Oriya poetry is far from playing its guiding role in society, as, despite progress, it could not cross the labyrinth of divinity, says scholar Suchismita Pattanayak, in a study on its trend of advancement between 1935 and 1970 that has brought for her the Ph.D. degree from the State’s premier University – The Utkal University.
These 35 years were the most crucial ones for shaping up its emancipatory character. But in reality it did not happen, she has said
Though poetry in this period had come out of the cocoon of elitism and become quite nearer to members of the society by way of freer verses and clear expressions leaving behind the burden of meters and jargons blossomed to the pick in the preceding era known in the name of Upendra Bhanja, yet it not only drew characters from epics that the Bhanja era had lucidly scripted, but also in works of nature and live events like Chilika or Darabar authored by the initiator of the modern era, Radhanath Ray, divinity rather than human society was more in focus, she has observed.
Similarly, according to her, in the succeeding era initiated by the Panchasakhas of Satyavadi – Gopabandhu Das et al – poetry became more patriotic than epic-centric. But yet, projection of divinity was sic passim their poetic works. Man was not the basic entity in their horizon, though to the poets of Satyavadi era, man was at the center of the Almighty’s schemes of creation.
The green group, which Annada Sankar Roy of Dhenkanal – later migrated to West Bengal – headed, in the next era named after them, viz. Sabuja Yuga – the era of the youth – had made a new experimentation of supernatural feeling in man’s natural being that eventually gained acknowledgment as the romantic era in Oriya poetic literature. But here also supernaturalism was the pivot of poetic expression, not the youth for which the group was known; and divinity was more recognized than man’s societal environment and/or identification.
Even in the era of progressivism begun with foundation of Nabayuga Sahitya Samsad by Bhagavati Panigrahi and his comrades of letters and enriched by Sachi Routray et al whose monumental works of revolutionary expression had the fountainhead in Marxian concept, divinity was not completely discarded. In his post revolutionary authorship, there are instances where Routray accommodates supremacy of time in an environment of loss and emptiness whereas other active founders of this era like Anant Patnaik were also seen on the brims of spirituality and divinity, says the scholar.
The post progressive era brought poets of excellent caliber. But depiction of despair and withdrawal, love and loneliness, dreams and disappointment – personal and societal – look more defined in their verses where divinity is more relied upon in search of solution than politico-economic reality.
Thus, Dr. Pattanayak says, emancipatory objective of poetry, which should have been made absolute for societal benefit after extrication from elitism could not be properly formulated during the pertinent period from 1935 to 1970, as a result of which, the present poetic literature of Orissa has remained far away from its expected societal relevance.