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The Trend & Tradition of Contemporary
Indian English Poetry
by Bijay Kant Dubey
He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint,
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation.
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education.
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have.
– The Unknown Citizen
(To JS/07/ M/ 378 This Marble Monument Is Erected by the State)
Contemporary Indian English poetry does not refer to the post-independence period of India merely, the evolving practitioners of the genre of literature growing then, striking of the roots, seeking approbation from the West, but to the novices about to hone in, practice and perfect to be called future masters, trend-makers or setters. Even though we call it contemporary Indian English poetry, it is not so, when did it exist a type of poetry reminding us like that of the English remnant? Did we ever speak English in our homes? We just kept distances as for being the different race and community irrespective caste, class, community and ism. Sometimes Brahminism, sometimes Aryan belief and adherences kept us far from, secluding from them, as for beef-taking and wine culture. The natives too appeared as untouchables as for their manner, way of life and living, culture, thought and tradition. The purdah system and rampant medievalism too wreaked havoc. The Brahmins too did commit a mistake in coming to terms with them. India too had been impregnable, exotic, vast and varied, full of dissimilarities, but one thing bonding them into a whole. Different regions had different regional languages and dialects which we failed to understand so easily, the north and the south were separated from and their languages of a different stock, but Sanskrit did it marvels in bringing about a compromise and reconciliation. The northeast had been exotic and tribal and hilly, wooded and dark, full of tribes, hence the forays were deep and difficult, but somehow that too was done.
When we talk of being contemporary, questions arise with regard to our being modern, modernistic, post-modern and contemporary. Had we been modern, modernistic, post-modern and up-to-date? Perhaps no, not is the answer. We had been too much conservative, orthodox and superstitious. Even if the city people of the urban space were, the bristling townsmen of some hectic activity, but not well-to-do and modern, frank, bold and daring.
But in course of time detaching ourselves with the Ramlila, Krishnalila and religious shows and performances, we turned to the radio, circus, orchestra, cinema, cycle, wrist watch, fashion and designing and the cemented housing which but also added to our life-style and thinking. We started meeting in the cinema halls stealthily cutting across societies and their taboos; we started talking about modern art of life and living, etiquette, good manners and polished language.
To talk of contemporary Indian English poetry is to discuss the arrival and entry of the poets and poetesses many of whom are self-proclaimed writers and authors. Who is not a self-published poet? P.Lal’s mediocre verses too have been published from Writers Workshop, Calcutta. It is true that he took money as for publishing the new poets and poetesses which were in Khushwant Singh’s eyes something like that of vanity publications. But Khushwant Singh too is mistaken as because he extols Vikram seth whose work too was rejected by the West and it saw the light of the day from P.Lal’s Writers Workshop, Calcutta. If this be the case, what more to say about?
Most of the modern established poets were then the unknown faces wanting to get a breakthrough. They wrote their first poems and got a place in the anthology as for friendship and shortage of writers. Just a writer of one anthology turned into a poet and this one can see in R.Parthasarathy. Rabindranath Tagore too got the prize for Gitanjali on the recommendation of William Butler Yeats and his friends and afterwards the others came in handy to add to and to strengthen his stature as a poet in English. The visit to England too occasioned it. Had his brother been not in England, he would not have and the things could have turned otherwise. Vivekananda too has written a few poems in English and this too forms a base of pre-independence time of Indian poetry in English as his is a thing of the Advaita Vedanta and a personality so known world-wide. Though he was not for poetry, he wrote a few off-handedly as the saints continue to be the singers of some sort and poetry breaks free from the heart of the wandering yogi. The path of sadhna is not at all easy to follow up; the recourse to it is tedious and tiresome, a long way to go.
There is too much competition in other languages where there are many aspiring to be poets, but in the tribal languages, one who writes will be definitely be a litterateur as there is a dearth of the writers in these oral, scriptless tongues and dialects. Similar is the case with Indian poetry in English. There is none who speaks it at all in his home or whose mother tongue is English. There is none to recognize the ones professing it. So, there was a problem in the past as for who would recognize the poets writing in English and the poets who chose to write in English were the small writers of verse indeed. We do not if the theses of Iyengar and Naik are publishable on British literature. It is difficult to write on purely English things as it is tougher to deal and dispense with the language and thinking in a novel way and there we are no doubt weak on the mother tongue point, relating to nuances, idiosyncrasies, syntax and vocabulary; British or American trend , type, tenor and tradition, as ours is Indian. Today most of the Ph.Ds. take up the Indian English literature. There are no critics from India whose critical theories have got the attention as much as the works of Lionel Trilling, Graham Hough, E.M.W.Tillyard, Stopford A.Brooke, A.C.Bradley, James Reeves, B.Ifor Evans and others have got.
The poets of the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and the last decade of the twentieth century are the spans of time to be taken into consideration. Actually, we never heard like that before. It is Jayanta Mahaptra’s Relationship from which the English poets of India started getting Sahitya Akademi awards for anything written in English. The Padma Shris and Vibhushans too have furthered the cause in some way. Though Ruskin Bond may be a good fictionist of repute, but he too is a poet of some type, big or small. An Anglo-Indian, he wants to recreate through, but has failed to recapture the rhythms of poetry in his slim collections. Karan Singh too has authored a few collections of poems. Krishna Srinivas too promoted Indian English poetry through his journal named Poet, published from Madras. Even the stray poems of A.C.Sahay, Niranjan Mishra, R.N.Sinha and others of the same group can be found in the issues of The Indian P.E.N. edited by Nissim Ezekiel, but he likes it not to assess and evaluate the small names.
Nissim Ezekiel, Jayanta Mahapatra, Purshottam Lal, Kamala Das, Keki N. Daruwalla, Dilip Chitre, Arun Kolatkar, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Adil Jussawalla, Pritish Nandy, A.K. amanujan, R. Parthasarathy, Gieve Patel, Shiv K. Kumar, Kamala Das, Keshav Malik, Agha Shahid Ali, etc. are the poets of the pre-independence period and they too are not the poets born, but have evolved in due course of time. They also came to light through self-publication and propaganda in the sense that P. Lal pedalled the things, did the propaganda through his Writers Workshop, Calcutta miscellany and credo. 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 Sharma, Amarendra Kumar, P.K. Joy, etc. are the poets of the contemporary times. While maintaining courtesy, the poets such as Nissim, Jayanta and Daruwalla have sent their poems to be included in small journals as per editorial request, but they take not their names in their volumes published with the acknowledgements.
There are the poets of different affiliations, some belong to the Bombay group, some to the Calcutta group and some to the Madras group and the critics from these places continue to back up while the rest of India remains untouched, out of the reach. The politics of poetry and the poets, only those who deal with it can tell about. Something also depends on name and fame. If one does not get the limelight in time, it may be difficult for one to continue with one’s creativity.
It is very difficult to judge here into the realm of Indian English poetry who is a major writer and who a minor poet as because the majors have evolved out of the list of the minors in this way or that way; none sure of that. There are no parameters to be judged upon; England’s English, the Indian native critics, are the things to be dispensed with. One may call with pride the name of Arun Kolatkar who too is not a famous poet, but has become, as there was a dearth of good poets. Dilip Chitre is a standard Marathi poet, but his poems are a few in English, but he is also an Indian English poet. Many have just changed over after their appearance in the anthology of P. Lal. Some have been made poets and some left behind. Now a few can say about Lawrence Bentleman.
We do not know if the so-called modern poets and poetesses describe the real India rather than being privately personal and self-centered. They weave the private myths individually and have nothing to do with reality, fact and fiction; societal truths and confrontations. They describe an India of plazas, pizzas and shopping malls; mutlit-complexes, city centers and parks; lives in flats, full of the gala and glitz which one just sees in the urban places. Urban space, townsman’s living, congested are, traffic jam, night party, birthday gift, song and dance are the things which engage them most. Late night parties, picnics, honeymoons, wedding bells, catwalks, fashion shows, gala events, parks, dating, love affairs, bouquets of flowers, Valentine’s Day, cyber cafes, mobile phone handsets, hobbies, tours, journeys, travels, hotels, restaurants, lodges, liquor brands, jogging, health and hazards and outings dot the speeches. Drug addiction, flesh trade, woman trafficking and others ail us poorly and we start seeing civilization in a poor light if all those continue to happen in our society.
