Book Reviews

Peeling the Inner Layers

“Living Inside” by Gopal Lahiri
Pub: Authorspress; ISBN:9788172737689, Price: INR. 195.  

In the vast world of poetry, each poet‘s creative genius remains unique in its own way and so is Gopal Lahiri’s poetic world. Going through this collection “Living Inside” gives a feeling of being into the Garden of colourful fragrant flowers. Gopal Lahiri’s poems are like different beautiful flowers so fresh and fragrant. One would never wish to come out of this garden of flowers and would love to be there in this wonderful garden for countless hours. His poems have the magical skills to captivate the readers and keep them lingering on the pages to get in more insightful delight.
The publisher Authorpress has done a fabulous job by selecting the cover page which depicts beautiful nature. One gets lured by the shower of colourful petals which are unevenly scattered by the breeze. It increases the curiosity of the readers to know what is “Living Inside” and would love to live inside amidst nature.

The scholarly Foreword by Dr Sunil Sharma is a befitting testimony to the worthiness of the book. In the Foreword, Dr Sunil Sharma strikes a major note when he designates Gopal lahiri as “Columbus”. He says, “In this internet age of proliferating poetry, Gopal Lahiri stands as a towering new Columbus pointing us towards new possibilities, directions and territories. Gopal Lahiri can create enchanting landscapes through words and finer sensibility that very few possess these days of instant communication. With fast strokes, this geological scientist can produce sensitive portrayals of contemporary worlds that border on the marvellous!”

A well crafted foreword by Dr Sunil Sharma has added strength to this volume.
Gopal Lahiri successfully interknits multiple perspectives to produce a well integrated pattern of thoughts and feelings. He has the ability to convey greater truths of life and human existence with ease and conviction. He uses his pen effectively in exposing the hypocrisy that prevails in the spineless thought process of people  In one of his poems titled ‘Snippet’ the last line “but who cares , damn it “ brought on by the awareness of social realities exposes the complexities of the individual in particular and society at large . One can feel the angst in his poems .The last line will most definitely touch the hearts of the readers and for sure will create awareness among them to make this earth a better place to live in.

“Spectacle floats in snippets of anguish,crouching, gnawing,
asking too many questions on food and shelter,
 hygiene and education,
everyone knows fully well      
but who cares, damn it.”   
(Snippet-pg 20 and 21)

In this ruthless search for meaning of life there are glimpses of sadness that ennobles and elevates the mind. Gopal Lahiri, a lover of nature, depicts his trust in the tranquility amidst the tall trees. He presents nature as a refuge for providing to the weary soul. These lines demonstrate his cravings for peace and solace.

“Let us share our teardrops with the passing clouds
Find solace and peace in the solitude of tall trees,
Wondrous the fragrance of night, pure and untainted,
A new bud appears in our troubled mind, tortured soul.”
(Share – pg 25)

Gopal lahiri’s poems paint pictures for us, pictures that sojourn in the clay of our imagination as the words mould themselves into shapes, colour and vibrancy of life. The poet beautifully creates a connection between both aspects of nature and consciousness of mankind together. He combines the imaginative vitality of Shelley, the richness of Keats imagery, and the detection of infused spirituality of Wordsworth. Nature has never been a mere backdrop or an inanimate presence. It is breathed with a presence that the poet is also a part of it. Mesmerized by the beauty, he desires to be connected to the mystical elements of earth which is seen in the lines of his poem “Kumarakom”. His poetry is permeated with every seasonal hue, replete with the flora and fauna reflecting all possible moods.                                       

“Azure sky, crisp clouds, soft sunlight –rolls
into an orange yellow screen spreading colour;
the various shades and hues of flowers lay scatter all
Around by rocking of the soothing breeze
connect the long pending mystical elements of the earth.”
(Kumarakom –pg 33)

Poetry is nothing but alchemy, humanizing and transformation. The ephemeral quality of life and the philosophical musings form the thematic circumference of some of his poems.  The poetic excellence of Gopal Lahiri lies in the sincerity of his feelings and in the simplicity of expressions. The following lines are philosophical echoes, the lack of self –pity and the acceptance that life has no purpose except to be lived fully. Live everything from loneliness to chaos, take it upon yourself and peel the inner layers. That’s the way of living. A subtle philosophical note runs through the lines of the poem.

