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Siddhicharan Shreshtha (b. 1912) Siddhicharan Shreshtha, who was born in Okhaldhunga in eastern Nepal in 1912,comes from a prosperous landowning Newar family. He has lived most of his life in Kathmandu but has responsibilities for an estate in the Tarai. Siddhicharan is a member of the influential first generation of modern Nepali poets who grew up under the autocratic Rana government, and his poetry reflects the turbulent period through which he has lived. At various times, he has worked as editor of the important literary journal Shdradd and of Nepal's daily newspaper, the Gorkhdpatra. He was granted membership of the Royal Nepal Academy in ]957 and is now a life member. Although he has much in common with Devkota, Siddhicharan is less versatile as a writer and has been described as "the most subjective of all Nepali poets" (Khanal 1977,264).It is true that most of his better known poems are focused inwardly, but this does not mean that he has not addressed himself with vigor on many occasions to the social and political issues of hisday. Siddhicharan's first published poem, "Earthquake" (Bhuinchalo), wa written after the great Kathmandu earthquake of 1934 and appeared in the Gorkhdpatra. Most of his early compositions were rhapsodic or contemplative poems concerned primarily with the beauties of nature. He admits to having imitated Lekhnath Paudyal and to having been influenced in his early years by the great Indian poet Sumitranandan Pant (Kunwar 1966, 25). Siddhicharan became known in the literary circles of Kathmandu during the 1930s, when a respected scholar, Suryavikram Gyavali, published a laudatory essay about Devkota and Siddhicharan entitled "TwoStars in Nepal's Literary Sky" (Nepali Sahityakashka DuiTdrd). One of his most famous early poerns was "My Beloved Okhal57 dhuriga" (Men Pyaro Okhaldhungd), a somewhat, formulaic and overpraised poem that looks back with longing to childhood:1 In the beauty of your verdant green, in the coolness of your heart, this poet spent his childhood, laughing, playing, wandering the glades, my beloved Okhaldhunga Because this poem was widely interpreted as the expression of a desire to be free of the Rana regime, its author became the subject of much discussion. Siddhicharan Shreshtha was clearly not from the same mould as firebrands such as Gopalprasad Rirnal, but Siddhicharan's view of human affairs and the social order in Nepal did undergo a fairly radical change during the f93()s and 1940s. Some critics regard his "revolutionary" poems to be his most important works and argue: that the romanticmysticism and pathos he often expresses are secondary aspects of his poetry (A. Bhatta [1968] 1977, 179). In 1940, he was imprisoned for publishing a poem that began, "There can be no peace without revolution," and he was not released until 1944. In jail, he wrote an episodic poem, Urvashi, that was based on a theme from the Mahabharata. A later foray into Hindu mythology produced The Sacrifice ofHdli(Bdlibadha). Yet it is upon his shorter poems that his reputation now rests. Most of these first appeared in Sharadd and are now availablein three collectionsentitled The Bud (Kopila), My Reflection (Mero Pratibimba), and Mist and Sunlight (Kuhiro ra Ghdm). The poems presented here in translation reflect themes that are typical of Siddhicharan's poetry. The acclaimed poem "A Suffering World" (Vishva-Vyattid), which was published in the year of his imprisonment, is basically an expression of personal sorrow expanded to encompass the suffering of the whole world. The poem, which clearly has sociopolitical undertones, voices the speaker's wish to be conscious of the sorrow of the world: May my heart always churn with longing, may my tears never cease, may I stay here above, bringing the world storms of sorrow. The speaker hints at the action he might take to remedy the situation— the Bhairava is a fearsome aspect of the god Shiva. 1. T. Sharma (1982, 110) dismisses "My Beloved Okhaldhunga" as a poem of little literary merit or importance. THE POETS OF NEPAL 58 Run far from me all people, or come together and kill me now, lest I become the Bhairava and dance with a garland of skulls. "My Reflection" (Mero Pratibimba), a poem in a similar vein, caused something of a stir when first published. In this poem Siddhicharan focuses attention on what he feels to be a general decline in human values. The language of this particular poem is extremely simple, which increases its effectiveness. "Untouchable" (Achut) attacks a specific social evil: the speaker in the...


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