If we take up the modern poets, we shall come to mark it that most of them are the poets who have come from not the mainstream of Indian thought, culture and tradition. Nissim Ezekiel is a Jew, Keki N. Daruwalla a Zoroastrian and Jayanta Mahapatra a Christian and so are Adil Jussawalla, Gieve Patel and K.D. Katrak, the same Zoroastrians. The other modern Indian English poets and poetesses too are not at all Indian from the ancient lore point of view as they interpret it not the rural India scattered on a vast secluded area, impregnable and inaccessible. They depict an India of towns, townships, cities, mega cities and metropolitan areas which remain full of, compact and congested. From a writer of lyrics, Pritish Nandy turned into a media baron and perhaps forgot poetry. Even Parthasarathy is a one poetry book author and this forms the basics of poetry. Instead of, they are differently Indian even though seeing with askance and skepticism. Indian English poetry lags behind in presenting India in its essence. Physical and natural descriptions can hardly be found in the smaller, thinner texts tendered to us from time to time. There had not been the readers of Indian English poetry, even of Aurobindo’s Savitri and Tagore’s Gitanjali. Just the people used to see them from the heritage point of view. Now the people are trying to read the texts as are prescribed from for textual readings in their courses of studies and also for that the teachers are searching Indian topics to finish their Ph.Ds., but there was a time when the British-classic read old-timers used to frown upon seeing them and used to consider those dissertations as third-rate stuff, purely Indian, not at all English. Kamala Das’ is a poetry of kaam-vaasana; sambhoga to samadhi which arouses sexual desires and dreams in a confessional way. As a poetess, she is Freudian and Lawrentian though she says she is very original, but is not, is erotic, carnal and sensual. Hers is an expression of the girl of the bazaar; a study in sex and sexual relations. There is very much of gay love and bonding; lesbianism in her. Man-woman relationships engage her most. To level the charges against her good husband and to prove him characterless is the job of Kamala. Actually, she behaves like a painted lady and hers is a painted love, artificial and mechanical and is media-savvy. Kamala is just like a character of D.H. Lawrence, a girl gone into hysterics and is abnormal too. Frankly speaking, she can go to any level as for getting name and fame. Obscenity, nudity, pornography, possessive love and blue reels are the chief properties to deal and dispense with.
Modern Indian Poetry in English is not a standard anthology of poems, just the loosely-published poets not, practitioners have been dragged along, the nondescript, nowhere writers have been included in by P. Lal, who was actually in search of talent-hunt or self-satisfaction. Lal too is not a big poet himself though he has got awards for his promotion and translation works. Most of the poets were then evolving or were nowhere. Their first poems too were included in as they had the accessibility, not to say of first books. Some of the blogs or blurbs speak of having one or two collections published or are on the anvil. At that time there were no takers of Indian English poetry as it is not even spoken in homes nor has it a feeder dialect of own. So, how could we suppose it to be Indian English! Many of the so-called established poets of today have just substantiated their positions after publishing a few and it was also a fact that they go their critics easily. Indian English poetry got an impetus when the UGC through its committees recommended it to prescribe in their courses of studies for B.A. and M.A. Even a bit ago there were no takers of Indian English poetry in West Bengal or Calcutta University. Only British, English or American classics used to have its sway over. The other thing is this that it is very poorer, weaker and unstable in theme and versification. Most of the practitioners appear to be copycats doing the catwalks. The other thing is this that it is very poorer, weaker and unstable in theme and versification. Most of the practitioners appear to be copycats doing the catwalks. The volume is puerile, childish and immature. Pritish Nandy had been then almost a young fellow to figure in. Similar had been the case with Meena Alexander who is perhaps in America.
The Search by Kamala Das may be quoted in full:
For changing into a crone, shoot me down.
For not making way for people, young, and
hungrier than I, shoot me dead. I am bold
But I own no gun; no license either.
My life lies unclaimed, like a sick dog’s lunch
gone cold, and congealed in a warped tin plate.
I know no hunger; the flavours of love
or even its wild fragrance no longer
attract. If I am consciousness, it’s
time to switch me off. The face of truth I have
neither recognized nor known. My days and
nights had all the airiness of a dream.
Was life a sweetmeat eaten in a dream?
Only my search seems real, only the search
is eternal. The walls within my mind
bear no moderns. Only a few gaudy
Calendar gods my dear grandmother once,
a long, long time ago, did introduce
to me. I am ordinary, I know
ordinariness spreads unbeknown, as
Grey in the hair and wrinkles on the skin.
(The Indian P.E.N., January-March 1993, 54th year of publication, Editor: Nissim Ezekiel, Associate Editors: Rameshchandra Sirkar, Persis Anklesari, Bombay, p.14)
When we too started reading Nissim’s Night of The Scorpion, Poverty Poems-2, Philosophy, Island, Woman And Child and Torso Of A Woman, Kamala’s An Introduction, The Freaks, Composition and The Old Playhouse, Lal’s A Leaf, Life, The Simplest Love and Not Dangerously, Perhaps, Ramanujan’s The Striders, Another View of Grace, Obituary, Breaded Fish and A Plant, Daruwalla’s Ruminations 1, The Ghaghra In Spate, Death of A Bird and The Professor Condoles, Kumar’s Indian Women, A Mango Vendor, Married Too Long, Insomnia and At A Psychedelic Art Exhibition, Parthasarathy’s Delhi and Homecoming, Jayanta’s Dawn at Puri, Again, One Day, Walking By The River, The Mountain, Snow In Iowa City and Fear of My Guilt, I Bid You Farewell and Pritish Nandy’s Speak What Is Darkness and Calcutta If You Must Exile Me for the first time in the Honours courses of studies in the eighties, we were speechless in going through the poems as we the students could not take the poem so heartily as these sounded like something never English. We had not heard about them before. Even the teachers were not in the know of these practitioners of verse through somehow one used to read them as a literary essay while doing M.A. When we started having a tryst with, we wondered if those were poetry pieces quite readable as because the qualities found in the poetry of Wyatt, Spenser, Milton, Shakespeare, Donne, Marvell, Herbert, Herrick, Traherne, Vaughan, Pope, Dryden, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Coleridge, Arnold, Tennyson, Swinburne, Hardy, Lawrence, Mare, Masefield, Davies, Eliot and Auden and Spender were rarely available in them. Now we have become accustomed to, so we like to go through the stray poems of Indian English poetry where the poets go missing, the volumes unavailable and forgotten. It is even difficult to procure the books by R.Parthasarathy. Even Jayanta’s Relationship too is not easily available, nor that of Parhasarathy’s Rough Passage. But what pains us most is this that some researchers as well as teachers go to meet Jayanta just for to be photographed with him and to post the interview on the internet.
A.Chittaranjan Sahay used to edit Kavita India from Muzzaffarpur has several volumes of poesy to stake a claim for being included in the history of contemporary literature. Smoke, Pure Smoke by A. Chittaranjan Sahay also figured in The Indian P.E.N. issue:
The rain came, and under
The cover of the clouds
The glum city breathed in
Not dust swept from the roads
But smoke, pure smoke.
Smoke of coal
Smoke of kerosene
Smoke of faggots
Smoke of saw-dust —
That within illiterate doors
Of rooms with no windows
Or trace of oxygen,
Created a scene of red watering eyes,
And of asthmatic
Ravi Nandan Sinha used to edit The Quest from Ranchi and has a few collections in his name to claim authorship. To A Child In A War-Torn City is definitely a fine poem from Ravi Nandan Sinha:
Were you dreaming of blue skies
And soft winds when your night
Was ripped into shreds
By metal shaped smooth like your toys?
Cuddled against the warm
Familiar form of your mother,
What were you thinking
When the eyeless missile deposited
Boiling light at your doorstep?
Forever will the scorched womb
Forever will sad eyes
Wait for you
To step out into the sun.
Stephen Gill who is an Indo-Canadian is a poet of peace, love and humanistic faith and this forms the basis of his poetry. Instead of being complex, he is very much simple, smooth and easy-going. Sometimes we doubt if this is poetry, but he says all that very powerfully. There is thought and idea in him; beauty of truth and goodness, which a few have said so plainly.
