Book Reviews

Young and Talented - Padmapriya’s Poetry

When the foreword for a collection of poems contains a sentence like this: ‘She … remains the Peter Pan of modern Indo-Anglian poetry’, the reader would be enthused to read the text and later all collections of her poems. This article follows the quick reading of all poems of Padmapriya.

Poetry, like music, has two desired consequences – delight to the creator of the composition and the audience. It is shared joy and the resulting acclaim that the poet longs for with expectation. (Great Heights, 2003).

Poetry is strange and beautiful means of communication not only with people but even with God … I pray that my poems bring peace and better understanding of life into the lives of readers. (The Glittering Galaxy, 2005)

I have tried to blend creativity with strong messages. … Poetry like fresh air, gives life to both the writers and to the readers of poetry. (Galaxy, 2011)

These sentences written by Padmapriya in introductions to her collections of poetry would be the fittest beginners for her poetic oeuvre. She began writing poetry at the tender age. The first collection was published in 2003 and the other two collections with a gap of two and six years in 2005 and 2011 reveal how she mellowed in poetic imagination. The agility of her expression culminates in maturation and crystallization. We are told that she started writing poetry at seven. Inspired by her mother, she wrote first about the peepal, the tree before their home.

Great Heights (published by D. Ramabai in Chennai, 2003) has just twenty-four poems but the important thing is the mettle displayed therein. The very first poem ‘The Peepal Tree’ won the admiration of the stalwart Chennai poet Krishna Srinivas, editor of POET and also the President of World Poetry Centre. The tree is a symbol suggesting freshness, benignity, and long life. This noble growth right before her residence was the subject given to the poet by her mother, the first preceptor, guide, developer. The seed of creativity was sown with motherly benediction. To begin with the poet is aware of the actuality around.

In her poem ‘Where Money Counts’ she came up with the usual human perception.

The coins jungle,
The corpse talks,
For it, they jump
From hill tops. (p.12)

With God’s grace the philosophical bent began to grow.

The great wheel turns and turns
Time is churned, churned,
Till sheer oblivion;
The young man and the old body conflict,
Till death frees both,
Till then the ascent continues. (The Great Wheel, p.14)

There is an awakening of a strong moral sense seen in ‘God and Destiny’

There is less in man than we think of,
And more in God than we know of,
… … … …
Don’t cry when all is lost,
Believe in Him,

For his prowess is vast. (p15)

Krishna Srinivas wrote: “Padmapriya’s poetry is simple but charged and profound, apocalyptic and prophetic with epic sonority and majesty. She celebrates humanity and this universe.’’ As early as in 2003, he in a prophetic vein went further, “The entire cosmos, time and space are the canvas of her poetry and in a way it is majestic and ethereal.” Very poetic replete with imaginative fervour, his words proved to be prophetic. (Blessings are believed to have great power all the while, down the millennia.) In 2003, Padmapriya was a student at the university studying Economics. She came to be aware of the values like simple living and high thinking, the motto of the wise.

The poem ‘Great Heights’, the title of the collection, describes what life and living should be:

Live, don’t exist,
Eliminate poverty,
Cause prosperity,
Burn the world with your sparkling ideas,
Cross the impossible seas,
Live, don’t exist. (p.21)

Hope, it is said poetically, is the thing with feathers. It is the product of pristine vision. In the poet Padmapriya’s words:

In the era of hope
No creature of God
Will be more grateful than man
Not more generous.
… …. … …
In the era of hope, women will be treated with honour. (Song of Hope, p.22)

Being one of the fair sex, she has this hope, wish and desire. The sun is described as sparkling like a crystal in the smile of his face. She wrote:

Arise! O great painter of the heavenly aura (The Sun-The Mighty Bestower, 24)

Some poems are sagely preaching and moralistic as ‘Victory’.

There is no greater power,
Than the power of your conscience. (p.26)

A country is lead forward by its leaders but some of them are demagogues who speak of love and promote hatred with ill will. Even then the hopeful poet concludes

As affable clouds succeed the storm
Wise leaders will strive on
The fabric of nationhood,
Will not be torn. (‘Leaders’, p.27)

Childlike the poet writes of little children. For a first collection, these poems don’t have any pretensions – all they try is to put across are goodness, childlike purity and innocence - to be cultivated by the grown-ups.

Children, ingenuous and kind,
Intrepid and wise,
Very bold and very often right
Ruled by them,
Had the world been,
No sorrow or frustration,
There would have been. (p. 32)

The person who delivers judgements needs to be above love or hate – should hold in grudge. Equanimity is the quality of a childlike person and a judge should have that.

There is a poem on past, present and future. We are told by sages and seers who practised silence. Silence is a virtue: silence is divine. The poet says the same in her poem.

“Gentle water is more potent,
Than fiery fire,
Knowing the future,
Is tracing the past,
Retrospection, retrospection,
Redress the past
For a finer future. (p.35)

The symbols, tropes and expressions make this poet meritorious and great though young. The poem ‘Jasmine’ is an example. It is a statement for the flower’s believed intent.

