आज से उच्चारण पर विदेशी कवियों की कविताओं के अनुवाद की श्रंखला प्रारम्भ कर रहा हूँ!
इस कड़ी में आज प्रस्तुत है-
John Masefield की
|सौंदर्य जॉन मेसफील्ड|
प्रातःकालीन वेला में
सूर्यास्त के समय
पहाड़ियों की उत्तुंग चोटी पर
अपना मस्त राग गा रहा है
ऐसा प्रतीत होता है
सुरीली धुनों को
छेड़ रहा हो!
बसन्त ऋतु में
जब मेहनती महिलाएँ
नरम-नरम घास के
अपनी पीठ पर
लादकर चलतीं हैं
तो ऐसा लगता है
मानों अप्रैल में
बारिश की बून्दें
गुनगुना रहीं हो !
धवल पाल के नीचे
लदे हुए फूल
जब गुनगुनाते हैं
तो ऐसा लगता है
पुराने नगमें सुना रहा हो!
मैं ईश्वर से
सौन्दर्य क्या है?
तो मौन में से
उत्तर आता है-
प्रेयसी के बाल,
और उनसे निकली
सबसे बड़ा सौन्दर्य है!
(अनुवादक - डॉ.रूपचन्द्र शास्त्री "मयंक")
(1878 - 1967)
When I am buried, all my thoughts and acts
Will be reduced to lists of dates and facts1
First printed in 1912, Masefield’s poem ‘Biography’ demonstrates unease with the genre. His own fragmentary autobiographical works have an intriguing reticence and when Sanford Sternlicht admitted difficulty in writing the biographical introduction to his critical study (John Masefield, Twayne Publishers, 1977) he was highlighting the lack of factual information available. This situation changed in the centenary year of Masefield’s birth when a biography was published with the support of the Masefield family and estate. Constance Babington Smith’s work (John Masefield: A Life, Oxford University Press, 1978) must be regarded as definitive because of her access to family and friends.
John Masefield was born on 1 June 1878 in Ledbury, Herefordshire. His childhood was idyllic and the beauty of the local countryside and a dreamy imagination led him to a Wordsworthian communion with Nature. Masefield’s ‘paradise’ 2 was not to last; at an early age he was orphaned and entrusted to the guardianship of an aunt and uncle. The aunt viewed his love of reading with suspicion and, after a brief period at the King’s School Warwick, it was thought that the school-ship H.M.S. Conway would both prepare the youth for a career at sea and dispel his addiction to books.
Masefield’s autobiographical account of his first term on board the Conway in 1891 entitled New Chum tells of confusion, awe and wonder at this new world. His marine schooling trained him for the sea and also, crucially, introduced him to marine history, mythology and yarns. Gaining the position of a senior petty officer, Masefield left the ship in 1894 and was apprenticed to a four-masted barque (the Gilcruix) sailing from Cardiff to Iquique in Chile via Cape Horn. The new apprentice was violently ill and upon arrival sunstroke combined with a nervous breakdown to invalid Masefield. He was classified as a Distressed British Seaman and, after time in hospital, returned to England. The aunt taunted her nephew and arrangements were made for the young man to join another ship in New York. Masefield had other plans and upon arrival in America he deserted ship vowing ‘to be a writer, come what might.’3
At seventeen Masefield embarked on a life of vagrancy in America during a time of widespread depression. One job was as a bar-hand in New York, but he eventually secured better employment at a carpet factory in Yonkers. It provided a modest wage and time to relax after the working day. Masefield spent his time reading and at eighteen years of age bought a volume of Chaucer. His admission to a new world of poetry was sudden and complete on 6 September 1896 when he first read The Parliament of Fowls. Keats and Shelley followed as did Masefield’s renewed attempts at writing himself. Thinking that journalism might allow him to write for a living, Masefield returned to England in July 1897.
The nineteen-year old commenced work in London as a bank clerk. Plagued by ill-health (and malaria, in particular) the would-be poet acheived success in 1899 when his first poem was published in The Outlook.4 For Masefield the time had come to approach his most recent influence and in 1900 he was invited to dine with W.B. Yeats. Masefield thus found himself drawn into Yeats’s circle of friends which included Lady Gregory, Arthur Symons, Ernest Rhys, J.M. Synge and Laurence Binyon. This last had a profound influence on the course of Masefield’s life for Binyon introduced him to Constance de la Cherois Crommelin, a woman eleven and a half years Masefield’s senior. When, in 1902 Grant Richards published Masefield’s first book, Salt-Water Ballads, the volume carried a dedication to three women one of whom was Constance, his future wife.
Masefield married in 1903. Now with the financial commitments of a family (a daughter, Judith, was born in 1904) Masefield continued work as little more than a literary hack. His poems and short stories (in addition to a prodigious quantity of book reviews) were published in newspapers and magazines. Of particular importance at this time is Masefield’s work for the Manchester Guardian (Masefield was on the staff in Manchester for a short period and devised the ‘Miscellany’ column which then comprised a compendium of news stories). The writer was now finding both a forum for publication, and also badly needed financial support. At this time, friendship with Jack B. Yeats, the artist brother of W.B. Yeats, flourished as did his friendship with Charles and Janet Ashbee - revivalists of the handicrafts movement. The poetic vein in which Masefield had enjoyed modest success was now changing, however, and he turned his attention to drama (in addition to short stories and two naval histories). Other work comprised editing and writing prefatory introductions.