A few of the haikus from Stephen Gill’s collection, The Flowers of Thirst can be quoted as for our reading:
often I have tried to write,
Many more wounds exist
than love’s wound.
(The Flowers of Thirst, Stephen Gill, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, p.84)
a peep into Paradise
or a lake.
life a leafless tree;
love is the sap.
The rays of your dreams
sauntered into my yard;
joys danced again.
glow of the setting sun;
fresh spring dawn.
Snow flurries outside,
lyrics from your lips inside…
so such paradise!
spring reddens your lips;
wine-filled glasses before me.
Charu Sheel Singh who has Tapascharanam, Tapascharanam: Suka Deva Ki Pida, Songs of Life And Death, The Indian Hero, Creation Cocktail and others is a professor who teaches at Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith, Benares and is meditative enough. He meditates to put down on paper, purely meditational things of Indian philosophy. Creation Cocktail is one such book of verse from his hand which we can see after going it. The earth as a woman and a mother are the things of discussion here and so he has tried to describe endless and eternal creation. But the wits and conceits fuse they not well even though he tries his utmost best. The poet apart from drawing from Hindu thought and tradition, yoga and reflexion goes to the extent of using and applying in Buddhist philosophies. Syllogistic progression which it is found in Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress is available in him in a different way other than love and its ethics. The bindu, the dot, we mean the zero is the thing of his discussion; one which comes to after so much of dhyana-chintana (meditation-contemplation). But Charu lacks in lyrical flow and rhythmic incantation, sometimes turns to prosaic patterns and assimilations. To read him too much is to feel excess of everyhting is bad, too much of anything spoils it all.
We are happy to find it that Kabir’s ghats where Ramananda taught him indirectly just with a mere touch of his body and Aldous Huxley’s visits of the old religious town with an inquisitive heart have flourished in Charu Sheel Singh and he definitely feels enriched by these.
A few opening stanzas from the narrative poem can be put as for our citation and example:
Petrified silence grew
into directional depths of
hemispheres percolating the
being of an empty space.
There is a point of Destiny
at the Centre call’d
bindu that cuts across
the enveloping dark
of a weeping Earth
who is a woman too
waiting to be a mother.
The seven chariots
gyrate round the Diamond
Body of Buddha who is
the pneumbrial refulgence
of a terrestrial space.
The chariots carry the
iron-wheel of desire into
the secret coteries of
their masters’ primitive
The circumferential regions
get breaths of life out
of the bindu which in
turn magnifies and
grows in weight, proportion,
measure and depth into
the psychic zones of beings.
(Creation Cocktail, Charu Sheel Singh, Vishwajnana Adhyayan Sansthan, Varanasi, 1997, p.1)
I.K. Sharma had been a very small poet in the beginning, had just ones or twos as thinner, slick and slim collections of poesy, but has evolved with the gliding, sliding passage of time and has come of age after substantiating his position and stature which an Indian poet writing in English often does it so. Let us take Sharma’s Dharamsala and Other Poems and The Shifting Sand-Dunes. The former is of forty pages in total and the latter too is so, out of which a few are readable and a few not, which is but the side picture of Indian writing in English. Whatever be it our criticism of his, let us pick up a few poems for our perusal and study.
The last poem of the slim volume, 21st Century may be taken into consideration and it is a good poem indeed, with a lot of irony and reflection, fancy and crippling of imagination:
Clipping the wings of time
I leap into you, my dream girl!
my fingers are arching
to slide into your dressing gown,
they are burning
to touch your warm virgin milk,
my mouth is afire, longing
to plant kisses as many
as there are pores on my body,
I wish to turn you over and over
so we together make
a blue-eyed son.
The elderly voice however scares me
dreamgirls conceal snake near their breast;
it silently glides and hunts
the one who bends
to find his ambrosia there.
(Dharamsala And Other Poems, I.K. Sharma, Skylark Publications, Aligarh, 1993, p.44)
The second stanza contains in the elderly advice of restricting from being lapsed into, skign to resist temptation shown. The dreams were never own, nor will they be in future, so are the temptations of the 21st century envisaged by the revellers. I.K.Sharma is not a simple man, but is full of tricks which can dodge anyone. A poet ironical and critical, he flows and floats in his own style, which we can ourselves come to mark them.
The title poem, The Shifting Sand-Dunes may be quoted in full:
It was a clear night.
The moon was full,
the wind was gay and in high gear.
I was in the thick of the desert
The dunes that were dead an hour back
began to twitch and move
like nomads in search of new homes;
the whispering procession of sand
made its slow, cold, encroachment
upon the silent pits,
the resting cattle shuffled,
and the swirling sand sealed
their half-heard voices for ever
in their own familiar yard.
The game of making, unmaking pits
went through the night,
the wind had lost its morning tang
and the moon hung —
a poor husk of light.
(The Shifting Sand-Dunes, I.K. Sharma, Jaipur Publishing House, Jaipur, 1976, p.22)
A leader’s portrait lies herein, as sketched and drawn by Sharma for pour perusal. The small poem, The Leader interprets him the best as for how is he a magician of words, a skilled craftsman, sly and cunning:
He gave them a loud call
like a cock in a lane
announced on the air:
dawn is not far-off.
The early risers followed him
stumbled, and found:
he walks with his back towards them
hides the rising sun.
Death is a Siren is one of the poems included in Paradise Returned & Other Poems can be put as an example to present how the poet Kedar Nath Sharma uses and applies in wit, humour , irony and conceit to ridicule the metaphysics:
Death is a siren,
which sounds but is not heard.
I have lived the morning
I have delved in the night.
Between them both I have shelved the day
the peaceful or turbulent or resonant.
The journey has been vibrant
and meandering most.
Miry, dusty and pock marked
have been the ways;
I have trudged on
Graduating the milestones of death.
( Paradise Returned & Other Poems, Kedar Nath Sharma, Allied Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 2014, p.73)
Kedar Nath Sharma as a poet is pseudo-metaphysical; a conglomerate; a Jack of all trades, but master of none. The tittle poem Paradise Returned is a mockery of the Paradise Regained of John Milton.The poet wants to regain the paradise through rocket launchers and satellites. Perhaps some Alexander Pope is on the way of completing The Rape of The Lock, a mock-herroic poem. Similar is the case with Kedar Nath Sharma who is not at all Miltonic, but Popean here in this poem, just like the John Donne of The Sun Rising poem.
Vijay Vishal who actually hails from Amritsar, but has taught at Baijnath, Himachal Pradesh is a fine poet of polished irony and humour and this is his forte and flair for, rarely to be marked into the realms of Indian poesy in English. Both of his books, Speechless Messages and Parting Wish appeared from Writers Workshop, Calcutta. Here the poem has been reprinted from Speechless Messages in a new revised collection of poems and reviews jointly which he has scribbled not, but tagged together and has got in return for his creative writing, all those opinions, comments and reviews too have been included in a single format book, retitled so, as Creation and Evaluation, inclusive of both of these.
The poem, Cactus can be a fine example:
Pansy, marigold and rose,
No takers for their beauty
Cactus-collection is the rage,
Flowers are not in favour
Thorns prick the drawing-rooms!
As gifts of love
Exhibited with puff and pride,
Freezing all fine feelings.
Of modern mind,
(Creation and Evaluation, Dr. Vijay Vishal, Popular Book Depot, Jaipur, Second Revised Edition, 2014, p.61)
The pain of passing, parting hangs heavy on the heart of the poet and it breaks out in the form of lyrics of love, fulfilled and unfulfilled. Though he likes to take to irony and humour, but is a lover in essence.
The poem, Smile Eternalised from Parting Wish can be cited in:
Years and years back
You parted company
On the call of destiny
With a smile on your lips
Greeted death with grace.
That blooming face
Etched in my memory
Echoing a speechless message:
“Smile while alive
And smile out of life!”
(Ibid, p. 130)
H.S. Bhatia (1936-) who used to teach at A.S. College, Khanna, Punjab has authored a few collections of poems in English, as such The Burning Petals, The Necklace Wild, The Music Comes and others. In a lyrico-dramatic way, the poet describes the transition from the 20th to the 21st century, following music and dance. The music of life is the music of the world felt in poetry. The music comes from the within and is contributory to life-consciousness.
O sweet child!
O sweet, sweet child!
Dance, dance on this palin,
O dance awhile, dance!
