his desire of meeting his beloved
after twenty years and considers this long span of time with wonder. Why does
the poet wonder? True, twenty years is long enough time to bring about any
unforeseeable change; however, what really
concerns the poet is the possibility of remaining alive, being fully aware of
the suddenness of death. Here the poet is the experiencer of time who is facing
the future, with his location mapped onto the present time. While in ‘One Day Eight
Years Ago’ the poet explores his memory, in ‘After Twenty Years’ he travels into
Reference to exact time or period helps build a commensurate
narrative environment. It infuses a sense of immediacy. It sometimes serves as
a connectivity between metaphorical referents. As in ‘One day eight years ago’,
temporal references also dramatize the event. It may also communicate information
like the time of writing. However, apart from these normal functions, references
to time build in a temporal frame of reference that is connected to other times—past
and future, of near and far. Embedded in the present, connectedness with the
past and future crystallizes a longitudinal perspective which facilitates authentic
perception of the reality. Repeated temporal imageries as in the case of
Jibanananda Das give a feel of poet’s heightened temporal situatedness. Jibanananda’s
poetry gains much wider meaning and deeper significance by reflecting his
self-consciousness of this situatedness, which is beyond his control. His
poetic language which is so singular and distinctive, his philosophical stance
which is so unique and affective, are disposed to be like that only because of
his unstinting consciousness of this situatedness. His thematic preoccupations
are vivified through words, phrases,
symbols and metaphors employed to connect to the past and future. As a result Jibanananda’s
poems conjure up a world of truly wide dimensions in which poet’s entity
operates and exists with the essence of universality.
One most notable feature of Jibanananda’s poeticity is allegorization
of temporality. Apart from direct references discussed above, his sense of time
finds space in his poetry through a myriad of metaphorical expressions. However,
all of them are grounded in one fundamental concept—human life as a journey
through time. In a letter written to a fan in 1945 Jibanananda admitted the
fact that his ‘consciousness of time as a universal’ flows all through his
poetry and maintains internal consistency. Therefore the question of deviation
from this motto is irrelevant.
Jibanananda’s temporal metaphors show a systematic pattern
through association with known or favourite objects, entities and concepts. Hemanta—a
short-lived season of the Bengali calendar—is a frequent referent. So are
‘distance’, ‘travel’, ‘tiring’, ‘coldness’, ‘death’, ‘sleep’, ‘darkness’,
‘grey’, ‘sky’, ‘cloud’, ‘night’, ‘moonlight’. These referents epitomize his
perception of life. Hemanta signifies shortness, greying and falling of
leaves—end of life. It can be observed that Jibanananda employs autumn (Hemanta)
and winter (Sheat) metaphors almost interchangeably and without discrimination,.
Both of the seasons essentially paint a pale picture, give a cold feeling, and
sing a tune of melancholy. In fact, in almost every other poem, he uses autumn
or winter imagery with amazing variations.
In addition to numerous direct references to autumn and
winter, Jibanananda often captures their common essence through dew drops. He
writes, for example, “Outside, perhaps dew is falling, or may be it is the
leaves, / or it could as well be the owl’s song; that too is like the dew, and yellow leaves”; and,
elsewhere, “... and yet my eyes will be veiled by blue / Death-like insomnia—a
horned moon, empty fields, and the scent of dew.”
Falling of dew and hooting of owl point to a nocturnal
atmosphere—the poem is being written at night. This is an example of time being
mapped onto night which is again being mapped onto falling of dew and owl’s
hooting. This is how an event or object may convey temporal information. There
is scanty information available on the daily life of Jibanananda and it is not known
when he preferred to write or if had a favourite time for writing poems. But it
appears from temporal references that he wrote a number of poems at night. Jibanananda
used ‘tonight’ or analogous words and phrases in a good number of poems— ‘Wristwatch’
is one of them where use of ‘tonight’ clearly conveys the time of composition. In
a similar fashion, in ‘Aadim Debotaaraa’ (The Primeval Gods)
the poet says: “Now I wonder where are
you tonight?” Another poem titled ‘Raatri’ (Night)
opens like this: “Some time ago, there—in the big edifice—a lamp was burning
in one corner—light of extension lecture”.
