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Selected Poetry of Toru Dutt (1856-1877)


from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

But nothing can be lovelier than the ranges
Of bamboos to the eastward, when the moon
Looks through their gaps, and the white lotus changes
Into a cup of silver. One might swoon
Drunken with beauty then, or gaze and gaze
On a primeval Eden, in amaze.
        (A Sea of Foliage Girds our Garden round, 9-14)
  1. Lakshman
  2. Love Came to Flora Asking for a Flower
  3. My Vocation
  4. Our Casuarina-tree
  5. A Sea of Foliage Girds our Garden round


Notes on Life and Works

Toru Dutt was born on March 4, 1856, in Rambagan, 12 Manicktollah Street, Calcutta, to father Govin Chunder Dutt and mother Kshetramoni, a family that become Christians in 1862. Toru was the youngest child, arriving after sister Aru and brother Abju (who died in 1865). Their cousin was the poet and civil servant Romesh Chunder Dutt. Both girls honed their English and French during a four-year residence in England and France, starting in 1869 at the French School at Nice, then in London in 1870, where The Dutt Family Album was published, and last in Cambridge in 1871, where the sisters attended the "Higher Lectures for Women." The family returned in September 1873 to their city house in Rambagan and their garden residence at Baugmaree. Toru produced her first volume of poetry, A Sheaf, in 1876: it held 165 translations from French writers, eight by her sister Aru and the rest by herself, including "My Vocation" by Jean-Pierre de Béranger. After her best friend and sister Aru died of consumption on July 23, 1874, Toru determined to make a "sheaf" of poems for her native culture and proceeded to acquire Sanskrit in 1875-76. Though ill herself, she wrote her Ancient Ballads and Legends at this time. She died on August 30, 1877, also of consumption, and is buried at C. M. S. Cemetery in Calcutta. Her father ensured that her manuscripts -- two novels, one in English and one in French, as well as her new "sheaf" -- were published in London and Paris.

Biographical information

Given name: Toru
Family name: Dutt
Birth date: 4 March 1856
Death date: 30 August 1877
Nationality: Bengali
Family relations
          father: Govin Chunder Dutt
          mother: Kshetramoni Dutt
          brother: Abju Dutt
          sister: Aru Dutt
Languages
          English
          French
          Bengali
          Sanskrit
Education: French School, Nice: 1869 to 1870
Residences
          Calcutta: Rambagan, 12 Manicktollah Street: 1856 to 1869
          Nice, France: 1869 to 1870
          London, England: 1870 to 1871
          Cambridge, England: 1871 to 1873
          Calcutta: Rambagan, 12 Manicktollah Street: 1873 to 1877
Cause of death: Consumption
Buried at: C. M. S. Cemetery, Calcutta
First RPO edition: 2002