Here on this plain
there’s a dance:
dance of fairies
dance of men.
their limbs throw,
limbs white and black flow.
and trembles the earth
with every tread
of toes and toes.
Here in the white light
a proud head blows.
Fairies dance on moonish grass
leaving their trails behind,
as children cramp on the grass,
leaving their fire behind.
(The Music Comes, H.S. Bhatia, Sita Publications International, Khanna, Punjab, 1997, p.9)
More by :
Bijay Kant Dubey
Onkar Nath Gupta’s Lilacs in Lab
Aristocracy as a small poem contains in the things of Eliot’s Tradition and Individual Talent, Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy and On The Modern Element In Literature. Actually, culture, the cultural stuffs with royalty in blood and hierarchy are the things of delineation here in this poem:
Aristocracy is a breed
not a brocade,
even plastic surgery
a new book
to ugly toads
The king comes from royal blood.
(Lilacs in Lab,Akot, akola, 2001, p.17)
Excuse as a poem is a peep into the other man’s affairs. There is something of the queen blamed for adultery in Morte de Arthur. Oh, how does he gather the information! We think it is not his business to lift the curtain and see these happening :
and kisses the unclean kerchief
of his pretty neighbour
pretending to fondle
her stuttering baby
mewling and munching
in her soft dimpled arms.
We are happy enough to read The Taj, but we do not know it who is that has made the monument, whether the Rajputs or rebuilt on other remnants? Whatever be that, we can relish upon the lines:
entombing his silken spouse
is not just a rock structure
but a statue of marble love
that will never rot.
touring this picturesque premise
in full-- moon light
envies her lot
and fishes for that fond love
that perishes not.
Poems as test tube babies of irony, humour and satire come to him and the poet a master surgeon dealing with fertility and sterility problems, which we may mark in the poems, which have come to us. The surrogate mothers too smile to read it. Gupta as some Alexander Pope seems to be experimenting with here in this poem as Blake talks about the mystic making of the tiger in the poem The Tiger. Lilac in a Lab is the first poem with which the first collection of Onkar Nath Gupta begins with:
At last I planted a lilac in the lab
and held my head sky high,
rocking and rolling in the hammock of maternity
instead of dying sterile in my hubby’s husk.
For years I thought there was no remedy,
ate crows, suffered quotidian comments,
flaunted fidelity and felicity
without a pinch of hope.
Once, the idea of conceiving another’s baby
made my flesh creep,
now hustled his ‘holy' handkerchief
and willed to wipe the sweat off my forehead.
The ostrich of my husband consented to comply,
endorsed having my own wings to fly,
to kick the brown autumnal leaf
and pick the promise of spring.
The threat of split looming large withdrawn.
We sorted out minor differences amicably
And I dipped in the fountain of felicitous feminity.
We would be happy enough had the poet ascribed it to Subhash Mukhopadhyay who had been the brainchild behind the first successful in vitro fertilization in India, but he committed suicide in 1981 as for negligence and insult subjected to him. After applying reproductive technology, the poet will transplant them. Poems to Gupta are like test-tube babies, bringing in the memories of different scientists who have really worked in this direction.
On reading the poem Lilac in a Lab, we confuse within whether it is by the doctor of the cloned sheep or the test tube baby. An unmarried Lamb thinking about in The Dream Children: A Reverie or the childless Lawrence may be the source of his inspiration. Gupta is very cunning and shrewd too.
Hypocrisy is a small poem inclusive of just six lines in total:
A misfit medically,
he still husbands,
and she observes ‘Kurwa Chauth’
hoping one day
he would fructify
‘Air hostess’ as a small too is very interesting to read:
Flying model of courtesy,
grace and elegance
who entertains with ,
snacks and soups,
not as a miser
but a millionaire,
sweetly and smilingly
to even nutty and nasty
nails in their eyes.
While aboard the airbus, he misses not from viewing the air hostesses, their smiles and Namaste with the folded hands, welcome and greeting. What one is doing around and in the suburbs, that is in the mind and its radar of Gupta which but none can escape it.
It is really a pleasure to go through the poems penned by Rizvi who is wonderfully romantic, a rarer aspect of his poetry to be marked elsewhere, as he writes poetry for sheer romanticism. The diction is clear, but full of mysticism, nature mysticism and the wisp and whiff of beauty and its exotic fragrance. The word bleeding is key to understanding his poetry as he has used it repetitively. Instead of the romantic flight of imagination, revelling into the realms of colour, dream and fancy, he sometimes comes down to earth to strike a different chord as the daffodils of Robert Herrick and Wordsworth are, as the skylarks of Shelley and Wordsworth are in contrast and comparison, carrying the emotions and feelings of the authors.
The title poem, Wandering Fragrance speaks of itself:
Wandering fragrance of love
Winging on the wings of feelings,
Like the eagle of restlessness
Pining for the magic sight,
Like thrills on the crest of waves
Throbbing to reach the shore,
Like unseen angel sailing slow
To measure heaven’s breast,
Flutters to reach its goal
But melts in the air on the way
To become a part
Of unfulfilled longings.
(Wandering Fragrance, I.H.Rizvi, Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, 1989, p.9)
The Gypsy Girl as a poem too can be taken into consideration. If the poems are quite clear then there is no need to assess and analyze them:
The tents of rags pitched by
The garden side raise high their heads
To greet the gypsy ‘queen’,
Who prides in blazing gloried walk.
The anklet-rings in naked feet
Lend music to the serenade.
The black-fringed maroon petticoat,
Penury-patched with treasured tales
Embroidered on unguarded fort,
Is whiffed by her voluptuous gait;
Her shin’s embrace is tantalised.
The fabled pleasure is drunk,
And fumbles for mysterious sights.
Her worn-off blouse struggles to hold
The bursting milky mounds.
Her sculptured lips ooze zest
And fleshy cheeks shoot rays of warmth
While bright eyes make mercurial moves,
The poet is startled and surveys
The whole of her, and pines to win
The battled solid fort;
His barbed self-prestige seals his lips.
The Gypsy Girl is the second poem with which the collection Wandering Fragrance begins with, but thematically it is of course on sound footing of its own. A gipsy girl is a memorable picture no doubt which conjures up while going through his poem. In this context, one may find the Lawrentine things delineated in his novels as for the gipsy reference.
The Fisherman is significant from the thematic point of view and can be taken for our study:
There goes the fisherman
With hasty strides.
One of his arms is bent
Under the burden of a bamboo-stick
Balancing two big baskets of ‘catch’
The two ends of the bamboo-stick
Bend and arise like the wings
Of a huge eagle in its flight.
The water that
Drips from his baskets drop by drop
Is oozing life out of the fish--
Mercurical in their hour of death,
And tongueless, unable to prove
Their innocence, or show their throb.
The water leaves two trails behind
For other fishermen to follow soon.
The fisherman’s face beams with confidence;
He cares not for his weariness.
Though full of ‘catch’ his baskets are,
He perspires with a heavy heart.
He has been spreading his own net,
All woven by himself,
In rivers which move calm and slow.
He’s free to act at his own will
And reap the harvest for himself.
(Unfading Blooms, Ibid, p.6)
Best Poem of My Life tells about his concept of writing poetry and that of adding to his corpus:
The best poem of my life
is yet to be written.
But how can I write it?
You are not before me .
The magic does not seems to work ,
and poetic frenzy is under a cloud,
and folded are fair fancy’s wings.
Glass domes look painted dark,
no light can hope to pass through them.
The dazzling colours of the glass palace
can no more show disarming sights
of the land of fairies.
Your vision comes and goes away
on wings of an angel;
it does not tarry with me for a while.
Hope follows a mellowed mirage
like a fragrance haunted doe.
Dreams do not play their roles
of nursing the wounds of desire.
I need divine inspiration:
only you can bless me with it.
(Gathering Broken Glasses, p.24)
Present Me No Roses! is a typical Rizvian poem as usual in poetic tone, tenor and type:
Present me no roses ,please!
They are meant for tender hands.
I am drying , growing hard,
sorrows are eating my hair,
rough weather has shaken me,
the billows have brought me wrinkles,
worries are sinking my skin,
taunts have often knocked me down .
My hands are burning with fever:
my sunny smiles are a mask
to hide wounds of the heart.
My trembling voice alludes
to promises left unfulfilled:
my achievements have taken a heavy toll.