Death is another favourite referent that frequently finds
its place in the poetry of Jibanananda. What is the nature of references to
death in the poetry of Jibanananda? It is interesting to explore the interface
between temporal concepts and linguistic expression. As already illustrated Jibanananda
often engages in some form of metaphorical mapping whereby he extends the
meaning of words: death is mapped onto sleep; death is mapped onto darkness; and death is also seen written on the body of
the dead. Sometimes ‘dying’ is considered as a travel from the earth to the sky
(“one day she left for a distant cloud” ).
Also, death is personified and envisaged as an entity that brings an end to
human life. The poet contemplates, one day Death will come and ask him to fall
asleep on the grass under a starry sky. Somewhere
death is visualized as a sea ahead that remains to be crossed. Elsewhere it is a
death-river which men approach only to be drowned. In
his famous poem ‘Mrityur Aagey’, Jibanananda reminds that “the grey face of
death surfaces like a wall / vis-à-vis all our fancy desires...”. 
In ‘Jiban Sangeet’ (The Song of Life), the poet suggests to
take death easily:
Lying upon the stretcher perhaps
fog clogs your eyes
Don’t worry, death is not another
How come then so many people
craving a torch like flying ants?
Why would then men compose so
to make a ladder to the heaven?
Death today; but did not the
matador die in Spain?
He fought like a hero in the
thinking himself undefeatable
Suddenly he plunged into an
eternal night. ...
—‘Jiban Sangeet’ (The Song of
He also indicates inevitability and suddenness of death by
referring to the death of the matador in Spain. Perhaps Jibanananda is
referring to ‘Cogida and death’ (Llanto por Ignacio Sanchez Majias), in which
Lorca commemorates a soul-mate, a bull-fighter named Ignacio Sanchez Majias
(1891-1934), who was mortally wounded in a provincial bull-ring in August 1934
and eventually succumbed to death.
For a poet who felt: “We are closed in, fouled by the
numbness of this concentration cell”,
it was only natural that he expressed his readiness for death, as captured in
the following lines:
Tonight the smell of a distant
world fills to the brim
this Bengali mind of mine; if one day death comes to suggest
under a far star on unfamiliar
grass—I’ll take my rest...
It can be argued that reference to death is poet’s one futuristic
contemplation. In Sonnet 15 of Rupashi Bangla, the poet contemplates
what will happen when he will “lie in the sleep of death—in darkness under the
stars / Under the jackfruit tree probably on the bank of the River Dhaleswari
To Jibanananda death comes in human life as an inevitable
destination—a destination not in the sense of fulfillment or final achievement
but as an end of one’s own existence. It is through death that human existence
is eventually given up. Also, death is nothing but an end of time—time allotted
for a man in this world. So, he is fully conscious that the possibility of
death ends all possibilities of life. Death confirms finiteness of human
existence. Inevitability of death is the source of perpetual anxiety of non-existence.
Jibanananda’s reference to death is significant because it completes
his perception of life. His outlook upon death is existentialist in nature in the
sense that he conceives human life as a meaningless journey towards death. In
terms of Heidegger’s terminology, it can be said that Jibanananda perceived his
existence as ‘being-towards-death’. Jibanananda’s being-towards-death is the
case of Dasein making “... its every projection upon an existentiell
possibility, in the light of an awareness of its own mortality”. In
many poems Jibanananda expresses yearning for sleep which reflects his
readiness to confront death in good grace: “Now in solitude his blood longs
for the taste of sleep”. During
his lifetime Jibanananda became reputed for his sense of history. However, one
easily recognizes his intense death consciousness, as embodied in a number of poems. For him
death was not an unwanted event; rather
it was part of his ‘being’. Also, it seems he was fully reconciled to this
Conscious temporal existence
Jibanananda possessed a remarkable power of observation.
