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Indian English Poetry
by Bijay Kant Dubey
An Introductory Discussion
Indian English poetry, to narrate it in the historical context, is to say that it had been continuing as a thin trickle of poesy right from the beginning, that is, 1825, when the first book saw the light of the day. Before calling it Indian English poetry, it should be kept in mind that there had not been a language like that of English which was spoken and written here, nor were there the speakers of it. If there had been the users of it, they were mostly the colonial administrators and official babus trying to perfect themselves. Apart from the contact, but what endeared them to the natives was the usage they taught in connection with life-style and philosophy. Their goods and utilities drew them. The lessons they taught in nationalism, freedom of speech and expression, the connectivity in the form of roads, bridges and railways, human service rendered through inventions and discoveries of the medical world which they introduced and the impact of the industrial revolution definitely benefitted the Indians with heavy tools, home appliances and utensils. Typhoid, cholera, plague, small pox, tuberculosis, cataract, etc. used to maraud the self. The defunct cholera wards, if any, will clarify the point. The English endeared themselves through their service too which but we cannot deny it.
Had there been not the colleges and varsities opened, had Calcutta, Bombay, Madras and Delhi been not the centres of upheaval and repercussion, transaction and transition, the trans-continental, intra-provincial things would not have materialized. To talk of Indian English poetry, the Indians writing not in vernaculars, but in English tells a different history. Had they been not in their contact, would they have in English? They could not have had the Europeans not taught to write and learn. As a result of that interaction, the administration into the hands of them and they too trying to compromise and contact through, tried to motivate them. After a prolonged debate, should the Indians write in English, should it be Anglo-Indian or Indo-Anglican or Indo-English or Indian poetry in English, what is Indian in Indian English poetry, we have come to call it somehow Indian English poetry, on marking them, the South Africans, the Canadians and the Caribbean writing in English. Perhaps there is nothing as Indian English, but we have tried to re-designate it so, English is English, with varieties and variations many, but the standard is one. Though we have called it Indian English poetry lately, but is it right to call it Indian English poetry? Is there anything like Indian English? Where is the language? Where is it spoken? Why did the English not settle in here? Here lie in the points of reckoning and conjecture.
There is nothing as that to carry it forward rather than the theme of Indianism and that of Indianness. Indian theme, context, style, manner, purview, mentality, dressing, language, food habit, season; Indian metaphysics, history, culture, thought, tradition; myth, mysticism, philosophy, art, culture; morality, ethics, jurisprudence, faith, belief; heritage, legacy, lineage. It is very difficult to know India and the theme of Indianness. Indian culture is not alike; it is different in different regions, but something works for an amalgamation, which we interpret as synthesis. Unity in diversity is the thing to be said here. But to be Indian is not to be blind to one’s faith, belief and system. India cannot be India if we try not to understand its culture, tradition, thought, belief and system. Interconnections need to be understood and explained. What have we understood about the different facets of it?
It is very difficult to say who is a major poet and who a minor poet. Many have got the press and many have not is the case with the writers of Indian English poetry and poets. Some poets are born great, some have become great and some have been just thrust upon greatness. What it appears ludicrous is this that the subscribers cringe and stoop to conquer as for becoming reviewers and critics, even the commonly. The commonly poets and the commonly critics is the tale of Indian English poetry. The commoners as editors turn into the doyens of it, how can it be? Those who edit journals turn into poets before publishing their first collection of poems and the subscribers like to review the book of the editor first as for to come into the light of the editor. Who is not a self-styled poet and whose books have not appeared from private presses?
What it pains us most is this that in the absence of some senior teachers, the almost new hands and learners have turned into the critics of Indian English poetry, full of so much mutual praise and self-admiration, sidetracking morality and ethics. Those, who are doing Ph.Ds. and M. Phils. on Indian English poetry and poets, none but they themselves start calling themselves the experts and annotators of Indian English poetry criticism. How can it be? Some of these have already called themselves poets too, even writing their first poems. What we require it urgently is the arrival of a cultural critic from whom we can really expect, holding a very low profile in a subdued tone of his own. But the newest critics and poets of contemporary times use the tools in popularizing themselves. Even many of the established critics are but mediocre scholars of English literature turned to Indian English criticism. Today the people beat their own drums themselves.
To peep into the past of Indian English poetry, the colonial past and its exponents or imitator is to be remembered of the parroted lineage. They had not to be poets and poets, but became they in due course of time, as there had not been anyone to work as for the liaison. Those who tried to write in English were the first time Europeanized people. Western logic, reason, manner, style of expression, etiquette and modernity after the years of blatant and invading medievalism and superstitious beliefs which corroded the self and of mother India appeared to be giving wings to their imagination and they dreamt of flying, taking the flights. Most of the Calcuttans, the East India Company men governed people sought to express. The idea of nationalism had been new to them and they could think about the unification of the whole of India or binding into a whole. The post-office, the rail, the telegraph office, the school, the college, the bridge and the roadway construction and the control and reigning of rampant epidemics and pregnancy deaths added a new dimension to their thinking and rational understanding of the self.
Indian English poetry is in reality the commoners’ poetry and the commonly people continue to crowd and cram the pages of it quantitatively, not from the quality point of view. The other point of discussion is this that the minor poets and poetesses have saved the tradition of writing poetry in English and this has proved fruitful for its sake.
We generally start the history of modern poetry and modernism with Nissim Ezekiel and his contributions, but the reality is far from. There are several others who figure before him and we do not know those forgotten writers of Indian English. When did we start giving Sahitya Akademi awards to the Indian English poets? When did we start teaching them in our honors classrooms? The writers of Indian English verse just lingered on as a literary essay to be asked in M.A. exams. Today Indian English poetry has lapsed into self-praise and mutual admiration. One beats one’s drums. One’s own journal advertises one’s own poems and publications. Subscribers are promoted as for writing articles and reading papers on editors’ poems. Once when it pains me to see that even R. Parthasarathy writes about himself in his anthology of Indian English poems. Even M. K.Naik in a recent book of his has discussed his own poetry in the third person. How can it be as such? Some journal editors write about themselves and give the credit to some others. We cannot say which is whose Ph.D.?
Indian English poetry is a study in slender works and minor voices where the echoes of the English poets, from Wyatt to Eliot can be heard. Just a few pages but under a fine cover used to be the poetry books published from Writers Workshop, Calcutta. Kamala Das’ poetry-collection too was so. M.K. Naik’s books of light verses just contain in a few pages. Now many are learning to write and learn too. Once Kolatkar sent across the message to Naik that he was collecting his poems. Just Jejuri gave him a lot of unexpected name and fame and he could not hold in. Once Dilip Chitre too failed to send a copy of his book. Chitre too had just one or two collections of poems in English. Most of his lay in Marathi transcripts and presentations though he translated many of them into English and this is the base of his inclusion.
What is Indian in Indian English poetry, one may definitely ask about it. The theme of Indianness implies many an aspect. It is there in the use and application of Indian history, geography, cartography, ethnicity, linguistic diversity, sociology, archaeology, eco-system, climate, weather conditions, art, culture, tradition, thought, belief, morality, ethics, religion, faith, logic, astronomy, astrology and so on. Indian poverty, underdevelopment, backwardness, illiteracy and superstition can also be a point of major discussion. Indian history, metaphysics, theology, cosmology, philosophy, spirituality and religion can form the basis of Indian thought, culture and tradition. Here into the domain of Indian English poetry, one starts calling oneself just after writing his first poems. Later on, he just substantiates his position. Whoever writes he knows it that he is going to end up as a poet.
In the absence of a literary historian, even a big writer can be relegated to oblivion. There must be someone to work as a curator of the archives or someone to promote it. One cannot be a poet in isolation. In the beginning too, Ezekiel and others did not have more than one or two collections. Gieve Patel turned into a poet just after his first book. Pritish when immature was included in as a promising poet by P.Lal. Frankly speaking, P.Lal’s anthology-cum-credo was an apprentice work done by a novice. If one goes through it, one will come to see it how poorly threw it light, how poorly had been the masters of today then. One may find the words and sentences, he is writing poetry, has written quite a few remarkable ones, his maiden venture is on the anvil. Such a thing should have been in the journal, not in a book of criticism.
If you look into the poetry-books of P.Lal, slender in output, slimmer in presentation, you will laugh at calling them poets and poetesses. But they are the poets and poetesses, as definitely something is therein.
It is a mistake with P.Lal that he introduced many a poet, took money and published them, but never reared them, left them out as the load of the nowhere critics to dump them elsewhere. Give money and be a poet. Now the no men after editing journals start calling themselves poets. The newest Ph.D. students call themselves the critics of such a field in the absence of an authority.
The words with their connotations, Indianism, Indianization and Indianness cover up a long corpus of purview and study and these cannot be restricted to a limit merely, as they stretch beyond it to a larger dimension and horizon. Instead of being foreigners, Max Muller, Romain Rolland, Winternitz, Macdonell, Keith, Paul Deussen and some others have done marvels and we cannot repay their debts. Matthew Arnold, Alfred Lord Tennyson, W.B.Yeats and T.S.Eliot too fall within this way or that way.
As we ask it, what is Indian in Indian English poetry, similar is the case with, how far Indian are those who live abroad. Today, taking to the diaspora dais, the poets are talking of Indian from there. The non-resident Indians too call themselves Indians as they come searching their roots of nativity, locating and re-locating. A few Britons too have been searching the places and departments of their ancestors who worked as colonial administrators. They too have their own memoirs and souvenirs which but we cannot snatch it from. The search for tradition, nativity and roots will never end as these go widening into connections and inter-connections.
It is very difficult to find the books of Indian English poetry; the books of the self-published poets and poetesses. The poets themselves had been the peddlers of their own. They used to cycle and circulate the copies among the friends. Once brought out, the copies used to vanish. Neither the reader was interested nor the publisher even in reading or publishing Sarojini. Even now one cannot find the earlier collections of Jayanta Mahapatra.
India is a very vast country, almost like a sub-continent and there are so many states and regions with their histories, cultures and physical variations and resources. The snow-capped mountains with blizzards, hailstorms and landslides, the deserts with sand-dunes, lesser rains and camels trudging along, the hilly terrains lying clustered with and impregnable and the lush green pastures of the north are the different aspects of our cartography with their ethnic populations and linguistic stocks. India cannot be India if its physical description is not detailed upon. The hilly ranges, plateau regions, soils, climatic changes, weather conditions, seasonal beauties and hazards, temperatures; mountains, peaks, forests, sea-beaches, lakes, waterfalls, bays, rivers, borders, passes, islands, deserts, highlands, lowlands and pastures with exotic flora and fauna are not described. House planning and living conditions vary from place to place. The architectural designs of the homes of the colder regions where there is a snowfall often and those of the tempestuous sea-lying areas vary from.
The southern fringe with Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataks, Pondicherry and Lakshadweep, the northern side with Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Bihar, the north-eastern with Assam, Sikkim, Tripura, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram, the central with Madhya Pradesh and Chhatishgarh, the northwestern zone with Rajasthan and the western with Maharashtra and Gujarat is a huge tract of land to be taken into consideration politically, socially and culturally. West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand in eastern India too are the major parts of the nation with their specific cartography, history, art, culture and tradition. A language chart of their own shows many of the languages and dialects spoken in the nondescript regions and domains of human populations. Pali and Prakrit are dead languages. Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malyalam are the languages spoken in the south. Hindi is spoken in Bihar, U.P., Haryana, Chhatishgarh, Punjab and others together with local vernaculars and dialects. In Bihar too, there are four dialects supportive of Hindi, Angika, Magadhi, Bhojpuri and Maithili, barring the tribal languages. In West Bengal, Bengali is spoken and written. Classical Sanskrit used to link the south with the north and it had the potentiality of connecting the whole of India. The British bungalows and their architectural foundations themselves speak of the spread and contact and connection of the Europeans with and the colonized masses. If we make a study of those colonial foundations and establishments, the things will come to our light. The medical facilities and the bridges themselves tell a lot about their colonization not merely, but the way to connect the far flung exotic, indigenous and impregnable India. To build the roads by cutting the clustered hills would have been a tedious task.
What could have Gandhi done with his satya, ahimsa and shantih had they not recognized and valued him? The foreigners too ruled and reigned over Indian, but they could little good to it. The process of Indianization has taken a quite long time as the English too took their time to understand and know the land and the people they were to administer and hold in. Years of medievalism, looted and plundered by foreign invaders, barbarians and nomads had disrupted it all what it was good in her. Indian words, expressions and slang too form a base of Indian English language. The English language which the Indians employ and emulate is literary English; written English, not at all spoken English. English is here mainly the official language; a language of the court, police, administration, engineering, medicine.
Had the University Grants Commission, New Delhi through its peer teams not advised to include Indian English literature in college courses of studies, Nissim, Kamala, Parthasarathy, Jussawalla, Nandy, Patel, Lal and others would not have got a coverage. Had the researchers not taken them and had the same commission not pressurized professors for the research programme compulsorily for academic and career advancement, they would not have been what they are now. In the scarce no-man literature, they turned into poets just after publishing two books.
Indian English poetry is not what we see it today. There had been some who might have preserved the texts of Derozio, Kashiprasad Ghose, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Torulata, R.C.Dutt. Manmohan Ghose and others. For this the credit goes to those unknown pamphleteers and curators whose initiative had been so great otherwise the things could not have so handy. We do not know it why Aurobindo is not so vocal of Manmohan’s poetry. Perhaps the letters of Aurobindo may throw light in this respect.
Those who are reading Indian English poetry for the first time will feel disgusted in reading the duplicate poets and their imitative poetry. To turn to Indian English poetry as for originality of thought and expression, authenticity is to turn away from that. Original gold it is difficult to find here. Golden but polished imitations in jewellery can definitely be found here. Indian English poetry is a study in rhymers, poetasters, non-poets and commoners; slender voices and slim anthologies of poems. Many of them are not good poets, but bad poets turned into stalwarts and doyens. Indian English poetry is a no-man’s poetry and Indian English poetry criticism too a no-man’s criticism.
As a result of Aurobindo and his ashramites, we find it the Aurobindonian School of Poetry flourishing under his flagship. But Aurobindo as a poet shades other poets.
Frankly speaking, Indian English poetry drew a lot from Indology, Indian thought and culture studies, Asiatic researches and oriental institutes and had these been not, it could not have gained what it is endowed with today. Even now we do not have a sound perception with regard to Indology and Orientalism, their teachings, texts and manuscripts and institutes.
Many of Indian English poets and poetesses have gone missing and are traceless. We do not have any information about those pre-independence time writers of Indian English. Had Tagore too taken them into note, they would have survived. None strove to care about them, not even the people of free and independent India. Even Aurobindo did not rear them up.
William Butler Yeats appreciated and admired Tagore’s Gitanjali; recommended him for the award of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1941, but what had it been the idea of Tagore with regard to Yeats’ appreciation? Perhaps Tagore is silent all about this and what does
this account for?
We generally take the names of K.R.Srinivasa Iyengar and M.K. Naik as the critics of Indian English poetry, but before them there would have been some definitely who saved the annals from being relegated to oblivion? Who are those critics? Have we ever tried to know them? Tagore’s Gitanjali too is a one-book Ph.D. stuff and it paves the way for being example of the research work. There is no binding that one should have four books for to be considered for the Ph.D degree. There will be no mistake if we call Gitanjali a Bengali work as because the poems included have been Tran created from his different lyrical Bengali texts and the work have been written under the influences of the Vaishanava saints and classical love poetry. Such a thing can be new for some, but not for India.
R. Parthasarathy’s Rough Passage too is a one-book Ph.D. as because the author has not written more than one and it may be that he will add to in future and the Ph.D. on him will be inclusive of all, his interviews, opinions and clarifications in this regard. Suppose one does his Ph.D. on Arun Kolatkar will have a difficult time in handling him. Kolatkar as a poet, you believe it or not, is a mediocre poet, a poet made, not born and this is what he has become, had not been. A visit to Khandoba cannot make him Chaucerian, even not Eliotesque, as he has not struggled and suffered much for poesy’s sake. As a struggling artist, he has taken the help of his ramshackle art to reach the pedestal in poetry with his mediocre merit. M.K. Naik introduced the modern Indian English poets just with one or two book of poems as stalwarts and doyens, but they have not been. They have evolved in due course of time. They had not something great in them, but have become. Kamala was overpraised in such a way that the critics made her climb the palm tree as for juice-taking which but she knew it not that many were there to cut the stem to make her fall from heaven. The summer which she describes is not the seasonal summer, but bodily heat and dust; siestas and mid days full of sensuality.
It is a problem to get the Indian English poetry books, not the classics of literature, but even the slim and slick volumes of poesy authored by the modern poets and poetesses too. They may talk big with Padma Shri and Padma Vibhusan awards, but the ground reality is far from acceptance. P.Lal got the award for being a promoter and popularizer and so was Krishna Srinivas through his literary journal named Poet, published from Madras. Even now one may not get the copy of Rough passage and relationship if they are not acquainted with the poets directly.
While to talk it independently is to put it that Mathew Arnold, William Butler Yeats, T.S.Eliot and Walt Whitman are more than what the modern Indian poets and poetesses have as because the things lie in better represented and succinctly said in their works rather than these Indian authors pedalling Indian stuffs. Though we call it that Indian English fiction is ahead of poetry, but to compare the tings with the Western classics is to withdraw the statement. Mulk Raj Anand’s novel too is a dip in sarvodaya and Haijanodhara. Casteist feelings are there and he has transformed his vision into a broad thinking. The gap between the upper and the lower classes, strata is the thing of his deliberation and discussion. There is nothing new in them as he is saying them for the first time, that is why it appearing new to the audience, selling best in foreign. His workshop is one of inhuman untouchability, but what to say with exactly about the India of exotic flora and funa, multi-ethnic, cultural and dimensional.
Though one outwardly, but it is varied and diversified. The other thing is this that Girish Karnad has just exploited the nag-nagin stories. To sell India in this way I do not like it all. The third-rate criticism, I am sure, will spoil the prospects of Indian English poetry. The mediocre professors and the newest researchers generally turn into the specialists of such a field of literature. Maha Nanda Sharma, Simanchal Patnaik, Dwarakanath H.Kabadi, R.Rabindranath Menon, Kulwant Singh Gill, Hazara Singh, Sarbeswar Samal, Amar Nath Dwivedi, Suresh Chandra Dwivedi, Romen Basu, P.C.Katoch, etc are the poets of the contemporary times whose poems we see appearing in different journals and little magazines. The list is long and it cannot exhaust here, whatever be their output form the qualitative point of view.
O.P. Bhatangar as a poet recreates upon satire, wit, irony, humour, fun, pun and others of this type. There is nothing as to do with myth-making and mysticism. He is clear-cut, somewhere of course terse and tedious when dispensing with the words of his vocabulary and syntax. Sometimes he outwits us and sometimes it baffles us in the comprehension of his poetry. Though he is realistic and is down to realities, Apart from a few Ph.D. these on his poetry, he could not get into the limelight which he should have got. We do not know it why it could not suit their liking. Maybe it that satire and realism are contradictory.
K.V.S.Murti who is from Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh draws his materials from metaphysics, but mixes with logic and reason, wit and conceit to say the things of his own. K.V.S. Murti as a poet is of the same group of I,K.Sharma, O.P.Bhatnagar, Syed Ameeruddin and Krishna Srinivas, though the taste may be different, but avocation is one.
Maha Nanda Sharma, who is from Meerut, U.P., is a writer of epics, if not in the true sense of the term, definitely those ones the poems of some epical design and corpus to be seen elsewhere in the domain of Indian English poetry. He chooses the tales from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana to delve and dwell upon as for imagination and poesy sake to reach the zenith. John Milton and his Paradise Lost and Maharshi Aurobindo from the Indian side and his Savitri work as cadences on him and he draws from them stylistically, tending to the use of vocabulary, syntax, structure and construction. Maha Nanda Sharma used to teach at Meerut University. Indian scriptures used to keep him engaged. Once he planned to write an epic penetrating divine glimpses, but it could not materialize. The critics too had not been quick in their response.
Simanchal Patnaik who is from Berhampur, Orissa is a poet of occasional verses, eventual poems, dealing with the occasion, eventuality and situation of any happening or vent. To read his poetry is to delve deep into newspaper stuffs. News items generally take the canvas away. His poetry is a news reel of the whole century. The volumes of general knowledge and paper things are in reality the poetic tidbits of his poetry.
Hazara Singh, who is from Ludhiana, Punjab is Baconian, pithy and succinct, is a poet of practical knowledge. His poetry is an exercise in worldliness, knowledge and wisdom. How to be knowledgeable and how to be practical and a man of wisdom, these form the basics of his poetry. There is something of course drawn from the prose-writers. An oldie, he has nothing to do with romance, colouring and hued stuffs. There is nothing as that to dye and present. Everything is clear and crystal. Poetry drips as the crystal drops of practical knowledge. The other self of his is a study in the album of martyrs, freedom fighters and nationalists, that forgotten part of history, which he but remembers and recreates it. To read him is to go through the English prose-writers beforehand, as such, A.G.Gardiner, Robert Lynd, Dorothy L.Sayers and E.V.Lucas. The influence of Bacon’s Essays and Russell’s The Impact of Science on Society hangs heavy on him. Hazara is a man of progressive and scientific thoughts, ideas and reflections. He thinks in a quite healthy way. In the beginning, he had been slow, but now with the advance in time and age and ageing, he has moved quite a longer space and deserves to be called one, though not greater, but not even smaller too. To read his poetry is to be knowledgeable and to be wisdomful. One may take tips from him in healthy life and living.
He is Brecht’s Vasco da Gama, not the Mariner of Coleridge, nor the Ulysses of Tennyson.
Kulwant Singh Gill who is also from Ludhiana, Punjab is no less than, a poet of some stature, writing the poetry of the symbolical strength and verve, charming with his narrative style, floating and flowing in a natural way. The symbolical depth is the specialty of his poetry. The tales of the Punjab, its religion, faith, belief, gaiety and the cause of anxiety, what it ails her soul, are the things of his poetry that he takes up so ardently and adroitly. The sweet fragrance of the soil of the Punjab attuned with folk songs and dances and green harvests dot and punctuate his poetry here and there. He is a Punjabi poet of that Punjab has a pulsation of its own. The Punjabi rhythm of life is the story of his poetry. The history and ethos of Sikhism and the enumeration of guruhood, all these take the center space. The poet strives to catch the nuances and idiosyncrasies of the Punjab and Punjabi culture and tradition in his poetry.
Kedar Nath Sharma who is from Himachal Pradesh but settled in Delhi is a pure poet in the sense that he tries follow Walter de la Mare and John Masefield. Simple poems generally take the pen away from his hands and he delves in. Somewhere too much simplicity devastates his
poetic purpose and design.
Prem Chand Katoch had to be a novelist, but he turned into a poet too, mesmerizing poetry with fiction. Actually, fiction forms the major chunk of his writing apart from his trials into the realms of poesy and he is a poet no doubt. An M.A. in English, he has held different administrative positions and together with has gone writing poems in English. Had T.S. Eliot and Matthew Arnold been not, Prem Chand Katoch too would not have been into the realms of Indian English poesy. A narrator in verse, he keeps himself to the art of narration. Some others have also said about me, but I shall not say it myself. If I say them, I cannot be called a poet. There is something as morality and ethics too which the journal-editing poets and poetesses are exploiting them. It is a matter of shame. How can I myself in my paper on Indian English poetry discuss my poetry too in the third person? It does not suit my morality and am against such a violation of etiquette.
Amarendra Kumar from Hajipur, Bihar is a poet to be reckoned with as for his poetry-collections brought out from time to time, but the limelight what he should have got, he could not as for lukewarm mediocre criticism. He is not a simple poet to be taken into casually, as his works demand a reading and re-reading to comprehend what the poet says in his poetic tidbits. A modern poet, he writes keeping in view modernity and modernism and his poetry reminds us of Auden, Spender, MacNeice and Sitwell. Amarendra Kumar is a modern poet who likes to draw from the modern poets and poetry. How could the critics omit him? It is a matter of concern. It is true that he is verbal, verbose and modernistic while practicing poesy. Somewhere the pattern and mode of presentation engages the things in their own recourse. Romen Basu who after spending his years in the UNO and elsewhere is a poet settled in New Delhi and has poetic verve and excellence to charm anyone. The poems which he has tended are replete with romanticism and its colour, dyeing and hue; the imaginative flight and revelling into. The scenery of his poetry very often shifts to foreign climes and environs as for his visits, tours, travels and sojourns. If we miss him, we shall the best of Indian English poetry. Wrong notion and judgement have spoilt the domain of criticism. Basu has beautiful collections of poems published from standard presses. Something definitely went against him and it was prejudice which worked no doubt. Had it been not otherwise, he could have been one of the best poets. Justice is very difficult to be got. It comes rather very late when the utility lies it not in getting it. The politics of judgement works as the influencing force. To deprive a poet like that of the stature of Romen Basu is to do injustice to Indian English poetry. It is difficult to find a poet like him and if he is not, where to find a poet like him?
Madan Lal Kaul who is from Dharamshsala, Himachal Pradesh is a poet of religious fervour and devotion which originates from heart. The works which he has authored themselves are a testimony to that. One who has not read P.K.Joy will miss one of the major poets dealing with humour and laughter. To read his poetry is to burst into a laughter. One cannot hold oneself in check from smiling and this is his specialty as well as poetic achievement.
H.S. Bhatia who is from Khanna is a poet of social reality and truths which we almost go sidetracking. He takes the things in a simple way, using wit, irony and fact. T.V.Reddy who is from some area adjacent to Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh is a poet in whom romanticism lies portrayed in a faded vein. Reddy is a poet of some rural background, as it does not mean at all that he is rural in his poetical pick-up. Melancholy holds his pen and he halts to use in. The untimely death of his beloved wife too has broken him and the whiffs and wafts of it can be marked in his latter-day poems. Apart from being a poet, he has penned a few novels too and this is just for our information. T.Vasudeva Reddy as a poet is Tennysonian and his poems are a study in In Memoriam. The influence of William Wordsworth’s Lost Love, The Solitary Reaper and John Keats’ Ode To autumn is quite apparent on him.
I.H. Rizvi is one of those poets who like to draw from the English Romantics, namely Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Byron and others. His poetic sentiment, colour of imagination, fanciful concept and the height of imagination dawning upon attract the reader. Love and its sadness too is prominent in him. A poet of bleeding roses and heart, he is beautifully romantic. Sometimes gleeful, sometimes sad, he sings of life and the world.
