Jain Shankar Prasad’s Aansoo is an elegy composed in memory of his first wife. His love for her was so intense that it throw him out of his usual self-possession, but the poet recovered his balance. But before he did so, he had embodied his illimitable agony in deathless melody in Aansoo. And he was thus able to save his heart from breaking and rescue his personality from utter collapse. Shakespeare has rightly said that a man must express his grief, otherwise it will break his heart.
"give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak Whispers the over-fraught heart and bids it break."
Aansoo is a lyric of love. It has all the qualities of lyrical poetry, namely, intensity of emotional experience, spontaneity of expression, subjectivity of thought and feeling, unity of mood, idea, or sentiment, loftiness of imagination, depth of sensibility, succinctness of scope or brevity of form, resonance of rhythm and liquidity of metrical movement.
Prasad was a passionate lover of woman and he found the ideal of womanhood in his own first wife. It is obvious from Aansoo she was a perfect embodiment of elation, of that inborn loveliness which is characteristic of woman, of the brimming simplicity, innocence, and purity of the child, amiability of temper, affability of manner, inalienable modesty in spite of absolute intimacy, and that self-respect and quiet dignity which would not yield to the random gusts of her husband’s passion. Prasad was a passionate lover not only of muliebrity but also of that pudicity which is the woman’s highest ornament.
Aansoo is thus a romantic lyrical elegy par excellence. It combines sweetness with sadness but leaves an optimistic impression devoid of all pessimism.
Aansoo is a master piece and a classic of not only Hindi but of entire Indian literature.
Jai Shankar Prasad (1890-1937) was rather the greatest literary figure of modern Hindi literature. He made outstanding contribution in almost every field viz. poetry, drama, novel, story, essay and what not. His dramas have rediscovered the lesser known period of history with charismatic and artistic skill.
He had profound knowledge of Hindi, Sanskrit as well as English. He had meticulously and critically studied the scriptures as well as Sanskrit literature which reflected in his writings in the most artistic and imaginative manner.
He still stands apart from all our literary luminaries and will perhaps remain so for long.
had his life not been out short by premature death he would have made unparalleled contribution to literature.
Prasad’s Ansu is an elegy composed in memory of his first
wife. His love for her was so intense that it threw him out
of his usual self-possession, but the poet recovered his
balance. But before he did so, he had embodied his
illimitable agony in deathless melody in Ansu. And he was
thus able to save his heart from breaking and rescue his
personality from utter collapse. Shakespeare has rightly said
that a man must express his grief, otherwise it will break
"Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak
Whispers the over-fraught heart and bids it break."
If Goethe had not expressed his agony in The Sorrows
of Werther, he would have gone mad or committed suicide,
as he said himself. With the exception of this work by
Goethe, there is no writing in the world literature which
can compare with Ansu in elegiac intensity. The Sorrows of
Werther, however, is a morbid novel, so morbid, indeed,
that several young men committed suicide after reading it.
But it must be said to Prasad's credit that there is no trace
of morbidity anywhere in Ansu. It is said, of course, perhaps
the saddest in Hindi literature or, for the matter of that, in
the world literature, but it is also the sweetest. Sadness
and sweetness always go together in poetry. As Shelley
has so truly said, "Our sweetest songs are those that tell of
The exceptional intensity with which Prasad's poetry
is surcharged is due to the fact that he had gone through a
fiery furnace of suffering ever since he had been a lad. His
father died when he was twelve, his mother three years
later, and his elder brother to whom he was passionately
attached, five years later still. He was married thrice, the
last marriage forced on him by his brother's widow whom
he looked up to with such reverence as is usually paid by
men to their mothers only. He lost his first two wives by
death. Death had been, indeed, his almost constant
companion. Life is certainly a great teacher. With her stern,
relentless discipline she makes a Musalman of a man, as
our idiom has it; she turns a sinner into a saint. But death
is even a greater teacher than life. She is the mystagogue
who whispers into a man’s ear the mystery of life eternal.
And, like Nachiketa, Prasad was taught by Death. But even
greater than Death is Love. Love conquers Death, as was
said by Browning. Or, as one of the greatest poetic mystics
of England said, Love is the "Absolute sole lord of Life
and Death." She reduces a man to a cipher, to the dust and
then out of the dust she lifts him up to the "Divinity that
shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will." And need
I say that Prasad was taught by Love?
And he had the highest conception of love ever
entertained by a poet. Love, says he in Ansu, is an Entity :
Add to what I have already said the fact that he had
read and assimilated almost everything in Sanskrit and Pali
literature, philosophy, psychology, and history and the
whole of Hindi literature and of Indian history besides an
intimate acquaintance with Persian, Urdu, Bengali, and, last
but not least, English literature. He had the mind in its
perfection of the scholar, the poet, the philosopher, the
lover, the critic, the psychologist, the historian and original
investigator and discoverer. Little wonder that by the time
he began the composition of Kamayani he had become a
full-fledged mystic in every direction, a mystic of life, of
death, of love and beauty, of nature, philosophy, and
religion. This may sound an extravagant claim, but I mean
what I say and can fully substantiate it by evidence from
the poet's writings. I am writing, however, on Ansu and I
must return to my topic.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Your email address will not be published *
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend