Sweet Recollections with a Tinge of Sadness: Toru Dutt and her ‘Our Casuarina Tree’

Saptarshi Mallick | Independent Scholar | email: saptarshieng@gmail.com

Abstract

Torulata Dutt is unquestionably the mistress of the verbal medium of her choice. Her ‘Our Casuarina Tree’ was published posthumously in 1882 in the collection entitled as Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindusthan (Dutt 1972) which also contained narratives borrowed from Sanskrit classics. This essay critically explores that the poem is a fine blend of local touches, literary reminiscences, and a golden recollection of childhood memories and associations. It summarises all that Dutt represents – a grieving and ailing Toru left alone after the death of her sister Aru. Her poetry which is a Keatsian contemplation and meditation upon the ephemerality of life is marked by a dexterity in the use of the language and the metre, a power of reminiscing life in its colours and depth along with a note of melancholy which infuses the human heart. The sudden demise of her sister and brother brought in a deep strain of melancholy in her nature, becoming at once dominant tones in her poetry making them autobiographical and such is the undercurrent in the whole of Toru Dutt’s creative period from 1870 – 1877.

Key words: Toru Dutt, memory, nostalgia, longing, universalism

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Publisher: Dr Ramsankar Pradhan,
Teacher-in-Charge
Ramananda Centenary College, Laulara, Purulia,
West Bengal -723151
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