Inder Kumar Sharma who is from Jaipur, Rajasthan is ironical and conceited. After publishing smaller collections, his poems have been collected in. He is very sharp and witty in his expression. But he has moved at a snail’s pace to cover up a nominal distance. The craft and the intricacies of crosswords with the kernels of ideas are things of his poetic art and expression. Now his Collected Poems can speak a lot in this regard.
Badev Mirza who is from Aligarh, U.P. writes the poems of some artistic background and penetration. His poems used to appear in his journal Skylark. He is not a poet, but an artist of words and the words come to him tenderly, floating and flowing with natural ease and drift.
Suresh Chandra Dwivedi who is from Allahabad, U.P. generally writes the poems dealing Indian society, culture, thought and tradition. In the beginning, he had planned to publish The Mouth of Truth, but he did not. He also forgot the title to use in later on. Suresh Chandra has written no doubt, but his poems lie in scattered over a host of journal which he should collect, but he has not done the rough work so far and has just one book to claim over. He labours hard for expression as they do not come naturally to him. Generally, morality, spirituality, religion and philosophy engage him poetically. Amar Nath Dwivedi, who is from Allahabad, U.P. is a poet of some simple stature writing poetry for simplicity sake. His poems have come to light primarily as for his criticism, but the talent which it lies in the simple forms of expression can never be ignored. They have their worth and excellence to be appreciated in full rhythm. Dwarakanath H.Kabadi is a dreamer, a visionary and an artist penetrating socialism. A writer voluminous in output, he excels in shorter and brief poems which he calls them as flickers. Without following punctuation marks, they follow the course of action. There is nothing as that to question with regard to his poetry and its excellence.
Pronab Kumar Majumder who is from Lake Town, Kolkata is a poet of time, time mechanical and time cosmic, split in between two and this is the dichotomy of his self. Majumder is the editor of Bridge-in-Making journal and has edited several volumes of contemporary poetry. William Hazlitt, H.G. Wells and Philip Larkin seem to have influenced the poet as the sense of time is so strong in him that he goes on reading and watching it for so long. R.R. Menon, I.K. Sharma and O.P. Bhatnagar are the poets who figure in Iyengar’s history work just with their books under the brackets. There are of course a few lines about them in the latter edition of the
work. There is also a passage about Krishna Srinivas in the later edition of the version.
R.R. Menon who is from Kerala but settled in Bangalore is a poet of a subtle standard and prolific too in his poetic output, but recognition had been ordained otherwise. Instead of his book-publications from Writers Workshop, Calcutta, his poems continued to appear in the journals. Krishna Srinivas who hails from Madras and has remained the long-time editor of the journal Poet is a poet of his own corpus, spanning over the religio-spiritual poems. Tabish Khair too is a poet of the same group of the new journal-appearing poets as he used to edit Rachna from Gaya, Bihar. But he has improvised his strength through journalism and foreign teaching.
Onkar Nath Gupta who is actually from Benaras had been employed at Akot, Akola of Maharashtra and now after his retirement from there, he currently lives at Raipur. It is a specialty of Gupta that he compares the old with the modern while entertaining the readers. The satiric-comical effects add to his dimension. Especially humour, satire and realism are the chief properties of the poet. It should also be noted that O.P. Bhatnagar too had been posted under the same Amravati University where O.N. Gupta used to work. Syed Ameeruddin who is from Madras is a poet of the metaphysical dimension. His love reminds us of John Donne, Robert Herrick, Andrew Marvell and so on.
Sarbeswar Samal who is from Cuttack, Orissa has tendered quite a few books as standard publications. The poems which have come down to us from his poetic pen tend to different facets and dimensions of life. A professor of Ravenshaw College, Cuttack, he writes in his own individual style. Though editors could have written on his poetry, but instead of that, they loved and chose to get the articles published on their own poetry in maximum. The poems generally take the longer course as those of Kulwant Singh Gill.
But what it pains us most is this that not only R. Parthasarathy and M.K. Naik have written about their poetry in the books by them, but the journal-appearing smaller poets too continue the same tradition in their history books and papers, as for A.N. Dwivedi, D.C. Chambial, T.V. Reddy, I.H. Rizvi, P.C. Katoch. They can definitely say about their own things, but for courtesy’s sake not in their own critical books and papers, as it infringes upon sense of morality. Who does not like to popularize and promote one’s own poetry? If I.K. Sharma writes a paper on Indian English poetry, he will include Chambial, T.V.Reddy, Baldev Mirza, I.H.Rizvi and others and even if they write, it will be reciprocated.
Vikram Seth, Amit Chaudhary and Tabish Khair are alike in their coming. Vikram’s first book could not find a press in foreign. Hence, it was finally given to Writers’ Workshop, Calcutta and his journey started from there. Even Vikram Seth too is a writer of his type and tenor. His works deserve not to be called the classics of poetry, may these be of Indian English poetry. He visits China, comes to know of Chinese poetry, tries to recreate the rhythm in English, laced with a tour diary and entries.
Tabish Khair too has grabbed the opportunities in becoming a poet. Had he been not associated with the Times of India and had he not moved to Copenhagen, he would not have been what he is today. Without being a literary editor, one cannot be a poet easily. Nissim Ezekiel had been the editor of the Indian P.E.N., Jayanta Mahapatra of Chandrabhaga.
As Vinayak Krishna was himself a poet so are K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar and M.K. Naik. Sometimes we feel it that Indian English poetry is one-book Ph.D. stuff as is the case with R. Parthasarathy. He soared to the heights just with his one book and that is Rough Passage. Koatkar too scaled maximum heights with Jejuri by manoeuvring his commercial art and Marathi entity, proximity to metropolitan Bombay. Just for thinner collections, many of the Indian English poets and poetesses got the Sahitya Akademi awards. Kamala went on posing and posturing as love-mad Mira, but was not in reality. She in a sense degenerated literature and for fame she did it everything. Media glare and limelight had been the target of Kamala. Just on her slim books, we lavished praises, calling her so greatly confessional and bold enough to vent her ire and face the truth, but we should keep it in mind that everything has got some limit and by doing that she trespassed it as for being media-savvy.
Even after so many years of creative writing, you will wonder to know it that not even a single article on my poetry appeared in the literary journals, nor did any editor do it. I too never asked them to do me a favour. But what disturbs me is this that after writing for a year, one starts calling oneself a big poet or poetess which is but modern taste and sense of morality. They do not follow any ethics to be kept as an example.
I used to write about Dwarakanath H.Kabadi, but never did anyone buy my theories. Now a few lines can be seen in M.K. Naik’s recent book of criticism. There is one fault with M.K. Naik as a critic that he often shows inclination towards the media-propped things. If a poetry competition is held, some names will naturally come up as from the lottery draw and those become the properties of Naik. Unknown names figuring in newspapers too turn into critical stuffs just like news items, which become dead so soon.
Today we talk of modernism and the history of modern Indian English poetry, but have we ever opined it otherwise? Had there been not the industrial revolution, new discoveries and inventions heralding a new age in science, technology and medicine; had our education not developed; had we been not connected so well, could we have called ourselves modern? The answer is ‘no’. Modern appliances, comforts and pleasures too have added to our new mental set-up and thinking. Had there been the bullock cart to take us and the earthen lamp to show, we could not have been. Electricity too is a wonder making the things happen so easily. The wonders of science have made us modern rather than the thinking of man. Time and distance pose no problem too is a truth.
Indian English poetry as a branch of study is just an off-shoot of English literature which has developed from Indology, Oriental studies, Asiatic researches and vernacular readings. The base is one of classical Sanskrit, the Ramamyana, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavadgita, the Puranas and the Upanishadas, but instead of the vernacular stuffs and the regional things have made a way into the theme and crux of it. We cannot set aside the history, culture, art, tradition and the locale. Had the modern Indian language classics been translated into English, it would have done marvels and have added a new dimension to it. The poetry of Surdas, Mira, Tulsi, Kabir, Rashkhan, Jayasi and Vidyapati is not only stupendous, but elevating too, but we are devoid of the draughts.
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Bijay Kant Dubey
The current scene of contemporary Indian English poetry (The politics of poetry and the poets as politicians)
Eliot has already said it that we are the hollow men, we are the stuffed men and our head piece filled with straw and the things are so as and when we talk about the contemporary Indian English poetry. First of all to be kept in mind is this that they are not English poets, but the Indians writing in English. The second thins is this had English been not, they could not have been. So, Indian English poetry is but a part of world literature in English, call it Commonwealth poetry or an off-shoot of the main poetry. To be frank with is to say that Indian English poetry is a study in slender anthologies and minor voices. If one can get at the volumes published by P.Lal and his Writers Workshop, Calcutta, one will come to mark it. Lal turned Indian English poetry into a joke of his type communizing it through introducing the no-man poets and critics of such a virgin field of literature. There were no takers or buyers of this theory then and books used to sell it not. The scholars dared not working on the third rate literature, the parodied, imitative and copied down verses, the derivative stuffs, written in imitation of Shelley, Keats, Milton, Browning, Tennyson, Eliot, Auden and so on. P.Lal’s earlier poetry-volumes used to contain in just twenty pages, thirty pages in total and similar was the case with the so-called established moderns of today then. Kamala Das too is a poetess of some slender merit though we have made her climb up the palm tree as for juice-taking and she continues to relish on.
Today the youngsters have evolved a strategy of own, the small-small men as small-small poetry-journal editors are trying their utmost best to come into light after encouraging the subscriber-reviewers to write on them, even though they have not sufficient materials of own to be written own, forcing them to call poets in utter admiration, sycophancy and cringing and they do cringe to as for getting a breakthrough through review-writing to be promoted as a critic. Some commoners who cannot write English well too are trying to edit journals from Bangalore or distant south to be poets. Some small poetaster-editors try to publish them only who will write articles on them and the research-scholars oblige them as for paper publication mandatory almost now for research registration. Sometimes it strikes us when we see that a practicing upcoming poet’s varsity colleagues, lecturers and senior lecturers turn into critics all of a sudden, really a bolt from the blue. We want to know if they are so intelligent. Where had been they initially? Some time-bound promoted readers just after oiling the head and writing a small book of poems want to reap more and now those can talk of being professors from Allahabad or the suburbs of it. Some small poets working in universities as lecturers want to be called the legends of Indian English poetry. Some non-resident Indians are also doing the politics of becoming poets taking to the ladder of the diaspora dais and they being the diasporans.
There are visible groups and coteries, that of the Bombayans, those from H.P., the northeast of India, of P.Lal and so on. What it pains us most is this that the poets and poetesses write about themselves in their own articles which I have never succumbed to.
It is also a fact that the research scholars of today want not to read and it is not so easy to find out new as it will take time in getting at and adding to. Some more free time is required for this. So, the unknown guides of unknown topics of Indian English poetry themselves help in writing the thesis and the candidates get them published from a Delhi-based publisher and turn into the unread and unheard-of critics of nondescript, ramshackle Indian English poetry.
Some poetaster-editors can approach the far and far away readers of the their journals to read the seminar paper on their poetry as for to bring into light and can even send candidates from their own places too for the job assigned to under a pact, a secret treaty which but the editor-poet and the subscriber-reader know it well as per the telephonic talk, informing him about the home-town seminar and he too asking him to read a paper on.
Some university readers I have seen them writing papers on the small poetry of the editors as for to keep them in good spirits and pleased and to be promoted to the professor’s rank through paper publication and the display of prudent scholarship. Some have even managed to scholars registered for the award of the Ph.D. degree.
Some people from the northeast are also trying to be called the poets and poetesses of Nagaland, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya, Arunachal and Tripura. If English is really there and they are so, they will naturally come to light, but the writers of today cannot be called poets tomorrow. It will take time. Let them write and evolve rather than staking a claim so early. Instead of their verses in English, an idea about the lands and their bio-diversity will be important to us rather than these which they are saying about. The rich linguistic stock itself is not clear to us rather than taking a plunge into the verses of the new faces. But the problem is this that the resident and non-resident teachers and students of the northeast are impatient to be called poets and critics using the banner of the northeast caption which is so painful to hear it.
The politics of the Indian politician not, murkhamantris turned into ministers not, but the small-small teachers and practitioners turned into poets and critics or claiming to be so of Indian English verse is really very, very sad to hear about doing the politics and propaganda of getting undeserving name and fame.
A Beautiful Scholar ( A Prized Possession of A Guide, Isn't It?)
A beautiful girl,
Saw I in the university campus,
Met I in the library
Instead of seeing and feeling the flowers
Of varied and differing colours and hues
Lying interspersed with the turf.
She approached me
With the nasal intonation of her own,
I mean in the sophisticated voice of her
As for research supervision and guidance
Which but hesitated I
But accepted her
With an assurance
To see into the matter.
“Sir, I shall not, shall not be able to write,
You help me
As I understand it not
What it’s in a research,
As am not like you
Vast and learned,”
On seeing her, I could not,
Could not say anything to her,
Just, just said to her
In my reply to her,
O.k., I shall try my best,
Let us see.”
And after the Ph.D. calls she herself now,
A very knowledgeable person,
After having got the thesis written
From the guide,
Copying his thesis matter,
Duplicating, adding and subtracting from
And reproducing them
To be presented as a new collage
Of facts and fictions
In an attractive format.
You Are Great, Sir, Great, Sir (Said He The M.Phil.Scholar)
Though I didn’t,
Didn’t feel like
But went he on saying,
You are great, sir, you are great, sir.
Now feel I,
Why did he go on saying,
Oh, the idea,
The idea came to me!
Just for his M.Phil. degree,
Kept saying it,
You are great, you are great, sir
Though I wasn’t,
Which realized it later on,
Though felt it great
In the spurt of the moment
Said he repeatedly.
Just for his M.Phil
Getting himself registered
And getting it written,
Kept saying great,
You are great, your are great,
Though I wasn’t,
And when the M.Phil was written
And submitted to,
He did not,
Did not inform the guide
Leaving everything in the dark
He took the degree and went away,
Never came to,
Returned he again.
(The patience of sycophancy breaking down,
As everything has got some limit
And this too has,
Now should plagiarism stop, is the thing feel we,
How long will they keep
Upping and downing
As for one’s selfish ends and odds?)
Open University, Open Your Notes & Write To Earn A Degree Without Reading And Preparing For (On Marking Rampant Plagiarism In Academia)
Open your notes and write
Under a tree
To be a first class first gold medallist
From a licensed franchisee,
A study centre
Under open schooling
And distance education programme
Where the astrologer’s son
After leaving non-profitable horoscope making
And money swindling,
Though many of his candidates
Without degrees and their verification
Worked in creamy levels
As officers and masters
And retired too
And some of them even passed away
Before we could know
Their certificates were fake and false
And did it at the behest of Natwarlal,
The great con man of India
And the special mercied students of his.
The world is a bazaar
And go you with the bag
To purchase a degree,
As there was a time
When they used to say,
First deserve then desire
But now the impatient and abnormal men
Of abnormal times say they
First desire you then deserve
As they could see the Indian rustics,
Unable to talk and speak,
Do not how to talk, how to behave with
Turning into ministers,
Not state level but central,
So why can they be not,
The modern-age boys and girls
Who read and write not,
Just see the films and hear music
Plugging the wires, the ear-phones
And shaking the body and head
And this is not their fault,
But the fault of the age
They are living in,
In which born in,
The fault of the abnormal times,
Abnormal mind, state of living,
Abnormal climate and weather conditions
When everything seems to have lost its temper,
Gravity and sobriety.
What will you take Ph.D. or M.Phil,
Can give the road map for,
Tell of the way out
If it is not possible,
Can give you the contact number
Of the guides,
Give the middleman’s fees
As for negotiating it far
And come through a compromise,
The talks held in between
The guide and the probable scholar
And the other thing is this,
Cut and paste,
Open the internet, access it,
Gather the information
After opening the portals
From the database websites,
Click, copy, cut and paste
And collage all of your stuffs
To produce it as a thesis
Submitted for the award
Of the M.Phil. or Ph.D. degree
By giving a declaration
That the thesis is original,
Has not been submitted anywhere
For the award of any degree
To the best of knowledge
Failing which the degree will be cancelled
If any discrepancy found later on
As say it so all,
Rarely has anyone’s degree been cancelled
If the people are not against you,
Rarely has it been seen,
If the others not,
Your men are not against you.
Modern Trend of Indian English Verse Writing (Poetasters,Rhymers, Non-poets & Commoners As Small Journal Poet-editors)—The Contemporary Time And Scenario
The tactics and techniques of becoming Indian English verse practitioners,
You promote me, I shall promote you,
You publish me, I shall publish you
And as thus shall we be poets,
The small poets, poets not really, but the little men of literature
Handshaking with each other
As for to be a poet.
The poetasters and rhymers striving their best to come to
After editing their self-support journals,
Bringing out papers on their poetry
And calling themselves poets and poetesses,
Working as per the promotion scheme,
One small journal editor trying to stoop to conquer another
And the teachers for to be commissioned professors and guides
As for their papers, research students’ papers
And for this they are ready
To get the Ph.D. and M.Phil. students registered
Even on the poetaster editors.
There are coteries, groups doing the rounds
I can hear about,
They are coming to submit articles on Indian English poetry
Of the contemporary times
But will keep including the group
And some youngsters edit literary journals
Just to market and make the profit
Or sponsor themselves.
Some newer editors are in the habit of
None but they themselves,
Even doggerels and tidbits of poetry
By making it a matter of seminar paper presentation,
Can even hire the distant subscriber-reader
To read the paper there in his town
As for they have to make him a poet
And he has also to be,
It does not matter whether he deserves it or not.
Some editors lure the researchers with
All the matters and materials
If selects one the poetry of the editor,
Even assuring him to publish the paper
In the journal,
Ready to pick them for a joyride,
The guide and the scholar.
In their mutual exchange fellowship programmes,
Mutual exchange journals,
The small editor poet, I mean the small journal men
Can even be seen
Writing about themselves,
None but they themselves about them,
How can it be, sir,
Where has morality gone to?
I shall call you a pir, you call me a pir
Is the case with,
I am praising you and you too will me,
I am praising you with the hope of getting praise from you
And they too are right too to some extent
As this is the age of self-projection, self-promotion,
If have to promote, self promote you, self promote I,
You beat your drums, I shall my own
And as thus we shall become famed drummers.
They taking a break from all hectic and busy schedule,
With the pseudo-literary friends
Under the campus trees,
Relishing upon cheaper Indian native beedis,
Not at all costly cigarettes
As who pays for
During the seminar break for so many so
And the small editor poet trying his best
To inspire a reader of acquaintance participant
To read a paper on his poetry to bring him to light.
It seems Bijay Kant Dube has carefully deleted references to my poetry from his earlier versions of the article on Indian English Poetry. But, it is good he has made available his commentary on the current IEP study scene. Congrats Dr Dubey
The last stanza of the article How far Indian is Indian Englsih poetry?
The Indian English poets have failed to strike the chords as they have take to up the issues. William Hazlitt’s description of the Indian jugglers, Goethe’s full-throated appreciation of Abhijnanashakuntalam, Aldous Huxley’s visit to India with his pieces on Benares and J.C.Bose institute, Pearl S.Buck’s search for real India, Kipling’s understanding of the Buddha and Buddhism in the novel Kim through a Lama bhikshu and an orphaned Anglo-Indian Christian boy, Neville Cardus’ write-up on Ranjitsinhji, Edward Morgan Forster’s comprehension of the Vyom-Om voices in the Marabar caves of A Passage To India, etc. have much to throw light on India and the story of Indianism as the theme of Indianness keeps bailing out. The process of Indianization has taken a long time and the readers’ responses we see it today as colonialism or post-colonialism. Had they not taught, the Indians would not have uttered. Had we been united and strong enough, we would have registered the dates of stupendous temple-making, built from rocks, chiselled and hewn. But we are sorry to say that we do not know those builders still now. Everything lies it in the womb of earth and its dark history.
“ Ganga was sunken, and the limp leaves
Waited for rain, while the black clouds
Gathered far distant, over Himavant.
The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
Then spoke the thunder
Datta: what have we given?”
----T.S.Eliot in ‘What the Thunder said’ chapter of The Waste Land
“Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
Shantih shantih shantih”
Indian English poetry cannot be Indian if the historical sense is not recreated and entertained, analyzed and interpreted, all those unexplored things. The dark daughters are the beauties of the temples, rock-cut or be they of the terracotta ones, the figures and figurines as sculptures in art decorating as myths or motifs, values or ideals, the outer walls of the temple pillars or the entrances leading the devotees inside the sanctum sanctorum. We do not know nor have we ever tried to know them, the poor daughters of the faith-blind people who gifted their lovely daughters at the advice of the priests, astrologers and soothsayers; false and fake sadhus and yogis in the service of the temples, but human lust is always on the prowl and the things do not seem to be pure unto the last.
The devadasis, sevadasis and the nautch girl replicas all of these tell of the people held a by mythical belief and an adherence to it, a reality sidetracked and so ugly, but classicism lies it misinterpreted in understanding the supernatural as it slipped into the hands of all those mediocre and pseudo-faithful people and their false hypocrisy. Kali, the Mother Goddess dark, darker the myths of the Creation, this is a thing to be felt, but in the India of today, the stories of dowry system, domestic violence and female foeticide continue to rake up. Medievalism seconded by inaction, superstition and blind faith, we can never welcome it, but if it smacks of pedantry and olden-day scholasticism with the whiffs and wisps of golden classicism and classical scholarship is always appreciable.
The quoted lines from the ‘ Relationship’ of Jayanta Mahapatra, for which he got the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1981, themselves tell of,
“ Is anything beyond me that I cannot catch up?
Tell me your names, dark daughters
Hold me to your spaces”
( Relationship, The Chandrabhaga Society, Cuttack, Second Indian Edition, 1999, p.38 )
Let us see again, how the same Odia Christian of Odisha; a professor of physics, but a famous poet of Indian English poetry known world-wide pays his tributes to in a poem entitled Moving:
Drummers on an autumn day,
on the deep stillness of the valley.
The ten-armed clay Durga
framed in a mythic past,
carried slowly by twenty-four tired men.
Moving surrounds us.
A group of temple Brahmans
singing, the tar
quietly melting alone the lane.
Dumb silence of a god’s curved eye,
directed like a pilgrimage.
(Jayanta Mahapatra, A Rain of Rites, The University of Georgia Press, Athens (USA), 1976, p.26)
Indian English poetry right from the beginning has been traversing the thin and zigzagged course of its own, not sure of its foothold and proposition, trajectory and travesty, the tapestry of growth and development. Owing its origin and allegiance to and starting from Oriental Studies, Indology and Asiatic researches, it develops as one nurtured up on the Western liberal scholars’ attitude to India and India studies. The desire to understand India, the age-old spirit, belief and system of it too adds to the taking of the responsibility of translating the books of yore and undeterred past, pale palm leaves to decipher in the long run and for this, the credit goes to them rather than us. The medieval period full of wrath and vengeance, regression and darkness could have finished it all had they not come to rescue the glorious past rotting in the decadent present. Poverty, superstition, uneduction, fatalism, witch-hunting, blind faith, dead logic, unnecessary ritual and other ignorant adherences would have destroyed it all what it was good in India. The barbarians and the savage people in their trail of ravages and rages could have razed them to the ground, but the light beamed it as a spark in the form of translation studies and the opening of centres and they tried to understand the religion and faith, spirituality and metaphysics, religion and philosophy of India, perennial and altruistic and they tried to interpret it to the West still in the dark about Indian culture and philosophy. It is painful to think of India in the aftermath of Taxsila, Nalanda and Vikramshila, the ancient universities or citadels of learning under the ruins. Instead of it, something has kept them, sustained it to patch up the whole story. India cannot be India if its soul resides not in the villages; India cannot be India if the names of Rama and Krishna do not do the rounds. Hare Rama, hare Krishna, the song of India reverberating and re-echiong everywhere, is the essence of it all. The rock-built temples, age-old and durable, standing as an anonymous witness of the age gone by, cut out of the large chunks and blocks of stone or the hills converted into with the scultptures carved upon and the nice architectural skill and excellence themselvers tell of artistic splendour and grandeur. The Ramlila and Krishnalila had been the studies in dramaturgy. Hari-nams, singing and reciting of the name of the Lord continuously for day and night, were a counting of time and adhering to rhythmic devotion with a view to knowing kal, prahar, danda and bela. India the land of sahdus and sahdakas, it was miraculous to know them and they were in reality the cultural abbassadors of the sub-continent. The Vedas used to take us by strike at dwnbreak, the psalms and the chants of the sacred mantric verses and the sadhus doing a suryanamskar after a bath as to begin with the recitation. There were the reciters of the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Gita and of the Durga-saptashati.
It is very difficult to assess and conclude with regard to Indian culture and tradition, thought and philosophy, religion and spirituality, theology and metaphysics. India is not India which know we, say we about, it was a golden bird, the temples of it used to be with golden decorations, the statues of gold, the ornaments for the divine and the pitchers at the helm or on the mast of with the specific features and portals of their own making and presentation. The sparrows used to chirp and fly day and night at dawnbreak from the muddy and thatched huts. It was but faith which used to upkeep them, a collage of Aryan and non-Aryan trends and traditions, rites and rituals. Nataraja Shiva dancing the dance of doom, doing the tandava nritya, classical but devastating is a cosmic view of life and the world in delusion, but apart from, is an artistic replica. The historicity of our ancient tradition only the things museumological can explain them. The Jyotirlingas and the Shaktipithas have the narratives of their own to be told and re-told, India the land of myth and mythicism, mystery and mysticism. The episodes and narratives from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata tell about the life and the way of the world as it is, how to live a moral and didactic life?
India, such a vast tract and stretch of land, it is impregnable to measure and locate, with physical, geographical and climatic variations around, a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic and mutli-racial country dotted with the plateaus, deserts, mountainous ranges, sea shores, river confluences, lush green plains and the dense woods; lakes, hills, dales, vales, marshes, bushy tracts and rivers. In addition to these, people so varied in attire, outlook, norm, tradition, culture, behaviour and manner, but there is something which binds us into a whole which is but intrinsic. Though Bengali and Hindi have derived from Sanskrit, but instead of, as for the tonal variations and lyricism, it is difficult for the Hindi speakers to understand Bengali and vice versa. Punjabi is closer to Khari Boli Hindi. The tribal languages have a spate of their own, not so intelligible, one cannot understand even a word of that. There are some dialects of the wandering gypsies which we have failed to comprehend with their own code words. Rajasthani, Gujarati and Punjabi are alike and similar are Bengali, Oriya and Assamese. The South Indian languages are almost different from the northern speeches and sound-tracks and it is classical Sanskrit which can ultimately come to one’s rescue in this regard.