While walking along the road he would immediately stop if he came by anything
bizarre or grotesque and watch from a distance. In different poems he refers to places in Calcutta city where a
respectable professor of English literature is not supposed to stray.
When he looks at Nature, he discovers that the crow which shows up on the
wood-apple tree everyday has a broken beak; he notices the shyness of an owl, the mists
adhering to the wings of bats and ducks at dusk that seem to be smelling sleep
by the pond. He hears the sound of paddy sheaf in the wind, smells the scent of
dew. Jibanananda’s frequent reference to nature is often misconstrued to be
arising out of his profound love of nature. Rather it is because of deep sense
of surrounding that Jibanananda so frequently resorts to nature for many of his
elements of metaphorical and symbolic expressions. But it cannot go unnoticed
how immediately the nature’s element is utilized to return to his
leitmotif—human life and existence.
History of mankind does not escape his scrutiny either. He
observes that human history is one of famine after famine, war after war, one
achievement followed by another ambition. He observes a cyclical repetition of
events and contemplates: “Men have been born again and again / In the lifetime
of this earth, / Have moored on new shores of history”.
Elsewhere he writes, “Men have come down these roads / Passed on—they keep
returning” That man is born again and again on this earth constitutes a wonder,
perhaps a puzzle, for Jibanananda. He is confused by the generational
continuity of humankind that is tantamount to repeated staging of the same
scene over and over again. So he wonders, “Is there any new day left anywhere?”
He mutters, “Is there anything anywhere left to be seen?” He
What else we want to know before
As if we don’t know—
how the grey face of death
surfaces like a wall
vis-a-vis all our fancy desires;
—‘Mrityur Aagey’ (Before Death)
Jibanananda feels: “Our lives have crossed a span of a
score years, year by year”. He
concludes, “Men have spent time enough on this earth”,
suggesting futility of further existence. Jibanananda’s predicament as such
gravitates around his search for a justification of continued human existence.
When he wrote ‘Banalata Sen’ he merely focused on the weariness associated with
our incessant human journey on this earth. Moving from there, he came to
question if continued existence of mankind constituted any objective meaning or
served any purpose.
Jibanananda—a unique ‘Dasein’?
Jibanananda takes his readers through an affective poetic
process whereby they are transported to a sensuous, mysterious and complex
realm of past, present and future. Metaphors are profusely employed as the
essential tools for such an enterprise, together with unlimited images derived
from nature. However, the most striking is the frequency of temporal references
spread all through the body of the poetry he left for us. His sense of history
germinated early, and soon metamorphosed into an intense sense of time. No
wonder that the title of his last book was set by him to be Time, Wrong Time,
Jibanananda’s abiding preoccupation is human existence whose
significance is not clear to him. Therefore, he repeatedly questions the
significance of human existence in this world. Analysis of temporality in his
poetry uncovers the poet’s essentially temporalized nature of self-existence. Ultimately
his anxiety relating to own existence extends to the question of human existence
The ‘being’ of Jibanananda Das demonstrates inexorable characteristics
of ‘Dasein’ as theorized by Heidegger in his Being and Time. By
‘Dasein’ Heidegger refers to ‘being-in-the-world’, like Jibanananda Das, whose
perception of existence is characterized by profound awareness of the temporal
situatedness of the self. He is perennially haunted by his past, and he has unbeatable
concern for the future—while he makes way around in the world of poetry.
In Heidegger’s theorizing, the temporal character of
‘Dasein’ is derived from a tripartite ontological structure, namely, ‘thrownness’,
‘projection’ and ‘fallenness’ by which Dasein’s ‘being’ is described. To what
extent and how Jibanananda’s understanding and interpretation of own life and own
existence respond to these criteria is left to a later dissertation. However,
it can be safely concluded that Jibanananda’s existentiality was unique in
combining personal consciousness of time and history with that of humanity in
 Saint Augustine, The Confessions, translated by Edward Pusey
(1951), New York
: Pocket Books, p.224.