Silvery pale
Moon’s shadow on a pool,
Little bulbs,
Each depicting an image,
Insuperable beauties;
Tiny tresses of hair, green sleeves, green cuts.
… … …
In my blissful oblivion,
They hear my foot steps,
Bow their heads,
As if to hide me,
And from all society.(p.39)

The poet creates an impression of her being a jasmine in contemporary society.

Padmapriya wrote in her introduction to The Glittering Galaxy: ‘I have not made any attempt to cover the deceptions and the reality of life.’ She has a prolegomena of her own on poetic creation. Creative imagination implies in and by itself its ups and downs, highs and lows, joys and tribulations. This is so because of the fact that poems come first and the order of their placing in the collection next. Nature is the basic theme in The Glittering Galaxy, 2005.

In the subject/theme the poems have creation, earth, caves, mountains, the sea, rivers, rain, waterfall, well; feelings and states of mind, dream, memory, men in position, the general, the conqueror, the victor and things ultimate like moksha, permanence, Ganapathi, , trees and flowers, birds and animals, rabbit, peacock ,lion and matters relating to money, economy and economists, and sound and light too.

‘The Peacock’, the first poem is about our national bird. It has its drawbacks – like its voice – but the poet and all of us are fascinated by the great dance and the great blues and greens. Writes the poet:

The peacock dances to attract
When it does
All our sorrows,
It does not subtract. (p.1)

In ‘Caves’ she brings out their quality of sheltering all kinds of men down the ages:

Caves are intriguing,
… …. …
For in caves resided saints and Cyclops,
In caves resided enlightened yogis,
In caves lived monks,
A cave can be a resting home,
Makes you feel like within a huge dome. (pp.2-3)

The sea, the wind, and tsunami come under one category:

In the poem ‘The Sea’ she says

Build sanctuaries for future possible refugees,
Give them strength,
Don’t plunder them,
When nature has already plundered all,
Don’t plunder,
Of help, be a lender. (p.9)

In ‘The Wind’ she writes’

I like winds
… … ….
Katrina, Rita
They battered America
… … ..
My heart yearns to sympathize
With my brothers and sisters,
In America, in Indonesia
And else where. (p.8)

There is a poem ‘The Tsunami’:

The ocean contracted itself,
And took in it, itself
And expanded
Took in it lives. (p.60)

There are poems about Almighty’s works, creation, rain, river, waterfall and well. There is a poem on ‘Moon”

The moon is a beautiful meadow
For human hearts to graze,
To set things in motion, just gaze,
The moon is a sweet mango,
Suck in its beauty. (p.7)

Rain is there too

The Rain is coming
On an invisible horse,
A real challenger,
With a long sword,
Fifteen pistols on his body
Tip, tip, pluck
I am enjoying his body (p.12)

There is a poem taking the title of the children’s rhyme ‘Rain Rain, Come Again’:

The rain broke dreams,
The rain smothered ambitions,
The rain tantalized the old, the sick,
The rain just chose and ticked
The rain felt no compunction,
It just carried out its functions. (p.32)

Here is a beautiful description in ‘The River’.

Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati,
… … …
What are these but names?
The identity is the same
All rolled into one.
…. …. …
People are one. (p19)

God’s primeval creations earth, mountains and caves which are already listed and shown. Earth and man are linked and the poet is worried not about mud, dust or masters of earth but about something else:

Where men change their stance, every second
Crazy chimeras arise from
Nincompoops, schmucks,
None make them bend…. (p.41)

The Himalayas are much praised honoured in ‘White Mountains’:

The wonders of nature,
The years of growth features,
The peace, the bliss,
The beauty of the perilous heights,
The trial, the tribulations of life,
Sweet are the uses of adversity, indeed. (p.48)

Dreams and memory are ever there;

My dreams are,
A dance of colours,
A wave of visuals,
Sounds and smells,
Feelings and touches.
My dreams and memory,
Sometimes collaborate,
Some times clash,
I am confused,
Things will clear up
When the earth inside us
Becomes bold and beautiful,
When the earth outside,
Big and beatific. (pp. 70-71)

Among men in high positions, there is a poem ‘The Conquerer’.

Among aspirants, those,
Those who desire benefits pecuniary
Are mere travellers
Those who desire to help humanity
Are conquerors. (p.58)

The poem ‘The General’ reads like a story poem. Though his army disappears feeling forlorn, he forges ahead and becomes a victor.

Back home to a a hero’s welcome,
He thanked his soldiers in front of all,
His soldiers shed tears,
Someone in the crowd said,
‘What brave men, we have!’
‘Yes,’ replied the rave general and asked,

‘Without them, would I have been able to march on?’ (p.59)

There is a poem about the victor too in ‘The Legacy of a Victor’:

What can be a victor’s legacy,
Except for his victories?
He who,
Converts fantasy into reality. (p83)

Devotion becomes her subject many a time. There is a poem on deity Vinayaka:

He is needed,
So that things go without hitches,
…. …. …
May he protect all,
His good wishes are desired by all. (Lord Ganapathi, p.65)

The poet knows that deliverance, moksha, should be the goal of a human being. ‘Moksha’ reveals that:

“When will you attain moksha?”
I tell them that salvation
Will come,
When we do our dharma
Life goes on,
As per our karma. (p.56)

The little rabbit and the grand lion are the poet’s subjects:

They are always hungry,
That is what makes farmers angry,
They gobble food,
As though they are in a great hurry
Rabbits are farmers’ enemy. (p.15)

‘The Lion’ is majestic and distinct.
He is a natural conservator of forests,
Never will he allow,
In it to prevail lawlessness, (p.4)

The very simplicity in these poems is captivating. Considering the corpus of the poet’s subjects, we have to agree that here is God’s plenty. The themes are inclusive and the poet’s imagination is lofty and her expression simple all along.