But what it is most deplorable is this that the Indian English poets use and apply in not the translator’s vision and version, the bilingual space of mutual comprehension and understanding, an exchange of thoughts and ideas. Had the English been not in India, we could not have thought of putting our feelings and emotions, thoughts and ideas in English. The language is no doubt English, but the user is a native Indian, a brown Indian speaking in English somehow, learning through a long process of practice and assimilation, memorizing words and sentences, developing the vocabulary, going through books of grammar and literature, news broadcasts and relays and spoken English courses. The far flung countryside dotted with the scattered hamlets and thorps, shaded by bunyan and peepul trees, the exotic flora and fauna still lie in unexplored. Today we speak the language of development, determine anything else in terms of connectivity via roads or net facilities, but there was a time when it was a problem. Time and distance have been conquered. Modern science has made it easy, but life was not so comfortable in the past as it is now. Maybe it that it is an Aryan view of life as seen and assessed by them, but there are also some view-points to put it and place them side by side.
Many a thing we had to learn from the mahouts, grooms and falconers, sculptors, masons and architects, but learnt we not. The Sati system dehumanized us and we forgot it humanity in the wake of foreign invasions, loot and pluder of India during the dark days of rampant medievalism while it was not in the lower caste people. The other things is this that we have failed to give liberty to the native culture which believe in eat, drink and merry-making sociologically. The feats of the acrobats, the spectacles of the snake-charmers, bearmen and monkeymen, we know them not, nor take into deeply as a branch of delving. We made grand temples to house in gods and goddesses, but not for ourselves. We never gave any weightage to science, its fact and fiction, logic and reasoning capapcity rather than believing blindly, adhering to in good faith and make-believe.
Though it undertakes an in-depth study of the origin, growth and development of Indian English poetry right from the initial days of its inception, going back to, delving deep in, highlighting the background study and the neglected sides with a spectrum of its own, but instead of, something still lies it to be perused and scrutinized in detail. We have neglected in Indology, Asiatic researches, Oriental studies and translation studies which definitely have the bearings and legacy of their own to be stated and known.
There were writers of verse even before Nissim Ezekiel whom we suppose to have forgotten and prescribe not their poems in our courses of study. A large body of it still remains unassessed and unexamined. Though P.Lal and his compatriots may refuse the acknowledge Maharshi Aurobindo, but his Savitri cannot be dismissed, whatever say they or their statement is in this regard. Savitri is Savitri, a source of illumination and enlightenment; spiritual elevation to be felt within. The Pondicherry School of Poerty Writing too needs to be studied deeply which we have not. K. D. Sethna as a poet and a critic is no less than, but we have not prescribed his poems and papers of criticism. Nissim Ezekiel, Jayanta Mahapatra, Purshottam Lal, Keki N.Daruwalla, Dilip Chitre, Arun Kolatkar, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Adil Jussawalla, Pritish Nandy, A.K.Ramanujan, R.Parthasarathy, Gieve Patel, Shiv K. Kumar, Kamala Das, Keshav Malik, Agha Shahid Ali and others are the poets of the modern age. Nissim as a poet is an alien insider, lives in India, but thinks and dreams, like a Westerner. Indian thought, culture and philosophy cannot lure him nor has he striven to understand them. The modern Indian English poets are the writers of the urban space and city centres and their minds cannot dwell anywhere barring these. Kamala das is mad after sex and sexuality and hers is a persona gone into hysterics. For her, the husband is the root of all troubles and but that she is Sati-Savitri; not so, but a woman of loose character. The nautanki of Kamala many have failed to understand it. Adil Jussawalla is resurfacing after a shipwreck; a break of some thirty-five years, again back to poetry, which is but a good news, but where had he been disturbs the new-practising critic? We have started to talk about Meena Alexander, but is silent about Anna Sujatha Mathai. But apart from, there are some whose names we can hear on the sidelines. K.V.S. Murti, R.R.Menon, Narenderpal Singh, M.N.Sharma, D.H.Kabadi, Romen Basu, Kulwant Sigh Gill, Sarbeswar Samal, Pronab Kumar Majumder, Hazara Singh, T.V.Reddy, P.C.Katoch, R.K.Singh, O.N.Gupta, I.H.Rizvi, Charu Sheel Singh, Simanchal Patnaik, Kedar Nath Sharma, Vijay Vishal, H.S.Bhatia, Stephen Gill, Har Prasad Sharma, Kadar Nath Shrma, Amarendra Kumar, P.K.Joy, etc. are the poets of the contemporary times whether one accepts it or not. The names of O.P.Bhatnagar, R.R.Menon and K.V.S.Murti can still be found in in the historical surveys of Naik and Iyengar. People talk about Keki N. Daruwalla, Gieve Patel and Adil jussawalla, but leave it behind K.D.Katrak who is not less than. I do not understand their politics, the politics of poetry and of poets as politicians, letting not them come out, trying utmost best to suppress talent and genius, where be it dying in harness. The other thing which is most deplorable is this that the small poets as editors like to bring out their own poetry and the subscribing readers too like to cringe them to full.
How Far Indian Is Indian English Poetry?
“ April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.”
---- T.,S.Eliot in ‘The Burial of the Dead’ section of The Waste Land
(T.S.Eliot, Selected Poems, Edited by Manju Jain, Oxford Univ. Press, Delhi, 1998, P. 47, Rs. 170)
Passage to more than India!
Are thy wings plumed indeed for such far flights?
O soul, voyagest thou indeed on voyages like those?
Disportest thou on waters such as those?
Soundest below the Sanscrit and the Vedas?
Then have thy bent unleash’d.
----Walt Whitman in the poem Passage To India
(Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass And Other Writings, Edited by Michael Moon, A Norton Critical Edition, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2002, p.353)
Indian English poetry as a branch of literature is just an offshoot of world literature in English, the horizon of translation studies widened, reviewed and rethought, indigenous and native stuffs outside the domain of English and Englishness and the range of their topography and cartography, inducted into and incorporated in to give it an impetus of its own. There had not been anything like Indian English nor was it Indian English poetry written by the Indians. Even English had not a feeder dialect to give a new lease of life to the transplant as it is not spoken in the homes even now nor had it the native speakers of its own. Even the Anglo-Indians too could not carry it on for long rather than switching over to the vernacular finally. Though we compare Indian English with Irish, Canadian, South African, Australian and American varieties, but there is nothing like that as to talk of and elate. English is English, India is India, but instead of something goes into the building of the base and it was not Indian English which came it first which the Indians think it today, it was but Indology, Asiatic researches and Oriental studies which made a way into the realms first rather than this propaganda and publicity. Had the interaction been not, they would not have understood. It was a problem with the colonists too to understand the multi-racial, lingual and ethnic base of India, mesmerizing it all. Exotic India with exotic flora and fauna, they too took time to read and identify them. A dormant India ravished and raked by rampant medievalism, bloody superstition and inactive fatalism, reeling under frustration and dismay as for the foreign raids, loots and plunders of India and there was bleak hope for survival. Indian thought, culture, philosophy, religion, spirituality, theology and metaphysics in full punditism seemed to lack luster. The unnecessary rituals and blind adherences to them too plotted for our fall. But the British definitely supplied with the fact and fiction of reason, the cause and effect theory and we started knowing our anonymous history, hidden under excavations. Our historiography and archaeology, they brought it to light; our sense of heritage and belonging, they lighted upon whatever be their ruthlessness in administration. To connect the India of exotic flora and fauna with over bridges, footbridges, connectways and other information services was no mean task while on the other hand they could not compromise with the heat and dust, medievalism and orthodoxy. To understand a multi-ethnic and multi-racial India was not an easy matter.
The Rig Veda, the Sam Veda the Yajur Veda and the Atharva Veda, the Bhagavadgita, the Upanishadas, the Puranas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, etc. continue to hold on with their narrativity and the moral and spiritual lessons to impart. India cannot be India if the tales of Rama and Krishna are not narrated; India cannot be India if the soul of it resides not in the villages. The folk versions of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata dramatized as Ramlila and Krishnalila and the vernacular renderings have definitely added to, but the modern poets have nothing to derive from. The books written on Indian philosophy, art, culture, religion and Sanskrit studies furthered India and its strong sense of Indianism. Had A.L.Basham, Macdonell, Winternitz, Romain Rolland, Max Muller, William Jones, Edwin Arnold, Lionel D.Barnett and others not furthered, we could not have derived our stuffs from ancient heritage and culture.
People had not thought about Indian English verses nor had been prepared to accept the caption, the head under which to read it nor the materials were so, elevating and rich enough. Just as a thin trickle of poesy, imitatively and derivatively the poetic journey started and we got Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, Kashi Prasad Ghose, Toru Dutt and the contributing ones with their musical album not, but the poetical album. Romesh Chunder Dutt, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Manmohan Ghose, Maharshi Aurobindo, Sarojini Naidu, etc. carried forward the tradition of contributing poems in English.
The poets of the earlier stage were almost alike in their things of delving and delineation and their English way of life-style and living. As Mahatma Gandhi tried to emulate the English in the initial stages so had been the things of the poets of the initial stages of writing. Michael Madhusudan Dutt who tried his hands first at writing poems in English had also been so and he seemed to be after the English poets. Perhaps Byron had been the choice of his and his heart beat for him. His money laundering and lavish life-style finally brought him back to Bengali language and literature and was proud and elegant too. The Captive Ladie and Visions of The Past are the ambitious works of the poet Michael, but something makes them fall short of and he fails to reach the pedestal. My Fond Sweet Blue-Eyed Maid, They Ask Me Why I Fade And Pine, I Lov’d Thee, The Slave, The Parting, Sonnet To Futurity, Composed During A Morning Walk, Composed During An Evening Walk, etc. are the poems.
Maharshi Aurobindo is a yogi, a sadhaka and a poet endowing poetry with some transcendental vision. As a poet, he is an ashramite and poetry has born to him as his experimentation with sadhna. The influences of Milton hang heavy over him and he draws from his vocabulary and sentence pattern, but sometimes his Latinization and the fusion of the Eastern and the Western baffle us. There is cold logic in Aurobindo and this puts hurdles in understanding him in totality. We doubt if a saint can be so with cold logic as his guide. Savitri as an epic is no doubt grand and stupendous, but the poetic texture and sentence construction coat the meaning. Sometimes we forget the contribution of foreign guides and scholars working for dissertations on Savitri for the first time. Had Aurobindo not perused Milton’s Paradise Lost and other poems, he could not have accomplished his epics and these are quite discernible. One can mark the influence and impact of the English poet and Aurobindo escapes it not. Aurobindo as a poet is more and more yogic and scientific. The elements of sadhna though are there, but the mysteries, miracles and supernatural realizations are not in a plenty. It is his august presence which has occasioned the flowering of the Pondicherry School of Indian English poetry, but the master overshadows other members and lets them not flourish so naturally.
Swami Vivekanada who was not only a great saint of India, but a karmayogin, an Advaita-Vedantist and a poet too. Though had no intention of writing poems in English, but instead of has scribbled a few poems, as the saints continue to be the singers of some sort. If we go by George Herbert the poet, the heart is the temple of God and this is true in respect of this great saint of India, who delivered his astounding address of Chicago in his meeting of the World Parliament of Religions in 1893. A handful of poems written by Swamiji tell of different states of his feeling. The religion of sannayasa is not less than and it is difficult to be a saint, to renounce the world as for faith’s sake. The path of sadhna is tedious and troublesome as he continues to state them in his poems straight from the heart.
“But you, My child, must travel here.
This is your task. It has no joy nor grace,
But it is not meant for any other hand,
And in my universe hath measured place,
Take it. I do not bid you understand.
I bid you close your eyes to see My face.”
----Swami Vivekananda in the poem ‘The Cup’
(Swami Vivekananda, In Search of God And Other Poems, Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta, 1981, p.14, Rs. 8.50)
“Wake up the note! The song that had its birth
Far off, where worldly taint could never reach;
In mountain caves, and glades of forest deep,
Whose calm no sign for lust or wealth or fame
Could ever dare to break; where rolled the stream
Of knowledge, truth, and bliss that follows both.
Sing high that note, Sannyasin bold! Say—
‘Om Tat Sat, Om!’ ”
--- Swami Vivekananda in the poem ‘ The Song of The Sannyasin’
(Ibid, p. 16)
“The stars are blotted out,
The clouds are covering clouds.
It is darkness vibrant, sonant.
In the roaring, whirling wind
Are the souls of a million lunatics
Just loosed from the prison-house,
Wrenching trees by the roots,
Sweeping all from the path.”
----Swami Vivekananda in the poem ‘Kali The Mother’
(Ibid, p. 25)
Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali too is replete with the household archetypal philosophies and beliefs held in strict confidence and handed over from generation to generation. The poems collected in show their adherences to Kabir, Sur, Mira, Tulsi, Vidyapati, Rashkhan, Jayasi and others of the classical love poetry and Vaishnava tradition. Many a thing scriptural and referential he has added to the writing of Gitanjali and he has compiled them in a very stupendous way. The language implied in is one of the New Testament, cast under the shadow of the Holy Bible. To put Rabindranath Tagore as an Indian English will place us in a awkward state as because his is a base of Bengali and the other thing is this that he has translated into English, maybe it that a few he has tried in English directly under the influences and shadows of his foreign visits, lecture tours and travels. The desire to know the meaning of the Gayatri Mantra, the dialogues between Nachiketa and Vajashrava in the Kathopnishada, God as Daridranarayana, Yama as the messenger of God and other references and allusions seem to have moulded the poet, his mind and art, his poetic purview and aesthetic sense. What more to say if we can see it that Tagore Studies and the Tagore Chair have already been created?
What Tagore says in Gitanjali that can be marked otherwise in Walt Whitman’s one of the smallest unpublished poems, named ‘To the Soul’:
All is for thee
Life and Death are for Thee
The Body too is for thee
(Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass And Other Writings, ibid, p. 596)
Rabindranath Tagore’s Stray Birds seems to have originated from his reading and understanding of the Japanese patterns of writing as because these are like Ezra Pound’s experimentation with the haiku-like poems:
I am a child in the dark.
I stretch my hands through the coverlet of night
for thee. Mother.
The day of work is done. Hide my face in your
Let me dream.
The lamp of meeting burns long; it goes out in a
moment at the parting.
One work keep for me in thy silence, O World,
when I am dead, “I have loved.” ”
( Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds, Macmillan India Limited, 2001, p.58)
To see it in the Eliotesque term, the modern Indian English practitioners of verse are the same city-bred urban people, shallow and hollow from their within, to put their trivia and trifles on paper to be called emotional tidbits, chits and bits; the poetry of broken statements in essence.
“We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!”
---T.S.Eliot in the poem The Hollow Men
Most of the modern Indian English poets and poetesses who have just evolved in course of time are the townsmen living in metropolitan towns and mega cities, the modern hollow and stuffed men who have no time to look back, think and reflect over metaphysically, spiritually and humanistically, as they come out of the house to leave for office places as the commuters and move away to return back after catching the bus or the train as the commuters and can be found in a hurry always, running madly after their pursuits. These urban poets have nothing to do with the India of villages where the soul of it resides in and also nothing to do with the temples which tell of the people held by strong belief. Instead of dwelling in the mud houses, the Indians made beautiful temples as for housing the deities, not for themselves at all. Most of the poets whom we study in the modern section or have evolved are under the influences of T.S.Eliot, W.B.Yeats, Ezra Pound, W.H.Auden, Stephen Spender, Louis McNeice and others. Had the Indian poets derived a bit from John Masefield and Walter de la Mare, it would have been good for us.
P. Lal, Nissim Ezekiel, Kamala Das, R.Parthasarathy, Keki N. Daruwalla, Shiv K. Kumar, Adil Jussawalla, Gieve Patel, Jayanta Mahapatra, Dilip Chitre, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, etc. are some of the famous poets of the post-independence period of Indian English verse and as a writer they are quite individualistic and private in their poetic idea and reflection. There is nothing as that to see from the heritage point of view, one from the sense of cultural legacy, history, thought and tradition. All these poets have started their poetic journey negating Aurobindo and his Aurobindonianism.
There were poets even before Nissim Ezekiel and the trail of modernism observable. Had Western modernism not affected through its usage and application, apparatus and appliance, discovery and experimentation, comfort and boon, revolution and new thinking, poetry would not have been modern as we debate it today. Had there been not the train, bus, tram and air services, could we have imagined about!
Nissim Ezekiel as an Indian writing in English is of the modern age, the post-independence period, who has written poems, dealing with love, sex, marriage, life, society and modernity. A townsman he has but the urban city stuffs to delve and deal with. A Bene-Israeli, he sees India as an alien insider and the quest for identity baffles him quite often. But the theme of Indianness finally bails him out instead of Indian thought, culture, tradition and spirituality which have nothing to do with him. He is a poet of spoken English and goodbye party; handshaking and greeting. The tea parties, marriage parties, foreign trips, visits to parks, modern manners and etiquette, smiles and chuckling, these are the things of Nissim. He laughs at not, but smiles and chuckles, holding the tongue in cheek and is ironical and cutting with the edge. A Time To Change (1952), Sixty Poems (1953), The Third (1958), The Unfinished Man (1960), The Exact Name (1965), Hymns in Darkness (1976), Latter-Day Psalms (1982), the works published from time to time, tell of his literary attainment into the poetic field. The influences of the Elizabethan lyric-writers and sonneteers can be marked on Nissim, as for example, Edmund Spenser, Thomas Wyatt, Michael Drayton, William Shakespeare and others and their traces and shreds of thoughts can be marked in him. There is minorityism in Nissim and he has failed to understand India whatever the mediocre critics, novices and absent authorities say about him. If one questions him with regard to the ancientness of Indian thought, culture, religion. Philosophy and spirituality, he will perhaps nod the head in quite ignorance of it. His is not a Parsi heart even, a Jewish heart in reality.
If Nissim Ezekiel is a poet of Bombay, P.Lal is a poet of Calcutta. Though not so impressive to cave a niche for himself into the domain of newly written verses, Lal is a poet of a middle order. There is nothing substantive and bulky apart from some of the collections which he authored. A few of the poems definitely conform to his poetic credo and are in accordance with them. Whatever be that, he is of course one of the poets to be reckoned with, but there should be something more on his part. But as a translator of the Mahabharata he startles us with his poetic strength and verve. Even if Nissim and Lal are poets, they are but faded romantics and it will be sheer foolishness to expect for colourful romanticism from them. Instead of, The Parrot’s Death and Other Poems (1960), Love’s the First (1962), Change! They Said (1966), Draupadi and Jayadratha (1967), The Man of Dharma and Rasa of Silence (1974), Calcutta: A Long Poem (1978), etc. are the collections of his own.
R.Parthasarathy as a poet is one concerned with his Tamil entity, upbringing, culture, tradition, ethos and individualism. Mostly the things of his life, upbringing, exile and return are the things figuring in his poetry. He has just turned into a poet with one book of poetry and has recycled it again. But he is side by side an editor as well as a translator and this is what adds to his strength as a creative writer of Indian English verse. R.Parthasarathy’s Rough Passage (1977) is a one-book show; a one-book Ph.D. Such a thing my be justifiable as for M.Phils., but for the Ph.D. dissertation, a few more are required as for doing it substantively.
Kamala Das as a poetess has become too much publicized and propagandized otherwise is not so what we think about her today. She is media-savvy and can do it all for publicity’s sake, not at all a healthy writer, derogatory and fallen. She actually relishes upon the consciousness, the dark tales of man-woman relationship, give and take and attraction and repulsion. Though the Indian critics call her novel, but she is not at all as because her production is scanty from the qualitative and quantitative points of view. She has not written something new, but has copied the Western stuffs. Confessional and propagandistic, controversial and feministic, she goes by Lawrence, Plath and Wright. Actually, life around sex as per Freud is the things of hers and Lawrence’s man-woman relationship and bodily satisfaction the tale of hers. Vatsyayana’s Kamsuttra pleases her too much. Hers is a philosophy of bhogavada, maybe it of Charvak or Rajneesh. To see it in the Rajnishite terms, it is sex to samadhi and she does it so. Sexual dream and satisfaction are the things of her poetry. All the time she keeps complaining against her husband which is not a good sign at all. We should have at least heard from the husband’s side too. Had some critic recorded the opinion of her husband, it would have been good for criticism’s sake. The summer which Kamala talks of is the summer of the bodily heat and dust ruffled under the siestas and their noonday dreams wet with sweating and lusciousness; the summer of bodily lust and love is it in essence. Nothing succeeds like success is the case with Kamala Das. We do not know how much educated she is in reality. Just the complaint and criticism of the husband cannot give credit all the time. She is also a careerist mom and profession comes before her first than household care and nursing. To be a feminist should not be the point of litigation and for this one should not be dragged to court and to picture the husband as a henpecked hubby is not good in favour of a healthy living and life-style.
Jayanta Mahapatra who is an Oriya Christian is but a professor of physics writing poems in English. Primarily an imagist, he delves deep into the things of consciousness which is always in a flux. The love for the dark daughter is one of the most specific qualities of his which lies adumbrated in his poetry work named Relationship. Sociologically, he is a poet of the dark daughter whose agonies and pains he has at least striven to comprehend in his poetry.
Close the Sky, Ten by Ten (1971) is the first work of Jayanta Mahapatra with which the poetic journey of his starts from followed by Svayamvara and Other Poems (1971), A Father’s Hours (1976) and so on. Waiting published in 1979 is a book of historical context and The False Start brought out in 1980 a substantive one. Shadow Space, 1997, Bare Face, 2000 and Random Descent, 2005 are almost alike in their type and tenor. The Lie of Dawns: Poems 1974-2008 published from Authorspress, New Delhi in 2009 is a selection of his poems picked up from different volumes. Jayanta Mahapatra’s A Rain of Rites has appeared from University of Georgia Press, Athens (USA), 1976, Relationship from Greenfield Review Press, Greenfield, New York 1980, Life Signs from Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1983, Burden of Waves and Fruit from Three Continents Press, Washington, 1988, Temple from Dangaroo Press, Sydney, 1989 and A Whiteness of Bone from Viking Penguin, New Delhi, 1992. Had he not read physics, he would not have been a poet. To see it otherwise, physics forms the theme and crux of his poetry. Light and darkness chapters are crucial to the understanding of his poetry. Astrophysics too engages him. Mahapatra’s Temple is not at all like George Herbert’s; it is a different temple telling of bare and bitter truths. Just events and happenings have been picked up to bring into light the girl child’s sad plight resulting into her tragic death and the old ageing couple’s suicide. But one should keep it in mind that it is still difficult to get the books of Jayanta Mahapatra. Even the Sahitya Akademi award-winning Relationship is not available and it consists of some thirty to thirty-five pages.
Under Orion which appeared from Writers Workshop, Calcutta in 1970 is the first poetic venture of Keki N.Daruwalla, an IPS officer writing poems in English. A Parsi, he sees poetry in terms of dramatic monologues and solid stanzas. Tragedy, with its hubris and catharsis, peripeteia and purgation, irony and justice, takes the centrespace of his poetry. As a poet, he is sarcastic and sardonic, sociological and critical too. Apparition in April has appeared from Writers Workshop in 1971, Winter Poems from Allied Publishers in 1980, The Keeper of the Dead, Crossing of Rivers, Landscapes, Night River, The Map-maker, The Scarecrow and the Ghost, etc. are the poems of the poet. Collected Poems (1970-2005) has appeared from Penguin Books, India, 2006. Aristotle’s Poetics is the poetics of Daruwalla; a reader and applier of Greek tragedies in poetry. To comprehend his spectrum and poetic horizon is to grasp his Parsi view of life and his professional career, his upbringing and dislocation. There is something as that of Iran and Lahore in him as he cannot banish those things emotionally. His is not a sentimental heart, but a hard and tough rhetoric to dispense with. If Karna or Eklavya is the favourite of Adil Jussawalla, Charvak is the favourite of Keki Nasserwanji Daruwalla.
Dom Moraes as a poet has spoilt a bit by calling himself an English poet and he stayed away too in England for quite a long time, but could not naturalize himself. Was a Goan Christian, which he had to support and accept it finally. Though he received fame at an early stage of his writing career, but could not nurture it for so long, as journalism kept him engaged and he could not get out of it. Apart from it, he married and divorced thinking himself a Dylan Thomas but was not at all.
A.K.Ramanujan, an expatriate academician, who used to teach linguistics in Chicago, is no doubt ironical, cutting to the edge in his poetical statements though he draws from South Indian culture and tradition and his base is one of Tamil, Kannada and other southern languages and cultures. Folklore, linguistics, philology, sociology, cartography and topography tinged with irony and humour form the poetic base of the poet. The Striders, Relations, Selected Poems, Second Sight, etc. are the works of the poet. In 1976, the Govt. of India awarded him the Padma Shri title.
Adil Jussawalla is the missing man of modern Indian English poetry and he is resurfacing again after a break of some thirty years and more. In the initial stage, he wrote two books of verse and thereafter turned silent, devoted his utmost time to columns, features and the journalistic bits. As a poet, he is one of Bombay and the cityspace of it; of broken statements and urban revelries. To understand the context of his poetry is to be in trouble as they mean not properly. Sea Breeze, Bombay, Approaching Santa Cruz Airport, Bombay, Geneva, etc. poems themselves speak of his poetry. Land’s End, Missing Person, The Right Kind of Dog, Trying to Say Goodbye, etc. are the collections of his poems. The Latter two he has just published them recently otherwise had been silent for quite a long time. Instead of it, we used to study him as for his two books of poetry. A poet of patched up imagery and darned, faded and discoloured, he chooses the track of his own. City culture and living, rampant industrialization, urbanization and modernization are the things of his poetry though in the latter-day works a return to Indian contents can be visualized.
As for being close to the Bombayan circle of writers and critics, Gieve Patel has turned into a poet just with his two earlier volumes. Now he has strengthened his stature by adding a few more. Similar is the case with the Marathi writers Dilip Chitre and Arun Kolatkar. Just with one book, Jejuri Kolatkar did marvels into the realms of Indian English poetry and the people spoke with favour. Indian English poetry, in reality, is a study in self-published poets. Kolatkar’s Jejuri (1976) too one can find from the author as it is not available in the market, maybe one luckily gets an unsold copy of it made available by the author himself. The Indian scholars too quote the same referred to extracts from the published books of criticism. Generally, the anthologies are consulted as for writing papers. Dilip Chitre has an eventful career of his own, taking him overseas too, but instead of has held specific placements. Whatever be that, they have moved overhead with their dual entities.