 ‘Shomoyer kacche’ (Standing Before Time), Saat-ti Taaraar Timir, 1947.
 Sonnet 8, vide
Chowdhury F. L. (1999). Orpokasito Ekanno (An anthology of unpublished
fifty one poems by Jibanananda Das), Mawla Brothers, Dhaka.
 From ‘Ghora’ (The Horses) by Jibanananda Das vide
Bandopadhyay D. (ed.) (1999) Kabya Songroho — Jibanananda Das, Gatidhara,
 ‘Monobihangam’ vide Bandopadyay D. (ed.)
 ‘Dui dike choriye aache dui kalo sagorere dheu’, vide
Bandopadyay D. (ed.) (1999), pp.451-452.
 ‘Ostochande’ (Dimming Moon) by Jibanananda Das,
vide Bandopadyay D. (ed.) (1999), pp. 23-25.
 ‘Aadim’ (Primeval), vide Bandopadyay D. (ed.)
 Vimbisara covered most of Northern Indian
sub-continent, now part of Pakistan,
and also what is now western India
Vimbisara was a tall, well-built and handsome young man with a fascinating
personality, befitting a king. He was very ambitious and had a desire to expand
 Vidarbha is the north-eastern region of Maharashtra
state of India, now forming
two divisions, namely, Nagpur and Amravati. Sanskrit epic Ramayana has the reference of Vidarbha
as one of the populated place or locality at that time. Kalidasa’s epic poem Meghdutam also mentions Vidarbha as the
place of banishment of the Yaksha Gandharva. Mention of Vidarbha is found in
many mythological stories including one about the marriage of Agastya and
 Known as Bhilsa, Vidisha was a town in west-central
Madhya Pradesh state of India.
Nearby cities include Bhopal, Ujjaini and Indore. It is located
east of the Betwa river. Vidisha is mentioned in the Sanskrit epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. Under the Maurya and Gupta empires, the town was a great
religious, commercial, and political centre.
 On Time and Being, translated by Joan
Stambaugh from Martin Heidegger’s Sein and Zein : 2002, University of Chicago Press.
 Six volumes and their expanded versions were
published during the poet’s life time. Two volumes, namely, Rupashi Bangla
and Bela Obela Kaalbela were published posthumously, out of the manuscripts
left by him.
 Translated by Clinton
vide Chowdhury F. L. and G. Mustafa (ed) (2008): Beyond
Land and Time, Somoy Prokashan, Dhaka. p.
 Translated by Ananda Lal, vide ‘Within the
Background’, in Chaudhuri S. (ed) (1998) A certain Sense—Poems by
Jibanananda Das, Sahitya Akademi, New
Delhi. p. 84.
 From ‘Hawar raat’ (Windy Night). My translation.
 ‘Aaj’ (Today) vide Bandopadyay D. (ed.)
(1999), p. 333.
 vide Bandopadyay D. (ed.) (1999), p. 382.
 From ‘Khete-prantory’ (In Fields Fertile and Fallow),
translated by Clinton B. Seely.
 ‘Abohoman’ (Perennial), vide Bandopadyay D.
(ed.) (1999), p. 134.
 Translated by Chidananda Das Gupta, vide
Chowdhury F. L. and G. Mustafa (ed) (2008), p. 71.
 Translated by Joe Winter, vide Winter J.
(2003): Jibanananda Das – Naked lonely Hand, Anvil Press Poetry Ltd. London. pp.93-94.
 Mahaprithibi is the fourth collection of poems
by Jibanananda Das published in 1944. ‘Subinoy Mustafi’ and ‘Anupam Trivedi’,
among others, were added to the expanded version published in 1954.
 ‘Subinoy Mustafi’, Vide Bandopadyay D. (ed.)
(1999) pp. 169-170. My translation.
