Title of poem After Death Twenty Years

Mir Hassan

 Title of poem After Death Twenty Years

Title of poem After Death Twenty Years

Write an essay about the Title of Birendra Chattopadhyay’s poem After Death: twenty years |Partition literature: After Death: Twenty Years by Birendra Chattopadhyay |After Twenty Years Birendra Chattopadhyay  Summary, Themes & Explanation | Title of the poem after death twenty years summary | Title of the poem after death twenty years objective questions and answers |Title of the poem after death twenty years |  POEM - "After Death: Twenty Years: line by line explanation   | Partition Literature (6th Semester ) DSE A-3

Title: Birendra Chattopadhyay’s Poem After Death: twenty years

Birendra Chattopadhyay is one of the most influential Bengali poets and literary critics. His poems are the expression of the pain of people all over the world.  He used poetry as a weapon of his expression and raised his voice against inhumane practices, mass killings, and torture and murder of innocents. His poems are the expression of the pain and trauma of people all over the world as well as his poetry becomes the expression of frustration and despair, love, nature, and social movements. His notable books of poetry include Grahachyut, Ranu , Lakhinder, Visa Officer Samne, Mahadev's Door, Manusher Mukh, Vietnam: Bharatvarsha etc

 The present poem “After Death: Twenty Years" is a free verse lyric poem written in the form of a dramatic monologue. Birendra Chattopadhyay begins addressing the spirit of Noble Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore. In this poem, Chattopadhyay makes allusions to several tragic historical events, such as the Royal Air Force Mutiny, the Great Calcutta Killings in 1946 (also known as Direct Action Day), and the Partition.. He wrote this poem against the backdrop of the 1960s. He describes how Tagore's dream about the country's future is wrong.    The title ‘After Death: Twenty Years’ directly refers to the death of Rabindranath Tagore who sang of humanity and equality irrespective of race, caste, nation, and religion. Rabindranath always spoke of an ideal country where a man would live without any fear, superstition, and barrier of religion. His dream of such a country was expressed in his essays and poems. He also inaugurated the festival of Rakhi for the union of two major races of India: Hindu and Muslim. 

But a few years after his death India witnessed communal riots, mass killings, and partition of India. So, his death in 1941 was a landmark for Birendra Chattopadhyay because just within a span of five years after his death, communal riots spread all over the country. Bengal viewed the year 1946, as notorious for the massacre also known as Great Calcutta Killing’. Through the phrase “tortuous fire of ’46”, Chattopadhyay refers to this notorious riot of Calcutta that turned the golden land of Bengal turned into a "living hell". Here the poet has used “living hell” as a metaphor for the wretch condition of Bengal during the partition. In the next year, India was divided on the basis of bi-racism. 

 “After Death: Twenty Years” is addressed to him because he did not witness the aftereffect of Indian independence and partition caused by it. As such, he did not watch his dreams demolished just after the independence. The poet evaluates the independence of India twenty years after the death of Rabindranath Tagore and he finds the earthly hell where everybody is fighting for his portion of the country. The people of India who are supposed to be the sons of hers are fighting for her flesh. The madness causing bloodshed during the partition of India is not only compared to the madness in the mental asylum at Lumbini Park in Kolkata but for the poet it is worse than that of the asylum. “The ’47 Partition that was/ Worse than madness in Lumbini”

For the poet, ministers, leaders, teachers, writers, students and the lustful dogs belong to the same group: there is no difference among them because all are busy with satisfying their lusts. They are living together in the country. Now the dreams of the country have been spoilt. ---“All our dreams are like drunken jokes” In the last few lines, the poet addresses his fellow poet again. He says that Tagore may not have thought of this day in his worst nightmares. He never thought that such a calamity would befall this "free" nation.

 Thus the above poem is all about the happenings pre and post-partition and the fate of the “free” and how his earlier dream, influenced by the vision of Rabindranath Tagore, turned out to be thoroughly wrong. Therefore, the title of the poem is appropriate.


Object  Questions and Answer: After Death: Twenty Years”

Q.1 “All the terrible catastrophes -----Escaped your eyes”
 Whose ‘eye’ are referred here?
Answer: The above lines have been taken from the poem  After Death: Twenty Years” The eyes of Rabindranath Tagore are referred here ?
Q.2 Whose death is referred in the title of the poem  “After Death: Twenty Years”?
Answer : The death of Rabindranath Tagore is referred in the title of the poem  “After Death: Twenty Years”?
Q.3 Why did the catastrophes escape the eyes of the poet Rabindranath Tagore in the poem  “After Death: Twenty Years”?