Keshav Malik has come a long way perhaps to be called one of the modern poets of Indian English poetry. Malik as a poet too is not different from the group of poets discussed in the modern section, chosen by Lal, Parthasarathy, Daruwalla or Naik. The birds of a feather flock together is the case with these practitioners of verse. Drifting far from poetry and its emotions, he delves into the realms of pure art and artistic etiquettes rather than it. The Lake Surface and Other Poems, Rippled Shadow, Poems C, Negatives, Shapes in Peeling Plaster, Cut-off Points, Storm Warning, Between Nobodies and Stars, Under Pressure, etc. are the small collections of his poems. His poems are artistically fresh and aesthetically built upon a nice edifice of their own.
This man, before me, his eye-lids closed,
I wonder down what road his fancy meanders!—
beneath those eye-lids the eye-balls roll,
on parted lips the slightest of stirs.
----Keshav Malik in the poem ‘This man, before me’
(Keshav Malik, Under Pressure, Samkaleen Prakashan, New Delhi, 1998, p. 36, Rs.80)
‘Search’ by Keshav is a small poem so much so artistic and thoughtful:
The search still on
for a king-pearl of the purest ray serene,
set way above the low plain
like the full-blown moon—
but dip your eyes
and no other than the majesty of a waxing pain.
(Ibid, p. 38)
Om Prakash Bhatnagar as a poet is one of the saw and difficult fact and fiction of life; societal hardcore realities and modern sufferings. To go through his poetry is have a tryst with the tragedy of living and the saga of struggle and suffering. Thought Poems, 1976, Feeling Fossils, 1977, Angels of Retreat, 1979, Oneiric Visions, 1980, Shadows In Floodlights, 1984, The Audible Landscape, 1993, Cooling Flames of Darkness, 2001, etc. are the poetry-works of Om Prakash Bhatnagar as a poet who seems to derive from the age of reason and anxiety and his base is an intellectual base. There is nothing to do much with emotion and feeling, playfulness of sentiment and emotional touch. Fact and fiction, irony and satire add to his poetic base. Modern society and living, modern man and his manners generally come under scrutiny.
Boundaries as a poem may quoted in full:
“When he was young
He set up boundaries
To define what he possessed
Now that he is old
With gout down his knees
He dream demolishes divisions
To walk through the fences
To share his miseries
With the neighbour
In his fields.”
(O.P.Bhatnagar, Feeling Fossils, Paul Jacobson & Co., Dehra Dun, 1977, p.10, Rs.12)
It is merely an accident that some just turned into poets and poetesses. Many aspired for, but fame went to them not and many wanted to be not, but turned into. God knows who comes from where, who recommends whom and on what basis? P.Lal’s Writers Workshop, Calcutta had been a factory of poets and poetesses and many came out from it. Many no-men made a way into the realms of poesy. Just the starters and beginners too turned into poets and poetesses when he brought out his anthology-cum-credo. Pritish Nandy too is one of the experiments of that time. At that time he had been a student of P.Lal, just a new pass-out, clearing forth his graduation.
In the absence of English poetry and Indology, Asiatic researches and culture studies, Indian English poetry cannot have its lone existence; it cannot stand in isolation. Without marking the growth and development of English poetry, we cannot understand this genre of literature, whatever be the clamour for the bifurcation and the giving of a separate entity to it. The traces of Indian thought and culture in Matthew Arnold, T.S.Eliot and W.B.Yeats can be marked and felt easily. The hints and suggestions actually come from the overseas studies briefing about and literary developments chartered out. Today we have started talking about the modern phase, the modernistic trend and the post-modernistic attitude and these classroom lessons seem to hold the pen of the new-time educated practitioners yet to take to creative writing.
Today the non-resident Indians or the people of the diaspora dais are attempting to contribute verses in English, imagining mother India and the theme of Indianness from far, the Indians settled in England, America and Canada, domiciled abroad, emigrated or migrated to, even inclusive of the folklore descendants of the indentured labourers and their lost connections who have grown up otherwise and call themselves Indians, if not exactly so then of an Indian descent and origin definitely. India, to them, appears as a mirage seen from far. Sometimes when they come to view, they get frustrated in marking hardcore realities and the roots of nativity. Many non-resident Indians fail to adjust with the conditions of the motherland left for abroad many years ago or settled before.
The Indian English poets have failed to strike the chords as they have take to up the issues. William Hazlitt’s description of the Indian jugglers, Goethe’s full-throated appreciation of Abhijnanashakuntalam, Aldous Huxley’s visit to India with his pieces on Benares and J.C.Bose institute, Pearl S
Pronab Kumar Majumder’s Dialogue With Rimi and Adieu: Dear Rimi
A departure from his theme of time-orientation and consciousness, time mechanical, time worldly, the watchman and the time-keeper on guard of and marking the go and the gait, Rimis take us into a different world of their own to delve and dwell upon. Rimi a modern girl, a saleswoman, a beautician, a homekeeper, keeps the things going on, taking the world into the stride of her own; Rimi coming, glancing, watching and serving and going away to after attending to so tenderly, so innocently. At the market place in the off-time of hers, the office centre, into the busy moments of life, hard and light, she keeps maintaining and managing the things with her managerial experience, with her kind caress and nursing, seeing herself and others too at the same time of engagement, sparing it all for them too who look up to her in expectation and thankfulness. Rimi is symbolic of the words of kind tenderness and sweet love, quite sympathetic and affectionate; a phoenix of love arising from the myth and mystery of love, a girl caring and loveful, responsible and dutiful, loveful and sweet-hearted with the wisp and whiff of romanticism, the flair and infatuation with. The flame of love is there though hunger and thirst for it is not, Rimi is love psychic, a painting of universal love irrespective of sensual or carnal desire, Rimi is Rimi, a Blakian innocent and ignorant girl, a Lucy Gray of Pronab, a portrait of a girl, a quest after beauty as it is in Joyce’s Araby.
Pronab Kumar Majumder’s tryst Rimis and the sagas in love tell of many a thing concerned with the philosophical side of love. Pronab’s dialogues with Rimi inspirational, charming and attractive. A flower in the garden of love, wordless but understanding, modern, but heartful, a thing of beauty joy forever she is material not, immaterial love. Rimi is his love, Rimi is his inspiration, a rose from the rose garden, a star of the firmament, a lady with a lamp, a young, but helping girl, working and slipping past. See her at a glance, a glimpse of hers ever pleasure-giving, but steal not the smiles from her, the vibes of hers the vibes of the world,a bystander in life, a girl so solitary. Rimi is a flower girl selling flowers, Rimi is a beautician decorating, a girl in the shadows; Rimi a flower of the poet’s imagination, so sweet and lovely.
Rimi is poet’s persona and the protagonist, aesthetic sense of love and beauty combined. There lies the philosophy of love, love without philosophy is no love, love of the heart required, not love otherwise. Rimi living a life, racing down, maintaining and managing herself, struggling and serving, what can be better than this? Dialogue With Rimi appears in 2013 and Adieu: Dear Rimi in 2014, the two collections, Rimi the brainchild of Pronab, married or unmarried girl personified.
Pronab Kumar Majumder is in love with Rimi in whom he sees the wife, sister, mother and daughter; the playgirl, the imaginative child of the writer. As Charles Lamb keeps dreaming about his imaginary children in Dream Children: A Reverie so is the case here with Majumder.
A poet of Rimi, he can only tell about the whereabouts unknown, who is after all this Rimi, for whom the eyes remain glued to? Rimi is the pulsation and heartbeat; the heartthrob of Pronab Kumar Majumder, a girl always smiling, always extending a helping hand without differentiating from. Majumder’s heart beats for her.
Music Of Rimi has enough to express it itself:
Somehow I came to know Rimi sings well
In turmoil her devotional songs keep her quell
Music is source of great power of mind
Music is what in crisis universally bind.
Somehow it came to me Rimi is a devotee of goddess of power?
That is goddess kali which a source of her empowerment
She is never upset or falls down in crisis hour
She never stands as a bystander in bewilderment.
Whenever she can make it, she visits at early hour
A nearly temple to sing a couple of devotional songs,
For whom it does not matter, returns with fresh flowers in bower
The practice infuses in her energy to fight daylong wrongs.
I never heard her singing on any occasion
But her words employed have musical strain
However and whatever tough may be the situation—
Perhaps unheard songs leave deeper impression and refrain.
(Adieu: Dear Rimi, Bridge-in-Making Publication, Lake Town, Kolkata, March 2014, p.21)
The music of Rimi leaves him not behind wherever goes he. The Rimi music keeps vibrating into the ears and he hearing them at busy centres with the plugs put into, we mean the ear phones plugged in. His rendezvous with Rimi, how to take on?
Rendezvous With Rimi can take us by storm, a puja pandal-hopper:
The puja pandal flashing added glamour
Mother Durga and her children
Are maintaining stoic silence
When boys and girls of different ages,
Also some ambitious elders
Tussling for rendezvous with Rimi
Seated on a fitting cushion
She is generously distributing smile
For whomsoever they may be
Goddess even knows not
Where she is really located
May be everybody taking her for granted
I belong to whole gamut of visitors
But staying behind self-created smoke-screen.
(Dialogue With Rimi, Bridge-in-Making Publication, Lake Town, Kolkata, January 2013, p.19 )
A shadowy character Rimi keeps enthralling and appalling us with her dramatic presence and etiquette. Powdered and creamed, she looks beautiful, but when not in the make-up, an ordinary girl, she keeps serving. Let us be with Rimi too. We should also feel about her. How long will she keep working like Mrs. Thurlow of the story The Ox of H.E.Bates? Let her be not sad! She is the lonely rose of the courtyard of our house.
Shadows Of The Real deserves to be quoted:
May be it was forty years or something
It was not matter, a twinkle sometimes a light year
Yet as fresh as the coming morning
That brief smile to love stale never.
Enough to hang onto until the moment of leaving
That morning it was a fair of flower smiling
Rimi was engaged in conversation silent
A piece of early morning thus the spent.
While I looked at her quite unintentionally
When hurrying for my destination
She smiled as though to say consciously
“Could you not wait for a little pronunciation”?
That was last though never in the universe is last
After Sundown hovers shadow
Shadows of the real overcast
In which I bask in nocturnal breeze slow.
(Adieu: Dear Rimi, Bridge-in-Making Publication, Lake Town, Kolkata, March 2014, p.60)
Rimi may be his daughter-in-law, the photo of hers and the images otherwise, he keeps seeing them into. Rimi may be his mod, stylish and hi-fi protagonist, a city girl in the goggles, looking like a film heroine, but one of these earths. It may be that she is the daughter of the modern-age music director of contemporary life and contemporary times; the vibes of it, which is just a supposition based on conjectures. There is nothing mythic about her love and living. She is of the contemporary time and the age born in. A girl going with the time-spirit, managing and maintaining herself and her family, she is philanthropic and charitable, good and kind, noble enough to gesture the right things in the right direction. On seeing her, we feel it within, thank God; God is good and kind to all.
Today Rimi Out Of Mood is another fine poem to make a way through:
Her mesmerizing eyes bewitching smiles
Catch everyone of eights to seventy’s
She is among crowds among isles
Rimi is a bouquet of bounties
When Rimi is sad skies mire
When Rimi weeps skies rain
When Rimi is happy skies afire
When Rimi smiles city is on magic refrain
This morning she is out of mood
Silent is the entire neighbourhood
Petals in gardens half-open
Everybody waits smiles she when
I am a traveller in memories
In twist and turn Rimi is lost sometimes.
(Dialogue With Rimi, p.35)
In the image of Rimi, Pronab sees the images and pictures of his mother, sister, wife and daughter, affectionate and loving, approaching and gliding away before she is interrogated. A girl busy, fast and active at the every turn of life, she keeps serving, suffering and struggling without caring to ask for herself, a modern and busy girl, a countryside toiling lady too. Wherever depute and post you, she will keep doing, arranging and managing the affairs unmindfully, bearing all that which comes the ways of hers and she facing it all alone, bearing the brunt of.
Rimi is Rimi, seen a little while ago, vanished out of sight, when she is before, when she is not, oh, the difference! A world without Rimi, how to dream, imagine of, a world without her! Rimi is the same kindly girl changing with life and its situations; circumstances and positions. There is no talk barring her; the life and centre of all attraction, the life and blood of the whole story.
K. V. Suryanarayana Murti is one of the poets who deserve to be included in the annals of Indian English poetry by virtue of his sheer merit and virtuosity. It is not that he has started today, but has continued for long even when the times had been adverse. Murti as a poet draws from wit, conceit and metaphysics. A professor of English, he used to teach in Andhra University, Vishakhapatnam, and has Allegory of Eternity (1975), Triple-Light (1975), Sparks of the Absolute (1976), Spectrum (1976), Symphony of Discords (1977), Araku (1982), etc. as his collections of poems. Suryanarayana Murti is famous for his correspondences with Mulk Raj Anand and has published them in a book to be referred to and quoted from. Spiritual, metaphysical and illuminating things generally take the canvas of his poetry. Apart from these, he has striven to induct in the comic and the realistic.
A few poems from Symphony of Discords can show it well:
Often rises and falls
In divided bits
Biting with selfish fangs
In mutilating play
Leaving a world
Of schizoid furniture
Of material glitter--
Oh the he in he!
(K.V.Suryanarayana Murti, Symphony of Discords, Poets Press India, Madras, 1977, p.25)
Oh the she in she!
In dying twilight
Dark patches battle
Yet light lurks behind:
Within sea of death
Despite trapping whirls,
Calm is writ below:
In turmoiled soul-lake
In spite of cross-whirls,
Inner bloom prevails:
As constructive swords
Cut surrounding shells,
Life embraces Light!
Though the style may old and pertaining to the then times, but instead of it, there is something to be seen into the lines, constructed well, maintaining the rhyme. The linguistic option tells of his flair for the Augustan or the Pre-romantic application and use of words or imagery, but the crux is one of metaphysicals. There is something of the twilight tradition, be it of the elegy of Gray and its time or that of the eighteen nineties which falls upon and shades them.
Falling short of becoming epics or epic fragments, his works turn into The Rape of the Lock works, mock-heroic not, but metaphysico-farcical poems. Sometimes lifts us, sometimes fails he miserably. His poetry is a cocktail of many; abstract and abstruse, but apart from, there is something to illumine and enlighten upon.
There is something as Baconian, epigrammatic and of the Renaissance; Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and the beaconing of the spiritual thoughts. The impact of the dispersed meditations can be marked over the lines, the emotions recollected in spirituality and metaphysical reflections.
The mythical divine devout comedian Narada and the concept of Hashyabrahma (Cosmic Comic Creator) shape the things in the work named Comic and Absolute and he has benefited from no doubt in his delving and delineation.
His books have generally appeared in sequences and they form the parts rather than being independent of and this is what vexes the readers. Had his poetical works been epics or epic fragments, would have been good, but these fall short of achieving the poetic heights and it is a major drawback of his.
Sarbeswar Samal As A Poet From Orissa
Sarbeswar Samal (1947--) who hails from Kakhadpada, Balikhand of Balsore District, but is a teacher of Ravenshaw College, Cuttack has My India And Universe, Blossoms of Heart, Where Shall We Turn? and others as his volumes of poesy. Poetry is his passion, the verve for creation and in pursuance to it, he keeps going, writing verses in a free-floating way, styling the stanzas as per his caprice and whim, telling of patriotism, myth of the land and the realities around. Sometimes talks he about the rise of Kalinga, sometimes about the Sudarsana Chakra, sometimes about mokshya and desire, sometimes asking Buddha to tell, the peepul tree and so on, a writer in his own right, but to be reckoned with if one seeks to derive from his corpus and wants to take to comparatively going through the annals of Indian English verse.
My India as a poem can be exampled out:
My Muse is English
and mode alien
but the voice is mine
the spirit of India
flows in me
its throb inebriates
and tugs at my bone
of my soul
and I am
an Indian poet
dipping my pen
angst and anguish
man, my metaphor
and life, my theme
peace my mission
my land is India
and I am India
India is my blood
India in my breath
(Sarbeswar Samal, My India And Universe, Samkaleen Prakashan,New Delhi, 1997, p.3)
The Beyond from the same collection may be quoted in:
Silence is the voice
We hear not
infinity is the face
we behold not
dark is the terrain
light doesn’t show
knowledge is knowing
we cannot know
happiness is the state
we never taste.
time is the fugitive
we hardly arrest
and death is the master
we can ever conquer
nor wishes buried
thistles nor grasses
(Ibid, p. 11)
The poet as a bard sings of that there is no land at all to turn to barring India, the land of his birth and rearing. A tapobhumi, it is sacred and sacrosanct. The Vedas with their chants of the mantras, psalms and hymns cleanse the land, making it pious and holy. The holy fires with the incense keep purifying the air with an impact of their own.
The Marvel that is India, My India, The Company Girls, Beauty, An Apocalypse of Glory, Walls, The Intruder, Salvation, Sweetness, The Beyond, The Tripple tiers of Man, A Bus-ride through an Indian Landscape, The Power, Not all the flowers, Love, Ah, Letters, Where shall you find, I could have become, God and His Holy Creation, Gandhi and His progeny, The Peepul plant, How shall they bloom into life, The spoil of a Green Kingdom, Mount Fuji, Madness, Life’s Transcendence, My Sullen Solemn Art, Where have they gone?, The Killer, A far happier creature, Tell Me, Oh, Buddha, The Immeasurable Inscape, What shall we do with our memory, The Captive, From Meaning to Epiphany, The Truth and Paradox, Throw away your Bible, War, The Wisdom of Heart, The most pathetic hermaphrodite, Youth, Life and Happiness, Mr. Citizen, The Primal Incantation and The Broad Bosom of the Almighty.
Where shall we Turn?, The Sudarsana Chakra, Pray for the Light, God Never Abandons, The Longing, Let no one Weep, Light, Oh, God if You Can, Mokshya and Desire, When Hearts Meet, Conscience, Those Two Eyes, The Law Inviolable, World Peace, Voices-Desire-and Act, Inveterate Complainer, Howrah Bridge, Prayer of a Sinner, Anything Nobler, Rain in the City, Dust at Your Feet, My Birth and Death’s Episode, Oh, Mind!, That Day Came God, Waiting in Dungeon, Memory, The Invisible Striker, Humanity, Fire, The River, The Temple of God, Will Kalinga Rise Again, The Submerged Rock, Belated Awakening, Books, That is How It Began, My Mother, Luck, Our old Men, Taslima, The Monitor and Flow of Life, The Delusion, Moth, Struggle, Waiting, My mind and Won’t God walk Again are the poems which figure in the collection, Where Shall We Turn Again?
Our Children, Flying Kite, That Marvellous Growth, Keep Indoors, The Image of My Fading Colours, The Midnight Hour, You and I, The Lone Pilgrim, Tears, The Frigid Earth and Sitting Sun, The Prick of Past, A Day of Joy, Rock and Bubble, Born Conquerors, Let the Roses Bloom, Still Judas, My Love, I Exist, Sporting no Mask, Knowledge, The Approach of Winter, Life and Death, Dream, Rourkela, The Vagrant Dream, The Manna of Freedom, The Quizzical ‘She’, Monsoon, I don’t Cry, Calm and Serenity, The River in My Village, Desire and Fulfillment, Italy or London, Soul, When Darkness Flowers and The Past is an Unforgettable Territory are he poems of Blossoms of Heart.
The poem Still Judas may be taken into consideration:
Still Brutus and Judas
hold the key,
rule the world
by finger tips
the supple seraphic ‘good’
it is ebony-black ‘evil’
have thus rolled by
without bringing in
a silver line,
the pattern unaffected
and agony unabated
in the vestibule of
and house of silence
trying to re-assemble
the splintered pieces
of his battered self
his half dreams
and castrated hopes
on the delirious
shore of a
(Sarbeswar Samal, Blossoms of Heart, Kitab Mahal, Cuttack, Reprinted in India, 1996, p. 26)
Where Shall We Turn? as a collection is good enough to referred as and when we talk of Sarbeswar as a poet. A few of the poems tell of his allegiance to the land of his birth, faith and doubt sustained in. The land of Lord Jagannath is the chief priority of the poet and this is what he delineates too. Ancient Kalinga is the landscape of each Oriya poet and this occurs with this writer of verse too.
Those Two Eyes…can illustrate it best:
at the centre
and the white halo
are the eyes
still and unmoving
life after life
with the love
of my father
and my mother
let me gaze
and gaze at those
to trace my root
(Sarbeswar Samal, Where Shall We Turn?, Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, 1996, p.17)
The poem has been written on Lord Jagannath.
Romen Basu As A Poet
Rome Basu as a poet is a globe-trotter, an insider as well as an outsider as he lived and served in the U.N.O. as an official of it and wrote poems besides being a novelist and a short story writer. Gliding on Silent Waters, The Unquiet Waves, The Surrendered Self, Wings at a Distance, Committed Footprints, etc. are the poetry-volumes of his own tenor and type to make a way into the realms of it. A poet of observation and scrutiny, natural calm and quietness, with flutter and fermentation, glow and radiation, photos snapped at daybreak and twilight, the stir and commotion marked, he keeps the things saying. He loses when he commits with his footprints, but where he surrenders and is emotional is no doubt fine, though the matter somewhere gets thin but instead of, is meditative and of a contemplative order and he can never be sidetracked. The things he narrates and the references referred may refer to other climes and conditions other than those of India as his is not a spring of India, may be it of New York or elsewhere lived and visited, reminisced and recollected for a narration and portrayal. At the root of his understanding is a strong comprehension of the contemplative order and is meditative enough to say the things of own.
Prisoner is the first poem with which the volume of verse The Surrendered Self starts with and Outside the Window the last poem to figure in that collection.
Anniversary as a poem can be exampled for our study:
The high rise opposite—
out of the window gazed
the murmur of wavy waters
on soft white sand heard;
foam caressing rusty skins
after a saffron sun has disappeared
a thousand fathoms deep:
promises consummated, of
Years go by in the turbulence and then calm;
snapping wish-bones in two
or prayers for the forever love.
But silence supervening through gale and snow
and the face of desperation is shrouded
in a helpful mist.
(Romen Basu, The Surrendered Self, Facet Books International, New York, 1990, p.15)
Choice as a small poem can be excerpted for our ready reference:
Not every one throws away his life
for the greater glory
some simply find salvation
struck down by
the very cause they pursue.
Reprimand too looks good enough to be quoted in here:
Those starry-eyed looks lead astray,
the sealed lips invariably entrancing;
phrases of praise, fulsome praise
fail to awe—
the soft footsteps hiding the past;
this or that exotic costume telling
what ought to have been—
except not let it run
from suspecting eyes.
Taste of tears, now and then,
should make a world of difference,
should not it?
To understand Romen Basu is to cut into the cultural ice of his being cosmopolitan and globe-trotting as his years spent by in America serving as an official and what he saw and viewed in cannot oust that.
So Still from Committed Footprints can be seen in here:
Waves get tired
Slapping he shore
Off the honeysuckles
As the river bed dried
They rest motionless
Smiling without fragrance
Life is forever new
In life so still
(Romen Basu, Committed Footprints, Sterling Publishers Private Limited, New Delhi, 1998, p.34)
A small poem Revival can make some sense:
Dreams travel the planet
Scooping endless pain
Heart shimmers with history
Cloud whispers wind chimes
Echoes the same music
Beyond the present
Dream And Reality is a poem of some middle order:
Before sun rises
Matched rhythmic dream
Dew on soft meadows
Nameless wild flowers
Purple yellow link
Circled the cuckoo’s nest
To break through to life
To dive in the pool
In celebration of life
When mist clears
With the first ray of light
Dream came upon reality
Drowning the joy of silence
Lighting Fire is the first poem with which the book Committed Footprints opens up and Flight To Heaven the last to close by with.
The poem Mystic Poet can be taken into consideration:
Ashes from the body
Fit for sea
Till they dissolve
Lust from every corner of the eyes
Understanding Brahma Atma
Delusion from intoxication
Obliterates spiritual growth
Life fulfilled in detachment
Romen Basu in his deep writes the poems of a meditative and contemplative strain and order. To understand him is to comprehend his visions and dreams.
In Memoriam is better reminiscent of:
From here to eternity
When it gets worse
Burying the face in black water
Memories linger facing daylight
A fleeting glance of happiness
Helps confront melancholy sobs
All loved ones equally precious
After forcing self
To pull together
Grief lives as a secret wound
Is It Worth The Pain? can be perused deep:
Fake and real coexist
In perpetual motion
The mind refusing to accept
What the prophet once said
“Life is suffering”
A misplaced hope is better
In the dark
The collection The Unquiet Waves is a poetical memoir and anecdote of Romen the author and his recollection and reminiscence about life, days spent in the company and so many things connected with. He is a novelist who has of late turned to poetry writing and his short stories too are many. It does not matter whether the novice critics have liked to study him or not, but the fact lies in it that he cannot be dismissed at on go and has the substance to go through and peruse if one really seeks to derive from. If one is not ready to accept him as a major poet, he is definitely a good minor one, if good sense prevails upon judgment, as the critic too is a man prone to selfishness and one’s own ego and vanity and he can be no exception to that and he too lies in the hunt out for greener pastures as for coming into the limelight somehow.
A review of Flowers And Buds by Maha Nand Sharma
Dr.Sharma has written five splendid long poems, “Fire and Light”, “Shock and Peace” , “Dawn Night” , “Shock and Peace”, “Dawn”, Night and Morning” and “The Test Divine”. The detailed accounts of characters and scenery give richness to the narrative. There are many striking lines. Based upon Hindu mythology, the poems state a forceful moral in language easily available to people to different backgrounds. There is a freshness and verve, and all the poem are a pleasure to read.
Professor of English,
University of Manchester”
(Flowers And Buds, Ashutosh Prakashan, Meerut, 1984)
Some of the opinions given may be extracted to suit our purpose.
“ The Test Divine
This poem is a splendidly entertaining story of Shiva, written in Miltonic blank verse. It moves quickly to a surprising climax, and the verse is handled with skill. The detailed account of characters and scenery gives richness to the narrative. There are many striking lines, such as the God of Death flinging the invisible noose down the boy’s throat to pull out his soul. This is a well-told tale with a powerful moral.”
–Professor C.Brian Cox of Manchestar University
(Ibid, back cover)
“I seem to sense the true spirit of India in your poems. They re-awaken in me the desire to visit India again, and to become better acquainted at first hand. My congratulations on such an excellent work; I hope you will give us many more of equally high caliber.”
----Professor Robert A. Hall Jr. of Cornell University
(Ibid, back cover)
In his Preface to Flowers And Buds, Maha Nand Sharma writes:
“ Of the flowers and the buds (the long and the short poems respectively) the flowers are my humble offering at the feet of Lord Shiva. I bow to Him.
