Book Reviews

When Winds Connect Continents

A Study of Alf Taylor’s ‘Winds’
and Jaydeep  Sarangi’s ‘Silent Days’

Alf Taylor is a significant member of the multifaceted tradition of West Australian Aboriginal culture. In her preface for Alf Taylor’s first book of poems Faith Bandler noted that Taylor spoke ‘as a lover’.  He presents us with an Aboriginal subject moving through space, apparently rootless but bound by a network of affective webs to family, lovers, places and strangers.

‘Winds’ is Alf Taylor’s remarkable collection of poems published by Magabala Books, Western Australia. The 77 pages book contains an introduction seventy two poems that deal with personal and socio-economic themes.

In the first poem of this collection ‘People of the Park’ we find the aboriginal consciousness of the poet. He criticizes the people of the center for ignoring them:

“People outside
The circle
The people
Of the park
Got no tomorrow.”

The destiny of ‘the people of the park’ is shaped by ‘the people outside the circle.’ Most of the poems included in this collection are short lyrics. The poems are marked by lucid expressions and easy flow of thought.

The poem ‘Locked Away’ talks about the essential freedom one needs for his existence:

“And see
Are free
Can’t we.”

‘Tomorrow’ greets the aborigines ‘with sorrow’. They are ‘locked away’ everywhere-from personal world to socio-economic world. The aborigines are subjected to ‘loneliness’ and ‘pain’:

“Being locked away
I feel
Is loneliness
And pain.”

Philip Morrissey, Professor of Melbourne University in his introduction to this book refers to African American philosopher Cornel West who has written of the black American struggle against nihilism which began with African encounter with the New World. Prof. Philip finds here the similarity between West and Taylor’s works because both are doing something similar. We can trace out a parallelism between the black American struggle against nihilism and the Dalit struggle against racial discrimination in Indian socio-economic set up. The Dalits in post-colonial India announce an unarmed mutiny against the social oppressive system. The struggle for existence and identity brings the black American and the Dalit closer.
The poem ‘Silently’ deals with the silent days of the life of the aborigines who are still waiting for a ‘better tomorrow’:

“ Only
As I
Go to bed
And pray
For a
Better tomorrow.”

The very next poem ‘Better Tomorrow’ is the clarion call of Hope. The poet announces a Crusade against all social discriminations. There is only his voice which hopes for the beginning of a Newday; a new Sunrise:

“My children
Are my knights
Of tomorrow
Let’s look
For a
Better tomorrow”.

In his titled poem ‘Winds’ Taylor shows his poetic craftsmanship. He uses beautiful natural imagery of winds’ which ‘are blowing through the valleys of his creative mind’. The poet here projects ‘winds’ as symbol for ‘A New Beginning’; ‘A Better Tomorrow’:

Blows away
The sadness
And sorrow.”

The poet is a caring father in the poem ‘My Little Girl’ where he projects father-daughter relationship which is one of the purest relationships. He can feel her ‘sweet innocence’ from the core of his heart who can make him think that that he is ‘not alone’ in this big universe:

“The sweet innocence
Of her voice
So soft
It gives me
A pleasant glow…”

Dr. Jaydeep Sarangi through his poetic collection ‘Silent Days’ portrays the marginalized and the voiceless people; who have undergone tremendous torture in the social oppressive system. Although the poet does not belong to the marginalized community, he can feel the pain these marginalized have gone through. This compassionate feeling finds fitful expression through the powerful pen of the poet. In the poem ‘In a Home away from Home’ the poet beautifully expresses the aborigines as ‘the Saviours of history’:

“People call you ‘aborigines’
We call you the saviours of history”.

The poet’s social consciousness again gets a fitful expression in the poem ‘Homeless in my Land’. The title of the poem bears a significance, the question of identity on the part of the marginalized people:

“My silent pen becomes my Sword”.

‘Silent Days’ is like a flowing stream where the images are coming one after another. Simplicity and lucidity are at the core of Sarangi’s poems. Dora Sales, a famous critic from The University Jaume I, Spain observes, “His view is deeply human, and, thus, deeply universal. As we all know, India has a rich literary tradition. Jaydeep Sarangi is a splendid member of this endless family. Truly, a poet of note.”

Taylor’s ‘Silent Eyes’ is about the ‘aborigines’ who do not understand the word ‘Democracy’ which denotes the equal rights and space for the individual:

Are the people
Living in
A land
The word
They don’t

The aborigines are ‘locked away’ in every aspect of their lives. Certainly through the pages of this collection we can trace out different selves of the poet-artist; rooted in a tradition. In the rich universe of literary tradition in Western Australia Alf Taylor is certainly an important member. Sarangi also writes about people who are oppressed under the caste stratification in India.

Being born and brought up in two distinguished cultures in Australia and India what unites Taylor and Sarangi is the feel for the marginalized, ‘the saviours of history and tradition.’ Both share a long tradition of history, culture, heritage and mythology. In their poetry we can trace out perfect reflections of their community identity.


More by :  Sourav Sangiri

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