I am resting on my laurels
with almost nothing left.
Someone calls me from the other side
of the receding horizon.
So present me no roses, please!
their petals will shrink , fold and fall
before I hold them properly.
( Gathering Broken Glasses, Ibid, p.40)
Gathering Broken Glasses is the title poem with which the collection takes wings:
The glass pieces are lying on the ground
in the dark on a lonely path.
Rays of red, blue and yellow hues
try to shoot out of pieces---
too dim to illumine the dark path
too bright to be unseen.
You have taken that lonely path
perhaps knowingly, not perchance:
You know they are the glass pieces
of my wounded feelings.
Do not pick them up, please:
they may pinch your fingers
and if even one drop of blood
comes out of your tender fingers
my heart will start bleeding again.
(Gathering Broken Glasses, I.H. Rizvi, Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, 1997, p. 9)
Rizvi, I.H : Wandering Fragrance, Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, Dec. 1989.
Rizvi, I.H : Wounded Roses Sing, Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, 1983.
Rizvi, I.H : Snowflakes of Dreams, Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, Jan 1996.
Rizvi, I.H : Gathering Broken Glasses, Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, March, 1997.
Rizvi, I.H: Fettered Birds, Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, March 2002.
Rizvi, I.H: Dripping Wounds, Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, March, 2004.
Rizvi, I.H: Love Never Dies (a collection of love poems based on his previous collections), Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, 2005.
Rizvi, I.H: The Valley Still Blossoms, Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, 2007.
Rizvi, I.H: Bleeding Flowers, Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, 2009
Iftikhar Hussain Rizvi who was born on June 25, 1936 was educated at Bareilly College, Bareilly. He passed M.A. in English from Agra university in 1956. Aprat from serving as a professor of English, he served Tilak College, Bareilly as Principal instead of being the editor of Canopy for a long time and a writer of several collections of poems featuring the romantic side of poetry. As a poet, he felt inspired by Keats, Shelley and Wordsworth and these continued to dwell upon and he drew from so largely, but in an original way of penetration.
Beauty is truth, truth beauty had been the epithet of his to inspire and instil in him. As a poet, he had been sensuous and dreamy, imaginative and fanciful.
A poet of love, beauty and truth, he has been penning the poems without disturbing the language.He uses the words to suit his phraseology and syntax as there is nothing to corrupt it with Indianism, Indianization or Indianness.
Falling Petals (1975), Unfading Blooms (1984), Thirsty Pebbles (1986), Wandering Fragrance (1989), Wounded Roses Sing (1993), Snowflakes of Dreams (1996), Gathering Broken Glasses (1997), Clouds In Cages (1999), Fettered Birds (2002), Dripping Wounds (2004), Love Never Dies (2005), Haiku & Other Poems (2005), The Valley Still Blossoms (2007), Bleeding Flowers (2009), etc. are his other collections of poems which he has published later.
Apart from being a romantic poet, he penned down a lot of haikus, but these too demonstrated the same type and tenor, style and pattern of writing. A pure poet using the the free play of emotion and feeling, fancy and imagination, he drew from Nature in its splendour and hue, ever new, ever fresh, fine and fair.
One haiku is just like one poem; one thought, idea, image or reflection. The haikus from Clouds In Cages tumble and trickle down to us as usual:
Dead bodies lying on road squares
crave for funeral rites,
people look and move away.
Your city is blood thirsty
I must court danger,
I can’t do without seeing you.
You’re lost in talking
to someone in deepest joy,
I watch from afar.
A hungry man sees
bread lying on road, can’t pick it
for fear of onlookers.
A drop of hope perched
on razor-edge waits
breathless for your nod.
My sight is the key
that unlocks forbidden doors,
unarms each sentry.
Heat is at its peak,
the sun has not packed his tents,
parched is Nature’s cheek
Don’t come close to me,
the heat is unbearable,
I may melt in thee.
( Clouds in Cages, Iftikhar Hussain Rizvi, Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, 1999, p.30)
I need wings to fly
to reach you in ancient land,
When woman conquers
man lies prostrate in defeat,
in vain flaps and whirs.
Game of hide and seek
from worries played by players
takes them to no peak.
I shall follow you
to the edge of eternity,
you just lead me through.
Your danger prone town
can’t stop me from going there
though foes strike me down.
In bright jovial mood
the fields gleam in glee in rains
to be human food.
What’s gained and what’s lost
in the long-crowded journey
both sunburns and frost.
Worries feed on all
without making distinction,
raid, pinch, break each wall.
There are 47 haikus in Clouds in Cages, quite separately produced and presented before. Each one is a unit in itself and these have been numbered as 1, 2, 3, 4 and so on likewise manner under the caption Haikus.
The haikus from Wounded Roses Sing take their stylistic patterns as have been put under:
From heaven’s gate ajar
Flows a flood of light
Lord Buddha’s compassion
Rages the fire of riots,
Mother waits for her son,
Children for bread,
For juice the butterflies
Sail from flower to flower,
The juice is dried up.
The voice is stifled
The cords lie broken,
No song flows from the heart
A bird waits for her mate
On a branch of tree in autumn,
A gust of wind blows down
The withered leaves.
I’m looking for my blood in vain
In the doctored hands
Wearing washable gloves.
(Wounded Roses Sing, I.H.Rizvi, Prakash Book Depot, Bareilly, 1993, P.26)
Again, we can see them in continuation:
Crippled are the wings of light,
It cannot sail through heavy darkness
Which is the boon of modernity.
It is difficult to count the holes
In the texture of civilization
Which has become see-through.
Monkeys joy-riding on the back
Of culture are enjoying the loaves
Snatched from the hands of poverty.
Tired desire resting on
Their wounded breasts
Still pine for a fresh flight.
Furrowed wrinkles peep through
Powdered faces in
The heat of depression.
Flowers look for lost fragrance
Which slipped out of their wings
When they were in sweet reverie.
I.H.Rizvi is a dreamer in verse and the poems come to him in dream sequence. There is magical flow and rhythm in his poetry to be marked, admired and appreciated by the readers. He writes the poetry of love and its dream, of beauty which is truth and truth goodness; an embodiment of satyam, shivam, sundaram. Tender words, tender diction with its syntax and vocabulary tempt us for a reading. The words soothe, charm and captivate the reader.
Kedar Nath Sharma, born on March 19, 1937 at Gangath village under Kangra district of Hiamchal Pradesh, got his primary education at Gangnath and Jawali villages, did his matriculation from Govt.High school, Nurpur, Bachelor of Arts from S.D. College, Pathankot in 1958 and M.A. in English from the evening classes and attendance of Delhi University in 1966. He retired as Grade 1 Officer of Delhi Government in 1995. His son and daughter both of them are in the United States. Song of Life, 1989, The Whiff, 1991, Our Ancient Orchard, 2001, Raceme, 2003, Paradise Returned & Other Poems, 2014, etc. are the collections of his poems which have appeared from standard publishing houses.
Song of Life no doubt is a fine book of poems which has come down to us so much successfully. The Whiff and Our Ancient Orchard too are alike in thought and expression.
God’s paradise, where is it, where is it, the poet Kedar Nath takes to it in the poem, Paradise Returned, just as a doubting Thomas takes to. The poet contrasts and contradicts the base of superstitious faith whose roots into the soil of assumption and supernatural belief. None of the religions is perfect in ascertaining the gates of the paradise. Had it been, the space shuttles would have searched it definitely. While gpoing to the moon and Mars, man would have landed thereon.
Some Alexander Pope seems to be giving fianl touches to Paradise Returned and it is no Paradise Lost or Paradise Regained.
God Is Bewildered is one of the poems included in Paradise Returned & Other Poems:
God is bewildered
and knows not
where his creation is headed.
He finds man turned fiend.
He knows not
why there is darkness at noon
even when the sun is shining .
Has the midnight sun of Scandinavia
leased its darkness
to the noon in Asia?
It is an eclipse
so whatever was bright
is now slight.
Self- mortification, fasting,
singing and dancing
to please God
are man’s pastimes,
his diversions ,
a camouflage for hypocrisy.
God is anxious to know
why man is so odious.
He had not intended him thus.
is the creation
greater than the creator?