All the short poems except ‘The Bee and the Lotus) in Part II contain stanzas selected and reproduced in this book under various titles and with slight changes here and there, from my long poem The Pageant of Seasons published in1957. In the beginning of1982, I was inspired suddenly by the English poetic muse, and the long poems of Part I flowed almost spontaneously in 1982 and 1983. It was nothing but Divine grace.
Since the long poems are based on Hindu mythology, I have introduced them with their summaries to facilitate better comprehension by those who are not acquainted with the ancient Indian lore. Some Sanskrit names such as Shiva, Daksha, Rama, Kama and Yama have been spelt as such (i.e. as bisyllabic) at some places and as monosyllabic--Shiv, Daksh, Ram, Kam and Yam—at others to meet the requirements of metre. Such slight variations of spelling are there in some other words also such as Markendaya, Markandey and Kartikeya, Kartikey.”
(Ibid, p. ix)
Flowers And Buds, which appeared in 1984 from Meerut, with a foreword by Prof. C.Brian Cox of Manchester Univ., is indeed a noble and pious attempt on behalf of Maha Nand Sharma as for poetizing the myth of Shiva, one from the Shiva cycle of stories, Shiva and Sati, Sati going to her father’s home uninvited as for her husband being a sadhu and a fakira, a dweller on Mount Kailash, an aghora sahdaka. As for the insult she could not bear with, after going to her home and feeling thereon, Sati jumps into the sacred fires and ends her life, a scene so pathetic and disturbing, so pitiful and poignant, so painful and unbearable to view it with the naked eyes, which the heart takes to not, Sati marking the prestige of her husband being at stake finishes her life. Actually Flowers contains the long poem while the second Buds is inclusive of stray poems included in it, Prologue, Fire and Light (Summary), Fire and Light (Poem), Shock and Peace (Summary), Shock and Peace (Poem), Dawn Summary), Dawn (Poem), Night and Morning (Summary), Night and Morning (Poem), The Test Divine (Summary), The Test Divine (Poem), each part preceded by a short summary. The poem seems to have been drawn from Hindu mythology and folklore interpretation and the texts Sanskritic is a handiwork of addition and alteration, personal feeling and emotional tagged with and adding to permeate and dispense with the topic in hand, the mythical text under deliberation. King Daksha, the father of Sati, does not want too call and invite his daughter as if he invites, Shiva will naturally be extended to and so as a result of that, the event reaches the climax and the Lord in remorse destroys the Yajna and unable to uphold in agony, moves about taking the body of the Mother Divine. Again, when Parvati, the daughter of Himalaya, proposes to marry, her father dissuades from her, but finally succumbs to her will and request and gives the nod for, but when the Saintly and Simple Lord comes in, His attendants and attributes too come in to attend the party and all aghast to see the strange bridegroom party for whom the gems and diamonds mean they not at all.
To hear from the mouth of Maha Nand is to quote Fire and Light (Summary):
King Yaksha, the father of Sati, decides to perform Aswamedh Yajna. His wife is happy that it will provide an opportunity to his daughters, including Sati, to come home and share the weal and woe experienced by them among their in-laws. But the King tells her that he will not invite Sati for, if he invites her, he will have to invite her husband, Lord Shiva, also who, with his matted locks etc., will be a misfit among the invited kings and other sons-in-law.
At Mount Kailash where Lord Shiva lives, Parvati presses him to allow her to go to her father’s house. Lord Shiva advises her not to go as she has not been invited. But she persists. Then Shiva sends her escorted by his aides.
In the house of Yaksha Sati finds her mother, brothers and sisters sitting silent, unable to express even their joy at her arrival. Yaksha holds all his family in terror. Sati’s mother advises her to go back but she does not, since going back will bring disgrace upon the family.
When the Yajna is in progress, she finds that there are seats for Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu who, though invited, had not attended. But there is no seat for her husband, Shiva. She regards it as the climax of insults, and jumps into the fire of Yajna. Lord Shiva appears on the scene and carries away her dead body. His aides destroy the Yajna. The arrogant Daksha is now left a sadder and wiser man.
Shock and Peace (Summary) will speak it itself:
Having carried away the corpse of Sati, Lord Shiva with the corpse resting upon his arms, wanders shock-stricken from place to place in India. He trudges from the site of Yajna to the northern point of the Araavli range where Sati’s arms break loose from the corpse and fall. Then he trudges across the width of the Vindhyas, to Ujjain where her legs fall. Then, on the Vindhya range lengthwise, he moves to Andhra’s coast along which he reaches the Sunderbans where her head drops. Thereafter, Shiva crosses the plains of Bengal and Bihar to the north and reaches Kathmandu where her trunk is blown off by a blizzard. With nothing left in her arms, he reaches Mount Kailash where the memories of his contact with Sati crowd upon his mind. Then they fade into the peace of Samadhi, a state in which a man holds his breath and has full calm.
Again, the crux of the matter from Dawn (Summary) is interesting enough to be heard from the lips of the poet himself:
Kama (the god of sensual love) tries his level best to disturb the samadhi of Lord Shiva. He appeals to Shiva’s senses but fails. He seeks the help of Spring which, by the same device of arousing his senses, succeeds in creating erotic feeling in Lord Shiva. When Lord Shiva opens his third eye to trace the source of the mischief, Spring runs away and only Kama is left standing before Shiva. A flame emerges from Shiva’s eye and burns Kama to ashes.
Then Rati, the wife of Kama, approaches Lord Shiva with the request to revive her husband. Lord Shiva revives Kama but enjoins that he will always be incorporeal and will be called Anang (one without any part of the body). Rai is satisfied.
Then the Rishis (saints, hermits etc.) approach Lord Shiva and tell him of the multiplying sins in the world. They request him to marry Parvati (who is Sati re-born) and bring forth into the world, Kartikeya, who alone can rid the world of its sins. Shiva agrees. This brings the dawn of hope for the betterment of mankind.
Flowers and Buds is indeed an artistry of satyam, shivam and sundaram and to go through such a verse is to be endowed with a state of some divine blessedness. Without getting His blessings, one cannot accomplish such a noble, chaste and virtuous soul. Maha Nand Sharrma charms with his usage of old Puranic texts which enlighten our souls too and we feel blessed in going through the text of a mythical base.
I have gone through the collection of poems ‘Aspirations’ composed by Shri Hazara Singh with profit and pleasure. Some of these poems are attempted to recreate the historical moments and others a tribute to men and women whose achievements have become a part of history. All these poems are marked by a warm humanity, a love for values that impart meaning and significance to human effort. I have been particularly impressed by Shri Hazara Singh’s sensibility that can distil poetry out of contemporary situations. His firm grasp of the English idiom, sensitivity to the rhythm and nuances of language and masterly use of traditional verse forms and stanzaic patterns make his poems fine specimens of poetic art.
Professor and Head
Chandigarh Department of English
Hazara Singh’s Aspirations, the maiden venture of his, which saw the light of the day long back in 1980, is a small book of poems with a beautiful foreword by Dr.Jagdish Chander launches him on a career, a practising poet on the anvil, making a tryst with, toiling for poesy’s sake, not so firm, but shaky and flimsy in his presence. Thus Rose Indira is the first poem followed by The Wail of a Bangla Girl, The Unbroken Will, To Our Pakistani Brethren, China and India, Kartar Singh Sarabha, At The Tomb of Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh, Subhas Chandra Bose: The Liberator of the East, I Am Man, The Glory of a Woman, I Am Child, To a Child: A Father’s Pledge, New Year Greeting & Wishes, The Tireless Tiller of the Punjab, Raymond Griffith, The Art of Life, The Person I Am Looking For. An anti-romantic, his is a poetry of the head, knowledge and wisdom, fact and fiction, laboured and improvised, liberative and instructive, telling of democrats, freedom fighters and patriots, but on a trial here, to hone his skill through addition and alteration in the years to come. Poetry does not come to spontaneously, but laboriously to him and he struggles for natural flow and spontaneity. Poetry is the result of his brain-work; wit and intellect; the grapples with it. Science and scientific thinking, fact and fiction, logic and reason, all these take him to draw from Russell, Tennyson, Stevenson and Wells. Hazara as a poet is an oldie writing the old-modelled, patterned verses and that too at a snail’s pace. Somehow he crawled out otherwise would not have been able to get presence registered. Just a book he keeps cycling and recycling with nothing as something fertile to think new. Definitely, he has consolidated his position by adding a few more.
The poem Abraham Lincoln may be quoted as an example to show his poetic style and delineation:
The great Abhraham Lincoln, torch-bearer of equality,
Apostle of global goodwill, path-finder for humanity,
Rough diamond in appearance, noble in his feelings,
Upright in his thinking and fair in all dealings,
Laid down his life to establish for all the right
‘To live with heads high, free of scare and fright,
Colour or religion which is a chance of bright,
Should not deny anyone reward of his real worth’.
Lincoln could not bear that in the land of liberty,
Blacks were not citizens, but mere pieces of property,
Owned by white masters and kept under social fetters
For a life-long labour on a wage of crumbs and tatters
With that ill-gotten wealth masters lived with pleasure,
And rose to oppose stoutly every progressive measure.
Slaves doomed to a life of ceaseless toil and boredom,
Got lynching as justice, if a bid was made for freedom.
On being elected President, Lincoln abolished slavery
Grit shown in the Civil War spoke high of his bravery.
His friends grew cold, the opponents rose as rebels
Indifference to liberation was seen at all the levels
Contempt as well as ridicule hurled from every side
Changed not his conviction, rather higher it did ride.
Patience and calmness shown in a strife or battle
Are equalities of greatness and tests of rate mettle.
When the long Civil War with double strength was won
With no malice in his mind and ill will towards none,
He hastened to assure ill irrespect of foe and friend
That the era of hate and fear had firmly come to an end,
When all, Black or White, Red Indian or Gentile
Shall live as brothers forgetting grudge and guile.
A racialist and a diehard, a man devoid of reason
Killed out of vengeance this leader of great vision.
‘Log-Cabin to White House’ is an enviable event
The account of a life--honest, amiable, decent
Fatherly, fair, fearless, diligent and humorous
Even with his opponents was frank and magnanimous,
Tall man with a big heart, of a land equally great
He died for an ideal which altered mankind’s fate
People simmering with hatred or cowed down with fear
In the great Abraham Lincoln find a friend and seer.
(Aspirations, Free Thinker’s Forum, Ludhiana, 1980, p.12 to 14)
The other poem Mahatma Gandhi may be quoted to cite in:
We were a mere crowd, proud of caste or clan,
Devoid of feelings or notions which make a nation.
Your precepts and practices made you a master mason
Clans evolved as a nation under your lofty plan.
All fears vanished, our faces no longer looked wan
Your plain words and firm deeds served to awaken
A process of integration they did, thus, hasten
In the march for freedom you remained in the van.
You treated the untouchables as children of God
You raised woman high in every walk of life
You gave us the tricolour to symbolize our aims
Your spinning-wheel shook off the Crown and Rod
You laid down your life to end the communal strife
‘Gandhi: The Father of Nation’ every Indian exclaims.
New Poetry, New Age, New Thinking, New Ideas And Thoughts
Though there is nothing as new or old, poetry is poetry, it used to be written, even now is written off and in the future too, people will dabble in poetry, dipping the pen in fountain ink, but to demarcte and charter the course of ages, we call it old and new or by other names. We cannot say it why some are left behind and some clutched along. Similar is the case with Lawrence Bentleman. Why is Meena Aexander getting famous and why Anna Sujatha Mathai lagging behind instead of being a better writer than the former? The politics of the poets, critics and the editors, who can say it about? They too are a politician of some sort, human beings of petty considerations, selfish ends and trifle stuffs. The dirty politics of the academia and the intelligentia, none but the suffering insiders can onely say about. How to sidetrack and sideline talent and genius is the story of everywhere coming to come to light. Generally, the genius of middle category flourishes it and achieves the goal.
Dwarakanath H.Kabadi as a poet is thoughtful and philosophical as random reflections take him to from somewhere to nowhwre and to be back again and as thus keeps rounding and rotating about. A small poem Nothing can be quoted in full:
Nothing comes to mind
A dark deadly phase covers
The vibrant sun of yesterdays
Vacant charred roads
Scattered dead agonies
An alien empty gaze
(Dwarakanath H.Kabadi, A Tear On A Pancake, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1995, p.34, Rs.100/)
Strange thoughts, images and ideas remain lacerated with in his poetry. The small poem, Forgetfulness may be quoted in full as for our ready reference:
Excavating the earth
They found suffering
Souls blood tears
A layer of agony
They found the bones
Of Buddha Christ
Bones of devils too
Now the excavators
For their bones
In their own forgetfulness
There is novelty of expression in Dwarakanath H.Kabadi, as for example, the poem ‘Womb’ for our scrutiny, self-study and perusal:
Empty cradles and lullabies
Dreams of conception
With drunken words
Carry away lullabies
Misplace empty cradles
Whose business is it
To search within
For the stolen
(Ibid, p. 30)
It is Mahapatara’s Hunger not, but Kabadi’s Hunger. Let us see what he says in it:
Worms enter the mind
Feed on fallen leaves
Ants store food
In the cold brain
The birds desert
The nests in the heart
The ego melts
And the blood
Hungers for food
(Ibid, p. 22)
Dwarakanath H.kabadi as a poet is one of cosmic consciousness and existential probe, rarely to be seen in the annals of Indian English poetry to have drawn from. He records it what the heart says of, the beats and pulsations felt within. There is something as that of Jayanta Mahapatra in him as for dabbling in the space and the void, but where to go finally?
Melting Moments is a collection of love poems, but the heart pulsates it with the space and the beloved waits for a meeting in the void. The pains of life, love and living and of loving, who can but say it, as one has live in here and has to die in here? A Lover’s Dawn seconded by The Mist On Your Lips, Naughty Clouds, I Wait For Her, Mind And Mirror,
Fires of Passion, Melting Moments, My Search For You, Sweet Memories, Doubts, The Lonely Ocean, World Without You, I Need My Dream, Waiting, Promises, You Never Arrived, The Kiss, Today She Stares At Me Like A Stranger, Veil of Silence, Haunting Silences, etc. are the poems to charm and move with their sweetest thoughts, ideas, images and reflections.
My Search For You is a beautiful poem taken from Melting Moments:
I search for you all around
Thousand times I stare through the window
Hoping to catch a glimpse of your face
When I see the enveloping void
My heart suffers in sorrow
Again I sit and brood
Dreaming of your sweet smiles.
(Dwarakanath H. Kabadi, Melting Moments, Author, Bangalore, 1990, p.29)
I Wait For Her is a beautiful poem, so full of intensity of feeling and sincerity of love:
I wait for her
For hours…for months…for years…
Time passes without her trace or her voice
Moments stare and trickle
With tears adding music
I wait…time passes…time passes…
I wait for it is only my flesh
Doubts as a small poem is worthy of being quoted and referred to:
Somehow now I doubt
The intense sincerity of your love
Your talk sometimes seem futile
I hope you have changed your mind now
Make fun of my sincere yearnings
Still my love I love you as ever
Poetry House is the 18th collection which Majumder has authored. Poetry: Connect of Culture, My Quest For, Reapperance of Culture, In Changing Nomenclature, Friendly Strangers, Relationship:A Lost Upkeep, Relationship: A Recovery?, Is It Still She?, Justice not Denied, Paradigm of Wellness, Happiness, Time’s Eventful Grace, Relationship A Mockery, Invention of Relationship, Relationship A Casuality of Civilizations, Relationship is But Emotional, He and I, etc. are the poems included in.
The first poem Solemnity of Time may be put as an example for a stylistic analysis:
Time catches Time snatches
In the flux lucks come in batches
Time myth Time history behind
Sometimes malignant again kind
In its stride sometimes you ride
Sometimes thrown oceanside
Eternity is endless longevity
Who knows whether active or inactivity
Nothing is yours nothing mine
Everything belongs to Time divine
Time is celestial Time mundane
But rules both hell and heaven
Time is cosmic Time mechanical
Do you know for sure what is actual?
Can you measure what is Times’s span
Perhaps theoretically you can—
It rang with the big bang,a presumption
In the blackhole it will be a mole, another calculation
In our daily life Time hacks also gives back
All rules mundane Times arms smack
Why are we so much concerned with Time’s clock
When at parting empty will be our stock?
In everydayness we need everytime a measure
Is Time only essential for measuring hour of departure?
(Poetry House, Bridge-in-Making Publication, Lake Town, Calcutta, 2013, p.1)
Time Beyond may also be taken for a perusal:
Time is an emergency carriage having no pilot car
No hooter wails, no caution bell rings
Time is no concept common,again no Avatar
Time is passing caravan that never sings
Time is never-drying flow continuum
It cannot be quantified by Theory Quantum
Whether Time is carriage for moving along
Or time is only wayfarer others among
Will never be settled by blind debate
Every phenomenon of multiverse surrenders as ultimate
To the Time omnipotent,beyond reach of dispute
We shall land in mistake considering Time mute
If Bigbang flagged off march of Time
A whistle blower must be coming to stop
But march of Time is not a poem of rhyme
Then will possible BigCrunch signal red, scoff?
Occupants of the multiverse are beads
Of the elongated thread of Time rusher
But who or what the march leads
Not necessary a God should usher.
Though Pronab Kumar Majumder started writing poems in English a little earlier, but his maiden venture was published as Dialogue With Time and it sets the whole set of his theme rolling for the times to come and the volumes to tumble. Soon he added Replies of Time and Life And Eternity to substantiate his own position. One from the base of English as the incumbent studied it up to the graduation level, he is a retired bureaucrat, writing poems and striving hard to inch towards the hall of fame. In The Ruins of Time too is a good collection of poems from his side which but we cannot sidetrack and is unputdownable. The poet has experimented with the haiku and can dwell upon it so deftly.
Pronab cannot help without thinking about time and he perusing it deep, after a close self-examination and scrutiny of the sun-dials, clock towers and the duties rendered by the night watchmen and the gong-men keeping time to sound and remind. Time is his persona and the protagonist. The heart-beat, the pulse, the horse power, the sunrise and the sunset, all denote it something in his poetry. A keeper of time, he seeks to move along the raceless time. The ruins, remnants and fragments, fractions and frictions of it, speeds and brakes applied on with sudden jerks felt come under the purview of his poetic spectrum and this is the dimension and horizon of his poetry.
Kulwant Singh Gill is without any doubt a talented poet who deserves to be included by virtue of his sheer merit and virtuosity which the critics have missed to take a mention of it. Creation, Stone, The Call, Grace, Quest for Joy, Hope, Gratitude, Victory To the Dal Lake, Discovery, A Vanished Dream, Punjab Mata, Homecoming, Mirage, Resolution, The Introvert, Fulfilment, Ifs, The Fall, Tenderness, Ecstasy, Miracle, Ascent, Redemption, A Query, Quest, You Never Came, Death of a God, My Grandfather, Polluters, True Democrats, The Passionate Pilgrim, Sinners, Puzzlement, The Isolate, Dilemma, Adieu, Disenchantment, Retreat, Jaded Yudhishthira, Love for Shadows, Prisoners of Passion, The Respectable, The Enchantress, The Quester, By the Jhelum, Metamorphosis, The Dung Gatherer, The Recluse, Rebels Against Reason, The Maid’s Tragedy, Search for Saviour, Bride and Stove, Descration, Still-Born Desire, Return of the Prodigal, Wanted Another Buddha, Birth of the Blessed Brotherhood, Haiku and Ripeness are the poems included in Passionate Pilgrim collection. The poems themselves speak out and they come tumbling down to us. Such is the flow and float. Condensed with symbolism and meaning, the narrative structure needs to be understood.
The poem rightly at the start of the collection named Creation from Passionate Pilgrim has enough to tell of the poetic myth and narrativity of Kulwant Singh Gill who once used to teach at Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana:
From a grain to a pebble
From a pebble to a rock
From an egg to a fledgeling
From a fledgeling to a peacock
The playful procession of pulsating particles
To create and re-create
Beauteous, wondrous and supreme
Adamic surprise at the Lord’s creative dream.
A pageant or a maze?
To the philosopher a maze
With inscrutable mysteries,
To the poet a pageant
With an array of delicacies
On the festal board of life
To feast on and to realise
If creation is so wonderful
How wonderful would be
The Master Maker in all His might.
(Kulwant Singh Gill, Passionate Pilgrim, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1994, p.9)
The poem, Quest may be put before as for a study:
Salvage your soul
from the salty sea of existence;
a prey to sharks of doubt,
sinking into depths
of metaphysical nothingness;
making the fishes of faith
angry at its intrusion into
their translucent dome.
Gulls of faith have flown away
leaving the watery plain
empty and desolate.
Images of tribal gods
float like the fragments
of a shattered Mayflower
destined for virgin lands.
Engulfed and lost
in stony silence of infinite spaces,
Crusoe-like, ever-inventive spirit
discovers itself in
the rejuvenation of waste lands.
(Ibid, p. 39)
Beyond the Spectrum, The Cactus Flower, Resoluton, Invincible, A Vision, Passion’s Price, Self-Reliance, A Demon Descends on a Dame, Eros, Anguish, Another Buddha in the Making, A Promise Broken, The Great Resolve, Desire, Return of the Prodgal, Despair, Waiting For Kalki, Dream Girl, Modern Arjuna, The Saviour, The Machine Minder, Dangling Man, The Broken Spirit, The Garbage Gleaner, Awakening, Anima, Decay, Lament, In the Web, The Restless Spirit, To Osho, The Perfidious Lover, The Mute Witness, Nightmare, Blazing Beauty, Helplessness, Death of a God, Fate, The Blue Star, To Naina Devi, Realisation, Death-Wish, Spring, Death of Desire and A Prayer for Nam Daan figure in Beyond The Spectrum collection of poems.
The poems of Kulwant Singh Gill keep flowing as those of Sarbeswar Samal, another poet from Cuttack, Orissa and the rhythm continue up to the end. Even the Tribune carried on a small write up about him amd his poetry and this is what we can perceive. A son from the soil of the Punjab, he tells the tales, capturing the canvas and the landscape of imagery. As a poet, he is symbolical, landscapic and narrative. To read him and go through his verses is to have a rewarding experience and one definitely benefits from.
The title poem Beyond The Spectrum is the first one with which the book opens up.
Death of Desire as a poem can be exmpled before for our study and evaluation:
Stealer of heart’s ardent affection—
What made you turn so cold
While I venerated you as a goddess
Wondrous, beauteous and bold?
Just one parental rebuke
Made you out of my life steal
Like soapy bubbles that a showman
Puffs out to earn his meagre meal.
Buried in the emotional debris
The heart gone dead and cold
Is unable to resurrect its dead desires
Like a Messiah from the stony fold.
(Beyond The Spectrum, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1990, p.62)
The Perfidious Lover can be taken into consideration:
The anguish of dying embers,
The last sigh of many a spark—
The perfidious lover
Who deserts love’s smouldering bark
To create a castle
The aspring hopes
Of the rising sparks
To burn themselves into a flame
To win for ever
True love’s everlasting fame.
(Ibid, p. 48)
R.Rabindranath Menon as a poet is of a science base and orientation as his chequered career and studies show it to be in essence. Born at Prumpavoor in Kerala in 1927, Menon did his first degree in Chemistry from University Colelge, Trivandraum in 1947 before moving to Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore wherefrom did the degree in Metallurgical Engineering in 1950. He was a G.O.I. scholar for technical training before joining the Allied Services in 1951 and worked in various capacities. Finally, his last assignment was at Ranchi as Principal Secretary and Regional Development Commissioner and after retiring from the IAS, he settled in Bangalore.
Stealthily as a poem can be cited as an example:
Stealthily the wind creeps in
through windows of a love-lit house
to snatch away the little gems
of sweat-drops as they arise
in the hermitage of leafless stems,
where long, lean cactuses exert
to reach the roof in impassioned spurts.
Unwilling to face the facts,
a glow-worm just roams the tracts
in sterile calm,
until the cold and smoking fires
at the foot of forlorn temples
a vision of principled pimples.
Between the heat of noons and the cold midnight
no choice but to burn
the barbed-wire defences of the right.
The bid retrieve
is a behest to learn
from the vanishing sight!
(Seventy Seven, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1971, p.15)
Ode to Parted Love and Other Poems had been the first collection of poems which eh published long back in 1958. After this, Dasavatara and Other Poems appeared in 1967 followed by Seventy Seven (1973), Straws in the Wind (1973), Shadows in the Sun (1976), Grass in theGarden (1978), Heart on a Shoe-String (1978), Pebbles on the Shore (1980), Poems (1985), Sounds of Silence (1993) and others.
The poem Space Musings can be shown to:
Between the giant stride and the dwarf step
was a grand, shining desolation. A waste
seen hardly amid the hurrahs of haste
saw the flag flying of a congregation’s pep.
Everything proved exact from the very start,
the length, the thrust, the movements that formed a part
to the final splash. A phallic exuberance
muttered things in daze of a huddled embrace.
Eath lies silken, simmering, warm and brown
and moon moves in orbit with a now-familiar frown.
Nothing has changed, not even the Priapian pride
that seeks to deflower a new distant bride.
One by one the chimeras, fall, now Moon, now Mars,
hounds unleashed, the hunt begins for tripes and stars.
R.Rabindranath Menon has been writing poems for quite a long tome but the critics had been indifferent to his poetry and this is but also but the other side of the story. Even in the work of Iyengar, one can find a few lines about him in the histry book. Padmavyuham, Mariner’s Map, Sweet Memoy, space Musings, Lunch-Time in Delhi, Changing Values, Face to Fcae, Stealthily, A Story, The New Mood, Thoughts on a Sunday, Aged Wisdom, Calipers ,Traffic Jam, Bureaucrat, Bachelor, The Tomb, A Common Exercise, Automation, Mollusca, The Flash, Ultra-Modern Punctuations, Last Denial, The Boss Reflections,The Game, Beacon, Milestones, Inedible Fruits, A Bird’s Eye-Full, Sand-Dunes, Old and New, Toy Balloon, Hyphen Time, Back on the Cross, Star-Dancer, The Bride, View from the Middle, Age of Consent, Fog, The Last Straw, I Long for Colours, Leviathan, Twilight, Between Heaven and Earth, Flashlight, The Last Hope,The Party, Casual Leave,Choice, Between Us, Demi-Gods, Despatch Clerk, Two Roads, etc. are the poems which figure in Seventy Seven collection. Most of the volumes which he has written have come off from Writers Workshop, Calcutta. The poem, Mountain can be singled out as for the use and application of imagery and reflection and it brings to our memory the poem of Mahapatra. Generally, fact and fiction take over Menon rather than emotion and feeling and he is technical in the delineation of thought and idea. The poet is factual, reasonable and logical somewhere, taking the help of science even, as it has remained the subject of his own and he comes to poetry via that.