 Kartik is name of the seventh month of the
Bengali calendar when rains recede and the chill of winter starts to blow. It
is followed by Aghran (also, Agrahayan). Hemanata, a
pre-winter season of short duration, comprises these two months.
 shar, kash and hogla—these are
different types of grasses mentioned in text in Bengali.
 Translated by Mary Lago and Tarun Gupta, The Beloit Poetry Journal,
Vol. 16, No.1, Fall 1965, p. 25.
 Vide Bandopadhyay D. (1997): Jibanananda –
Bikash Protishther Itihash (Jibanananda—a chronicle of achievements and
recognitions), Bharat Book Agncy, Calcutta.
 Vide Bandopadyay D. (ed.) (1999) p. 178.
 Vide Bandopadyay D. (ed.) (1999) p. 154.
Translated by Jyotirmoy Datta, published in Kavita, International
Number, edited by Buddhadeva Bose.
 ‘Raatri’ (The Night} vide Bandopadyay D. (ed.)
(1999), p. 367.
 from ‘Shoptok’ (Septet). My translation.
 Sonnet No. 43 of Rupashi Bangla, vide
Bandopadyay D. (ed.) (1999), p.258.
 ‘Ghaveer Arial’ (Profound Arial), vide Bandopadyay
D. (ed.) (1999), p.299.
 Vide Bandopadyay D. (ed.) (1999), p. 108.
 My translation, vide Chowdhury F. L. and G.
Mustafa (ed) (2008), p.118.
 ‘Monoshoroni’ (Meditations), translated by the poet
himself, vide Chowdhury F. L. and Mustafa G. (2008): Beyond
Land and Time, Somoy Prokashan, Dhaka. p.
 Sonnet No. 43 of Rupashi Bangla, translated by
Joe Winter, vide Winter J. (2003), p.26.
 ‘Jokhon mrittyur ghume shuye robo’ (When I’ll Lie in
the Sleep of Death) vide Sonnet No. 15 of Rupashi Bāngla.
 On Time and Being, translated by Joan
Stambaugh from Sein and Zein of Martin Heidegger: 2002, University of Chicago Press.
 My translation of
‘Mohagodhuli’ (The Great Twilight), vide Chowdhury F. L. and G.
Mustafa (ed) (2008), p.116.
 Provatkumar Das: Jibanananda Das, 1999: Pashchim Bangla
 e.g. ‘Ratri’ (Night), vide translation by Joe
Winter in Winter J. (2003), pp.91-92.
 From ‘Shomoyer kacche’ (Standing Before Time)
translated by Sudeshna Chakravarti, vide Chowdhury F. L. and G. Mustafa
(ed) (2008), pp. 88-89.
 ‘Bishmoy’ (Wonder), vide Bandopadyay D. (ed.)
(1999), p. 201.
 ‘Onubhav’ (Perception) vide Bandopadyay D.
(ed.) (1999), p. 375.
 Vide Bandopadyay D. (ed.) (1999), p. 108.
 Translated by Mary Lago and Tarun Gupta, The Beloit Poetry Journal,
Vol. 16, No.1, Fall 1965, p. 25.
 ‘Prithibiloke’ (The Universe), vide Shrestha
Kabita by Jibanananda Das, 1956: Navana, Calcutta. p. 86.
 In Bengali Bela, Obela, Kalbela. It was
posthumously published in 1957. In the preface of the anthology his brother
Ashokananda Das informs that the selection of the poems was made by the poet
himself. Also, the title was given by him.
 I thank Kevin Winters who helped me in crystallizing
my thoughts for invoking the Heideggerian perspective to the analysis of
temporality in the poetry of Jibanananda. Kevin studied psychology at the University of West Georgia
and philosophy at the Brigham
© Faizul Latif Chowdhury
Published September 14, 2009
This is excerpted from Poetry of Jibanananda Das by Faizul Latif Chowdhury, to be published later in the year.
Faizul Latif Chowdhury is a career civil servant from Bangladesh currently working as a diplomat ...
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