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|by Prof. Jaydeep Sarangi|
Poetry is a feast of things to sensitive minds. There are as many definitions of poetry as there are poets in this world. Emily Dickinson said, "If I read a book and it makes my body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry." It creates vibes of thought and feelings to a reader. It resonates in the mind for a long period. It is an outburst of ecstasy in a language that befriends human ears.
Ramakanta Das follows a great legacy writers from Orissa: a land of writers and mythological associations. Jayanta Mahaptra, a doyen bilingual poet, happens to be the mentor (direct / indirect) for all distinguished English poets from the land of Sri Jaganatha since 1970s. For Jayanta Mahapatra, his roots lie in Orissa and there lies his past and in which lies his “beginning” and “end”. Many poets from the eastern India followed the footprints of the great bilingual writer.
Ramakanta Das’s early education and familiarity with English poets contributed a lot to his poetic inside and he is fully aware of it. He has emerged as a superb wordsmith tinged with sweet cadence and rhythm. The Grass-Flower is a brilliant poetic announcement of a poet who believes in ‘stoic silence’. P.G. Rama Rao in his Foreword candidly exclaims, “The Grass-Flower would qualify for the top shelf in Indian poetry in English.” The book is a veritable image gallery streaming from various sources and a reading wonder!
For Ramakanta Das, poetry is an imaginative awareness of experience of life’s daily acts:
His poems like ‘Nirvan’ and ‘Draupadi’ are rooted in our mythological and philosophical heritage that we imbibe generation after generation.This poetic outpour reflects Ramakanta’s close proximity with the mother tradition. Indian-ness shines with its true colours! The same trend spills over white pages and glitter with dignified images and inter-textual references.It invites a reader to sit and enjoy reading the poems seriously.
Ramakanta’s poems in this collection usher in a whirlpool of fresh ideas and a new zeal for life and joy of living where positive vibes attract a sensitive mind:
Open-endedness is the soul of poetry. It leaves the interpretations open. Ramakanta searches for a Gangotri somewhere beyond the physical canvas. Some of his images like “tough hands of Autumn”, “fatigued soul”, ”a season-less time” really move our hearts.
Ramakanta,like other postcoloniual poets, doesn’t hesitate to use Indian words and expressions to use Indian sensibility to the maximum. We may quote a few to justify our claim:
Arjun, Gulmohar,Tanpura,Yamuna,Yashoda, Tulsi plant, etc.
These words and expressions contextualise his thoughts appropriately. It is a true facet of expressions by a bilingual bard for whom the mode expression belongs to his personal faculty and choice. English has been Indianized and Sociolinguists have described that with critical parameters effectively and adequately. Code mixing is a regular pattern in contemporary Indian poetry and Ramakanta is a great follower of this glorious trend. India has a rich literary tradition where Ramakanta is a splendid member.
A poet is a meditative man who senses even small and changes around him. For him, withdrawal and renewing is a constant process. Simple images grasp deep meanings:
The poem is marked by carpe diem motif. Beautiful things fade as no one can ask Time to wait. It sweeps away things on its way. Poetry captures this fuzzy zone of fleeting habit of objects. We are just party to it. We are reminded of Bibhu Padhi, a famous poet from Orissa when the poet signs of pain, it is a poetic outpour in sonorous idioms:
Mysticism is the art and science of living perfectively and it is the self knowledge that subsumes knowledge of the world. Poets connect minds! Ramakanta is an honest artist who writes in a simple language; easily understandable.
Waiting makes man introspective. Poets of different generations have been writing on this. ‘Waiting’ for a poet is a vivid event in life. Ramakanta Das in his poem, ‘Waiting’ vividly expresses his patient waiting as a vivid construct:
There is a meaningful silence prevails in some of Ramakanta’s poems like ‘Stoic Silence’, ‘Love hurts’ and ‘Time’. Maximum use of liquid consonants in these poems adds a special flavour to musical appeal of the poems. His control over language is like a competent master and the wordsmith. The production of the book deserves mentioning separately.
As a whole, this timely collection is a significant addition to poetry in English by Indian writers and it deserves accolade worldwide. No one can deny this Sunrise somewhere!
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Shahzia Batool Naqvi
12/19/2013 11:23 AM
09/16/2013 08:17 AM
09/14/2013 03:19 AM