Govinda Krishna Chettur

(24 April 1898 - 03 Mach 1936 / Madras (Chennai) / India)

Biography of Govinda Krishna Chettur

Govinda Krishna Chettur poet

Govinda Krishna Chettur was a famous Indian English Poet.

Early Life

He was the oldest of the four sons of Mr. and Mrs. P. K. Krishna Menon. His brothers were K. K. Chettur, I. F. S., Ambassador of India to Japan and Belgium, Col. R. K. Chettur, an Army doctor and surgeon, and S. K. Chettur, I. C. S., India’s representative to Malaysia in 1945 who retired as chief secretary of Tamil Nadu (Madras).

Education

Govinda Krishna Chettur did his M.A. from Oxford University in 1918-21, during which time he was the president of the Oxford Majlis.

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. Senkaramhair 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.

After his Oxford years, he wrote, "Is it not possible for Universities in India to exercise a similar ennobling influence on students? Is it not possible to alter the conditions under which they exist, to render them as Indian in character, as Oxford is distinctively English? One wonders whether our Universities have always been the dry uninspiring official institutions that confront one today in India." Accordingly, he took up his assignment as Principal, Govt. College, Mangalore, in 1922 at only 24 years of age, the youngest Principal of a Govt. College. He first met his wife Subhadra at Queen Mary’s College, Madras, from which she graduated in 1924. They were married in 1925 and had one daughter, Padmini.

Literary Works

Among Chettur's poems, Sounds and Images is a double sonnet sequence written in 1921 during his last year’s stay at Oxford. "The Last Enchantment" was dedicated to Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair, his uncle, and consists of Govinda Krishna's first impressions of Oxford, war days, and meetings with famous poets such as W. B. Yeats, Arther Symons, John Masefield, Rabindranath Tagore, and Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, the nightingale of India, his personal friend and mentor.

His other works include The Temple Tank (1932) and The Shadow of God (1935), which was dedicated to the memory of his mother whom he loved dearly. She was well versed in both English and Sanskrit. The Ghost City (1932), a work of fiction, was dedicated to "Chocha," his pet name for his wife Subhadra, and also to his parents. His College Composition (1933), a wonderful book on grammar and structural English for college-age students, contains a wealth of information regarding the usage of the English language, correct use of words, sentence structure, and aids to essay-writing styles (graphic, elevated, humorous, etc.). Last, he edited Altars of Silence (1935), a collection of short articles on Shakespeare, Thomas Kempis, J. H. Newman, Seneca, and others that dealt with themes of meditation and prayer.

Govinda Krishna Chettur's Works:

Sounds and Images (London: Erskine Macdonald, 1922), Gumataraya (Mangalore: Basel Mission Bookshop, 1932), The Temple Tank and Other Poems (Mangalore: Basel Mission Bookshop, 1932), The Triumph of Love (Mangalore: Basel Mission Bookshop, 1932), The Last Enchantment: Recollections of Oxford (Mangalore: Basel Mission Bookshop, 1934), The Shadow of God: A Sonnet-Sequence (London: Longmans, Green and Co., Ltd, 1935), The Ghost City (1932), College Composition (1933), Altars of Silence (1935) (edited).

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PoemHunter.com Updates

The Triumph Of Love

Dearest, and yet more dear than I can tell
In these poor halting rhymes, when, word by word,
You spell the passion that your beauty stirred
Swiftly to flame, and holds me as a spell,
You will not think he writeth 'ill' or 'well',
Nor question make of the fond truths averred,
But Love, of that, by Love's self charactered,
A perfect understanding shall impel.
Therefore do I seek comfort in this wise:

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