12:00 AM, March 30, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:25 AM, June 01, 2015


By Mozid Mahmud -- A metaphoric expression of the self -- Reviewed By Mostafa Kamal Mollah

MAHFUZAMANGAL' or 'In praise of Mahfuza' is an extraordinary book of poetry penned by Mozid Mahmud; the poems of which were composed mainly in the 1980s with the exception of a few poems added later to the book. Mahfuzamangal with its 83 poems has three parts. The first part contains the formative period of the poet's spirituality. In the second part, the poet's spirituality is in its full blossom. The poet's spiritual hunt finds a kind of fulfillment in the last part. Though the name of this literary piece emits a medieval aroma, the poems are the attempt at leaving the beaten track through taking a traditional name coupled with a modern approach. The medieval age in our Bengali literature nurtured a special genre which is called 'the Mangalkavya'. The Mangalkavya was an eulogistic effort of some Hindu poets with a view to satisfying some folk deities. Unlike the Mangalkavya, the word 'Mahfuza' has its roots in Arabic, a Semitic language sacred to the followers of Islam. Instead of imitating the descriptive style of the Mangalkavya, the poet has taken a subjective approach. The poet's effort is to fly from subjectivity to universality. The poet reconstructed an old theme by making it go through the fertile land of his imagination and a unique internalization of external facts took place while doing this. The poems of this literary work are of unequal length and arranged in a sequential pattern. The explanation of 'who is Mahfuza?' can vary from person to person. Mahfuza may be the metaphoric expression of the Poet's self. Comparing Mahfuza to Teiresias, the blind prophet working as a unifying factor in the Oedipus Trilogy, will also not be wrong. The poet's Islamic mysticism has found a vibrant and multi-dimensional outlet through 'Mahfuza'. She manifests the mystical path that is designed to ascertain the nature of humanity and God and to facilitate the experience of the presence of divine love and wisdom in the world.

Every poem in Mahfuzamangal has a separate title. The poems record a variety of feelings accrued at different times with the all pervading presence of Mahfuza in multiple contexts. Mahfuza's partial role is like the Life God of Rabindranath Tagore. She makes the poet say what he is saying. Even, budging an inch without the will of Mahfuza is not possible for the poet. Mahfuza's delineation has both monotheistic and paganistic tinge in it. Sometimes, She is the goddess. She is at times portrayed as having the supreme power over the most powerful country of the world. 

The mystical experience of the poet reaches its climax in the poem 'Name'. This poem is an exquisite blend of the mystical path of the Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist traditions. 'Name' with its mystical theme is one of the best poems of contemporary Bangla poetry of its kind. 

Religion is being used as the trump card by the political establishments even in this modern age. The poet takes a firm stand against the exploitation committed in the name of religion and the poem 'Temple' can be mentioned in this regard.

Myths are the best legacy of human survival on this planet. Mozid Mahmud has made extensive use of myths in his poetry. Like T.S Eliot, the poet excelled in using myths. The myths used in Mahfuzamangal came from the east and the west alike. Synchronizing various myths, he created a mysterious arch of meaning. The poet's handling of Islamic myths opened a new vista for the generations to come. Apart from Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism formed the mythical core of Mahfuzamangal. Probably, no one after Kazi Nazrul Islam has been able to use such a language in our contemporary Bengali literature except Mozid Mahmud. Here lies the reason behind the poet's distinctiveness.

The reviewer is a literary critic.

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