Mamta Agarwal is a leading poet of India to-day. Widely read and widely traveled she has made poetry her passion in life. ‘Poetry is my Sanctuary’. She admits, ‘to which I withdraw very quietly’. She has already been a published author of more than three, hundred, poems. Her three volumes of poetical work “Rhythms of Life” (2008), “Voices of Autumn” (2010) and the latest “The Untold Story of a Pebble” (2013) speak volumes for her as a poet. She writes with effortless ease. There is a spontaneity of expression and a remarkable felicity of language that marks her poetry.
Poetry comes to Mamta as naturally as leaves to a tree. In her poem ‘As the ink begins to run ……’ she defines poetry in her own way – ‘A sheaf of papers got swept with the breeze / like kites my poems took flight with ease (An untold Story of a Pebble). She never cultivates a style and no where she sounds artificial. Her thoughts come in a flash and she writes. Being a keen observer of life around and sensitive enough to sight and sound she is able to enrich her poetry by all that is small and beautiful. Grass flowers under the feet tickle her as much as a tiny black bird soaked to the rain. Nothing escapes her. The mighty eye and ear are at work together in making her poetry romantic.
Of all the subjects she deals in, nature seems to be special for her. “Nature has been and is my best friend and teacher from the time I was a child”. She say, “In all seasons and times I go into ecstasy and find healing in its lap”. Nature inspires her. It is always a thing of beauty and so a joy for ever. “Rain is giggling”, she writes, “like the carefree children / I too am humming” (Rain, Moods and Inner formation). She shows the divine ecstasy she feels about nature when “Dead can feel and speak” (Voices of Autumn). In her enjoyment of nature she never longs for an eternity of time, even a moment of bliss can send her to rapture. In ‘chasing a butterfly’ she writes, ‘I wish time would stand still / And that moment of bliss could last to an eternity….. But that is against law of nature / So I enjoy that moment of being’.
She loves all beauteous things like Robert Bridges, and identifies herself with them. In one of her poems she writes, “A tiny black bird came to nest at my door / It looked dishevelled as it was soaked in the skin / I felt she was in some way my kin’ (Capricious moods of nature). This sense of fraternity is seen in most of her nature poems where she partakes with varied moods of nature. When she looks at Bamboo (Bamboo) one can hear her say “I wish I could be like a Bamboo / Flexible and hollow, Sturdy and Strong / Able to withstand all kinds of storm’. Her own sacrificial nature is well expressed. Bamboo and the poet here are not two different entities. They are rather one stuck together by fraternity. The poet’s closeness to nature, her unfailing attachment and deep involvement is borne out of a religious instinct. ‘She does not of course spiritualize nature as did Wordsworth. “I have felt a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts ....... or a motion and a spirit that impels / All thinking things, and objects of all thought, and roll through all things”. Writes Wordsworth in Tintern Abbey. These are certainly great lines, immortal in their way and never to be forgotten. These lines although steeped with deep mysticism they lack a definition. Wordsworth no where said explicitly who’s the presence he felt. Is it God or something else ? Mamta Agrawal minces no word. Being an Indian there is nothing vague about her. In a poem called simply Grass .... She writes “Grass flowers always arrest my gaze / And I feel more than certain God is in small details”. Again in ‘A Lady bird in the Grass” she says - Dear God has eyes for details / Whether it’s a creature big or small. Another line can be quoted here from Capricious moods of nature’, where she says ..... Let my senses feast on the beauty around me / isn’t it sad we are too busy to see / That God is present everywhere / We just forget to stand and stare. Having said all this I would like to say that Mamta Agrawal’s poetry is however neither religious nor taken to any mystical height.
She is essentially a sensuous poet and like Keats, she is a worshipper of beauty. Most of her poems form a landscape of beauty that one cann’t escape from its spell. She makes merry of her senses when anything beautiful she finds around her. Poems like Magic of monsoons, Joy of seasons, full moon, April musings in Autumn, Long last, Indian Summer comes to an end, and a lot more give a taste of her sensuousness. Like Keats she loves the principle of beauty in all things. But unlike him she never lets melancholy take over her poems. “To think to be full of sorrow” (Ode to Nightingale) is totally alien to her poetry. She is a poet who enjoys the exuberance of life to the full. “Drunk on festive season, in good spirits / Drape with pride a rich Benares silk weave / Mix, match – stole shoes / bangles and some trinkets / O sharad, you dazzle with your Palette” (Autumnal, hues, silk waves, meandering feels). Even in a poem like Song of snow ranges she “went on my knees softly started to sing / A long cherished family anthem and hymn”. When she receives the first showers of monsoon she says “Droplets dripped on my uncovered head / seeped into my hair, roll down my neck”. In grass stands tall she gives no room to sorrow. Grass laughed and stood tall and animated.
Mamta Agrawal is a versatile artist. Her poetry is as wide as her thoughts. It is not on nature alone she makes her songs. But to remove nature from her poetry is like removing jewels from the crown. She is a poet of nature distinctly Indian in scent and sound. There is no melancholy brooding, no yearning for the classicists. Her poetry is sheer joy that fills the heart with sensation sweet. It breathes an air of sweet coNature in Mamta Agarwal’s Poetry