Wordsworth & Nazrul

In Similar Themes and Thoughts

Prof. Dr. Mustofa Munir

 Poet William Wordsworth and Kazi Nazrul Islam wrote some poems that embraced almost similar emotions, imagination, and thoughts.  Both Poets wrote poems with utter sadness when their dearest child had died. They used the imagery to describe their poetic emotion of love and pain. They demonstrated their ability and avidity to derive some moments from alluring nature amidst melancholy, unhappiness, and desolation. Poet Wordsworth as a narrator manipulated the image of an unknown solitary girl while she was singing and reaping crops in the valley of Scottish Highland, and the other narrator Poet Nazrul revealed his agonies of estrangement and love for an unknown, unseen lover. A poem cannot take shape itself without the poet’s flowing feelings and creative imagination. The two romantic poets used their meaningful imagination to roam within their poems with superb literary sense and poetic talents. They utilized their elevated   passion, resentments and sorrows along with the beauteous nature, in order to reach the common readers, as their fundamental conditions to write a poem. The Poems ‘Surprised by joy’ and ‘Solitary Reaper’ of Wordsworth bear a striking similarity to those of Nazrul’s poems—Deep in the sleep’(Bengali poem: Ghumiye geche sranto hoiye) and ‘My lover without a name’(Bengali poem: O-namika). Both poets have created an image that was descriptive and conveyable. It sustains an accurate and similar resonance with extreme reality. Their imagination is not just faithfully copied from the nature rather it is mingled with their own elegant poetic testimony and manifestation.

The comparative analysis of the poems has been made on the basis of context, topic, tone, conflict, and motifs. The striking features of the language they used were also analyzed conspicuously. The following poems are selected to be analyzed:

  1. ‘ Surprised By Joy’ by W. Wordsworth
  2. The Solitary Reaper’ by W. Wordsworth
  3. ‘Deep in the Sleep’ by Kazi Nazrul Islam.
  4. ‘My Lover Without a Name’ by Kazi Nazrul Islam.

The poets tried to improve and heighten the pleasure of poetry that co-existed with passion.

Wordsworth’s famous definition of poetry: Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”This definition fits thoroughly with Wordsworth’s whole poetic creation. It also accommodates the whole extend of Poet Nazrul’s poetic works—his poems, lyrics, and ghazals.

Surprised by joy, the fourteen lined-sonnet,was written by William Wordsworth in 1815 when his four-year-old daughter Catherine died.

In this poem Poet Wordsworth was surprised and overwhelmed by a momentary joy and he had to say—

“Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind 

I turned to share the transport—Oh! with whom 

But Thee, long buried in the silent Tomb, 

That spot which no vicissitude can find?”

William Wordsworth walked down the graveyard and stood in front of his daughter’s grave with saddened heart. He was not prepared to receive a stimulus that made him joyous only for an infinitesimal moment. He did not expect that blithe moment. So, it came to him as a surprise event.  But the source of that joyous moment was—“That spot which no vicissitude can find?”.

‘That spot’, which is the graveyard and its tranquil vicinity captivated the narrator so much that he asked himself— was there any other vicissitude that could replace that spot? The prolonged calmness of the graveyard and the beauteous nature around it suddenly penetrated deeply into the heart of the narrator (Wordsworth) and created a joyful rhythm within him. He was surprised by the joy that jolted his heart. By being so joyful he was “impatient as the Wind”. He was bewildered not knowing whom he could communicate that joy “I turned to share the transport” . Then he himself replied — “Oh! with whom but Thee”. It is none but the narrator’s daughter Catherine would be shared with the delights of the dramatic ambience that overwhelmed him so powerfully. But that was an ephemeral moment, the narrator regained his sense and reminded him that he was standing in front of his daughter’s silent tomb where she was long buried. The affection and love for the dear daughter brought him back to the reality.  He asked himself if he was beguiled and blind to that most dire loss—

 “Have I been so beguiled as to be blind 

To my most grievous loss!—That thought’s return 

Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,”

He got back his feelings of enormous pain that he wanted to save as “one” and “one only” as long as he stood there forlornly. He realized he lost one of the most treasure of his heart—his daughter and neither that day nor any day of the coming years could bring back his daughter’s heavenly face again to his vision—

Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn, 

Knowing my heart’s best treasure was no more; 

That neither present time, nor years unborn 

Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.” 

Poet Kazi Nazrul wrote this poem Deep in the sleep’(in BengaliGhumiye geche chranta hoie’) when his four-year- old son Bulbul died in the year 1930. The tragic untimely demise of his son shattered him terribly. The poem is an elegy for his son – the ‘songbird Nightingale’.  The theme is the lament on the death of his dearest child with a heart burdened with deep sorrows. The poet constructed the entire lyric with the words that emanated from his wretched heart.

 “Deep in sleep is my wearied Nightingale,

The dull flaccid flowers of the evening 

Cast at him their plaintive look, but his all

Songs made the flowers to bloom in the morning,

Then which cruel hunter’s arrow silenced

Him? In the woods the queen of evening

In her disheveled hair for his death wailed,

Oh! No buds tomorrow will be sprouting

From creeping tender vines, O listen! Whose

Melancholic breaths in the leaves murmur!

Flown far away my singing bird, exists

Now only a stark desolate nest there,

In my voice crowd not my words anymore, 

No trick of light can tempt anyone, no more.”

(The lyric is translated in the form of sonnet)

[abab,cdcd,efef,gg]© by mustofa munir

The narrator upholds a veritable approach in bringing up features from the nature amid infinite griefs and bereavement. The evening-flowers, vines and leaves bemoaned the death of their companion, the nightingale, the bulbul. The narrator Poet Nazrul described his song-bird nightingale was wearied and in deep sleep. In the morning, the flowers were bloomed with his sweet notes, after that he could not sing anymore. So, in the evening the flowers gaze at him with plaintive lookas the nightingale was in deep sleep.

The nightingalebloomed the morning-flowers with his sweet notes. So, the narrator wanted to know— why was he slain then?   The narrator described that a cruel hunter’s arrowhad caused the death of his son(the nightingale)—

“ But his all songs made the flowers to bloom in the morning,

Then which cruel hunter’s arrow silenced him?”

Then the narrator Poet lamented—no flower-buds would sprout out from the tender vines anymore since his song-bird flew away from its nest. The bird has left and the nest is empty. The narrator also wanted us to listen to the melancholic breaths that emanate from the murmurings of the leaves—the whole ambience is desolate and mournful!

“Oh! No buds tomorrow will be sprouting

From creeping tender vines, O listen! Whose

Melancholic breaths in the leaves murmur!

Flown far away my singing bird, exists

Now only a stark desolate nest there.”

William Wordsworth’sThe Solitary Reaper’is a ballad. This ballad was written during a tour that began in August 1803 in the Scottish Highlands. Wordsworth, his sister Dorothy and fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge participated in that tour. The journey lasted about 6 weeks.

The ballad”The Solitary Reaper” is considered as Wordsworth’s one of the best-known works. It was about a Highland lass (girl)— who was singing a song and at the same time reaping the corn or rye in a field of northern Scotland during harvest time.

Wordsworth was inspired to write this poem when he sawa solitary girlin a field of Highland villagein a far-off valleywas reaping and singing by herself—

 ‘Single in the field,

Yon solitary Highland Lass’.

While she was singing the narrator beseeched the passersby not to disturb her but to stop or pass gently without making any distracting sound— “Stop here, or gently pass!”

From these words ‘Stop here, or gently pass’ we can infer that the song of reaper-girl had touched the narrator’s heart so vehemently and enormously that he wanted only her singing be continued without any external disturbance. It was the melancholic sound of the song that overflowed the valley—

“O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound…”.

The narrator did not stop there, the rhythm of his feelings he unveiled more and more—

Her doleful tune was more alluring to him than any nightingale’s sweet notes that could possibly rouse a reposeful feeling in the heart of some exhausted travelers while they were under a shadowy place in Arabian desert. That girl’s voice was so enchanting to him no cuckoo could ever produce such in any springtime. So thrilling it was!  That broke the silence of the seas in the furthest north-western islands of Scotland.

In the next stanza he asked everyone who might tell him what was the words or theme of the song that she was singing— ‘Will no one tell me what she sings?’ 

She was singing in local Scots Gaelic language, but it was not the non-English words that bothered the narrator, rather he precisely wanted to know ‘what she sings?’—what was her state of emotion that prompted her heart to sing that melancholic song and then in the next few lines he reviewed the possible causes behind rendering such song— it could be her old, unhappy, far-off things-story that she battled long ago or it could be any simple incident that happened that day— a feeling of natural loss or pain, or that pain had returned and inflicted her again.

At the end in the last stanza, he submitted himself saying whatever the theme of the song could be, the song bore a music which had no ending. When he reached the hilltop, he spent a considerable time there. At one time he could not hear that music anymore (possibly she stopped singing or she was thinking something else);butthat music and the reaper girl left an imprint of a long-lasting allusion.

 “The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.”

 ‘My Lover Without a Name’ is considered as one of the best romantic poems of poet Kazi Nazrul Islam. The Poet wrote this poem on July 27, 1926 when he was in Chittagong, a port city of Bangladesh. The poet was fascinated by the lustrous green canopy of the trees in the city and the sea at the southern part. In a rainy day he found himself amidst those natural beauties with a feeling of estrangement— that inspired him to write this poem. The lover existed only in the heart of the narrator. She secretly strolled in his heart. She is yet to appear before him with her form and shape.

The nine stanza-poem, each stanza comprises twelve lines. I quoted only those lines from some stanzas of the poem that I wanted to analyze.

 ‘My Lover Without a Name’


“I adore thee, my dream-companion, my belov’d!

The arouser of thirst thou art in my heart

For not having thee! Thee I adore.

O my fanci’d frolicsome lover,

Eternal youthful belle, my perpetual companion!

 Altruistic lamp of thine is yet to be kindl’d in my lightless

Home! O the infinite! Thou comest not at the finite edge!”


“In my dream I find thee and lose thee in my dream again,”

“By being The pleasing wine

 Thou art conceal’d in grapevine,

But not in my cup!”


“Love is one, lovers are many,

That one love I drinketh pouring into many cups —

That wine elixir!

O the nameless, I drinketh thee from a pitcher,

From a glass, sometime from a cup with many desires!”

©mustofa munir

 (Quoted from the middle of the stanzas of the poem)

Here in stanza one, the narrator expressed an ardor and passion for love to his dear beloved whom he loved and adored all along his life without seeing her or making any contact. He did not have her in his life but a thirst of love he felt for her. She is the evoker of his thirst.

She too bears the pain of estrangement from the day creation for not having him wholly

as she remained beyond his reach. That’s why the narrator expressed—

“But to me thou didst not surrender” 

The narrator lamented that her unselfish lamp of love is yet to be kindled in his lightless home—

“Altruistic lamp of thine is yet to be kindl’d in my lightless Home!”

The narrator poet Nazrul considered her as an infinite entity. He could have reached her if she would come nearer to the finite edge from her infinite entity.She was like a dream to him all along—

“O the infinite! Thou comest not at the finite edge!”

“In my dream I find thee and lose thee in my dream again,”

In the following lines of the poem, we find that wine and grapevines have become alluring metaphors of love and they are vividly postulated by the narrator as if she is a pleasing wine to him but concealed in the grapevine—his cup is yet to be filled up with that pleasing wine—

 “By being the pleasing wine

 thou art conceal’d in grapevine,

But not in my cup!”

The narrator expresses that he drinks not only her love, but her whole true self

(‘I drinketh thee’) from a pitcher, or a glass, or from a cup with many desires he amassed in his heart—

“That wine elixir!

O the nameless, I drinketh thee from a pitcher,

From a glass, sometime from a cup with many desires!”

 Poet William Wordsworth and Kazi Nazrul Islam did not depart from their poetic instincts amid griefs and utter bereavements, rather they inquired into the nature’s alluring qualities that kindled their emotion to brighten up the themes of the finest poems they created. They contemplated upon and articulated those instincts in the poems above very poetically and produced literature’s best classics in their own way.

Though the forever-unknown lover or the dream companion or the unknown solitary village reaper-girl is far away from the narrators; though they were unseen, unreachable and nameless to them but their entity, their whole essence and resonance were adored. They considered the image of the unknown and unseen girl or the lover to be within the realm of their pleasure, passion and emotion. Also, in their heart they bore painful feelings for the loss of their dearest daughter and son, but they blended that feelings with the softness of nature.

Poet William Wordsworth revolutionized the style of writing poetry in English literature. He was one of the first English poets who made the poetry accessible to the common man with their words.  In the eighteenth-century Romanticism movement, he kept the freedom of emotion and brought the nature in his poetry. The poems of the common man made him a great poetic philosopher in this world of mankind.

Similarly, Poet Nazrul had revolutionized one thousand years’ old Bengali literature by using the words of common people in his poems, lyrics, essays, novels, and dramas along with the beauteous forms of the natural world. Both poets used the external stimuli to create their poetry.


  1. Selected poems of Williams Wordsworth, by William Wordsworth

Introduction by Stephen Gill, March 29 2005. Penguin Classics.   ISBN 9780140424423

  1. Sanchita, Selected poems of Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, Mustofa Munir Outskirts Press, Inc. USA May 2015.https://outskirtspress.com/search?addsearch=sanchitaISBN 9781478755739
  2. Sandhya maloti, Lyrical Book, Nazrul Rochonaboli,Vol. 7, Bangla Academy, November, 2012. https://www.banglabooks.in/rachana-samagra/kazi-nazrul-islam/nazrul-rachanabali-all-parts-by-kazi-nazrul-islam/
  3. Preface to Lyrical Ballads. William Wordsworth (1800).



  1. Kazi Nazrul Islam Birth Centenary Commemorative Volume, Paschimbongo Bangla Academy, 2014

Publisher: Secretary, Paschimbongo Bangla Academy, 1/1 Acharjya JagadishChandra Bose Road, Kolkata 700020 ISBN 81-7751-031-2

Professor Dr. Mustofa Munir is a published author, a Nazrul researcher, Poet and translator. He translated (1) Sanchita, published by Outskirts Press Inc. in USA in May 2015, (2) The Fiery Lute (Agnibina), and (3) The Swinging of the Sea (ShindhuHindol), published by Kobi Nazrul  Institute, Dhaka, Bangladeshin February 2018 and 2019 respectively. He published many articles on comparative analysis of Nazrul’s literary works with the works of  other great English and American poets.He translated Poet Nazrul ‘s novel ‘মৃত্যুক্ষুধা(ACraving For Death) andtwo books of articles about Poet Nazrul ( i) ‘The Rhythm of Life’ and (ii) ‘চলমানজীবনেরবাণীবাহকবিনজরুলare awaiting publication.In his retirement he settled in Pearland, Houston, TX.