Bishnu Dey

(1909-1982 / Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India)

Biography of Bishnu Dey

Bishnu Dey poet

Bishnu Dey was a prominent Bengali poet, prose writer, translator, academic and art critic in the era of modernism, post-modernism. Starting off as a symbologist, he won recognition for the musical quality of his poems, and forms the post-Tagore generation of Bengali poets, like Buddhadeb Basu and Samar Sen, which marked the advent of "New Poetry" in Bengali literature, deeply influence by Marxist ideology. He even published a poetry magazine for while wherein he encouraged socially conscious writing. His own work reveals a poet's solitary struggle, quest for human dignity, amidst a crisis of uprooted identity. Through his literary career, he taught English literature at various Calcutta colleges, Ripon College, Presidency College (1944–1947), Maulana Azad College (1947–1969) and Krishnanagar College. In the 1920s & 30s, he was also remained a member of a young group of poets, centered on the Kallol (Commotion) magazine.

His most important work, poetry collection, Smriti Satta Bhabishyat (Memory, being, the Future) (1955–61), set a new precedent in Bengali poetry. It later won him the 1965 Sahitya Akademi Award in Bengali as well as the highest literary award of India, Jnanpith Award, in 1971.

Bishnu Dey studied at Mitra Institution, Calcutta and Sanskrit Collegiate School, Calcutta. After matriculating in 1927, he went on to do his IA from Bangabashi College, Calcutta. He completed his BA (Hons.) in English from St. Paul’s Cathedral Mission College, Calcutta and MA in English from the University of Calcutta.

In 1935, he joined Ripon College, Calcutta. He subsequently taught at Presidency College, Kolkata (1944–1947), Maulana Azad College, Calcutta (1947–1969).

Writings
Urvashi O Artemis (1932)
Chora Bali (1938)
Purba Lekh (1940)
Sandiper Char (1947)
Annishta (1950)
Naam Rekhechi Komal Gandhar (1950)
The Paintings of Rabindranath Tagore (1958)
India and Modern Art (1959)
Art of Jamini Roy (1988)
Chhadano Ei Jiban (This Scattered Life)
Some regard his poems as intricate and incomprehensible to a great extent, most likely due to wide use of references and imageries from literary works and cultural instances of foreign origin.

Ideology
He was inspired by Marxist philosophy and by the ideas and style of T. S. Eliot. Post-partition in 1947, he along with other Calcutta based writers, like Subhash Mukhopadhyay, for the "Anti-Fascist Wrietrs' and Artist' Association".
He was also associated with Calcutta Group Centre, Soviet Friendship Association, Pragati Lekhak Shilpi Sangha, Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA), etc. He was a close friend of the artist Jamini Roy, an association which lead to him writing works in art criticism, on art: Art of Jamini Roy (1988), The Paintings of Rabindranath Tagore (1958), and India and Modern Art (1959).

Accolades
Sahitya Akademi Award (1966)
Nehru Smriti Award (1967)
Rastriya Jnanpith Award (1971)
Soviet Land Award for Rushti Panchashati.

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A Kafi

'Forests, trees, rocks and hills give me joy that my mind yearns for.
Each tree in the village speaks to me, it tells me, pure! complete!'
~Beethoven

My mind too, escapes in late spring
to the branches of mango and palash trees
and relaxes in contentment for a couple of hours
in the young green and middle-aged reds of fields,
after all, all men are debtors to the earth.

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