The third quarter of the 20th century has seen the further strengthening of modernist as well as neo-symbolist trends. Poets like B.B.Paymaster and Adi K.Sett continue to write in the well-established Indo-Anglian tradition. But the Calcutta Writers Workshop has published the work of poets like P.Lal, Kamala Das, V.D.Trivadi, Mary Erulkar, A.K.Ramanujan and others which reveals significant developments on modernist lines in Indo-Anglian poetry. Nissim Ezekiel and S.Mokashi-Punekar also belong here. The trend towards neo-symbolism is seen in the work of poets like Nahar, Themis and Prithivindra.
----Vinayak Krishna Gokak in The Golden Treasury of Indo-Anglian Poetry 1828-1965, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, Reprinted: 2006, p.22
In ‘The New Poets’ chapter of Indian Writing In English, K.R.Srinivasa Iyengar discusses Shahid Suhrawardy, Manjeri S.Isvaran, P.R.Kaikini, Krishan Shungloo, Adi K.Sett and others before taking the new band of P.Lal. Though we have assigned the modern development to P.Lal, but one Writers Workshop cannot represent the whole of India and the India whose soul resides in villages has not been represented well by these self-published poets or poetesses of note. Private and personal, they sing the notes in their own way. After a reading of his opinion, it seems to us that modernism in Indian English poetry is an assimilation of various things and so many writers have contributed to it. It is not that it has begun with Nissim Ezekiel abruptly.
We do not know how to interpret modernity and modernism from the Indian point of view as they had been modern, up-to-date and epoch-making with so much eventuality rather than us thinking in terms of development, progress and technological advancement and we had been lagging behind the time. Had there been not the industrial revolution furthered by progress, development and eradication of poverty, had there been not medical amenities and technological breakthrough achieved, could we have called modern? Had the age been not modern, had the whiffs and wisps of it not come to, we could not have been what we call ourselves today. The history of modernism does not start with Nissim Ezekiel at all. It has taken time in to be on the track of modernity. Had there been not the school, the college, the post-office, the telegraph, the telephone, the rail road and the electric facility, we could not called ourselves modern. Modern life and culture has taken wings with concrete and cemented houses, change in social thinking, growing nationalistic consciousness, points gained over time and distance, connectivity in terms of communication, conveyance, travel, tour and wireless transmission. Had the plane or the ship been not, Nissim could not have travelled to England. It was definitely the cosmopolitan culture, growing nerve of confidence, sense of urbanity and Western outlook which but added to his poetry. The second thing was this that he was an outsider too who felt himself outside the domain rather being inside and as a result of that, his is an outsider’s description, not an insider’s journey. An alien insider, the poet tries to see India and Indian culture.
What we call modern Indian English poets was not so in the beginning. There was nothing accepted as Indian English poetry before. The readers used to nag and brag, more specially the British-classic read teachers and scholars. The substandard, imitative, copious and below the standard quality poetry used to dishearten and discourage it all. A study in slender voices, slim and slick volumes of poesy, imitative and derivative verses and as thus our history of Indian Englsih poetry started afresh with modernism in time ans spirit. Even the people have taken time in adjusting with Nissim Ezekiel and his poetry. Had it been England, Nissim could not have made forays so easily. It is our misery to say that none of the standard critics has included our English poets in their history works. Even William Butler Yeats had been dissatisfied with the later publications of Tagore in English as for the encashment of some easy and loose emotions and sentimentality. If we go through Stray Birds, Lover’s Gift And Crossing and others, we may ourselves come to feel and mark them.
Nissim Ezekiel, P.Lal, Keki N.Daruwalla, Jayanta Mahapatra, R. Parthasarathy, Shiv K.Kumar, A.K.Ramanujan, Kamala Das, Adil Jussawalla, Arun Kolatkar, Dilip Chitre, Gieve Patel and a host of others are the new poets whom we call the modern Indian Englsih poets. Actually, the then-time editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India, C.R.Mandy, instead of giving space and chance to Indian English poety and the poets, felt annoyed with the low-quaity submissions. K.R.Srinivasa Iyengar too refers to of being asked about the location and description of Indian English poets and poetesses in Leeds, if those not the creations of the scholarly visiting professor.
Shiv K. Kumar, it is true is a Lahorian, just like Keshav Malik, Keki N.Daruwalla, Mulk Raj Anand, Khushwant Singh, Krishan Chander, Bhisham Sahini, Rajinder Singh Bedi as they are either from Peshawar, Rawalpindi or Lahore who came to India after the Partition of the sub-continent. Born in 1921, Kumar matriculated from D.A.V. School, Lahore, did his B.A. from Government College and M.A. from Forman Christian College, Lahore. Again, in 1943, he joined D.A.V. College, Lahore as a lecturer, but moved to Delhi during the Partition and after brief stints as lecturer at Hansraj College, Delhi and as programme officer at the All India Radio, Delhi , he left India to join Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge in 1950. In 1956, he received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the Univ. of Cambridge On 'Bergson and the Stream of Consciousness Novel' under the research supervision of Professor David Daiches. It is good enough to hear about and also had the opportunity of being tutored by F.R.Leavis.
Shiv K. Kumar returned back from foreign and taught English at Osmania Univ. and Hyderabad Univ. of Hyderabad and during 1972-74, was a UGC National Lecturer in English. Again, he served as the founder HOD of English and the first Dean of the School of Humanities at the University of Hyderabad and finally took to the chair as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hyderabad and retired in 1980. He had also been the Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Universities of Oklahoma and Northern Iowa and Visiting Professor at the Universities of Drake, Hofstra, Marshall and others, a Visiting Fulbright Fellow at Yale Univ. Trapfalls in the Sky was given to the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1987 and the Padma Bhushan in 2001from the Govt. of India.
As a poet, Shiv K.Kumar is not so strong. But apart from his works, had he told about David Daiches, his research supervisor, how he came to know him, the great historian, it would have been great rather. Nisim too takes the name of C.E.M.Joad, but says not about him, just refers to the name of his great teacher.
Shiv was a late starter in poetry as the book-list shows it that his first collection, Articulate Silences appeared from P.Lal’s Writers Workshop, Calcutta in 1970 when he had been almost fifty years of age. Man-woman realtionship, love and sexuality pervade the poetic corpus of Shiv K. Kumar. Indian Women, To an Unborn Child, A Mango Vendor, Married Too Long, At A Psychedelic Art Exhibition, Insomnia, etc. are the poems which figure in many anthologies of poems edited by diferent persons. Love and sex, bodily love and sexual penetration are the things of Shiv’s poetry.
Adil Jussawalla is the missing man of modern Indian English poetry, searched but went missing, again re-searched to be identified and accredited with. Jussawalla, though he started in, has been continuing even now paused and halted by brakes, intervals and digressions. His digression was journalish and got swayed by the tidbits which also contributes in the making of his poetic personality. He had been the Literary Editor of Debonair magazine published from Bombay and for sometime the Acting Editor of it. Land’s End and Missing Person were aritten long ago and having done that, he turned silnt to devote and dedicate to other works. But again after a 35-year break, he is resurfacing ith th his newest colelctions, Trying to Goodbye and The Right Kind of Dog. If we do not take the name of Adil Jussawalla while discussing the post-1947 period of Indian English poetry, our reading of it will be almost incomplete if we take him not up for a study.
R.Parthasarathy is a Tamil poet in an English garb as because he cannot dispel his infatuation for Tamil Nadu and Chennai, Tamil ethnicity, legacy and heritage. But the problem of working on R.Parthasarathy is this that the only source of information, Rough Passage too is not available in the market, we mean the bookstalls and bookshops and even if one finds, one will have to thank God for being available. Only the excerpts from Rough Passage one reads in edited anthologies and books of criticism and the same accounts for the basis of the researches conducted in India. But the translation and editorship works support the poetic base of the poet to be called one of the masters of Indian English verse.
To take up Kamala Das is to smack of flesh and blood contact, man-woman relationship, attraction and repulsion, give and take story and erotic art shown through sculptures. People tire not in describing her poetic worth. Her poetry has drawn so much so of praise and applause, critical acclaim, appreciation and admiration no doubt. But there is something to share with and to be said with reservation that we often like to hear, go by the words of Kamala, not those of her husband. Had we something on his part then justice could have been reached at least. Kamala as a writer draws from D.H.Lawrence, Judith Wright, Sylvia Plath and so on Western feminists and the writers of a confessional slant. Even the summer which she describes in the poem entitled Summer in Calcutta, God knows what summer is it? There is nothing of the season, even the heat and dust swirling and playing with into the streets. It may be certainly her modern style, but the summer hints towards otherwise. Bodily lust, hunger and craving are the things of her poetry and there is nothing more. Apart from it, she is media-savvy, who can do it all for to be in the media glare and limelight. The summer of the body is the favourite season of hers. To see it otherwise, she is a spiritually sick child. Vatsyayna, Freud and Rajneesh seem to the choices of hers. A writer of bodily love, she is not Mira or Radha, though we call her. The other thing too is this that we heaped research dissertations on her slender and slim books rather appreciating the whole genre in full. The histrionics of Kamala may be a better topic as for our dissertation writing. As a poetess, she is but a dramatist of feminism and confessionalism. To read her poetry is to tell of sexual love and dreams; the intrging and conspiring twitches and intricacies of man-woman relationship. To read her is to divert the attention towards erotic sculptures in love making. Sexual love and itsa satisfaction, flesh and blood contact, the smell and scent of blood, her poetry moves around this hub. The satisfaction which she talks about is itself masculine prowess, a submission to that, a thirst for satisfaction and a wolfish pouncing. Her tamasha and nautanki the ramshackle critics of the nondescript Indian English poetry criticism have failed to take into confidence. The Indian summer in heat and dust not, but the man-woman siesta in full bodily love and sweating is the thing of her perusal and everything but a farce. She is a controversy queen who loves to make it so often.
Kamala is a neurotic patient and her babbling one derived from dark consciousness. She has gone into hysterics as the heroine of D.H.Lawrence’s short story ‘Sun’. She may also be compared with the Clara of Sons and Lovers and if it is not, she is perhaps the heroine of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Kamala has manipulated and manoeuvred the things in her favour otherwise is not on a sound track. The abnormal things of the erotic mind and art she has applied in as for getting a name and fame in the no-man’s literature of some vacant authority. She went on writing whatever came it to her mind and the critics went on applauding her brave attempt instead of contradicting her, without apprising her of what she wrote was not poetry. Though we call her one of earthly contact, but she is sexual and obsessive. A poetess of the sexual summer, its heat and dust and siesta, sweating and lusciousness, she is of her range and delving.
In the poem, Introduction, she says that she knows it not politics, but the people in power, their names she can say about with confidence. Her nautanki the people have failed to comprehend it that she is a stage artiste of some sort who will not like to live within the household premises. Kamala is more political than a politician as she knows the politics of becoming famous and she does only that which brings fame to her in a right way or a wrong way which but not the concern of hers. To bare the things of life is the job of hers. Pornography, nudity and obscenity give delight to her. What Rajneesh says, as sex to samadhi, so is her theory of satisfasction. She is not a feminist, nor a confessionalist, but a sexist. To leak, blackmail and conspire against the job of Kamala; the matters of personal life which need to be suppressed she keeps on leaking. Barring love, luscious and lustrous, impressed with kisses, magnetic relationships, there is nothing in Kamala to elevate to a spiritual plane. The food for the soul one may not find in Kamala. A wolf of sex she goes about hunting flesh and blood.
An Introduction, The Freaks, Composition, The Old Playhouse, The Dance of The Eunuchs, In Love, etc. are generally quoted in the anthologies put forford for our study. A Malyali, a Keralite, Madhavikutty is a better house politician and has the command of making the husband a henpecked hubby which is but her kitchen room politics. Instead of applauding her braveheart, daredevil poetry, we need to do criticism in a right perspective as for putting it on the rails.
It is very difficult to say who is a new voice and who not as because the word new is a vague term and we cannot decide upon. Even Shankar Moashi Punekar and others have been called new by Dr.K.R.Srinivasa Iyengar and what we call new will one day turn into the old. Similar is the word major and minor and this is vocal of Indian English poetry. Whom to call minor or major? Many have turned into major poets and poetesses today, but in the beginning were minor poets. Let us think of Nissim when he used to send his poems to and has taken a long time to evolve. In the beginning, Mahapatra too had just a book, Close the Sky, Ten by Ten. P.Lal too was a self-publisher.
What we are putting it before that the so-called authentic critics may not accept it. The critical canons which only M.K.Naik lays them down not. Something also depends on the awards and prizes the Sahitya Akademi bestows upon and the Govt. of India gives it as Padmas. Vikram Seth’s book was initially rejected in foreign, but when the same appeared from Writers Workshop, he started getting approbation and made a breakthrough and the newspapers splashed with his news and he turned into one of the news-makers. Similar is the case with Tabish Khair as he used to edit a journal in the beginning from Gaya. Later on, he started working for the press and shifted to Delhi to be finally overseas. Tabish’s poems used to appear in Baldev Miza’s Skylark journal.
K.V.S. Murti, R.R.Menon, Narenderpal Singh, M.N.Sharma, D.H.Kabadi, Romen Basu, Kulwant Sigh Gill, Sarbeswar Samal, Pronab Kumar Majumder, Hazara Singh, T.V.Reddy, P.C.Katoch, R.K.Singh, O.N.Gupta, I.H.Rizvi, Charu Sheel Singh, Simanchal Patnaik, Kedar Nath Sharma, Vijay Vishal, H.S.Bhatia, Stephen Gill, Har Prasad Sharma, Kadar Nath Shrma, Amarendra Kumr, P.K.Joy, etc. are the poets whose poems continue to appear in literary journals and little magazines. What it pains us is this that many of these continue indulge in doing self-praise and mutual admiration, one admiring another just for flattery’s sake while the other reciprocating. Some of these have plotted to restrain the original talents from coming into the light of the journals. The petty poets as the journal editors think themselves little czars and their wives czarinas.
R.R.Menon who has Dasavatara and Other Poems (1967), Seventy Seven (1973), Straws in the Wind (1973), Shadows in the Sun (1976), Grass in theGarden (1978), Heart on a Shoe-String (1978), Pebbles on the Shore (1980), Poems (1985), Sounds of Silence (1993)and others is a poet of the sixties. Menon as a poet is very prolific and has penned down weighty poems, condensed with meaning, thought, idea and reflection. Though a
poet who has been continuing in for quite a long time, he is just like O.P.Bhatnagar, a link between the new and the older poets. K.V.S.Murti, Syed Ameeruddin and I.K.Sharma are the poets of the same category. O.P.Bhatnagar and Krishna Srinivas too are the poets of the same affiliation. His inter-state postings and placements too have occasioned many a poem which Menon intersperses with. The idiom he chooses is wordy, weighty and laden.
Sounds of Silence is the first poem of Rabindranath Menon’s poetry-work by the same name, a longer poem indeed:
The sounds I hear I recognize
arise from the mate frequencies I prize.
Ears can’t catch if they are more intense,
though mind does. Netted, they slow down
and right on their rebound gain
audibility once again
Silence was in the beginning
and survives in the end, the swing
spans many surprised pillars
busy reaching unto the stars.
Turning fork is living proof
that a little more or a little less
unnerves the ear, the same stuff
constitutes the soundness
of silence and the sound’s bluff.
What would be an apocalypse
of thoughts and emotions, perhaps
is a mild cynic’s mannered mile.
The words I mould, the manner
of moulding, drown thereafter
in silence, but are bound to be reborn
in some heart on a summer morn.
Gulf between the coined phrase
and intended thought can rephase
revelation in aural patterns.
Silences as I grow older,
echo on minds that don’t smoulder,
but come terms with a world
cleared of smoke through sigh or word,
they teeter on the sharp edge
of a roar of words,and don’t grudge
a few that flow like a stream
and take pressure off a scream.
Silence has always more
sounds in its cloistered core.
Only chosen one can enter
When sentry returns to centre.
Where sound hardly describes,
silence does. It circumscribes
galaxies and their infinite girth
dissolving everything in the depth.
And like the sun’s white ray
that splits into colours in a stray
prism, the silence restores
to hearts that shape its course
melodies as it passes through the pores.
(R.Rabindranath Menon, Sounds of Silence, An ICASEL Publication, Mysore, 1993, pp.9-10)
Maha Nanda Sharma as has shown the competence and dexterity of his own through paragraphs rereshening and reminding the memory of Milton’s Paradise Lost afresh. The Pageant of Seasons, 1956, Fowers and Buds, 1984, Rudraksha Rosary and Other Poems, 1987, A Spiritual Warrior, 1991, Sattered Leaves, 1991, Divine Glimpses, 1996, Gushing Streams, 1996, Flowering of a Lotus, 1998, Autumn Strains, 2004, etc. are the books of poems.
Most of the collections which I.K.Sharma has brought out are the thinner works, but in spite of these give an upperhand to him as he has carried over the years and has come to stay into the realms of Indian Englsih verse, whatever be the assessment or the rewards he has got. The journals have no doubt splashed with the reviews and articles on him and his poetry whereas many have remained unattended which is but the other side of the picture.
Inder Kumar Sharma has brought out The Shifting Sand-dunes, The Native Embers, Dharamsala and Other Poem, Camel, Cockroach, and Captains, My Lady, Broom and Other Poems, End to End, Collected Poems, etc. from time to time.
T.V.Reddy as a poet has When Grief Rains ( 1982), The Broken Rhythms (1987), The Fleeting Bubbles (1989), Melting Melodies (1994), Pensive Memories (2005), Gliding Ripples ( 2008) and Echoes ( 2012) to give him a standpoint. Reddy as a poet is of some faded lustre as because rather being a late Romantic, he seems to be languishing after and it is better to feature him as a good Victorian too side by side. In the earlier books, he seemed to faltering, but somehow controlled in. Sorrow or grief is the main crux of his poetry and he is concerned with. Somewhere he appears to be into the toes of the English poets and they fall short of becoming parodies. Though he tries to catch the rhythm and cadence of The Solitary Reaper, but it slips otherwise, into a landlord and a reaper attachment. Natural flow and original expression seem to be lacking in Reddy. The old-pattern verses seem to tke the canvas of his poetry.
Maha Nand Sharma (1924-) who used to teach in a college in Bulandshahr before moving to Meerut University did his Ph.D. on P.G.Wodehouse and was a poet of some epical length and line, going by Milton and Aurobindo and deriving from Paradise Lost and Savitri, whatever be our appraisal of his, if epics not strictly then readily the epic fragments. A writer of The Pageant of Seasons (1956), Flowers and Buds (1984), A Rudraksha Rosary & Other Poems (1987), Scattered Leaves (1991), A Spiritual Warrior (1991), Divine Glimpses (1996), Gushing Streams (1996), Flowering of a Lotus (1998), Autumn Strains (2004), is but a conventionalist and a traditionalist as he follows the old patterns of writing and rhymes too laboriously. Something is therein and something is missing, a writer of narratives and epical formats, something he achieves and something fails to, a writer drawing from the Mahabharata, epical heroes and characters to endow with and to lengthen, something he plans to finish and something it remains incomplete and undone. A votary of Lord Shiva, seeking blessings from as for the Shiva cycle of stories, more especially, Sati’s and here there lies the beauty of his poetry in re-narrating the story, engaging us, again he takes up Bhisma’s vow to employ in. A poet scriptural and Sanskritic, he draws from Kalidas, Milton and Aurobindo, instead of his successes and failures, trying to contribute and develop, enrich the domains of Indian poesy with his readings and borrowings and loan words.
The holy eve, attired in cooling shades,
Was in the woods descending,
To buds and leaves an flow’rs and streams and glades
A solemn stillness lending.
In river long, the moveless waters lay
Full prostrate, calm and meek
To goddess Eve their humble prayers to say
Her blissful grace to seek.
(Scattered Leaves, Ashutosh Prakashan, Meerut, 1991, p.2)
’Tis not in glances born; the rosy cheeks,
Are not its base.
The lovely smiles that live in dimple sleek
It does not chase.
In wine and dance and song and mirth and revels
It does not dwell.
At sight of lustrous tresses wreathed with jewels
It does not swell.
It seves the weak, the ugly and the meek.
To help the helpless beings in all it seeks.
It thrives on thorns.
As a deer parched with thirst, for water roams
In endless desert wild,
In search of love, I wandered all alone
In a world of crafty smiles.
The more I gave the world my selfless love,
The less it was for them.
My goal receded farther, far above
My reach as the welkin gemmed.
The Telling Silence
Though speaking not one word, the girl
With radiant smiles beamed.
Her playful eyes, her lustrous curls
With a thrilling life teemed.
She, with her telling silence, was
A poem of loveliness.
To me, her silence lent, alas!,
A poet’s restlessness.
April 16, 2004
Dear Dr Maha Nand Shamaji,
Thank you for your letter sending therewith your three poetry books. For the first time I was really moved by the poems. Yesterday when I started reading the book ‘Divine Glimpses’, I was completely absorbed in the poem “Eternal Legacy”. I liked the lines
The two, since then, quite lost themselves in nursing,
A legacy of mercy left by Chirst,
Which still continues, and shall never end’’ (page 50)
Your prophecy will indeed become a reality one day.
Then I read your second book “A Spiritual Warrior”, particularly the verses (190-320), where you have beautifully described the meeting of Lord Krishna and Yudhistir with Bhishma.What a great poetical message you have given to the people, the action against evil. I liked two poems of the book “ Autumn Strains”. (1) To the unknown soldier on Kashmir Front, and (2) To my wife.These two poems indeed are very moving. When I finished the books I felt the effect of the poems. Tears were flowing. As you said, “poetry comes from the heart and goes to the heart”. How correct it is.
I liked the sentences, “I crave indulgence of the readers for my poems, the poems of a blind old man”. For me all the heavens of God went in to pieces. God bless you for the beautiful poetry.
I would like to meet you and your family over lunch or dinner whenever it is convenient for you. Please do contact me on my telephone numbers…
With best wishes,
A P J Abdul Kalam
(Source, Autumn Strains by Maha Nand Sharma, Meerut, 2004)
O Poet who played the tunes so sweet on strings
Of human hearts, whose works united souls
Of East and West! Your life to memory brings
Your selfless deeds which aimed at spiritual goals.
With a vision which embraced the universe,
You rained upon the world the nectar sweet
Of Geeta and Upanishads in your verse
Which cools our sensual passions’ scorching heat.
The world’s a forest wherein wild beasts
Engage the fellow beasts in combats fierce
In fields of politics, savage wars to feast
Upon their flesh, and leave a trtail of tears.
Emerson, World has need of thee. Return.
On the heat of violence, showers of poetry turn.
(Autumn Strains, ibid, p.35)
When he had been at A.S. Jat College, Lakhaoti, Bulandshahr, U.P., he published The Pageant of Dreams.
A few stanzas from the novice poet’s maiden text may be quoted in:
In endless chain of years, a novel link,
New Year is born.—The winds are shrilling high;
The birds are warbling ’mid the flowers pink
A welcome ’neath the azure, cheerful; sky.
An ever-changing pageant is concealed
In thee. O Year, -- shiv’ring winter morn,
The rains and floods, the pale and flow’ry fields,
The burning loos, the trees with branches shorn.
(The Pageant of Seasons, Author, Lakhoati, Bulandshahr, 1956, p.1)
A Rudraksha Roasary And Other Poems is an epical work together with some additional stray poems included in the collection under our purview which refreshens the memory of Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained and Aurobindo’s Savitri. A Rudraksha Rosary contains in some twelve books and an invocation at the beginning of the epic:
As endless are the ways to justify
The ways of God as ways of God themselves.
For this was blazed a trail by ancient bards
In Vedic hymns, Koranic verses, psalms
Of Christian scriptures—ever-shining trail
Which Kalidas, the poet of Indian poets,
Impassioned Dante, sacred Tulsi Das,
The sweet-tongued Soor, Kabir in plainest words,
The sufi saint Muhammad, bard of love,
And mighty Milton followed gloriously.
Without their purity, passion, knowledge, skill
And deep devotion, eager yet to soar
Without the fancy’s wings, to Helicon’s heights,
I turn to Thee in prayer, Lord Mahesh
Whose drum produced the language-breeding sutras,
Whose musical dance generated first two arts,
Who moves the worlds of mind and matter both,
Whose toe-nails bright illumine every heart,
Whose raised and outspread palm’s a healing balm
To every injured heart in sorrow plunged.
(A Rudraksha Rosary And Other Poems, Ashutosh, Meerut, 1987, p.3)
Flowering of A Lotus is a poetical, epical story of King Bhartrihari and Pingla narrated with the words of renunciation and the break of heart. The king who used to love Pingla very much got disenchanted with her after marking infidelity in love and bonding and finally broke away with his sweetheart, reign, royal assets, palace and courtiers to be a renouncer, wandering and wandering all daylong in search of divine light, bliss and enlightenment. An epical poem, it has the parameters of its own, as because the things employed in are not so easy to be handled.
Simanchal Patnaik as a Poet
We do not know as what to do with his poetry? Though not recognized and canonized in that way, but instead of that, his poems appeared in the journals for a long time and were appreciated by a coterie of subscriber-reader reviewers, whatever be our assessment. We just want to see the self-appraisal portals for the scrutiny sake. Simanchal Patnaik who was from Berhampur, Orissa is now no more. Instead of it, his self-published volumes are there before us to see into and apprise if there is something in them to see and view.
A few of the friends and well-wishers have responded too, may be that out of courtesy or as for creativity’s inspiration sake.
If we talk of contemporary Indian English poetry and that too of the 1980s, the name of Simanchal Patnaik may be taken into confidence, not for that he has been canonized, but for his appearance in journals so often. When he had been alive, he could not get what it could have come the way. As a poet, he is is a conventionalist, a traditionalist; a rhymer, writing poetry laboriously, but full of knowledge and wisdom, fact and fiction of life. While going through the poems, so many in numbers, many can mark the use and application of technique and tactics, poetic craft and wit. A massive brainwork lies used in to craft the poems with the rhyming numbers, even if he falls and falters in catching the rhythm of speech and its sweet cadence. Had there been an Indian English poetry critc from Orissa then, he would have included in as Naik and others rendered services to the Bombayan men.
A poet who has Delightful World of Poems, Bedroom Poems, Poetry In Tranquility, Sonnets & Other Poems, Poetry of Himalayan Wisdom, Queen of English Poetry, how to sidetrack and negate his poetic worth and merit, inner faculty an capability, whatever be the appraisal or appreciation of his?
Let me say how much pleasure I gained from this insight into India and the State of Orissa, and the felicitous expression which distinguishes many of your poems.