(Paradise Returned & Other Poems, Kedar Nath Sharma, Allied Publishers, ibid, p.64)
Apparently the poet appears to be simple and guileless, imaginative and thoughtful, but he is not so, he is witty and conceited too, satiric and humorous.
Let Not Your Season Slip can definitely be exampled from Raceme ( A Cluster of Poems):
You are becoming more charming
day by day.
What cares do you take to caress your cheeks?
Your skin glows as never before.
Less busy and more cushy
your eyebrows are sharper at the ends.
Your eye-lashes set off
the green and the black of your eyes
to illumine your face as do the rays
of the rising sun aglow
the girth of the globe.
Your lilac lips brimming with smiles,
sometimes suggestive, sometimes twitching
seem to resolve a mental conflict
Physical charms are a season long,
let not your season slip.
(Raceme, Kedar Nath Sharma, Indian Publishers Distributors, Delhi, 2003, p.42)
Living Life Livably can be taken into consideration:
To be around means
to be a spectator
or be a witness;
absconding means desertion--
but to abound denotes
being in the thick of the things,
plunging into the sea
to fathom its depth,
exuding courage and confidence,
giving and taking
to experience nectar
fording, bridging and
living life livably.
Kedar Nath Sharma as a writer is a romantic who likes to write simple poems which take the course of their own rather than being tedious and complex. Sometimes the poems become so much simpler that the readers start doubting if these can be called poems or not. Sometimes it appears to us that the poet is in search of a syntax and vocabulary.
Simanchal Patnaik as a verse-practitioner has several volumes of poesy to stake a claim for to be one of the contemporary realm of Indian literature in English. We do not know what to call him, a major or minor poet, as he has not been canonized. Instead of, his book has been reviewed in Indian Literature , Sahitya Akademi.
Delightful World of Poems (1982), Bedroom Poems (1986), Sonnets & Other Poems (1989), Poetry in Tranquillity (1991), Poetry of Himalayan Wisdom (1995), Queen of English Poetry (1999), Gems of English Poetry (2003), etc. are the major books of poesy which he has authored from time to time. Generally, news items, occasions, events and happenings form the base of his verse.
O Death! I’m Prepared To Go With You is just like a rhyme written by Simanchal , a master rhymer who fails to rise above this, instead of some specimens, which have come down to us from his poetic pen:
O Death! I’m prepared to go with you,
I’ve no liking for this good-for- nothing Earth,
I’ll be saved if I’m taken sans queue,
I’ll be happy to face you, O Dear Death,
This earth is not meant for living,
This Earth is meant for dying,
This earth is not meant for enjoying,
This Earth is meant for suffering,
This Earth is not meant for eating,
This earth is meant for fasting,
This earth is not meant for sane,
This earth is not meant for insane.
The sooner I quit this Earth as per comeuppance
The better will be for me sans repentance.
(Queen of English Poetry, Sarala Publications, Berhampur, Ganjam, Orissa, 1999, p.95)
I’m A Hopeless Creature too is a poem of the same sort:
I’m a hopeless creature
With hopeless record,
With hopeless wife,
With hopeless children,
With hopeless house,
With hopeless food,
With hopeless environment,
With hopeless neighbours,
With hopeless State,
With hopeless system,
With hopeless earnings,
With hopeless winter,
With hopeless summer,
With hopeless rain,
With hopeless earthquakes,
With hopeless Earth,
With hopeless peace.
Simanchal as a poet is a versifier, a rhymer, a poetaster, a petty poet. He reads the newspapers, hears the news broadcasts and converts them into verses, poetic tidbits, chitchats. Even trivial, trifle things turn into verse-stanzas. A poet of the trivia, rhymed doggerel, he is not less than any writer of note apart from what he is. Simanchal is commonmanly as for his trite verses and the attempts made in this direction. A bard of Orissa, that too from Berhampur, he has taken to poetry otherwise. Instead of, he is the author of voluminous poetry-collections which have come down to us from his poetic pen. A Senior Subordinate Judge, Simanchal sent his collection to even Vice-president M.Hidayattullah to get his complimentary comments.
Silence Discovered Truth can show it all:
Siddhartha observed deep silence under Bodhi tree
And became Enlightened Sakya Muni of yore;
Mahatma Gandhi observed silence with secrecy eerie,
And was blessed with strength to solve problems galore.
It’s not good always to be talkative,
It’s not always good to waste energy,
It’s not always good to do work unproductive,
It’s not always good to exhibit lethargy,
One should cultivate measured talk dutifully,
One should divide time for the works in hand,
One should play roulette for words carefully,
One should take in every matter right stand.
Silence is golden, silence is divine,
Silence has endless horizon, silence discovered truth fine.
(Poetry of Himalayan Wisdom, Sarala Publications, Berhampur, 1995, p.148)
Crisis of Faith In Almighty God is another poem to show his verve and strength:
A crow sits like a hermit on a banyan tree,
Rain runs like an olympic runner from sky to Earth,
The bird does not care to rain or death!
Really it’s a sensational awe to me!
The crow still weathers the heavy downpour!
Who has given stamina to that black crow?
Wow! the crow defeats its arch-foe!
It must be praying God from heart’s core!
When God gives protection to a bird,
Why man loses hope surprisingly in life?
No, no, he’d face life having in God belief!
Accept these words of truth from this bard.
There’s crisis of faith in Almighty God,
So I warn atheists with my Golden Rod!
(Ibid, p. 166)
Poetry of Himalayan Wisdom is but the magnum opus of Simanchal; a masterpiece work; a poetic specimen of occasional and eventual verses which is also at the same time an album of the 20th century, the whole of it. A book of knowledge and wisdom, fact and fiction, rhyme and dovetailing, labored expression and disjointed joining, it is a mirror of the past century, a chronology of world events and happenings, a general knowledge book in a poetic format. Very often he tags the poetic ingredients.
The below-quoted poem can be marked which has definitely special attraction for us:
Beatle George Harrison Died To Hare Krishna Chants !
(Died at Los Angeles On 29th Nov. 2001)
Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar’s friend and disciple
Died amidst Hare Krishna chants though a Beatle!
Cancer, like maneater, ate the spiritual Musician!
He donated money and mansions to famous ISKCON.
George Harrison was a gentleman to the core.
This Guitar Maestro’s name will remain for ever.
He came to India and at Rishikesh meditated.
He spread spiritual consciousness around the world.
He said: “Allah-Buddha-Jehova-Rama-
All are Krishna, all are one ,” as he believed Krishna.
George was a brave and beautiful soul,
Full of love, childish humour, deep spirituality as goal.
Indians remember him for his help in need,
For he was a true friend of India indeed.
(Gems of English Poetry, Simanchal Patnaik, Sarala Publications, berhampur, 2003, p.66)
Lord Vishnu Of Badrinath In Himalayas may be taken for our study and perusal:
For Hindus the four dhaams belong to Lord Vishnu,
Those are the most sacred places of pilgrimage,
Those are the four holy abodes of Lord Vishnu—
Badrinath, Puri, Rameswaram and Dwaraka in this Age.
The myth goes that once Vishnu had allowed Laxmi,
His consort, to massage His aching feet,
And was chastised by a sage for giving in
To such earthly pleasure and penitent
Vishnu rushed to Badrinath and undertook sans fees
Severe penance by meditating in the famous
Padmasana posture and He gave up His
Ascetic ways on Laxmi’s quest ponderous.
Badrinath is reserved for meditating ascetics,
But for Vishnu Hindus travel to Himalayas doing Gymnastics.
(Ibid, p. 10)
There are some good rhyming poems in the collection entitled Sonnets & Other Poems dealing with
religion, philosophy, art of living, temple art, kite-flying, love letter, human birth, stone-breakers, Odissi dance and so on. The versifier attempts to put down on paper the unputdownable, whatever be the crux of our judgement, whether we accommodate him or not, this has nothing to do with. Verses, to Simanchal Patnaik, are occasional pieces, events and happenings; newspaper materials turned into poetry. Poetry born out of rhymes and laboured expression is the thing with him and his is not at all a spontaneous expression, but forced upon. Though he strives to perfect, but it is far from naturally. As a poet, he seems to be an old-timer, odd, out-moded and out-dated, but prosaically alive. Rhymes are available in a plenty, but lyricism seems to be missing from his poems.
