This Book Review is written by Ejaz Rahim from Karachi
Devi Nangrani's book of poems in English is not simply a monologue of the feeling heart, but a dialogue between the heart and mind as well as between body and soul. All these are aspects of the "inner self" which lies at the core of her poetic genius.
Devi Nangrani's poetry is pre-eminently spiritual where spirituality does not imply an escape from the world into an ethereal domain in which matter is relegated as unworthy or unimportant. On the other hand, the need to bridge the gaps between the real and the ideal is the contemporary challenge of art reflected in her poetry. For her, the heart symbolizes the integrative spiritual reality that can both transform the material world and place it in sync with the divine, opening the doors of possibilities.
I find this quintessential striving for integration best expressed in the poem entitled “It Does Matter” The poem reflects the tension between matter and life which is overcome by becoming aware of a deepened relationship between the seemingly diverse domains:
Matter is in me, it is in you.
It is the core of all
That is living and non-living
When matter hits matter
It is the living that are hurt
Intellectual awareness of spirituality belongs more to the sphere of ethics and philosophy. In Devi Nangrani's book, the experience of achieving that spirituality lies at the "heart" of her poetry.
In an age torn by external strife, stone-heartedness and petty-mindedness, her poems echo intimations of love, compassion and an ingrained respect for human beings.
In most of her poems emerge the theme of the "heart" as the most authentic wellspring of human life. In fact, poetry itself finds its source in the fountain-springs of the heart. Indeed, the heart is the source of spirituality. It is not merely a source of spontaneous words but a place where thoughts germinate as well. These feelings and thoughts provide a guiding light to us of abiding value.
A thought of great 'pith and moment' in her poetry is her belief in the significance of the self which is rooted in the heart. The "journey" she undertakes is one of exploring the divine dimensions of the human self. The relationship evolved between the human and the divine aspects of reality becomes a pathway for individual as well as social excellence. She forges a bridge between Life, Nature, Self and God through her integrative vision. Eastern poetry is full of examples of such integration. But what makes a poet unique is the individual balance achieved between intellect and intuition in the great melting-pot of personal experience.
The tone of verse in Devi Nangrani's poetry enhances the underlying sense of spirituality which is her hallmark. She employs similes and metaphors skillfully to further that tone of voice. I wish to recapitulate some of these to illustrate how words and thoughts blend to reinforce the spiritual aspects of her poetry.
My thoughts dance in tune
With the melody of my heartbeat. (The Music of My Heart)
You look beyond with eyes of faith
You recover from blindness that blinds. (Faith)
Life is a gift, a holy gift not for gambling
But for realization of God from within. (Life – a Holy Gift)
Love is a key that unlocks
The locked doors of the heart. (Life, Love, Liberty)
Tears from the eye of my spirit. (Adam and Eve)
And finally her view of poetry itself – a great integrative force, a binding power that conquers time:
Poetry is a gift of God
It is my friend for all times
In joy and sorrow
Today and tomorrow. (Ejaz Rahim, Karachi)