------Prof. John Johnes, Professor of Poetry in the University of Oxford, England in his response to Delightful World of Poems
(Simanchal Patnaik, Delightful World of Poems, Sarala, Berhampur, Orissa, 1982, p. back jacket cover)
In this collection, Patnaik emerges as an Indo-English poet of excellence. Being a senior subordinate judge he has a wide range of experience and has translated the same into verse. The result is that this collection is a child of poetic talent and intellectual insight. Like W.H.Auden Patnaik is an experimentalist too….
----Indian Literature, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi
I enjoyed reading your book of poems. It makes delightful reading and reveals your deep probe of problems of human existence.
----Dr.S.K. Mahapatra, Poet & Education Commissioner, Orissa, Bhubaneswar
The poems deal with a variety of themes. Many of them give one an insight into the state of Orissa, its festivals, temples, forest wealth and customs. This book is a welcome addition to Indian English poetry.
-----Dr.Ramesh Mohan, Director, Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad, India
M.Hidayatullah then from Vice-President’s Residence, 6, Maulana Azad Road, New Delhi—110011, in a letter, dated September 3, 1982 responded to him with the following goodwill words:
I am glad to go through the book “Delightful World of Poems” by Mr. Simanchal Patnaik. The author has written this book of poems to glorify the State of Orissa to which he belongs and to educate the younger generation. A good creative writer must have a vision which he translates into words. He must have the richness and the depth of life and experience. Himself a senior subordinate judge of Orissa State, the author has a wide range of experience. The subjects he has dealt with in the books are diversified and he has used his poems as a vehicle for his deep and passionate emotions. This book will be another addition to Indo-Anglian Poetry.
(Ibid, source of the material, the opening pages containing personal letters)
The poem quoted below may help us in our understanding of his poetic faculties:
Let us call Adisankara the great to infuse
In us glories of Lord Shiva in various places
Which are so wonderful, so enchanting,and so precious
For neither I, nor my pen, nor any famous Muse
Can picturesquely paint the points of the past era
Somnath, Vishwanath, Baidyanath, Nageshwara,
Kedarnath, Omkareshwar, Ghumshmeswar, Rameshwara,
Mahakaleswar, Bheemashankar, Mallikarjuna and Tryambakeshwara
Are the Jyotiringas, the hearts of the Hindus
Named my three sons, born on Mondays as per prayer,
The dearest days of Lord, as Kapileswar, Nilakantheswar,
And Bhalunkeswar to get His bountiful blessings
Shiva’s dance in chhou style at Baripada in admirable attire
Is a sight which has fulfilled my desire.
Let us take up the undermentioned poem as for our perusal:
We’ve heard a lot about male-chauvinism,
But we’ve not heard much about feminism.
Wee see woman claiming equal rights,
To achieve this she resorts to courts-fights.
The question of questions is: isn’t feminism?
Its answer can be given by pioneers of existentialism.
Nice guys finish last-so runs a maxim of didacticism
So nice guys can’t raise their voice –a truism.
Can man exist without relying on woman?
Can woman exist without relying on man?
Woman is part and parcel of man,
Man is part and parcel of woman,
Man plus woman is the whole being,
Man minus woman is nothing, nothing.
(Simanchal Patnaik, Poetry In Tranquility, Sarala, Berhampur, Orissa, 1991, p. 106)
The poem, Konark Sun Temple may be cited as an example for our scrutiny and reflection:
The world famous monument was a product of painstaking
Work of Sibai Santra like Michelangelo of amaranthine fame
Emient King Narsingh Dev of ancient Utkal by name
Nourished and nurtured it as an object of singhtseeing
The fianite-like gorgeous Sun Temple in sculptured stone
At the confluence of holy river Chandrabhaga and Sea
Has architecture par-excellence and to inquisitively see
And enjoy it would be skin to reaching Moon
The chariot-like sacred Sun Temple of sublime
With a dozen awe-inspiring pairs of wheels driven by seven
Gigantic sculptured horss is indeed and in fact a Heaven
Albeit a portion is consumed by the tryant Time
The fauna and flora, damsels and demons of hoary
Architecture remind us of the past prestine glory
( Delightful World of Poems, ibid, p. 24)
‘Nuakalebara of Lord Jagannath of Puri’ is a poem which puts it before the ritual of changing the wooden statues every thirteen years:
Like Kumbh Mela and Godavari Pushkaralu, the festivities,
A special function of Jagannath is done every twelve years.
Like human beings the bodies of the three deities,
Become old and so the same are replaced with tears,
And the souls are transferred from old ones
To new ones with unparalled pomp and ceremony.
The old wooden bodies are buried in temple-gardens,
Like human bodies buried in churchyards with agony.
Nuakalebara is this function performed with abracadabra,
Which is observed regularly since time immemorial.
Such new incarnations of Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra,
Make Hinduism from age to age roll.
It’s meant for people like ‘Boston Brahmins’of yore,
Who’ll get an insight into India’s Spiritual Treasure.
(Simanchal Patnaik, Sonnets & Other Poems, Sarala, Berhampur, Orissa, 1989, p.23)
‘Lord Krishna’ as a poem may be quoted in full:
Lord Krishna is a wonderful symbol of the Supreme Being,
His advice to Arjuna in Gita mesmerises every reader,
Millions of Indians read it regularly for spiritual pleasure,
Many commentators wrote on this eternal spiritual spring.
To see Braj where Krishna played joyfully
Many spend thousands of rupees travelling long distances;
I’ve seen with my eyes Mathura with ecstatic dances,
I’ve seen with my eyes Vrindaban blissfully.
As He held aloft against Indra’s vagary Govardhana hillock
To give shelter to cows and cowherds, I prayed
Before Him to give shelter from people wicked,
Who torture me always due to my bad luck.
Who doesn’t want to see the Abode of Absolute?
Who doesn’t want to hear the music of Krishna’s Flute?
M.K.Naik (1926--) As A Writer of Light And Comic Verses
What do they know of the sense of Nonsense
Who know not the nonsense of Sense?
---Emken in Preface to More Indian Clerihews
Few of us are in the know of it that M.K.Naik (Emken), K.R.Srinivasa Iyengar and V.K.Gokak are themselves poets too, if not the major ones of Indian English verse, they are of course the writers of their own fervour and capacity and if they are poets, they are as for their critical works. But it does not mean at all that there is nothing in them. Apart from reviewing books and contributing critical papers on Indian English literature and editing books on it, he has tried his intervals and breaks in doing away with the study of bad and substandard verses which seem to have corroded his readerly self. As a critic of Indian English verse, he wrote on the published poets and poetesses rather than taking up the independently published writers. But it is difficult to ascertain who is a self-published poet and who not? Poetry does not get bound by such a rule or regulation. Poetry is free from any sort of inhibition and comes to us unhindered. There is nothing as that can obstruct the flow of it. The flow and spontaneity of poetry is free and floating as the clear stream is in reality murmuring and babbling by, running the zigzagged course of life to meet the river way. There is nothing as that can bind the natural flow and progress of poesy. The human heart has sung and will continue to sing, it can never be fettered. The grammar of poesy and the regulatory of publication with regard to book numbers and respective payments; the hammer and the tongs of the critic, all these cannot restrict and restrain them.
Indian Clerihews is the first collection of serious trivia which appeared from Writers Workshop, Calcutta in 1989. M.K.Naik just picks up the stuffs and props them up for a twitch and we seek to delve deep. The shadows of the master sires, Ogden Nash, E.C.Bentley and Edward Lear continue to haunt him and he takes to pen and paper under their inspiration. As the poetry-collections of P.Lal are, so is this work, just consisting of a few pages, but the presentation very beautiful. The people will like to see the handloom-cloth bound book, not the material, but some British critic may catch Lal red-handed. It would have been better had Naik included in more, but it is difficult to say something in concrete with regard to poetry, whose definition keeps changing. It is also true side by side that Indian English literature gave name and fame to M.K.Naik, but the researches on British literature would not have definitely. Indian Clerihews is, in total, a collection of some 31 pages, inclusive of all the things which gives a base to the content that Indian English poetry is a study in slender collections and minor voices and it has been coming down to us since the days of yore, going back to the early nineteenth century and its decades. This is what we can feel in the negative, but in the affirmative, these are but condensed verses, short, succinct, brief and epigrammatic.
Emken is none, but M.K.Naik under the pseudonym, writing trifles verses, an authority on Indian Englsih literature, the formerly Head of the Department of English of the Karnataka University, Dharwad.
The clerihew brings to light the age and time, the writing and thematic content of Sir Thomas Malory:
Sir Thomas Malory
Didn’t count every calory
Life in the Middle Ages
Had its advantages.
(Indian Clerihews, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1989, p. 9)
An academic he too feels bored of teaching Milton and his Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained:
Never stayed at the Hilton
He was wise
He’d booked in Paradise. (p.10)
Again he takes up Paradise Lost and writes back as the students obsessed with the repetitive reading do it for an entertainment:
The moral of Paradise Lost
Is that an apple cost
Far more in ancient Eden
Than in modern Sweden. (p.11)
The temptation of man and his fall from heaven is the thing of discussion herein. Sometimes people say it that one Hamlet will make others Hamlets. The reference to the apple also lures Newton but differently.
The materials which Naik is using are those which Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Furtado and others have used in, as far as the inclusion of the light things is concerned.
To smatter and hammer the words and pronunciations and to do jokes is the chief property of the poet. Perhaps he is doing the caricature here as might have done in the department when in the lighter moments of his off from the busy schedule. Some people do it even during the seriousness of the moment. Sometimes laughter and comicality is misunderstood and misunderstood, sometimes the entertainer is scolded for being flippant and light. Suppose one smiles and laughs remembering the poetic lines of M.K.Naik, he will definitely get the scolds from the teacher in the classroom. But to lessen the high pressure, jokes and caricatures too are essential, you accept it or not. Modern man too looks very reserved, serious, egoistic and proud. Now it is a problem to call the dull students ‘ass’ in the class as the number of the ass has fallen and they have been abandoned and left by the washer men in this age of washing machines and the laundry when the people have started talking about the voluntary retirement scheme and golden handshaking in jobs and corporate sectors. Liberalization, privatization and globalization have taken a toll no doubt and have affected our lives no doubt if viewed from this angle of unemployment and joblessness. Now the world seems to be a big bazaar and we going to purchase the goods, man but a shopper. It is also a problem to laugh with the monkey lungs. But one should keep it in mind that laughing is a healthy exercise. If you cannot laugh, you may smile too as A.G.Gardiner says about the usage of please and thank you in our lives. ‘On Saying Please’ is the essay where he deals with it to sweeten the affairs of life to keep them going.
After reading his another clerihew, we become reminded of John Keats and his poems, as for example Ode On A Grecian Urn, Ode To Autumn, Ode To A Nightingale and others:
Performed many feats
Including a turn
With a Grecian urn. (p.12)
Wasn’t much for eats
But was often seen
Drinking gallons of Hippocrene. (p.12)
There are three clerihews written on John Keats, forming three angles of reflection and brooding. It is also a reality that the poets just aggravate the things rather than presenting them as it is. To colour and see it all is also not good. Sometimes over sentimentality claims over and it is not good to be hyper sensitive.
To distort and concoct, to disfigure and decipher, to comment and criticize, to smile and joke down the job of the writer and he keeps moving along his own track of writing:
Our sweetest songs are those
That tell of baddest thought. (p.13)
Actually, the reference is one of To A Skylark poem where the poet P.B.Shelley writes it to take on philosophically.
The birds of a feather flock together is the case to be dispensed with and here Naik takes up his stuff from the fellow writer, Lewis Carroll:
Played a double role
He specialized in Mathematics
And little girls’ vital statistics. (p.18)
The short presentation on Rudyard Kipling bring to our memory the narration of Moglie and Bagheera, his use of pidgin Indian-English and so many things with India, the theme of Indianness and the process of Indianization:
Remained a stripling
With fairies as toys
And Jungle Boys. (p.19)
Yahoo, if somebody tells, we are the junglees, is the thing to be dealt with.
A repeated study of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass would have made him say so or he is belittling it all in the fever and frenzy, bouts of poetic fervour gripping him and he thinking like a Chengiz Khan; a Coleridge writing poem Kubla Khan:
Needed no hit-man
He could send people to grass
En masse. (p. 23)
Some while pronouncing him misspell it Wheatman or Whiteman and sometimes Leaves of Grass bores us with its vague reflections and dotted sentences. The blades of grass Tennyson plucks it in the work, In Memoriam and tries to sing in the memory of Arthur Hallam. The Grass Is Singing is a title of Doris Lessing. If Whitman is the hit man, Naik is the stuntman.
Even the humorist’s art has something to hide in and hint to. The art of satire too is valuable. Humour and satire are quintessential to this life and living of ours. Though he calls himself a light verse writer, but he is in reality one deriving from the art of the humorist and the satirist as because without caricaturing them, no one can put to print the poetic words for a presentation. V.S.Naipaul’s The Mimic Man, not The Angry Old Man too is herein adding to M.K.Naik.
Though we call it that light verse is independent of it all, but the elements of humour, satire, irony are bound to be here. Fun, pun, doublespeak, imitation, duplication of sound and speech, these will automatically be there. Monotony, dull and drab routined-life and boredom have the consequences of their own. The elements of envy, malice, ego and selfishness will malign the soul a bit as they continue to be the parts of human nature. If we imitate them not, we cannot think of re-creation. In the Augustan age too, there had been a tough competition among the poets. Pope’s An Epistle To Dr.Arbuthnot is a glaring example of that.
In the rest two books, which he has authored after this one, the writer fails and falls as because the same verve goes missing therein. In the work, More Indian Clerihews, which is a sequel to Indian Clerihews, the personal names abound in and instead of taking books, he has concentrated on the writerly personae. Many of them are world-famous philosophers and political thinkers whose theories, treatises and texts we peruse and pursue them for our studies.
Jumped down a cliff
When he found bollards
Turned into Maypoles by Lollards.
( M.K.Naik, Some Indian Clerihews, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1992, p. 13)
The affairs too cannot leave him behind, as this one from his pen indicates it:
Courted Lady Hester Stanhope.
She said, “Hope and mope,
But you dope, you couldn’t cope.” (p. 15)
M.K.Naik fiddles with the poetic lines of Tennyson:
“Tears, idle tears”---
I know what they mean---
Cook slicing onions:
That sums up the scene. (p.16)
Dylan Thomas, his character and habits, affection and fascination come to our purview of delving and persuasion:
Made a great fuss
When warned that he may not swill
Scotch on Fern Hill. (p. 18)
Homer’s picture and stories engage us for a while when keep reading and it is difficult to take on such a vast range of biography, autobiography, time-spirit and reflection:
Is no misnomer:
Didn’t seven cities declare
That he’d his home there? (p.23)
The clerihew, Karl Marx can be taken for as an example for thought-interpretation:
Always got bottom marks
At school: his defence
Of the bottom-dog makes sense. (p.24)
Even the nursery rhyme cannot escape it from being parodied which the light verse writer accomplishes it so deftly, so comically with an upper hand rarely to be noticed elsewhere. ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ too engages his poetic pen and he rhymes in this way, even sparing it not the cine stars. The tidbits and chitchats of poetry might have born from his reading of substandard derivative and imitative verses. We do not know it what the Indians think about the legacy and heritage of theirs, but the truth is this that they keep parroting the line. If one wants to do a Ph.D. thesis on the bad quality of Indian English verses, one will be definitely able to submit it while the other may work on the parody stuff of it profusely used in Indian English poetry. The things written in the imitation of all those available in English poetry disturb the reader, from which there is no escape at all:
Some day they’ll ask
Who you are. (p. 28)
The world of glamour disintegrates it finally, as the things continue to keep changing the tracks of life, what it seems to be is not, what it was is not and what it is now will not remain so. This is the world, the go of it, the pace and movement of it. The film stars too are subjected to it. How long can the plastic surgery can keep them going well? The wrinkles on the face tell a lot about them and their deceptive presence. They are not the real stars. The real will not lose anything of their luster. M.K.Naik is good at remixing. All that glitters is not is the reality to be felt in here. Colour fades it away; all the charms of life and living leave behind us. Thomas Gray says it rightly, all the paths of glory lead but to the grave finally which none can deny it.
The contents section of Indian Limericks is inclusive several parts, such as Indian Airs, Afro-Asian Arias, Inside Europe and The American Scene. The first two stanzas from the part, Indian Airs can be put as an example for our reading:
There was a fat old Nabob of Lucknow
Who whined: “I’m not in luck now;
When I was thinner
A forty course dinner
I could tuck in, but I don’t have the pluck now.”
There was a fat old man of Trivandrum
Who doggedly played on the drum;
When asked, “Why the drum?”
He wisely kept mum
But his abdominal rumblings solved the conundrum.
(Indian Limericks, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1990, p. 9)
The American Scene is the last part of the work Indian Limericks which humours the things in its own way of penetration:
There was a young couple of New York
Quite terrified of the stork
They closed all the shutters
And the ventilators
And plugged the chimney with a cork.
(They still live with their quintuplets in New York).
There was a man called Walter Mitty
Who visited New York City.
When asked “Why?”
He said with a sigh
“I courted the Statue of Liberty.” (p.25)
Under the part or the title, The American Scene, the stanzas of it appear as separate poems in the contents section of the book under our perusal and persuasion.
Joke and humour are the chief properties of the writer who keeps regaling with his subtle fun, pun and alliteration which is no doubt a healthy thing and laughs a hearty laugh. The light verse writer not only smiles and laughs he himself, but makes us burst into a laughter with his tickling humour and comic style of writing and putting the things before.
The two stanzas which are almost like two poems under the same head, conjoined to the main part with the heading and have been named in the contents may be presented for an assessment if up to the mark no doubt:
There was a young lad called Willie
Who went on a vacation to Chile
Where he learnt
With a tongue badly burnt
That when it’s chilly in Chile you eat a chilli.
There was an old man of Peru
Who wished to climb Mount Meru.
But he fell off a ladder
And there wasn’t a sadder
Man in the whole of Peru. (p.29)
The Flickers of Dwarakanath H.Kabadi: A Review of Rye On The Ravines
Dwarakanath H. Kabadi is one of those contemporary Indian English poets who are really meritorious enough to stake a claim for a place into the nondescript no-man domains, unchartered and wayless virgin territories of Indian English poetry and its history and criticism. Full of self-praise and mutual admiration, the no-man fellows have nothing to do with objectivity and impartial judgement, but instead have been promoting the groups of their acquaintance. Though he has been writing poetry and practising it for quite a long time, but instead of it, success did not come to him in that way, as we see it today. The punctuationless three liners belying the Japanese haikus, which he calls them flickers are the poetic specialties of the poet under our kind perusal and discussion. Dwaraka who lives in Bangalore has experimented with different poetic forms and styles of writing. The poet leaves it all, commas, full stops, colons, semi-colons, capitals, all the rules and regulations of grammar and breaks them to use in and apply for poetry’s sake.
The gods feeling congested or the devotees getting suffocated, who is undergoing what? On reading it, the pictures of the windowless rock-built temples come to our sight. One such scene can be viewed in here:
jammed in that temple
praying for oxygen
(D.H.Kabadi, Rye On The Ravines, Poets International Organization, Bangalore, 1985, p.11)
A child reflecting over the face comes to our view, whatever be the theme of deliberation:
showing its face
on those silver lined clouds (p. 11)
The undermentioned poem is a self-assessment as well as an acceptance of truth, or a confession it may be:
I am not a good son
pardon me I repent (p.11)
The lights on the lamp posts bring to him the pictures of the bejewelled maidens:
lights on the
bejewelled maidens (p.13)
Peace talks, truces and ceasefires, pacts and treaties, all get hijacked by satanic forces and the spills over; the troubles brewing:
let there be peace
everyone everywhere talked
satan’s conspiracies (p.14)
Perhaps the Vietnam war hereunder is the thing of discussion:
two dead bodies
an old man and a child shot
empty Vietnam basket (p.15)
The poet sees the reflections of his face in the mirror.
in the mirror
on my face
many different faces (p. 15)
He sees the stirred and fluttering leaves:
touch of the pleasant wind (p.15)
The paper boats reach they nowhere, maybe those of a child or about the building of castles in the air:
on rain streams
reaching nowhere (p.20)
The treatment meted out to the old men here is really a question before us. We may be advanced outwardly, but not really, as we have forgotten society, family and the sense of duty and responsibility:
sons in their
a mother begging (p.21)
The blind man going on the empty road guessing and sensing brings to our memory the poets, Surdas and Milton. But here the picture is about the loss and fall of vision:
on the empty road
searching his fallen eyes (p. 24)
The cobwebs of spiders, the running handlooms of spinning weavers and the wordy textures of the poets are the things of comprehension here. Everyone is but concerned with the bread which comes to not so easily:
the spiders weave
with silken threads
tomorrow’s bread? (p.24)
The girls with the painted smile is a picture of a call girl which is but a penetration of modern society and culture:
on her lips
a painted smile
a call girl? (p.28)
The prostitutes on Sunday roads shows it where have we gone to in exploiting and extracting this life and living of ours:
on a Sunday roads ….
people picking potatoes? (p. 28)
The poet hints towards a change of heart; his Christ is the thing of perusal:
on the cross
bleeding for nobody (p. 61)
The voice appeared so sweet, but the speaker was a scarecrow. The cuckoo though black but sings beautifully. The crow too may caw beautifully sometimes. Even music is therein harshest sounds and rhythms of speech. One should have just the ear to sonoriety:
that voice over the phone
was very sweet
a talking scarecrow? (p.62)
No scriptures work when the end comes. So, in utter disgust, he buried all that, the bone of contention:
I buried at last
all the scriptures
in that ultimate coffin (p.62)
None but the poet is a partaker of his own funeral which is but a good idea of seeing the people, how do they remember him, how does the wife weep for him and above all how do the villagers as gluttons relish upon five types of sweets as for blessing the bereaved soul and sending him to heaven:
when I attended
my own funeral
I laughed laughed laughed…. (p. 62)
As the coming trains, whistling, picking up, speeding, rattling and passing by vanish out of sight so do come the trains and trails of thoughts, ideas and images:
distant city crowds (p.63)
The diamond gift works marvellously:
is it my love
that did the miracle
or the diamond gift? (p.63)
His imagery can be marked here:
he closed his eyes
and saw her
a stale flower (p. 65)
What can death do to a man already dead and non-living? The below-mentioned can be taken into consideration:
when death knocked
he only smiled
he was not living (p. 65)
A lonely woman going her way in utter fear is the thing of discussion here. The lonely roadway and the lonely night-time keep frightening her:
a lonely woman
walking the night city roads
scared of the shadows (p.74)
The thieves too dream, but get mistaken in judging. The same thing in a figurative language of his own, the poet seeks to reveal to:
it was not gold
but a ray of yellow light
disappointed thief (p.74)
As a sympathizer of the have-nots, he can never side with any ism, be it Marx and his Marxism:
a factory worker
heedful of marx
an empty lunch box (p.106)
It is neither The Scholar Gipsy of Matthew Arnold nor The Virgin And The Gipsy of D.H.Lawrence, but the picturesque and wandering gypsies of Kabadi:
a wandering gypsy girl
for her memory garden (p. 107)
The tavern scene dances upon the mind’s eye:
tavern was full
with drunk jugs
winking wine-woman (p.121)
The picture of the poor but working woman is very humanistic and touching:
on a pavement
cooking for the entire world? (p.127)
Narenderpal Singh (1924 --) is a Punjabi novelist and poet writing poems in Punjabi and English who received the Sahitya Akademi Award from New Delhi for his novel Ba Mulahaza Hoshiar in 1976. A soldier, a diplomat, an administrator and an educationist, Col.Narenderpal Singh used to edit Byword a literary journal in English. A poet of beauty and love, wit and humour in good spirit, he regales and entertains with his thoughts and ideas. As he has himself worked in foreign embassies, so the European beauties can be seen representing his poetic personae here and there. A blonde saying Namaste India with the folded hands can be seen and viewed. A globe trotter he has toured and travelled many countries.
The poem, Blood Donor is a glaring example of his sense of wit and humour with a tinge of seriousness to be passed on to the reader, as it is a frequent sight in bigger cities and towns:
They donated blood for money
and so did he
to feed his wife and three kids
and to while away his own gnawing hunger.
Two blood banks
and the touts were good
the nurses too
fifty per cent for him
and the rest for them in different echelons.
the blood was only a faint red
and he fainted
and he died.
The touts, the intermediaries, the nurses
shared his fifty per cent too
“ He was a fine soul.”
“May God rest his soul in peace.”
“He took too long to die, however.”
“A bad example for others.”
(Narenderpal Singh, Crossroads, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1991, p.18, Rs.80/)
It is obviously a very serious point of discussion to be felt within with the readily available knowledge and wisdom, which but a thinking mind can only say about it. The poor blood donors donating their blood in exchange for a little bit offer of money and the blood banks patronizing them tell many an unsaid story, which but we do not know them.
This is our society where people take the works from and turn away. When the work is done, the same people cannot be seen moving around. Secondly, who can be more philanthropic than the blood donors? It is not easy to give blood. Their blood at least saves lives, but the takers remember it not in the passage of time when their purpose is served.
The poem Ganga Water tells about the use of wit, humour, irony, satire and reality, all fused into a simple poem like this Ganga Water:
Young Deepak’s temperature touched
a hundred and five Fahrenheit.
He was unconscious.
“Doctor!” “Help!” they all cried.
“Run and fetch Dr Mathur or Dr Amjad.”
The Brahmin next door, however, opined:
“Why not Ganga water, ignoramuses?
Run to Pandit Shiv Ram--
a bit far but cure is sure”
Another Brahmin said so too.
father, mother, son, daughter and the neighbours conferred,
and the father ran to Pandit Shiv Ram,
ran fast he did
past Dr Mathur’s and Dr Amjad’s clinics.
Shiv Ram was all attention,
listened to even the symptoms:
“This is a horrible disease,”he pronounced
“Needs special Ganga water,
Will cost you a little more,
Maybe more than the allopathic doctor’s fake medicines,
But, after all, it’s the son’s life or death!”
“Hare Krishna, Hare Ram,” the father cried.
Brought the Ganga water
Sprinkled it all over Deepak
All around the cot and then
Fed him sip by sip
Till young Deepak’s life
The poem, Ganga Water takes under the cudgels of its scanner the superstitious beliefs of the medievalistic people. The Ganga water is no doubt pure and crystal, but it should not be believed that it will cure it all. The sprinkling of water has the use of its own, but not in this way, as it has been shown.