Answer: The catastrophes escaped the eyes of Rabindranath Tagore because he had died a few years before the Independence of India which caused partition, communal riots, and massacre.


Q.4  “You did not burn in the tortuous fire of '46” -----
 Who did not burn in the tortuous fire of '46 and why?
Answer: Rabindranath Tagore did not burn in the tortuous fire of '46 because he died a few years before the Independence of India that caused partition, communal riots and massacre.
Q.5 Why is the year 1946 significant?

Answer: The year 1946 is notorious for the massacre in the communal riot, known as the Calcutta Riots or Great Calcutta Killing or Direct Action Day.


Q.6 What does the poet mean by "the torturous fire of '46"? Answer: "The torturous fire of '46" means the massacre in the communal riot, known as the Calcutta Riots or Great Calcutta Killing or Direct Action Day.


 Q.7 “The land where sons killed each other” Who are "sons" in the poem After Death: Twenty Years? 

Answer: The citizens of India are sons in the poem After Death: Twenty Years.

Q.8. Who is the mother in the poem “After Death: Twenty Years”? Answer: India is referred to as the mother here.


Q.9.Why is the year 1947 significant?

Answer: The year 1947 is significant because in this year India became free from British rule.


Q.10 Which two years are mentioned by the poet in the poem After Death: Twenty Years?

Answer: The poet mentions two years in After Death: Twenty Years, 1946, the year of the communal riot, known as the Calcutta Riots or acquiring Independence of India. of g Great Calcutta Killing or Direct Action Day and 1947, the year of achieving independence of India.


Q.11 “ The '47 Partition that was
  “Worse than madness in Lumbini”

    What does Lumbini suggest here?

Answer: Lumbini refers to a mental asylum named Lumbini Park?

Q. 12 Who taught the poet to dream in “After Death: Twenty Years”?


Answer: Rabindranath Tagore taught the poet and the countrymen to dream of a beautiful nation in “After Death: Twenty Years”?


Q.13 How many years passed between the death of the addressee (Rabindranath Tagore) and the year of writing the poem “After Death: Twenty Years”?


Answer: 20 years passed between the death of the addressee and the year of writing the poem in “After Death: Twenty Years”?

Q.14 . When did the addressee (Rabindranath Tagore) die in “After Death: Twenty Years”?

 Answer: The addressee Rabindranath Tagore died in 1941.

Q.15 “Worse than the old hag -- Who runs the brothels at Shonagachi” Who is worse than the old hag of the brothel at Sonagachhi? 

 Answer: Ministers, leaders, teachers, writers, students, and dogs on heat are worse than an old hag of the brothel at Sonagachhi.


Q.16 What are the dreams of the nation like, according to Birendra Chattopadhyay?

Answer: According to Birendra Chattopadhyay, dreams are like the drunken jokes played on the reeds of an oft-use harmonium.

Q.17. What kind of harmonium is mentioned in the poem After Death: Twenty Years?


Answer: An oft-use harmonium is mentioned in the poem After Death: Twenty Years.

Poem: After Death: Twenty Years   

All the terrible catastrophes
Escaped your eyes 
You did not burn in the tortuous fire of '46 
The famine and the epidemic 
That came through the blood 
The land where sons killed each other 
The flesh of mothers
Fueled a living hell.
You did not have to see 
The '47 Partition that was
Worse than madness in Lumbini. 
Contrary to these experiences, 
A light of humanity had filled your life, Poet.
We too had learnt to dream from you.
These past twenty years 
A history of sewage afloat, 
Thirst, a bath, life, all inhuman. 
Worse than the old hag 
Who runs the brothels at Shonagachi.
Ministers, leaders, teachers, writers, students, 
Dogs on heat, 
This independent land joins all together. 
All our dreams are like drunken jokes 
Played on the reeds of an oft-used harmonium.
Even in your nightmares 
You had not thought such calamity 
Would befall this free country 
You had thus remained true 
To your dreams of humanity.

Summary :  

Poem: After Death: Twenty Years  

 “After Death: Twenty Years” is a moving poem reflecting on the aftermath of the death of Rabindranath Tagore in 1941. The persona Chattopadhyay addresses Tagore and begins the poem by describing the devastating massacre that took place in Calcutta on August 19, 1946. The poet admits that at the time he was unaware of the many disasters that were happening around him. Bengal had transformed into a living hell, with thousands of people dying each day. Tagore did not have to see the Partition of India. More than 20 years had passed after his death, but his dream of a humanitarian nation was still a far cry. More than 20 years have passed since Tagore's death, but his vision seemed unattainable. The collective dream of the Indian people turned into nightmarish thoughts and Chattopadhyay's voice reflected deep despair amid the uncertainty of the situation. It was a moment of reflection for the entire nation.