After some notoriety following a shocking production of The Campden Wonder in 1907, Harley Granville-Barker directed Masefield’s The Tragedy of Nan in May 1908 starring Lillah McCarthy in the title role. Masefield’s reputation continued to grow and his first novel Captain Margaret (set on the Spanish Main) was published in June 1908. The final few years of the decade saw a further novel (Multitude and Solitude) in addition to his starting another play (The Tragedy of Pompey the Great) which owed much to his friendship with the classicist Gilbert Murray. A relationship with the actress and feminist thinker Elizabeth Robins occurred at this time and Masefield spoke for the suffrage of women in 1910.5 However, despite Masefield’s fervent creative efforts he later described the period as ‘a very real blackness of despair’ and noted ‘my work was not what I had hoped’.6 It was only in 1911 with publication of The Everlasting Mercythat Masefield - a new voice in poetry - arrived on the literary scene. A sensation had occurred: Lord Alfred Douglas branded the work ‘nine tenths sheer filth’, the poem was denounced from the pulpit, read in public houses, and J.M. Barrie described the work as ‘incomparably the finest literature’.7 Masefield continued his success in 1912 with The Widow In The Bye Street and Dauber in 1914 - both long narrative poems and, again, popular and artistic successes.
With the outbreak of war, Masefield become an orderly at a British Red Cross hospital in France. Here he experienced the horror of modern warfare and planned how to improve conditions for the wounded. Raising money himself, he intended to create a travelling field hospital but, in the event, this was abandoned after a request for assistance in the Dardanelles. Thus Masefield took charge of a motor boat ambulance service at Gallipoli in 1915. After the Allied failure there Masefield turned his attention to America and undertook a series of lectures which would enable him to assess American feeling towards the war and plead the Allied cause. The negative American impression of the Dardanelles campaign was one contributory factor to Masefield’s history of Gallipoli - an instant success and described by one critic as ‘a book to strike the critical faculty numb’ and ‘too sacred for applause’.8 Such was Masefield’s triumph that an invitation was received from Sir Douglas Haig to write the chronicle of the Somme. Whitehall bureaucracy eventually forced Masefield to abandon the original plan and the Somme chronicle eventually appeared as two truncated volumes: The Old Front Line and The Battle of the Somme.
Back in England, the Masefield family (which since 1910 had included a son, Lewis) were resident on Boars Hill near Oxford. Here Masefield’s neighbours included Robert Bridges, Gilbert Murray and Lillah McCarthy while Robert Graves rented a cottage from Masefield. In this environment Masefield wrote three further long narrative poems:Reynard The Fox (1919), Right Royal (1920) and King Cole (1921). The first was later described by L.A.G. Strong as a ‘masterpiece’9 and by Muriel Spark as ‘a great poem’.10 In 1922 Oxford University awarded Masefield an Honorary Doctorate.
At Boars Hill Masefield continued to develop his dramatic voice and started to organise amateur theatrical productions in addition to recitations. For Masefield, poetry was a spoken art form and his own private theatre (‘The Music Room’) provided a forum for poets to develop work. Gordon Bottomley, Laurence Binyon and Thomas Hardy had plays produced at Boars Hill; W.B. Yeats attended a short festival in his honour. Not content with this enterprise, Masefield established the Oxford Recitations - a contest for verse speaking held in Oxford and was also to collaborate with Nevill Coghill in establishing the Oxford Summer Diversions - a festival of recitals, plays and ballet.
With the death of Robert Bridges, the position of Poet Laureate fell vacant and in 1930 Masefield was appointed by King George V. He was a popular choice for the sixteenth Laureate (since Dryden) and had been chosen in preference to Kipling, Housman, Yeats, Drinkwater, de la Mare and Newbolt to name six eminent contemporaries. In October 1930 he received the freedom of the City of Hereford. During this decade and the early 1940s Masefield continued to produce poetic work although he also concentrated on his narrative art in a succession of successful novels - The Bird of Dawning and the Ned trilogy11 for example. An honorary doctorate from Cambridge was awarded in 1931. In 1935 the much-loved Poet Laureate was awarded the Order of Merit.
Pinbury Park in the Cotswolds became home for a number of years from 1933 and it was there that Masefield returned after visits during this period to America, Australia, the West Indies, Greece, Turkey, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Monte Carlo. As Laureate he found himself in constant demand and earnestly worked for his fellow writers; in 1937 he became President of the Society of Authors (a position formerly held by Tennyson, Hardy and Barrie). After Pinbury, the Masefields moved to Burcote Brook, near Abingdon.
During the Second World War, Masefield published poetry (Some Verses to Some Germans and A Generation Risen) and prose (The Nine Days Wonder), which may be considered war work. In 1942 however, the war directly struck the family when Masefield’s son was killed in the North African desert. The austerity and destruction of war affected Masefield but with characteristic determination he carried on writing and performing official duties. In the late 1940s he was closely associated with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and became the first president of the recently created National Book League, delivering their second annual lecture. 1949 was, however, to bring serious illness and the 1950s saw little work from Masefield: one notable exception was So Long To Learn: Chapters of an Autobiography published in 1952. Although previous autobiographical works had been published, here Masefield writes specifically of his literary awakening and his life as a writer.
In 1959 the elderly Laureate made an interesting reappearance that suggested he was not entirely a Georgian relic. Advocating the spoken word as the best vehicle for poetry, the release of The Story of Ossian as an L.P. record was the first time a major poet had first published his work in this medium. Success led Masefield to record a further three commercial discs in addition to occasional messages and private greetings.
Constance Masefield died in 1960 and the final years of Masefield’s life saw a resurgence of activity and success - he was awarded the Royal Society of Literature’s Companion of Literature, received the William Foyle Poetry Prize for the Bluebells and Other Verse and received an award from the National Book League for Old Raiger and Other Verse. Masefield died on 12 May 1967 and his ashes were interred in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey. In his memorial address Robert Graves stated that in Masefield ‘the fierce flame of poetry had truly burned’ and described Masefield as his ‘hero’.12