Death Is Immortal from Sonnets And Other Poems can be taken into consideration as for our ready reference:
O Peerless Death! Which is your place of birth?
Where do you live? Which’ll be your place of death?
No, No, No. death will never come to you!
If death comes who’ ll do your duty a new?
You’re immortal! You’ll do your duty forever!
While dealing with humans after their time is over
Do you personally extinguish the flame of fleeting breath,
And take them to your place of birth.
Or do you send your special messengers with bullets,
Like State sending police force to shoot terrorists?
Like God you’re born and move throughout the universe,
And do your duty enjoined by law of the universe.
Every person is bound to see you once in life,
And play with you merrily after strife!
( Sonnets & Other Poems, Simanchal Patnaik, Sarala, Berhampur, 1989, p.26)
Poetry in Tranquillity as a collection opens with the successive poems, Prayer to God, O Benign Jagannath: Save Me, Save Me, Lord Rama, Mathura, the Birthplace of Lord Krishna, Lord Jesus Christ and so on in his usual style of writing. To tag and lengthen is the quality of his poetry and he keeps relaying to forcefully, artificially and laboriously. Apart from, there is some substance in his verses which but we cannot deny it.
Delightful World of Poems open up with The Creator of Man, Delightful World of Flowers, Don’t Say Good-Bye To English, Qualifications of A Bride, Welcome To Land of Peace, Incarnation of Faithfulness, Sanjay Gandhi, A Letter To The Son and so on in an as usual manner and his earlier collections too tread the same line as found in the latter works.
My Lovely Horses, Meals Ready, I Do Everything As Per Master’s Plan, Collector, Ode To A Conch, Grey Revolution, Black Money, I Wonder, I Wonder, India’s Progress Since Independence, Rocking-Horse, Little Sparrow, etc. are the poems which figure in Bedroom Poems. Sometimes he bores and his poetry exercise turns into a rhyming lesson falling miserably making a hodge-podge of it all. Dull and dry facts bring in utter desperation and we look up in utter disgust to leave them. Instead of boredom and monotony, his is an intellectual reading no doubt; a massive brain work applied in which but one can mark it while going through his verses.
The India that speaks to itself in the poems is not entirely enclosed in the modern world; at least, the millions of Indian expats can value their daughters as gold in cultures where equal opportunity for the sexes is established. This western influence is bound to have an effect on the sub-continent culture; voiced, ironically, by the English speaking Indian poets as heralds of that culture.
'How mean and cruel we have grown, have we at leats thought about that!' implies a stand-point of reflection that is western, and an arbitration based on western values.
Onkar Nath Gupta (20th July 1941-) did his graduation from Benaras Hindu University, Varanasi in 1964
and served as the head of the Deptt. of English in Shri Shivaji College, Akot, Akola, Maharashtra under Amravati University. Gupta retired in 2001 and now lives in Raipur.
His first collection of poems entitled Lilacs in Lab appeared in in 2001, Mosaic of Love And Legends in 2005, Prism of Poetry in 2011, Spilled Feelings in 2014. A poet of four and more than this, he is not less than any practitioner, as has verve and strength to carry it forward. Onkar too is an ironist, not so satiric, but romantic and imaginative and this adds to his feather and feature. An ironist, he can sway tot eh tune and dance of thought and romance, Coleridgean fancy and imagination.
Taming A Tigress, Disengagement, Learning in New context, A Dailogue, Your Grace, Gauri Pujan, Woman is a River, Anatomy of an Officer, Books, Learning Complexes, Beauty is not Nudity, Journey from Becoming to Being, Shoe-Lifting, Nag Puja, Rakhi-Tying Cotton Thread, Kop Bhawan, etc. are the poems from Mosaic of Love And Legends.
We may take Gauri Pujan as for our perusal and scrutiny:
Pati is not a Devata,
nor wife a Devi,
but every male or female
aspires to marry,
a prince or princess
of his or her dreams
to bare his or her soul,
to be a mother or father
and bond for conjugal bliss.
The week long Gan Gauri Pujan
by nubiles and betrothed,
for a suitable husband,
has a legend that
by this ritual
she would get a choice hubby
as Sati won Shiva
or as in Roman legend
the virgins saw in dream
their lovers or would be husbands.
Does fasting or prayer
The age old tradition
not only survives
but flourishes steadily
as fondness for henna
or dyeing hair
has reached the zenith of
popularity, poetry and publicity.
(Mosaic of Love And Legends, Onkar Nath Gupta, Author, Raipur, 2005,pp.6-7)
Societal things and issues figure up as for a perusal in his poetry which we can ourselves feel it while doing a study of his heart of the matter. As humour, satire and irony form the base of his tenor and type, so it is natural he will come via that. He wants to take up the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the shocking and the amazing equally to delve deep into the things of life, society and the world.
Poems to Onkar are lilacs blooming in a lab, prismic experiences, mosaics of gold and legends, spilled feelings and the poet smiling to see and feel them. ‘Beauty is not nudity’ as a poem can be viewed:
Painters portray nudes
and force viewers to admire them.
Society does not accept
nudity as beauty.
It needs to be dressed decently
by bra and brocade.
Nature bares its beauty,
its beaches and bounty,
beckoning beaus to
enjoy not outrage.
A paragon of beauty is a combination of
freshness and agelessness,
austerity and aristocracy,
brawn and brain
dress and ornaments.
(Ibid, p. 10)
We Are Pyramids, We Are Pygmies, Dating, Life is an Opinion, Development, Suicide, Moustache, Daughter, Vibhishana, Train, We are Incredible, Dalit, A Dialogue, Fresh Affair, Love-sick Girl, Innovation, Life is a Harlot, etc. are the poems from Prism of Poetry. Through the prism and lens of poetry, he sees society and marks the things.
Train as a small poem may be quoted in full:
The superfast train
is high caste Brahmin,
Garib Ratha is Communist,
and Janshatabdi Vaishya,
who control trade and industry.
They do not stop for us,
they look down on us.
We travel in passenger train
that has no A.C.or cushions and pantry,
because we are born of feet.
(Prism of Poetry, Onkar Nath Gupta, Author, Raipur, 2011, p.13)
Dalit too is a poem of the same sort wherein one may have a taste of the societal truths and bitter realities:
We belong to poorest of the poor tribe
always trampled remorselessly
under shining shoes
and yet we rise again and again
as Gazar Grass,
signalling our existence,
We are Dalits.
The material of the Dalit literature in it, what iot has used in by Mulk Raj Anand in his novel named ‘Untouchable’.
The Baby is Born, The Puppet Show, V.R.S., Divorce, Trust, Snake as guest, Classic Beauty, my vilalge River, Fly Over, Kidnapping, Visit To A Tailor, Sons and Daughters, Maidens, Then And Now, Partition, Silence Is Not Golden, Black Money, Naxal Menace, She, All About A Bell, Marriage: A Wondefful Invention, The Signboard, Operation Crucixion, I Am No Singh, etc. are the poems figuring in Spilled Feelings.
The Baby Is Born amply shows his style of writing:
the uneasy He,
a maverick by nature,
a fickle and fabulous lady,
he entreated on her,
she smiled agreeably,
at dawn he inked a poem,
perspiration glistened on his brow,
it all happened as smoothly
as glacier melts floating down the hill.
The poem smelt a bitter protest
against pity, unemployment,
money laundering, communal riots,
criminalization in politics,and exploitation of poor
by democratic dandies
dressed in immaculate white.
(Spilled Feelings, Onkar Nath Gupta, Author, 2014, Ibid, p. 7)
Light as a poem is a narrative piece. The influence of Tagore can be marked:
Defying dreadful darkness disdainfully
and awful silence sardonically,
there came a ten year old boy
with a luminescent lamp.
I asked, “Where did you get this light?”
He put it out and asked,
“Now, you tell where has it gone?”
And added, “life is pure flame,
lift it to higher height,
lose no angry tirade,
and fall in with His scheme”.
So saying he disappeared
leaving me stunned and dazed.
(Ibid, p. 89)
The poetry of Onkar Nath Gupta is a mirror of Indian society, the strata and thinking, but he takes to in a Popean style of deliberation.
