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Kedar Man "Vyathit" (b. 1914) Kedar Man "Vyathit"' is one of Nepali literature's grand old men. A close contemporary of Devkota, Sama, Rimal, and many other influential Nepali poets, Vyathit has made the greatest contribution of all his peers to the development of Nepal's literary institutions during a long career of more than a half century. Vyathit was born in 1914 to a Newar family of Bansbar! in the Sindhupalchok district to the east of the Kathmandu Valley. He found his first gainful employment as an accounts clerk in the household of the Rana prime minister Juddha Sharnsher in 1930. By 1940, however, Vyathit had become fiercely opposed to the regime, and from 1948 onward he was active in the banned Nepali Congress Party. For this reason, he suffered years of imprisonment in Nepal (from 1940 to 1945) and in India and a long period in exile. After the revolution of 1950—1951, he was rehabilitated and his politicalcareer reached its climax in 1962 when he was made minister for transport and communications. Vyathit's literary activities had commenced much earlier, however: inspired by Siddhicharan Shreshta and Chittadhar Hridaya, both fellow Newars, Vyathit began writing poems in jail. In 1945 he convened Nepal's first ever literary conference, and in 1962 he founded the kingdom's first literary institution, the Nepali Sahitya Sansthan (Nepali Literature Institute). Seven years later he became chancellor of the Royal Nepal Academy, the country's most prestigious cultural institution. Vyathit now lives in retirement in central Kathmandu, in a house he calls kavi kulir, "poet's cottage." Vyathit is a prolific writer. Twenty-three volumes of his poems have 66 1. Vyathit, meaning "distressed," is a pseudonym resembling those adopted by many Hindi poets ot the mid-twentieth century, such as Nirdla, "strange," or Dinkar, "sun." been published in all: sixteen in Nepali, four in Newarl, and three in Hindi. No two Nepali critics seem able to agree on a categorization of his poetry: he has been called a romantic, a didacticist, a mystic,a socialist, and even an anarchist. A number of specific themes do recur frequently in his poetry, however, and it is fair to say that his style is generally consistent and readily identifiable. As a poet, Vyathit has attracted both praise and criticism, but as Khanal has written, "The significance of his poetry is unmistakeable" (1977, 243). Almost all of Vyathit's poems are written in metrical verse (Abhi Subedl [1978, 61] describes rhythm as their main characteristic), and most are very brief, rarely exceeding one page in length. The earliest were written in jail during the f940s and are melancholy, pessimistic, or revolutionary by turns. The revolutionary poems are exemplified here by "Fragment from the Year '09" (09 Sdlko Kavitd 1) and "The Storm" (Andhi ). In the latter poem, Vyathit looks back with relish to the political upheavals of 1950. A recurrent theme in his work is the description of human love and natural beauty. "A Glimpse" (Ekjhalko) presents a charming cameo from rural life, and other poems invest the beauty of the natural world with a mystical significance. Vyathit does not shrink from eroticism in his frequent descriptions of women, as in the long poem, published in book form, Woman: Flavor, Sweetness, Brightness (Ndri: Rasa, Mddhurya, Aloka}: You, wholly revealed, how lovely, moonlight is poured out to fill your naked body Vyathit's concern for the modern human condition is expressed in many poems, such as "War" (Rana), translated here, and he can often be extremely pessimistic. Two of his most famous poems, "Ants" (Kamila) and "The Practice of Sculpture" (Shilpa-Sddhand), describe the futility of human activity and the basic hypocrisy of the world using original allegorical devices. In "The Practice of Sculpture" the artist is aware of the events taking place outside but ignores them, engrossed in work. The human world may speak of peace, but it continues its conflicts unabated ; it is only in the arts that words and deeds coincide. One of the most common criticisms leveled at Vyathit's poetry is that it is influenced excessively by the mystical chdyavadl (shadowist or reflectionist) poets of Hindi literature with whom Vyathit became acquainted during the 1940s and 1950s.2 Indeed, his revolutionary poems 2. T. Sharma (1982, 111) particularly critical of Vyathit because of this feature of his poetry. KF.DAR MAN "VYATHIT" 67 have been compared to those oi' the Hindi poet Dinkar (Rakesh 1987, 53), and many critics complain that Vyathit...


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