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Manhood, Grasshood and Birdhood
|by Rob Harle|
Manhood, Grasshood and Birdhood
Aju Mukhopadhyay is an astute observer of the way those in power and control (bankers, developers and politicians) influence the natural world, generally to its detriment. He is also a very keen observer of nature herself together with the numerous creatures she supports including tiny insects, plants, giant animals and of course human beings. This is reflected in the rather unusual title Manhood, Grasshood and Birdhood.
Man's life is not
Many poems have wonderful imagery and use of metaphor, for example in The Past (p. 33)
dust flows and gathers like time
Many of Aju's poems are concerned with the big issues of environmental and life destruction such as the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and then the nuclear disasters of Chernobyl and Fukushima. He sees “nuclear” as an evil force (p. 23), with no match in previous history. These poems are in quite stark contrast with some of his shorter poems such as Mili. (p. 38) This wonderful, gentle poem comments on the timeless and inevitable transition from innocent childhood to adulthood. I found this poem very moving and the line, “forgetting her lollipop days” captures perfectly the passage from the carefree innocence of childhood to the responsibilities of adult life. Here's the bitter-sweet poem in its entirety.
School bag tied to her back
Again in The Fallen House (p. 42) Aju comments on growing up - here he uses the emotive affect of colour with wonderful imagery to help the reader visualise the beautiful home he grew up in, which at the end of the poem has become a deserted run-down place with no heart and “dismal walls gray and dull”. Here's the first verse:
I was in my prime youth when I left the house
Aju like most serious poets contemplates the big questions and ponders the nature of existence. A friend once remarked “great poets are seers not only concerned with their personal petty concerns” Aju's poetry certainly fulfils this criterion, especially in his perception of time. In the poem Invisible Companion (p. 48) he struggles with nature of time using white lotuses as a motif, a few lines:
umpteen white lotuses
In the next section Dwelling In Nature we find lovingly crafted poems celebrating the magnificence of Spring; the journey from night to day; the greed of mindless humans stealing turtle eggs and killing the turtles for food; and the destruction of native habitat. In Spring of Life (p. 52), Aju celebrates the joy all people feel with the emergence of Spring and new birth:
spring draws close to heart
The last poem in this section The Grasshood (p. 63) celebrates the humble, but incredibly resilient nature of grass. Grass is a very much misunderstood plant with a huge variety including wheat and bamboo, as such it feeds everything from mice to men to elephants, “but happy grass never dies/living humbly with the head high.”
The final section of the book Birdhood: Bird's' Lifestyles has its own index, black & white illustrations, and concentrates exclusively on the activities and the lives of birds. Aju is an astute observer of these wonderful creatures and expresses these observations in very brief, precise three to five line poems. These poems are like little spiritual insights, similar to those of traditional Haiku, one can imagine the poet having brief moments of Satori in his field excursions from these poems. Demoiselle Cranes (p. 85)
This volume of poetry will make an important addition to the libraries of all lovers of fine verse, and for those who need some reassurance that the natural world with all its inhabitants needs careful and immediate nurturing.
The final poem Red-wattled Lapwing (Sleep) (p.88) in this unique collection of insightful and thought provoking poems is simply a treasure. Much has been written about what a poet's job is, perhaps this poem helps us understand one important aspect of that job, “to save the sky from falling.”
on its back, legs upward
‘Manhood, Grasshood and Birdhood’ is available, outside India, by contacting the publisher by email and requesting price including postage to Australia.
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P C KATOCH
06/30/2014 23:26 PM
06/30/2014 14:00 PM
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