When we talk about Indian English Literature, it is obvious to mention Indian English Poetry, since it is the oldest form. The typical and actual India is beautifully being carved and described by Indian poets who write in English. A new form of English poetry had been discovered by Indian poets by using Indian culture, traditions, issues etc and made the world know about them.
During the pre-independence era, few of the poets tried to ‘be English’ by copying the style and pattern of the native English poets, they lost their identity by not paying heed to their own potential.
When British came to India, they brought their culture, language and religion along with them which resulted in the writers and poets trying their hands in this foreign language and they are famed as well as reputed till date.
Indian English differs from western or native English in a number of ways like theme, language, style of writing, imagery etc. The poems were written in Indian English get more connected to Indians because it is ‘for the Indians and by the Indian’. But when a poet writes for foreign audiences, the Indian touch in the poem makes it worth reading.
Indian English Poets
Henry Louis Vivian Derozio is regarded as the first poet of Indian English poetry. He was criticized for his writings were considered to be too western or it may be said that his poems contained the tint of Christianity.
His interest in this country is being shown by his poem such as ‘Harp of India’. The characteristics of Indian poems cannot be defined but the Indianness remains a remarkable character in it.
Sri Aurobindo, Sarojini Naidu, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Toru Dutt are remarkable Indian English poets. Rabindra Nath Tagore used to write both in Bengali as well as English and translated his Bengali work into English himself. The contemporary English poet, Nar Deo Sharma, because of his literary achievements; is given an important place in this literature field.
The Hindu tradition of cremation and the process of throwing the ashes into the river are depicted by A.K Ramanujan, an Indian English poet, in his poem ‘The Obituary’. When Kamala Das saw eunuchs dancing on the streets of Calcutta, she got inspired and thus ended up with ‘The Dance of the Eunuchs’. Honesty and authenticity are the key things which make a poem successful and gain ample amount of audience.
In the poems like ‘The Railway Clerk’ by Nissim Ezekiel, there is a comprehensive use of Indian English such as the suffix; ‘ing’ is unnecessarily being used and in a wrong way and that is how most Indians use English typically.
Here the poet used this type of English as a tool to create humour and satire. When the Indian poets started using the words from Indian languages (Hindi, Urdu etc) like “guru, goonda, burkha, chapatti, pan” etc, people from all over the world automatically started borrowing those words in English.
It is easy for a true reader to differentiate between an Indian poet and a western counterpart since the essence of Indianness will remain in their writings. Jayanta Mahapatra is a prominent Indian writer who possesses Indian sensibility.
In his poem “Dawn at Puri” he describes the importance of the pilgrimage, Puri, in the life of a Hindu. To attain salvation, women desire to die here. Mahapatra uses landscape theme which includes sensibility and the connection with roots.
Same is the case with other Indian poets, whether it is Nissim Ezekiel or A.K. Ramanujan, an exception is hardly available. The language and the subject used by the poets reveal the experience earned by them.
Indianness is inherited from Indian writers and they can’t escape from it. Beliefs, attitude, myths, allusion etc are the patterns used by the Indian poets. So nothing can be more inspirational for Indians other than India.