“Everything echoes and fades away hastily,
Even the passage of the sunlight misses out-
You have to remain without a solution.
live everything from loneliness to the chaos,
capture every shade of pain in your thoughts-
Take it upon yourself and peel the inner layers.
Your dreams have a life of their own,
You seek in every moment, every interval-
The innermost soul leads you way to the answer”.
(A way of living –pg 51)

Gopal Lahiri contemplates and mediates upon the ephemerality of human existence and the helplessness of humans. He writes about the common man’s struggle to cope with the vicissitudes of life. He laments about poverty, empty dreams and blasted hopes. He subtly versifies the dark side of social spectrum which shows how keen an observer he is of the world around. His poems are sensitive responses to real life, an existentialist lament of human suffering.

“Torn clothes, dirty face, she looks in fierce focus.
She sits on the pavement, mutter in silence,
Can anyone save me from fighting hunger?”
(Struggle-pg 53)

Gopal Lahiri is a conscious poet “looking before and after”. His poetic lines show search for higher truth and meaning of life. He takes the readers through an affective poetic process whereby they are transported to a mysterious and complex realm of past, present and future.

The poem ‘Freedom” will put forth a lot of queries which the readers will ponder upon and hope they understand the true meaning of life. Having reached the present crucial moment in the adventure of evolution and the poet being a scientist tries to find an answer to metaphysical questions like “Is there an advance which will tell you what happens after the ashes?” Is only a relapse, a retreat a slipping into the yawning abyss of extinction? He deploys the readers to different zones familiar and novel as well.

The poem ends up with surrendering oneself by “Just drop off” all fears of darkness and defeat. Lahiri wants his readers to overcome the limitation of ignorance and obscurities and contradictions of mental life. His poem reveals how if one chooses the road to surrender without any fear will achieve the bliss of divine life. It is prerogative of the awakened soul , acquiring a clear sense of direction and power and poise of movement to tunnel through death-daunted life and time to the bliss of everlasting at the far end. Here are some lines from the poem revealing the ultimate truth that one day everything will come to an end so why fear or worry instead accept the truth and live your presence to the fullest.

“A question hangs in the air-What if you stop and never start again?
What happens after the ashes? We don’t know but would like to.
It may be that not every clue we need we have so much of fear you know
fear of defeat fear of darkness, you gravelly voice grounds us, your denial
brings us pain and grief, your answer is always abrupt and curt.
Just accept we are floating in water, just lie back and let it hold you up
Just drop off, let it go the burden. It’s great to escape in another time.”
(Freedom -79)

His poems reveal his meditative mind. It strikes a chord in the mind of the receptive readers. Since most of his poems in this collections are fuelled with insightful thoughts, poetic feelings, idealistic vision and worldly wisdom of the poet, his poems find resonance with his readers. The creative dexterity , the themes and the diction all flow in cascades to drench the readers to give rise to an emotional and empathetic response. Arresting and evocative imagery and a mordant sensibility endear him completely to the modern reader. This collection is truly a delightful read and a wonderful treat to the soul. A wonderful addition on the shelf of Indian English Poetry. I wish Gopal Lahiri many more poetic ventures, more profound on a wider canvas. Best Wishes!

(This review is also published in Virtuoso , a Refereed Transnational Bi- Annual Journal of Language and Literature . Hyderabad. The Chief Editor of this Journal is T.Sai Chandra Mouli, a poet , translator , a former Professor of English)


More by :  Mohini Gurav

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Views: 3474      Comments: 4

Comment Thanks Dear poet friend Bhaskar Jha for your motivational words of appreciation. Thanks for the compliments and it means a lot to me to receive this from you.

Mohini Gurav
17-Jan-2016 01:26 AM

Comment Well analysed, perceptive review ! Exhaustive , wonderful overview with shades of varied meanings well peeled off ! Hats off to you and Poet Gopal Lahiri Sir..:)

Bhaskar Jha
09-Mar-2015 10:15 AM

Comment Thanks Mohini for your scholarly review.

26-Jan-2014 09:09 AM

Comment I am thankful to Gopal Lahiri sir , a great poet and a down to earth human being.Thanks for giving me this opportunity to review your book. I loved reading your poems. A great delight to soul. Humbled and honoured. Thanks Sir :) Best wishes for future endeavours. Looking forward for more poems from you.:)

Mohini Gurav
16-Jan-2014 13:01 PM

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