The Puppet Show is a glaring example of his poetical anger and irony:
I am opposed to mother
who acts Victorian all day long
and nude at night,
and is addressed as sparrow
or nightingale by father
feasting eyes on her gorgeous globes,
frisking and frolicking as night thickens,
yielding to his caresses and carelessness
out of protocol or duty
smiling an ingratiating smile
at all his gaffes.
I do not like this etiquette,
there is no virtue in it.
I complain if the shoe pinches,
if she whispers,
hisses in bed or whistles prodding him,
and his heroics.
This puppet show
I refuse to cheer.
I must tear their tent
or pull down my pull over
than going doting on them.
We would like to see Peepul At My Door:
No one knows
how many centuries
this peepul tree has seen,
its branches and twigs
throwing shadows at my door,
attempt to hack or chop it
of no use,
causing cracks on walls.
The river beside it
has turned into a gutter
but peepul stands erect.
It is associated with Lord Shiva
has it any remote connection
with Bodhi tree?
Then came the surveyors
of the bypass,
but they bent the highway
than touching the tree,
I took it for Alexander’s retreat.
Made good reading. A lot of relatively unknown poets were brought into it. Those who write poetry in English may be speaking their mother tongue at home and may not be at home with English the way the British were. Also most of the poems are too self-conscious rather than a reflection of societal concerns as pointed out here.
Vijay Vishal, born on 1 October, 1949, Punjab, did his M.A. in English from Khalsa Colllege, Amritsar and Ph.D. finally during his teaching career from Himachal Pradesh University. His collection Speechless Messages appeared in 1992 and Parting Wish too from Writers Workshop, Calcutta in 2001.His son and daughter-in-law both of them are IAS officers in Rajasthan.
An Unborn Female Foetus as a poem can be quoted from:
I am an unborn female foetus
Who quite often
Has to die
In the womb itself
The scanning machine ‘scans’ me
And my ‘Earthly-Mummy-Papa’
Get me finished off
By paying a fat fee
To some ‘Doctor Uncle’
Or some ‘Doctor Aunty’.
I am granted
A life-term of holidays
Putting my first step
Into the school of life.
An invisible knife
Cuts away the kite of my life
And borne on a whiff of wind
I leap into the lap
Of my ‘Heavenly-Papa’.
Quietly he wipes away
My tiny tears
And buries me deep
Into his vast chest.
( Speechless Messages, Vijay Vishal, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1992, p.33)
In his irony, lies in the pain and pine of living. What has the patriarchal society given to us as a legacy of it? How the patriarchs and conservatives who give the diktat? When will the purdah system end? How long will they go killing innocent daughters? Why is this injustice subjected to?
Satire not, humour is the forte of Vijay, but as a writer of Indian English poetry, he is but an ironist, this much he has proved through his writing which he will substantiate in future definitely. He can crack jokes beautifully, even making a self-portrait of himself. He can sketch a portrait of a politician; a funny pen-portrait which can entertain and regale all.
His are not speechless messages, but vocal messages, relaying and relating to and laying them bare, but beautifully articulated enough and muted in, as poetry should be in fragrance. To read him is to feel and define poetry as speechless messages, really a new definition to come forward in this direction.
An Eye-Opener as a very small poem can be observed:
Wanting to avoid
An unwanted call
I told my little son
To tell the caller
That I was not at home.
With his characteristic innocence
He replied to the ringer:
He isn’t at home.’’
Parallelism as a poem can be seen closely:
A flower is a flower
Its kind, colour, fragrance
To the Bride of Nature
Man is man
His caste, colour, race
Worthy of pride
To humanity at large.
(Parting Wish, Vijay Vishal, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 2001, p.21)
There is something in Parting to be felt in as the rhymes keep tending to us:
My little darling
Bright and charming
A glowing wit
A parting gift
A source of solace
A plant of promise
A cute companion
A born champion
A surging stream
An early morning dream.
Loves beyond love
Adores beyond adoration,
With him around
I’m richer than richness!
Happier thean happiness!
Lady Luck too is equally beautiful enough to be placed before:
Who cajoles and lures
Her supine suitors
Right in the spring of life.
Like the deceitful dame
“La Belle Dame Sans Merci”
Makes promises to break
Exhibits love to hate.
A shadowy maiden
Of easy virtue
Of a lazy lover
A puerile excuse
Of a teenager
An empty regret
Of an escapist.
(Speechless Messages, ibid, p.32)
Parting Wish, Smile Eternalised, Parting, Contradiction, Golden Message, Self-search, Parallelism, Luckless Lass, Belated Awakening, Blue Balloon, Eternal Music, Walking Shadows, A Living Paradox, Hubby, Irking Irony, Gender Bias, A Cycle, Corporate Living, Too Late, Rectification, Mediocrity Mechanism, Suicide Spree, Riches, Holi Hai, Fair Encounter, New Millennium, Fulfilment,Self-conquest, To the Kargil Heroes, Atonement, Wonder of Wonders, Limit, Love’s Labour Lost, Reversal and Searching Search are the poems included in the collection named Parting Wish.
His issues are social issues, taking and twitching us beautifully, but we are unmindful of our ways of living, what we ought to have and what we ought to have not. How long will we continue with gender bias and domestic violence, the bruises showing it all! How long will she be subjected to male brutality and cruelty, torture and tyranny? When will she be able to liberate herself which God can only say it?
Speechless Messages is no doubt a fine collection of subtler irony and humour and good sense to prevail upon to endow with knowledge and wisdom, the feel of life which we have become unmindful of that. Art lies with the author as for articulating them beautifully. The message is quite clear. Everything has but got some meaning; something to reveal. As search for value and meaning continues in his poetry. In this modern life of today, we like to exchange cacti rather than flowers? How modern have we become!
Let us see Irking irony:
Is it not
An irking irony
That in the land
Of Sita and Savitri
Still we treat
With fire and smoke
By sealing them alive
In funeral pyres
Of their errant men-folk
Who in turn
Not only to tie
New nuptial knots
After early exits
Of their better-
But also enjoy
The proud prerogative
Of straying into myriads
Of extra-marital misadventures
And while alive
Insist on Venus-like chastity
From their pathetic partners
And Sati-like sacrifice
Their ignoble exit?
(Parting Wish, p.32)
Speechless Messages, A Biting Question, Discovery, Kitty Questions, Wary Warning, Bruised Buds, Qualms, Matchless, When, Soulless Structures, Opportunism, Honesty, A Day’s Hero, Sinning Son, Cactus, Sweet Small, Man, Discipline, Lady Luck, An Unborn Foetus, A silent Speech, Lost Son, Doters, A handful of Sky, time, Dear! Dear!, Borrowed Beauty, Ifs and Buts, Ordeal of Living, Alchemy, the Punjab Trauma, The Bourgeois, Portrait of a Politician, Revelation, Lady Greatness, A Ridicule, The corner-Stone, The Living God, An Ice-Cream Boy, Portrait of a Lover, Nymph of Nature, A Rare Realisation, An Eye-Opener, A Difference, Creativity and A Deadly Question are from Speechless Messages collection.
Vijay is not a satirist nor a humorist nor a plain ironist, but is serious, sober and sound enough to echo human values in us. He is a poet of today, of the social question lying muted in and unanswered. How long will it continue the gender bias in India? How long will they live under the purdah? It is but the pity and pathos of our living. Woman’s rights is the topic of the day, but still medievalism is pulling us along and we thinking in terms of segregation. The poems and reviews of Viajy Vishal have appeared in the Tribune too.
Let us see Gender Bias, a beautiful, but meaning poem penned down by Vijay Vishal:
A daughter’s birth
Is no cause for mirth
Gets stepmotherly treatment
From her own mother
Who herself was
A daughter once.
‘Sons are gold
She grows into girlhood
With her brother bullying
And bossing over her.
Then one fateful day
A tearful send-off
To begin her life afresh
With her hubby
And his folk
Adapting to them
No easy joke.
Bears and rears issues
Again the gender bias
Speaks in the same voice
‘Sons are gold
Thus moves on
The wheel of her poor plight!
(Parting Wish, ibid, p. 33)
How mean and cruel have we grown, have we at least thought about! Medievalism and the dark times have taken it all whatever good it was in us, India was looted, plundered and devastated under the caravans of foreign invaders. Too much ritualism took a heavy toll on us. Rampant Aryanisation too did not go in our favour, strict adherence to societal strictures, rules and regulations, moral, obligatory and ethical.