Letter from Advaita Malla Barman

On March 4, 2012 by admin


 Gokanghat, Tipprah

 23.6. 34





Dear Brother,

I have read your poem a few times, from beginning to the end. I would like to give my comments here. Hope you will not be annoyed. Wherever I found something wanting, or irrelevant in style or meaning, I have marked with a red pen. I have left the responsibility to correct those to you.

About publishing poetry, I can say this much that the poem is not bad at all; in fact quite surprisingly fresh coming from a young poet. Its but still not fully there, not fully fit for publishing, if I may say. So, do not try to publish it right away. Do not get disheartened. Keep on writing. You will make a name in a short while—I harbor such faith and hope.

Here, probably a couple of words about poetry will not be entirely irrelevant.

1.Giti-kavya (Lyrical Poems). 2. Khanda-kavya (Narrative Poems). 3. Maha-kavya (Epic) all vary in style and approach. Your heart and mind needs to be prepared differently for each.

First, you have to work hard as an apprentice on Giti-kavya. Snapshots, a pictorial bent is the soul of Giti-kavya. Try to paint such pictures on the page. Only then get into Khanda-kavya. You may write Khanda-kavya with past or present happenings, but perhaps past is a better repertoire to start with. It will be easier. This is because you can run your imagination ceaselessly and with abandon over the past. You will understand the difficulties with the present—for instance, a blurring and continuity of events that are yet to unfold often is a problem. Future gets in. And we are not prophets.

But do not try your hand on epic. That is a most difficult task. It takes a lifetime to assimilate– first style and then proportion. And needs a fund of knowledge too. Hindu-shastra says that there needs to be at least 9 Swargas in an Epic. You cannot use more than one rhyme scheme. And so on. For Narrative poetry you can collect ‘material’ from Hindu or Muslim mythology or history. There should be an overall symmetry—this you should be truly careful about. Expression and language should be impeccably used. You have that kind of thoroughness and eye—and you will surely be successful.

Nature itself and all around you is a grand granary. For the pictorial, I mean. Try shorter lyrics with minor things and make them connected to the world. Let readers know that nothing is minor. The more you culture these things the more you will become ecstatic with joy and love.

Never follow anyone. Keep your own style, personality and freedom intact, distinct. I am sure you know the difference between imitating and following. You may try a bit of Madhusudan’s blank verse. This is possible until you inculcate your own style. But do not hobnob with Tagore’s transcendentalism or romanticism—those cannot be easily worked out.

I shall conclude my letter with one more thing. Do not get yourself into print without sadhana. And whatever sadhana you do carry on—keep that secret and no need to make any  hue and cry. No fire can be extinguished. Do not hasten. The reading public will come to know about your talent sooner or later. I can say that with some conviction. If you have an iota of faith and love in me, do keep on writing, ceaselessly.

I have tried to relate to you all that I thought of your poetry, as a true friend. Openly. Frankly. If all these annoy you to the least, please forgive me with your ample kindness.



Advaita Malla Barman


Advaita Malla Barman is one of the most significant writers from Bengal writing in the first half of the twentieth century. He died young.This letter was written when he was all of 20 years.

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