Nazrul Islam is a puzzling phenomenon :a non-conformist by his celebrations of traditional religious themes me to be regarded even by those company he would presumably have hated to keep as the best interpreter of their ancestral faith; a man without any formal education
who shows more sophistication than many who possessed university degrees; without ever travelling beyond the
subcontinent he acquired an international outlook which might have been the envy of many who, in spite of frequent
journeys abroad, betrayed in their writings hardly any awareness of the world outside. He seems to have
possessed like many famous writers, of whom the best.known is Shakespeare, the capacity to absorb and assimilate knowledge from hearsay or the environment.Although as some suppose he did not belong to a working
class family, genteel poverty, it is said, obliged him to abandon school even before he could complete his secondary education. Yet the level of culture he reflects, the values he stood for were not those of an uneducated man.What makes this mystery the more puzzling is the fact that whereas the greater part of Shakespeare’s life wrapped up in an impenetrable mist we know a great deal about Nazrul Islam. He is believed to have joined a group of itinerant singers and actors soon after he left school.Not much is known about this part of his early adolescence. Similarly, the brief period he spent in Karachi soldering represents a gap in the records. But the rest of e is an open book. But there is nothing in the details we know which explains satisfactorily how he came to acquire such a mastery of the Bengali language, so intimate a knowledge of Bengali prosody, such an effortless familiarity with the grammer of Indian classical music, or how he came to be so well versed in Persian and Urdu.Some of his experiments in form point to an acquaintance with Arabic metrics. His knowledge of English is no less a
mystery. He never flaunted his erudition, but his translations from Walt Whitman and his essay on world literature in which he discusses European novels completely refute the notion that Nazrul Islam was a semi-literate writer whose effusions signify nothing but cheap sentiment and empty rhetoric.It is sometimes said that Nazrul Islam owed his fame to his innovations as a poet, particularly to those experiments in diction in which he creates unexpected
melodies out of the mixture of Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Bengali. This is not untrue, but to emphasise the innovative aspects of his work is to forget that no innovation in poetry takes root unless it arises out of an almost instinctive sense of what best harmonizes with tradition.