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Gopalprasad Rimal (1918-1973) Gopalprasad Rimal was born in Kathmandu in 1918. He is remembered as the first "revolutionary" Nepali poet and the first to reject the use of meter. He was one of the group of influential writers, including Bijay Malla, Siddhicharan Shreshta, and Govind Bahadur Gothale, who produced and contributed to Sharada, thejournal that played a most crucial role in the development of Nepali literature during the late Rana period. Rimal was the most overtly political of all Nepali poets at a time when most writers were addressing social and political issues in their work. Indeed, he was too controversial for his political masters, who removed him from his post as editor of Sharada after only two months and later imprisoned him on several occasions. In an innovative form of blank verse, he railed against the injustices and inadequacies of the Rana government and longed for a social awakening, which was symbolized in his poems as a new birth. Nor did Rimal shrink from taking political action; in 1941, for instance , after the execution of a number of political agitators, he gathered his peers around him to protest. Each morning the group of young poets visited the temple of Pashupatinath, and each evening they gathered at the shrine of Shobha BhagavatI to sing hymns such as the following: I serve the country, give me strength, may I bring happiness and welfare to all, to you we cry insupplication, we are free, all slavery is abolished, oh Shiva, give me strength, I serve the country, give me strength.1 1. Tanasarma (1970, 115). 73 Rimal's first published composition was a metrical piece, the first of two poems simply entitled "To—" (—Prati), and it appeared in the Gorkhdpatra in 1935. He also employed the jhyaure folk meter, which Devkota had popularized with his Mund-Madan, in poems such as "To the Madman" (Kolahdsita, 1937) and "Cloud" (Badal, 1938). His "Poet's Song" (Kaviko Gdn), which appeared in the Gorkhdpatra in 1935, was acclaimed as the first Nepali poem in free verse, and by the late 1930s he had become the first Nepali poet to abandon meter altogether.2 The Nepali poetry of the 1940s arid early 1950s was filled with expressions of hope for the future, although writerswho wished to express controversial views had to do so obliquely if they wished to avoid imprisonment or censorship. Many of Rimal's poems were therefore phrased as pleas to a mother from her suffering children. He refrained from identifying this mother with Nepal or from naming her children's oppressors, and most of these poems could be interpreted as expressions of the angst that grips the world during the kaliyuga, the age ofuniversal degeneration, or as general depictions of the human condition. In the context of Nepal at the time, however, Rimal's message wasabundantly clear: the mother was Nepal; her oppressors were the Ranas. The poem that made Rimal's radicalism most plainly apparent was the second of his poems entitled "To—," published in 1960. At first glance, it appears to be merely a short poem addressed to an anonymous lover, albeit in unorthodox terms, but its startlingpoliticalmessage soon becomes clear: Here we should give birth to Buddha, here we should give birth to Lenin, here we need self-knowledge: is there a better mirror than the face of a child for us to see ourselves? Rimal's most famous poem is "A Mother's Dream" (Amako Sapnd), an allegory that expressed his firm convictionthat change would come soon to Nepal. As in many subsequent poems, Nepal was symbolized by a mother who dreamed of bearing the son who would combat evil and inaugurate a future full of hope. The poem consists of a dialogue between a mother and her son: she assures him that "he" will surely come to fight against injustice: At first you will think him a dream, you will grope with your hands to touch him, but he will surely come, more tangible than fire or snow. 2. Ibid., p. 116. Subcdi (1981, 15) states that this poem first appeared in Sharada. Tanasanna ([1977] 1979), meanwhile, devotes a whole chapter of a book to a discussion of the question "Who first experimented with prose-poetry in Nepali?" THE POETS OF NEPAL 74 The mother (Nepal) concludes by telling her son (the people of Nepal) that she had dreamed in her youth that he would be her liberator. A critic, Madhusudari Thakur, penned a tribute to Rimal...


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