The poem “After Death: Twenty Years” is written in free verse. Written in free verse, "After Death: Twenty Years". The poem doesn’t adhere to a regular rhyme scheme or meter. Chattopadhyay uses the first-person point of view, allowing him to present his thoughts and emotions directly. As a result, the poem exemplifies a lyric poem, where the poet expresses personal feelings and reflections. The poem consists of a single stanza, encompassing 29 lines. The poet skilfully employs stylistic transitions between the lines, enabling him to seamlessly move from one idea to the next. Overall, the poem serves as an apostrophe to Rabindranath Tagore, as Chattopadhyay attempts to evoke his spirit and show him the harsh realities of the tumultuous period of 1946-47.



Lines 1-8

Chattopadhyay's poetic persona communicates directly with Tagore and wants to enlighten him about the events around 1946, shortly before India's independence. The poem alludes to the terrible disasters that befell the streets of Calcutta during this period. Specifically, the violent confrontation between Muslims and Hindus on August 19 claimed some 3,000 lives. Furthermore, 1946 was the year of the Royal Air Force mutiny, which also resulted in a great deal of bloodshed. Unfortunately, Tagore did not witness these gruesome scenes. The raging fires that tormented countless people in the streets escaped his gaze. In addition, there were famines and epidemics that aggravated the already dire situation. Bengal, once known for its prosperity, has become a 'hell'. During the communal riots, many sons of Bengal clashed with each other, resulting in the tragic loss of their mothers and mothers. In the midst of this chaos, the poet ironically comments on the brutality exhibited by men, as it reduced the magnificent land of Bengal, and by extension India, into a landscape of nightmares and bloodshed.

Lines 9-1

In the next section, Chattopadhyay continues to address Tagore, alluding to the partition of 1947. The poet surmises that Tagore was lucky not to witness the utter madness that immediately followed India's independence. Chattopadhyay compares the situation to the chaos of Lumbini, referring to the Lumbini Park Psychiatric Hospital, known for housing people with serious mental illnesses.

In stark contrast to the somber scenes, Tagore envisioned a nation where brotherhood and compassion flourished. The light of humanity was there in his thoughts. But, the worsened scenes of Partition are not what the poet dreamed of. However, at the end of this section. However, at the end of this section, Chattopadhyay sadly expresses and admits that he, too, learned the art of optimistic dreaming from Tagore. However, the harsh reality he faces is at odds tells him otherwise.

Lines 15-19

The experiences of the past two decades since Tagore's disappearance have forced Chattopadhyay to rethink his dreams. The poet describes the gruesome events of the past as "sewer history," as if the very pages of history brought to his mind the repulsive remnants of the past. The deeper you delve into these memories, the more disturbing and frightening the scary images become.


Chattopadhyay vividly imagines thirsty millions, bathed in blood. The inhumane scenes of the partition still scare him. In a dark and disturbing, he compares the story to an old hag who runs brothels in Shonagachi, a comparison that brutally exposes a harsh truth that is hard to face.

Lines 20-24

In line 20 of the poem, here, the ideas are arranged in descending order of importance. His persona refers to ministers, political leaders, teachers, writers, and students. They are all panting like “Dogs on heat”. After this tremulous journey from the partition, everyone seems to be running away from their past. In the following line, the poet ironically says that the independent nation still joins them together. In a vivid metaphor, he describes them panting like "dogs in heat", conveying a sense of despair and restlessness

In the following verse, the poet resorts to irony by pointing out that the independent nation still unites them even in the midst of this chaotic situation. However, their dreams for India's future have been compared to "drunken pranks", suggesting that what they envisioned was simply the capricious creation of drunken spirits. Disillusioned with the aftermath of the breakup, their dreams now sound like the sound of an outdated harmonium playing outdated music. It means your vision is a distant memory, like a rough folk song whose melody has faded with time.

 In the last few lines of the poem, Chattopadhyay again turns to his fellow poet and explains that Tagore could never have imagined such a day, even in his worst nightmares. Tagore could not have imagined the calamity that befell this “free” nation. The final lines take an ironic turn as Chattopadhyay informs Tagore's ghost that he has stayed true to his dreams of humanity by not having to witness the darker aspects of it. With this reference, the poet underlines the stark contrast between optimism and pessimism, and between humanity and inhumanity. These lines underscore that the tragedies before and after India's independence left Chattopadhyay disillusioned and somewhat cynical about the future of this "free" nation.





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