Narenderpal Singh represented India at international conferences held in Dublin (1967), Geneva (1968), Berlin (1972), Paris (1978) and so on. He attended literary meets in Belgium, Turkey, Greece, Russia, Iraq, Hungary, Italy and Spain.
His expression is very cute and curt which can be noted in and marked hereunder the poem named Below Your Necklace, which has been translated from the Punjabi:
I never look below
Ecstasy itself is your face;
of this world and the worlds beyond
the epicenter of beauties hidden below
the unicentre of all glory in space
why must one look anywhere else?
Permit me this rapturous luxury
stars, like fireflies, glow around your face
I am content
I never look below
Certainly, my love is platonic.
And of course,
it suits you, Madam Whoever-you-are.
( Narenderpal Singh, Zero Hour, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1986, p.32, Rs.60/)
The foreigner girl often speaks out in his poetry. Natasha the interpreter’s face is sweeter than his poetry piece which he has put before for our reading. Instead of reading his poetry, one will like to see the face of the foreigner girl; the beauty of the outlandish blonde.
We do not know as what to call them, major or minor poets. It is up to the critics to judge and say. As a layman, I have just read them. Now the critic may preclude or omit them.
T.V.Reddy is basically a poet of the eighties if we determine it on the basis of his poetic arrivals and adventures materializing in the form of book-publication. A poet from Mittapalem village, Narasingapuram post-office, under Chandragiri sub-division of Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, he has been trekking his way into the shaky domains of English poetry in India. One of the village set-up and mentality, he is in utter sympathy with the folks of his undstanding. God made the country and man made made the town is the thing of his poetic reckoning and he dispenses all that keeping it in view.
Reddy is a poet of the ploughman, the bullock cartman, the fortune-teller, the false swamiji and the great Indian thug, doing the spade work at what it ails our society, trying to bring to light the tout and the broker, the middle man and the cheat. Societal concern forms the basis of his poetry.
To take to comically, Reddy is a poet of the towelled and turbaned Indian villager. Thomas Gray’s villagerly forefathers, ancestors lying in the churchyard is the thing of his deliberation, but Reddy should note it that all the villagers are not simple, all the poor not humble whatever be our sympathy going in their favour.
In his poetry, one may find the villagers yoking the oxen as for to plough, the reapers cutting and harvesting the crops, sifting, thrashing, irrigating, planting and taking to home from the farmlands. The tired ploughman’s story, who tries to listen it? A farmer’s crops drying as for the scanty rainfall, who likes to give an ear to? The oxen, yokes, bullock-carts and the vilalges are the parts of his poetry.
Sometimes his poetry appears to be imitave, derivative and copious as the echoes of the English poets can be heard. William Cowper and Oliver Goldsmith’s influence is quite apparent on him. Wordsworth’s The Solitary Reaper and The Rainbow, Shelley’s The Cloud, Tennyson’s The Brook and In Memoriam and Nissim Ezekiel’s Night of The Scorpion seem to cast their shadows before. The Balmy smile, Sweet Scar, To Love, Dreams, The Spark Of Being, Life Is A Desert, The Sparrow, Penance For Cow, The East, My Own Shadow, Gray Hair, At The Cross, Road, Patience, Potent Drop, Civilization, Futility, When Grief Rains, A Pinch of Faith, etc. are the poems of When Grief Rains collection of poems.
In Reddy’s poetry, grief rains it, broken rhythms of the lyre resound they, fleeting bubbles surface on and vanish away, melting moments take over man and the pensive memories haunt the reader. His is a vision of the requiem; an expression of the hurt heart. Despair is very crucial to the understanding of Reddy as a poet. Had he been a fatalist together with, it could have achieved a dimesion, but the lone existence of despair does not make his verse so powerful to be endowed with a vigour of own.
The Sparrow as a small poem from When The Grief Rains collection may be cited as an example:
It picked in zeal
the veins of a leaf,
wove a nest
with its beak
to hatch the eggs.
The ominous crow
invaded the grassy womb and
the lone sparrow fled
away from the vacuous nest.
A flutter of wings:
the sky squawked in requiem.
(T.Vasudeva Reddy, When Grief Rains, Samkaleen Prakashan, New Delhi, Delhi, p.15, 1982, Rs.15)
Thousand Pillars is in reality a poem demonstrating the grandeur of our archaeological, historical and mythical past when we built grand temples, hewn and chiseled out of the larger chunks or blocks of rtones and rocks:
They cry in mute agony
with their limbs multilated;
the sight sores the welled eyes
and pierces the chilled spine
with thousand swords
The inspired sculptors
who chiselled delicate figures
and breathed life into the rock
decayed into dust ages ago;
the potent royal patrons
fell into oblivion in disgrace
still the pillars outlive the pillage
and cast a pensive spell
with their intricate patterns;
the beheaded heads gnaw our hearts,
The distant madanikas in varied poses
enchant the eye and enslave the soul;
The speak of every tiny wreck
is an indelible blot on humanity;
the negation of any noble creed;
While divinty throbs the stone
the ruins preach the self- same gospel.
(T.Vasudeva Reddy, The Broken Rhythms, Poets Press India: Madras, 1987, p.1, Rs.15)
The famous temple near Warangal (in A.P.) constructed by the Kakatiya kings in 12 century .A.D., but destroyed in early 14 century by the army of Alauddin Khilji is the thing of narration here. The madanikas refer to the ravising sculpture in the Ramappa Temple constructed by the Kakatiya kings in 1213 A.D. (situated at a distance of 70 k.ms. from Warangal).
The Village Girl is a beautiful poem from the pen of T.V. Reddy which reminds us of the style of the modern Hindi poets such as Suryakanta Tripathy ‘Nirala’ and Jayshankar Prasad:
sinking into dusk
a girl in pale brown
came to the stream
and gracefully filled her pot
with brownish water
Keeping the pot balanced at her waist’s curve
she balanced her lonely way
and carried the dusk away
but her melting shadow
lingered long in my mind’s stream
( T.Vasudeva Reddy, Melting Moments, Poets Press India: Madras, 1994, p. 16, Rs.15)
An interpretation, carrying the discussion forward for criticism sake
Those who do not know the history of Indian English poetry also pose to be the critics of such an evolving genre of literature, but the reality is this that Indian English poetry is far from evaluation. The absent authority has failed to collage the scattered pamphlets and tidbits of it lying unattended. A few of the poets have been canonized whereas many have been left behind. As a reader straining towards it, I do not know it myself what have I written so far. Many ask me tauntingly as for calling them poets. If thus can be their prejudice, what more to say to? Writers Workshop, Calcutta which has brought out so many commoners as poets and poetesses is an evidence of that unexhausted list of poets. Even Ruskin Bond, Karan Singh, M.K.Kaw, are the poets. Instead of debating the things, I would like to go the poets directly, quoting and deriving from the texts and if there lies in some worth, you read them otherwise discard and shun them out. One should keep it mind that R.R.Menon too is not so small as we think about and he has more than ten volumes of poems and many of these have appeared from Writers Workshop.
Dwarakanath H.Kabadi (1936), who hails from Bangalore, is a bilingual poet writing in English and Kannada and has to his credit several volumes of poesy. A social thinker and a philosopher in his own right, he goes the way of his own, piping and playing, telling about the poor and the downtrodden, their drinking of tears, living in the pavement and shanty areas of poverty, hunger and malnutrition. The societal truths twitch him for an expression and he speaks through in an uninhibited way.
In the poem titled ‘Freedom’, the poet writes:
I abuse my flesh
Alone I roam around
Carrying the weight
Of my destiny
Imprisoned by the paths
I tease my ulcers
Smoke my lungs
Prick my piles
Don’t question me
I am possessed
Bread and butter
Work and torture
(Dwarakanath H.Kabadi, A Tear On A Pancake, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1995, p.78, Rs.100/)
The poem ‘Isms’ can be quoted in full:
On a dead body
In a living heart
Still a seed
In a dry land
( Ibid, p.17 )
Kulwant Singh Gill is without any doubt a poet of considerable merit and commendable literary achievement, verve and warmth if one really wants to search and seek for as to add to critical dimension in a very constructive way. His vision and spectrum lie they in his use of symbolical depth and imagistic portals presented through his free-flowing stanzas of poetry which the journal editors are almost silent about. But in the Tribune he has got coverage. A retired professor from Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, Punjab, he has worked on Aldous Huxley for researches.
‘To Naina Devi’ as a poem can be quoted from his collection of poems, Beyond The Spectrum:
Starry-eyed Sati, Uma reincarnate—
Solitary, steadfast, serene,
Like the peerless pole-star,
Engaged in wormy strife
On the stormy seas of transient life.
Up they come
Singing in chorus
Hymns to your pious praise
Seeking haven at your ever-open gate
From the tumult of tiresome fate.
They descend the concentric steps
To their desire-stricken, burning hell
Thirsting and pining
Crying and laughing
Like insatiated spirits
Under the necromancer’s spell.
In the dark, tender night
When the cool, western wind
Caresses your white abode
And the crescent moon
Looks like love-lorn Mahadeva
Gazing fondly at your supernal face,
The mortals look up
And feel assured
That all is not lost,
That devotion is still the way to grace.
(Kulwant Singh Gill, Beyond The Spectrum, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1990, p.58, Rs.50/)
The title poem ‘Beyond The Spectrum’ has a message of its own to carry it on, pertaining to eternal truth and its disposal; how to see it in the prism of light, as the joy crystal clear. The other poems too are similar in clarity of thought and refection:
Five portals of joy and pain
Are prisms fine and fair
That refract the ray eternal
To create a world of beauty rare.
Beyond the spectrum
Wondrous, beautiful and bright
There abides truth eternal,
The pure, heavenly light.
Fly away from sensuos snare
To realm celestial
For joy eternal and triune peace
From this vale of desire and despair.
‘Enigma’ as a poem consists of three stanzas:
As you glided past me
the waft of perfume
stirred my senses
and shook my soul.
You limpid,lustrous, love-lorn eyes
battered the citadel
of my ascetic defence
and vouchsafed a vision
of joyous-pain immense.
Was it your beauty
or my ego inflate
that made you a fairy
in the book of my fate?
(Kulwant Singh Gill, Scattered Beads, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1989, p.28, Rs.60)
‘ The Passionate Pilgrim’ is no doubt a representative poem of Gill:
When the unbilical cord
He didn’t cry.
A stern shake,
He opened his eyes
And strangely smiled.
As a child
To his mother’s succulent breasts
With passionate zest
To make them dry.
As a young man
To his woman
And died many a death
To forget forlornness
In her passionate cry.
As he grew old
He clung to the rosary and the book,
Looked at stellar spaces
And icons of the meditating Buddha
The dancing Shiva
With passionate zeal
To cling to the Most High.
(Kulwant Singh Gill, Passionate Pilgrim, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1994, p.47, Rs.100/)
It is very difficult to say whom the journal editor will prop up, whom will he leave behind and dump elsewhere? The exchange journals generally go after their own ends and they reciprocate praises instead of being unprejudiced and unbiased. A bit of selfishness too can be seen into and marked. They keep in mind memberships, circulation and subscriptions. Mainly the readers can be found as subscribers and paper-senders and the editors become pleased if the papers cover up their poetry. Many of the editors want praises from their subscriber-readers. Many of the university heads and professors try to oblige the editors after making their poetry the topics of research dissertations. The students of the small poets as heads of university departments of English too have turned into critics and poets after calling themselves the loyal disciples and it happens in life as no one is above bias and prejudice.
Accept it or not, Indian English poetry is a study in self-styled poets as most of the books have come from the personal presses. Even Aurobindo’s Savitri too has. P.Lal’s books of poems too are from his own publication house. In the beginning, the British period time, classic-read critics used to hesitate in reading the modern Indian English poets who were almost wayless before the modern language poets. They used to frown, nag and brag in going through the pages of modern Indian English poets, whatever call you now-a-days. If we take Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Jayshankar Prasad, Suryakanta Tripathy ‘Nirala’, Maithili Sharan Gupta and Mahadevi Verma from modern Hindi poetry, we do not know if any one of the Indian English poets and poetesses will stand before. There is very much of an evolving literature in it. It has the potential, but still in the way of making. There are so many things to make and unmake.
Indian English poetry is basically a genre of one book collections and a handful of poems authored to have claim over authorship as English is but a second language and they are but alien speakers of it, not at all conversant with the idiosyncracies and nuances of the language used by the native speakers of it. The age too had not been in favour of many a talent who definitely wrote privately, but dared not publish the notebook jottings. The modern poets and poetesses of today too had not been so then as we see them today. They had just one or two books on the anvil; they were still attempting to substantiate or were not sure of their literary presence. R.Parthasarathy’s Rough Passage and Kolatkar’s Jejuri are clear examples. Sahitya Akademi and Padma Shri awards too have improved their weightage. Had they been not awarded, had they been not brought out by Longman, Macmillan or Oxford Univ. Press, had the U.G.C. not pressurized as for their inclusion in college syllabus and Ph.D. registration, we would not have at least the Indian English poets or poetesses, be they Tagore, Aurobindo or Sarojini.
Marking the virgin field of literature, many just come to make a name into the realms of it to crowd and cram the pages of it. Quantitavely it is voluminous, but qualitatively it is slender and thin. Indian English poetry is a poetry of the rhymers, poetasters, non-poets and commoners. Here the common people are poets, yet to be entered into the nondescript domain of it. A crowd of so many names, anonymous and traceless stands in to be lost among them.
Indian English poetry criticism is a poem-by-poem interpretation and a summary of them; a one poetry-book Ph.D. matter. Where will one find the classics? Can one show them? People have submitted Ph.D. theses on Tagore’s Gitanjali. Even now it is very difficult to get a copy of these two books. Just in flashes one can see them excerpted in the anthologies of poems. Indian English poetry is a study in photocopies. Procure the books somhow from the authors of books and get them copied and it si the best way of reading Indian English poetry.
The no-man writers of the no-man critics is the case with Indian English poetry and its criticism; a study in novices. Nobody trying to assess and evaluate the poetry of somebody, how can it be? All are but new, the poets and the critics. If the poet somebody, the critic is but definitely nobody. The ragged man critic cannot take it far away. The students of the poet or editor professors can not do justice with it. The result will be the teacher will write the thesis and the student will get it published in his name.
Many of the poets have got the critics and many have not. How to manage the private publications, is a problem no doubt?
The hon’ble editors themselves, Rajender Krishan and Aparna Chatterjee have judged it kindly before giving a go ahead signal and the reader just like Hitler or Politburo member is saying, do not publish, it is unauthentic, promotional. In this age, who is not a promoter? If the poets are not great, why not to take them as minor ones? Long ago, Alexander Pope wrote down, A little learning is a dangerous thing, to mean many a thing. Scholarship tests patience and sobriety before passing on adverse statements which I am ready to hear, but flatten me not, nor my posts, hoardings and billboards, if cannot flatter. Clean bowled, stumps broken, bells scattered and I am returning back to pavilion with the bat!
The poems of the moderns in the initial stage used to appear in the Illustrated Weekly of India as the then time editor C.R.Mandy tried to give a breakthrough to the new verses written by the Indians, but he felt dismayed and annoyed with the quality of the bad verses submitted for publication. At that time there had not been any taker or buyer of Indian English poetry in such a plenty as see we it today. Even when K.R.Srinivasa Iyengar used to go to the Univ. of Leeds as for visiting professorship assignments, there the colleagues used to joke if the writers were the creations of his, as he himself too admits it in his critical study.
To quote Dr.K.R.Srinivasa Iyengar from his Preface to Second Edition, 1972,
“It is now a pleasure and a duty to thank the many writers whom I have quoted, sometimes on a liberal scale, in the course of the book; in a pioneering survey like mine, this has become necessary. The usual complaint I hear is that many of the books mentioned .by me are not easily accessible. Professor William Walsh of the University of Leeds once jocularly asked me whether I had not actually invented many of my authors!”
(K.R.Srinivasa Iyengar, Indian Writing In English, Sterling Publishers Private Limited, New Delhi , Reprint 1993, p.xii)
To show it again,
“We may now turn to the post-1947 period. For over a century, some verse in English has been appearing in Indian journals and verse collections too had been coming out in a steady, if thin, trickle. But when C.R.Mandy became the editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India in 1947 and decided to publish some verse also in that widely circulated magazine, Indo-Anglian poetry suddenly acquired a new currency and even respectability. One gradually grew familiar with the names of Nissim Ezekiel, P.Lal, Dom Moraes, K.Raghavendra Rao, R.L.Bartholomew, Leo Fredricks, Mary Erulkar, A.K. Ramanujan, V.D. Trivadi, Leela Dharmaraj, and a few others. Shaun Mandy wrote to me in 1958 (the year before he relinquished the editorship of the Illustrated Weekly) that, although much of what he received was utterly without merit and his mind had definitely eroded by reading masses of such bad verse, still some of his discoveries had definitely made good, and there was “always a chance of finding a genius round the corner.” ”
“The ‘new poets’ are a post-independence phenomenon, no more than a distinctive trickle during the fifties in the pages of the Illustrated Weekly, then a stream during the sixties, and now almost a flood. In a recent interview, on being told that there are 300 poets in India writing in English, A.K.Ramanujan is reported to have said: “ I say good luck to them. Three hundred is not a large number for such a large country” (Humanities Review, Jan.- June 1981, p.12). No doubt, by American standards (Ramanujan himself has lived in Chicago for 20 years ), 300 is but a pitiful number. Five years ago, it was estimated by Kenneth Lamott that some 500,000 Americans wrote poetry. This may very well be true, for over 500 ‘poets’ are represented in New Voices in American Poetry—1980 (Vintage Press).”
Even in Advanced Literary Essays (Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, 1961) by Prof.J.N.Mundra and Prof.C.L.Sahni and Quintessence of Literary Essays by W.R.Goodman (Doaba House, New Delhi 1968), we do not find the names of Nissim, Kamala, Jayanta, Ramanujan and Daruwalla. In Mundra’s book, one can see the names of B.Rajan, Krishan Shungloo, Subho Tagore, Sudhindranath Dutt, V.N.Bhushan, Cyril Modak, Nilima Devi and Adi K. Sett as new poets.
In the anthology of poetry, The Golden Treasury of Indo-Anglian Poetry, published from Sahitya Akademi in 1970, Prof. V.K.Gokak presents the poems on a broader plane rather than specifying the traits of modernism typically.
Prof G.S.Balalrama Gupta himself edited an anthology of critical papers on the wit and humour-laden poetry of P.K.Joy, published from Gulbarga. Dr.Norman Simms from Waikato, Hamilton too is one of the contributors whose opinions we see on the poet under our discussion. A monograph for a postgraduate degree has been done on the poetry of Dwarakanath H.Kabadi from CIEFL, Hyderabad. Prof Jagdish Chander’s friendly preface to Hazara Singh’s poetry-collection Aspirations, V.K.Gokak’s foreword to D.H.Kabadi’s Lamps of Hope, Nissim Ezekiel’s foreword to T.V.Reddy’s Pensive Memories and Shiv K. Kumar’s foreword to P.V.Dhamija’s Cracks In The Wall have also something to say as for courtesy’s sake and delicacy. To make the dead authors, a few of them, friends of benefit is not at all good, never a healthy sign for ever evolving literature.
Jayanta Mahapatra’s Waiting, Keshav Malik’s Under Pressure and Sarbeswar Samal’s My India And Universe have come out from the same small press named Samkaleen Prakashan, Paharganj, New Delhi.
The foreword by Prof C. Brian Cox, University of Manchester to Maha Nanda Sharma’s Flowers And Buds, published in 1984, I just see it even now, not to call him a big poet, why not a small one :
“Dr. Sharma has written five splendid long poems, “Fire and Light”, “Shock and Peace”, “Dawn”, “Night and Morning” and “The Test Divine”. The detailed accounts of characters and scenery give richness to the narrative. There are many striking lines. Based upon Hindu mythology, the poems state a forceful moral in language easily available to people of different backgrounds. There is freshness and verve, and all the poems are a pleasure to read.” ”
(Ashutosh Prakashan, Meerut, 1984)
Prof John Jones, Professor of Poetry in the University of Oxford, in his response to his letter with the poetry-book Delightful World of Poems, wrote to Simanchal Patnaik, who is now no more in this world:
“Let me say how much pleasure I gained from this insight into India and the State of Orissa and the felicitous expression which distinguishes many of your poems.”
(Simanchal Patnaik, Sonnets & Other Poems, Sarala, Berhampur, Orissa, 1989, p.79)
It is not my business to decide who is a major poet and who a minor, who a stalwart and who a doyen. If you do not want to read them, delete and discard them.
Prof. K.S.Ramamurti in his critical study named Twenty-five Indian Poets in English:
"O.P.Bhatnagar’s poetry published in four volumes Thought Poems, Feeling Fossils, Angels of Retreat and Oneiric Visions covers a wide range of themes and modes of perception and expression appropriate to each theme. One finds in his poems a Wordsworthian love of nature and a Wordsworthian vision too as occasionally for instance, in his poem “Scaling Heights” written on Nanda Devi, daughter of Dr. Willis Unsoeld.
Nanda Devi who has grown twenty years in grace and snow is betrayed by the treacherous heights in her brave expedition and is killed midway. Leaving her aged father in eternal grief,
She now lives buried bold
In the bosom of the peak
smiling at Wordsworth from her grave
Restraining philosophy to
Elbowing Hilary to distant shades.
Bhatnagar shows too in many of his poems that social awareness, that concern for the suffering humanity and that sensitivity to the ills of our age and civilization which would make him acceptable to the new poets. Sometimes he is very cynical and writes with a sardonic chuckle but deep down in his poetry one does find a deeper search for the purpose and meaning of life.
Bhatnagar is however much closer to the moderns when he writes lines like,
Death in modern times
Leaves man more naked
(Thought Poems, p.11)
He strikes us as a link between the older generation of poets and the modern.”
(K.S.Ramamurti, Twenty-five Indian Poets in English, Macmillan, Delhi, Reprinted 1996, p.65)
Your reply and justifications have proved my point. The people whom you select are not all mention-worthy even . Who did M.Phil on whom that is not the criterion for judging a poet's standard. I was talking about the title you have chosen for your article. Indian English Poetry. Are they representatives of Indian English poetry? If you are an academician, then you may know it better than I know them.thanks for reply. But I have no malice, only a query why you did not mention others when you mention even poets like Pronob Kumar Majumdar and Hazara Singh, Badeb Mirza or Suresh Ch Dwibedi. etc. Are they the only poets mention - worthy you feel? You tell sir. Certainly I did not raise questions about your scholarship , or academic ability, or your oiling (you used the term about yourself) tendency for personal gains. No need to give your CV here which is another publicity gimmick , not much impressive though. Nor did I question about the canonical writers.. Some anthologies you mentioned did not at all accommodate the shallow poets whom you mentioned while you did not mention many who are very much there.
All about the stalwarts I shall deal with them in another paper of mine, the great moderns, call you. Who does not know Nissim Ezekiel, Jayanta Mahapatra, Purshottam Lal, Keki N.Daruwalla, Dilip Chitre, Arun Kolatkar, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Adil Jussawalla, Pritish Nandy, A.K.Ramamnujan,R.Parthasarathy, Gieve Patel, Shiv K. Kumar, Kamala Das, Keshav Malik, Agha Shahid Ali and others? One should also know it that R.R.Menon, Simanchal Patnaik, O.P.Bhatnagar and Maha Nanda Sharma are no more. Ph.D. theses have done on O.P.Bhatnagar, I.H.Rizvi and Maha Nanda Sharma. One M.Phil. thesis has been submitted on Hazara Singh while another on Pronab Kumar Majumder. Near about ten volumes of poems of R.R.Menon, a retired IAS, have come out from Writers’ Workshop, Calcutta. D.H.Kabadi, Kulwant Singh Gill, P.C.Katoch and R.K.Singh’s books of poems too have come out from the same publishing house. I.H.Rizvi and Sarbeswar Samal’s books of poems have appeared from Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly. Some of these poets have been discussed in brief and in outlines in R.Gupta’s Popular Master Guide UGC NET/SLET English Literature Paper II and III edited by H.S.Bhatia, but published by Ramesh Publishing House, New Delhi. K.D.Katrak and G.S.Sharat Chandra too are good poets, but they have not been given a coverage. K.N.Sharma’s book of poems has appeared from Minerva Press and Romen Basu’s from Sterling Publication. What more do we know about Lawrence Bantleman and R. de L.Furtado? You say it to me.
In his Kabadi’s Glimmericks (1994), Dwarakanath H. Kabadi claims to have invented a new form of comic verse, which he calls ‘Glimmericks’. Obviously a variation on the good old Limerick, it contains six lines with an aa, bb, cc thyme scheme. But in what essential respects this form differs from the traditional Limerick is not known.
---Prof. M.K.Naik in Indian English Poetry from the beginnings upto 2000, Pencraft International, Delhi-110052, 20009 , pp.137-8
Another academic, O.P.Bhatnagar, has made an anthology of Indo-English Poetry for Commonwealth Quarterly, and his own work is collected in Poems, Angels of Retreat and Oneiric Visions (1980)
---Prof K R Srinavas Iyengar in Indian Writing In English, Sterling Publishers Private limited, New Delhi , Reprint 1993, p. 720
K.V.S.Murti's books, such as The Allegory of Eternity, 1975 and Symphony of Discords, 1977 lie in mentioned in the same book of Iyengar.
As a researcher of Indian English poetry, I have been workign in such a field since 1986. My poems too have appeared in Debonair 1989 April with the comments of Adil Jussawalla. Even Nissim Ezekiel, Dilip Chitre, Narenderpal Singh, Keki N. Daruwalla, Jayanta Mahapatra and some others' personal lettersd are with me and I can show them to anyone whoever seeks for.
Bijay Kant Dubey, M.A. (English, Political Science & History), Ph.D., D.Litt. on Indian English Poetry (Unsuccessful as for doing independently, without a guide and the reports too varied).
Without knowing the whole genre of contemporary Indian English poetry, one need not comment in such a way. Such an opinion I do not expect from my knowledgeable reader. If they want to know the things, I may prove it. Actually, the known things are clear to each of us. Do they want me to cringe and stoop to conquer? I comment upon and criticize in my own way. I do not polish and oil.
Bijay Kant Dubey
The writer wants to highlight some of his personal acquaintances.. but not a real picture of Indian English poetry. Some names of contemporary poets he has mentioned, only to please some of his friends who tried hands in poetry. He does not mention the stalwarts of Indian English poetry of the present time. Such a shallow piece on Indian English poetry will only misguide people. Please don't publish this kind of unauthentic articles in Boloji.com. This is not a Advertising place for personal promotion and and promotion of friends at the cost of Real Indian English poets of present time