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  • 'Connecting' the Bhawoiyaa Songs with Keats's Lyric Poetics:A Parallel Literary Analysis
  • Bidushi Saha (bio)

In an era of globalization, the local, indigenous, folkloric forms have gained global attention and recognition. This essay aims to connect the local with the global—Bhawoiyaa songs with those of Keats's lyric poetics. A parallel reading of Bhawoiyaa songs and Keats's lyrics may help to reveal the intimacies of local-global literary forms that lead to the production of a certain kind of (aesthetical) knowledge. [End Page 169]

Bhawoiyaa is a popular variety of folk songs which is sung in Northern Bangladesh, especially Rangpur district and in Cooch Behar. Jalpaiguri, part of Darjeeling and North Dinajpur district of West Bengal and Dhubri, Goalpara of Assam, India. So Bhawoiyaa song reflects the natural surrounding, local dialects, lifestyle, rituals, customs, and practices of the people, living in the particular areas where Bhawoiyaa is sung.1 For the sake of convenience, I have executed my discussion from three different aspects: 1) Description of Nature, 2) Note of Spirituality and Religiosity, and 3) Man-Woman Relationship—to connect the Bhawoiyaa songs with Keats's lyrics.

1) Description of Nature:

A number of Bhawoiyaa songs are flourished with images drawn from Nature. Nature and its objects enrich the songs and depict the rural life and its customs, rituals, practices, of the areas to which Bhawoiyaa belongs.

Prathom Aghran Mashe Nay Heuti DhanKeo Kate Keo Mare Keo Kore Nabaan. …Bhal Fool Futiache Kekiti KamalaKekiti Kamala Fute Aro Fute Maali,Tarun Boyosher Bela Charil Soyamil.2

Nine Heti paddy in the first Aghran month,Some people harvest, Some thresh, Some celebrate Nabaan. …A Lovely Lotus has been Blossomed.As Lovely Lotuses blossom, so the Gardener BlossomsAt an Early Age, She has been deserted by Her Husband.

In these lines there is a vivid picture of Nature that gets more alive in the season of Autumn. In Bengal, crops, mainly rice, are harvested in Autumn and peasant families of Bengal celebrate Nabanna with this newly harvested rice. Lively pictorial quality and a sense of regional life are the chief characteristics of this song. The same maturity of Nature is also found in John Keats's "To Autumn" where the poet describes the season with such captivating lines—"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,/Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;/Conspiring with him how to load and bless/With fruit the vines that [End Page 170] round the thatch-eves run" (lines 1-4).3 Irrespective of place, country, and continent, there has always seen a tendency to create a bridge between Nature and the animal world (here human world). Both the Bhawoiyaa songs and "To Autumn," two fine creations respond to Nature through their rhythm, cadence, and tone, despite of being located in two far flung areas.

Narir Jaibon Shimul Fool Bondhu,Futile Chaari Dale,Batashe Urabe Jaibon ReJaibon Rohena ChirokaalBatashe Urabe Jaibon Re.

The Youth of a Female is like a silk Cotton FlowerThat blossoms across the branches,The Youth will be besprinkled into the airThe Youth does not long foreverThe Youth will be besprinkled in the air.

Here, the youth of a woman is compared to a flower, namely Shimul (scientific name : Bombax Ceiba). As the fragrance of the flower is diffused, the youth of a woman is also besprinkled into the air. Such a subtle comparison between a flower and the youth of a woman strongly draws our attention to the artistic maturity of the song. Again, in the fourth line there is a reflection of discomfort and the impermanence of youth. The line recalls a famous, often quoted sentence of Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale"—"Where youth grows pale and spectre-thin and dies;/Where but to think is to be full of sorrow/And leaden-eyed despairs." Both the Bhawoiyaa song and "Ode to a Nightingale" throw a realistic light upon the inevitable temporality of youth of human life through the imagery of Nature.

2) Note of Spirituality and Religiosity:

Analyzing the history of Bhawoiyaa songs, it has been pointed out that a tune of spirituality which later becomes religious can be traced...


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