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Canvas and Colours - Love Poems by R. K. Das
by Shazia Batool Naqvi Bookmark and Share
The present article has been written as the review of poetry by Mr. Arkay Dass , and became the Foreword to his book, "Canvas and Colours", published in New Delhi, India.

Foreword to 'Canvas & Colors' 

It is the belief of imaginative poets that they are the symbol and the voice of universal human experiences more lasting than the accidents of time. Their poetry speaks from one age to another, because it is founded in experiences which are simple, common, profound, which are human and universal ; such is the belief of R. K. Das as well. He is one of those rare poets who catch up new strains of emotions, new thoughts, new images and express them for all times in an imperishable language.

His name reminds me of a statement by Maugham “I always keep myself to myself, and shall always keep myself to myself”. No rational approach can help us understand Mr. Das’ poetry; it is only through his imaginative faculty that a reader can construe his imaginative flights , only by feeling his verse on the pulse.

There is a touch of timelessness about his poems for the ruling passion in his poetic world that is love with all the timeless incomprehensibility about it, so universal, so human! R. K. Das is the oriental voice of the universal passion of love, and in his celebration he does not follow Bacon who remarks:
“It is impossible to love and to be wise”, rather he celebrates Shakespeare’s view in Romeo and Juliet:

“What it is else?
A madness most discreet”

Just like the language of poetry is never the language of any age, similarly a poet is not the poet of any age, race, creed or colour. The poetry of Mr. Das is beyond the confines of all boundaries and barriers. His pen voices out his feelings so creatively that he does not let his reader remain in the world of reality while transporting him to the world of imagination and myth, simultaneously making him stand face to face with the harsh reality of here and now.

The volume “Canvas and Colours” offers the extension of the poet’s naturally figurative style. It is thoroughly imbued with the spirit of love, so complete and so noble that finds a fuller expression in his poems . Here’s a feast for his avid readers. It comprises fifty seven poems in all, poems of lightness, melody, beauty and romance. This collection of poems is strewn with music and colours of love ,as Macaulay remarks:

“By poetry we mean the art of employing words in such a manner as to produce an illusion on the imagination, the art of doing by means of words what the painter does by means of colours.”

Yes, the colours of love, enthusiastic with the exuberance of imagination. His melodies move the heart like a trumpet. The personified canvas in the title poem “Canvas and Colors” reminds of a painter in Ashbery’s poem who is sitting to paint the portrait of the sea. Over there the canvas remains colourless but here it is a live-canvas that issues a commandment to the painter to:

“Steal the colours at once
From her lips, warm and extra red
And paint me all over”

Canvas and Colours
And the ultimate consummation is the masterpiece made of the celestial beauty of the beloved. The colours cater to the visual sense, while melody to the sense of hearing. In the poem “Rhythm” the following stanza reverberates Shakespeare’s love phrase from Winter’s Tale; “When you do dance, I wish you a wave o’ the sea, that you might ever do nothing but that; move still, still so”,

“There was rhythm in your heart
Dancing to the brass feat
As you swayed from left to right
As if spring was on your feet” - RHYTHM
Melody is an arrangement of single notes in a musically expressive succession, which is found here, as a harmonized music-a soothing symphony to the soul:
“You’re the virgin music
Of an ivory piano
That softly echoes on the auditory organ
Of my anguished self - THE STARLET

In the private universe of "My toil and tears”. The freshness and purity of the lyrical quality of the poems show a poetic imagination at once more direct to that of Elizabethans as well as Romantic lyrists in all the naturalness and rhythmic music. The lyrics by R. K. Das are unique, for they follow no tradition and they influence no followers, but stand unmatched for their own spell.
He possesses luminous simplicity of meaning and magic, intense ecstatic emotions. His poetry is sensuous and picturesque like that of Keats, pleasing to the eyes, sweet to the hearing. It is like a mosaic casket dazzled by the treasure of jewels within. How wonderful it is to try to relive in our imagination, the experiences of the poet, especially here, the evocative images, the rhythm of thought, emotion, associations and desires help us to relish this experience. Quite possible it is to dive into his poetic ocean and come up with our hands full of orient pearls of “Silk Route” for instance:

“I have for you
Gifts of gold, pearl, diamond, rubies
And other precious Indian gemstones
Stacked on a camel back
I have silk and honey
And exclusive red roses kept hidden
In my poetic heart all for you" - SILK ROUTE
The word romance amply expresses the beauty of the varied sources of poetry exercised in common. Being a true Romantic in temperament, the aura of romance casts a subtler fascination. In R. K’s world when the lover gets drenched in the passion of love, a strange fusion of platonic and sensual love emerges; as is found in “The Perennial Touch”

“Can I touch you? I said
And touched you perennially
Like the sky kissing the earth
Beyond the seas” - THE PERENNIAL TOUCH
The passion of love has always been, and will always be the nucleus of all Romantic Poetry. Here in this volume the mood finds consummate expression in poems like “Alphabet of Love” and “Three Make a Crowd”…Simple, innocent and quite passionate…. What a wonderful and a vast world of love he offers as a reciprocity if his passion is granted:

“If only you wish
To listen to my Sonnet
How easy it is for me
To compose an epic
Of million couplets
And recite if for you
Under a moonlit sky
When You and I Make a company
And the moon a crowd” - THREE MAKE A CROWD
The poem “Just You and Me” celebrates the indivisible togetherness and sensuous romanticism. There always remains the lyrical beauty of many passages of description, and of passionate thought. The lyrics in this volume are enjoyable for their reconciling of the dichotomy between the flesh and the spirit, between the sensual and the sublime.

In the art of versification, the stanzaic form used by the poet is so uniform and so unique, the images are knit together wave upon wave till the final culminating point is reached. This continuous stanzaic form shows a very slight element of design. The lines follow each other without formal grouping. The breaks are dictated by units of meaning, as paragraphs are in prose. Less traditional poetry contains stanzas of varying length, sometimes with , and sometimes without rhyme; in the art of R. K. Das, the rhythm, the blend of sound and meaning in this continuous stanzaic form cast a wonderful effect:

“Sketchy outlines
Of long-forgotten dreams
Drawn on a crumpled canvas
Were all that I had
And you have ever since
Poured out multiple colors of love
And made them into
A gorgeous piece of art” - OUTLINE OF DREAMS

An enjoyable reading depends upon the fanciful figurative expressions of the poet using arresting images, and the style: the lucid, the elegant, the graphic, and the vigorous; and the poems in “Canvas and Colors” abound in all that can be called…. Beautiful… and for this Mr. Das deserves the credit. I would like to end the foreword by stating a fact:
Greater the intensity more the readership!!!

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