The third collection Galaxy is twinkles after glittering. This is so because the poet goes up go high and higher. In this collection also the poems are short and for that reason stimulating. Prof Jagapathy writes that Padmapriya’s poetry is heart-warming with youthful faith in goodness and virtue. He goes further calling her Peter Pan of Indo-Anglian new poetry.

In her ‘Global Country’, this poet, the citizen of the world writes:

There are not many worlds,
Just one.
You live where I live,
I live where you live.
Our home is one,
It’s a global country. (p.3)

These words hold testimony to all that the foreword carries.

About senility the poet feels that it is a condition of mind.

Age does not define a man,
The man defines his age.
… … …
The practical man, who performs his duties,
Is good and wise
Is forever youthful. (pp 6-7)

‘Parasites’ is a poem which describes people who gather and peddle tobacco and narcotics:

“You, parasites!”
Do you know what you do?
You dig graves to build castles. (p.8)

‘Supernova’ is the name the poet gives to great men:

Massive stars die differently,
Great people don’t die,
They live for aeons
In memories and tributes. (p.10)

In ‘Hammock’ a dream experienced is revealed:

I lay in a hammock,
And dreamt of happy thoughts,
Sweet feelings surged within me,
As a hamper of food,
Crept into my hamper of day dreams. (p.12)

With a devout mind the poet imagines and lists out many hallowed divine ones Christian Muslim and Hindu and concludes:

The feet of hallowed men,
Are holy.
The dust of their feet
Their teachings, if we follow,
We make our lives holy.
Holy … (p.13)

For the poet God is a holy jurist and she says so in this poem:

God the jurist
Omniscient, omnipotent
Delivers justice in time,
There is only one law above all,
The laws of human kind,
Karma … Karma. (Jurist, p.15)

The ideal world is described as ‘Good World’

It is a good world,
Where no one is hungry,
Where all have some work to do,
Where no one is made to feel like the Dodo. (p.16)

‘Future’ is a poem with intense and immense hope:

The forest of the future
Shall bloom with myriad flowers,
… … …
Where ideas rage,
Where great men with their successes,
Become immortal, defying age. (p.19)

‘Fleeting Moments’ is about hope again inspiring us to preserve the moments of joy and contentment:

Mankind must reciprocate in full measure,
The waxing and waning of the moon,
The rising and setting of the sun,
Beauty lies in life’s fleeting moments,
Life’s transient. (p.21)

The poet drew both blessings and inspiration from the veteran poet Krishna Srinivas and in ‘Lord Krishna’ she describes her guide and philosopher as ever lasting like God himself:

To poets, he was a mother,
To all artists and writers,
He was a brother,
Of peace, he was a lover,
He was a great writer,
For millions, a mentor.
… … …
He will remain an eternal winner.. (p22)

‘Of Bonds and Human Bonds’ is about the heinous and fiendish acts of the blind and brazen terrorists. Any imaginative person even not being a poet himself would be lacerated with immense pain when he hears of blasts, bombings and such heartless activities. The poet asks the readers to have a look of our pristine tradition of peace and understanding.

India has often been looted,
India has often been wounded,
India has often been invaded,
Yet, she has never lost her identity,
India is an epitome of unity in diversity. (p.25)

A sane, sober and understanding is the secret of happy living. One should not lose the sense of equanimity. Here is what this poet says of winter. Many a poet has said that things change and change for the better too. In the poem In the poem ‘Winter’ the poet says:

She does not fall always,
Nor are trees without leaves,
Why do we malign winters? (p.35)

Goodness and godliness are not different. In ‘Endless Journey’ the poet says:

Think not of what your work will get you
For what will receive from the kindness of God’s will,
Will be more than can ever estimate,
Don’t measure blessings,
For they are immeasurable. (p.39)

A God-believing, God-loving and God-following person, being righteous and always well-meaning, the poet speaks of ‘God’s Love’ offering a peace of advice:

With its unknown future
Look ahead with fortitude,
…. …. …
His gentleness is thy prop,
Goodness is God. (p.430)

This poet is a devotee of the Supreme Being. In her poem towards the end of this collection ‘Devipriyam - The Beloved of the Gods’, she expresses solemn faith in God-men as well as in God.

When we look at the calmness on the faces of God-men,
We believe that God is there,
When we see miracles done,
We surrender to the Gods. (p.55)

Faith is God-given. Faith can be born and inspired as poetic imagination too. Poetic, imaginative expression, like poetic expression is also God-given. Padmapriya is a blessed one.


More by :  Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.

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