Govinda Krishna Chettur (1898 - 1936)

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Death: Died
Cause of death: Cancer
Occupation: Poet Laurette -English Literature
Managed by: Anilkumar Nair Puthalath
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Govinda Krishna Chettur

Commentary by Sreelatha Puthiyaveettil

(2006/12/16)

G. K. Chettur, one of the greatest of oriental writers in English, enthralled readers with his lyrical verse. His treatment of beauty and love, the rich sensuousness of his language, along with his mastery of imagery in the true spirit of Romanticism, remind his own people of Shelley and Keats. Although Chettur follows Petrarch’s sonnets both in form and subject matter--a doting lover’s hopes and pains are given divine status, and their words range from the flowery and hyperbolic to the simple and strongly appealing--he adopts the Elizabethan sonnet sequence to the culture of his contemporary India and deliberately echoes Shakespeare's sonnets.

All Chettur’s sonnets have a melodious gravity, a delicate phrasing, and ennobling imagery. A phrase of Matthew Arnold, “lyrical cry,” characterizes them, but Chettur was simultaneously personal and reflective. At one time he reveals his ardent passion for his wife, at another his anxiety about his separation from her as a result of sickness, all in a sustained meditation on human mortality. Everywhere he makes musical a spontaneous overflow of passionate feelings. This lyricism won over Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore, his own countryman, who praised his "very fine lyrics," as well as the Poet Laureate of England, John Masefield, who simply wrote, "I like your sonnets best." The Triumph of Love (1932), Chettur's major sonnet sequence, is dedicated to his beloved wife Subhadra and is the most autobiographical of his works. In these sonnets we see a brilliant interweaving of hope and expectation, despondency and despair, and finally faith. His wife Subhadra inspired them.

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Govinda Krishna Chettur's Timeline

1898
April 24, 1898
1918
1918
- 1921
Age 19
Oxford, United Kingdom

G. K. Chettur, arrived to study at New College, Oxford, in October 1918, just before the Armistice. He had been educated at Madras Christian College and his father, P. K. Krishna Menon, had been a Government Servant. Funding for his studies at Oxford were supplied by Sir C. Sankaran Nair from Simla. He graduated with a Third in history in 1921.

Chettur was a member of the Lotus Club and the Oxford Majlis (he was President in Hilary Term, 1920) and was able to meet Rabindranath Tagore and W. B. Yeats through these societies. Yeats spoke to the Majlis in November 1919 on the poet Manmohan Ghose and Chettur obtained a photo of Yeats in his New College room. Chettur published his first anthology of poems in 1922 with a dedication to Yeats, and was inspired by Yeats to publish his memories of his students days. During his time in Oxford, Chettur met a number of other poets based in Oxford and Sarojini Naidu, who made frequent visits to Oxford. His publications were reviewed in the British Press.

During his student days, Chettur saw the play 'Tilly of Bloomsbury' by Ian Hay, where an Indian student was depicted as a humiliating figure. Chettur was so angry and offended by this portrayal that he wrote a letter to the Vice-Chancellor in complaint. Chettur was principal of the Government College in Mangalore from 1922 and continued to write and publish poetry in India.

1923
1923
- 1936
Age 24
Mangalore, Karnataka, India
1925
1925
Age 26
Calicut, Kerala, India
1936
March 3, 1936
Age 37
March 1936
Age 37