Book Reviews

Reflecting Prism of Love, Life and Nature

The Best of the Big D (Poetry), Poet: D. Everett Newell
ISBN: 9789381696736, Rs. 180/-, Publisher: Cyberwit

The Best of the Big D is quintessence of the poetic sensibility and the encompassing experience of D Everett Newell, one of the greatest English poets of the modern world. He has to his credit stupendous achievements of seven books of poetry, excluding the present one which contains the best poems carefully selected from all his poetry books. In this collection, hundred and one poems have been singled out from his previous works such as Memories and Reflections, Captured Moments, Conduits To Heart and Soul, Dinosaurs Live Among Us, Bob’s Gettysburg Saga and Poetry, I Dream of Clyde Monro, and The Bobble Heads of My Life. All the poems selected, are ‘impressive outpouring of spontaneous passion’; they are succinctly suffused with ‘eclectic spirit’ and ‘eclectic thoughts’, with depth of reflection on life and the world.

Thematically, his poems centre around certain circumferences of life and the milieu- nature and its beauty, and its role in the evolution of mankind, social, moral, family and ethical values, love and humanity, global harmony, hopes, dreams, and memoires, depth of reflections and evolution of thoughts and philosophy and many more. His poetry is the outcome of his experiences. In the well-rhymed verse “Julian Rose’, D Everett Newell proclaims:

I am a person of many complexities
assimilation of life as I grow
My story is long yet simplistic trek
sometimes fantastic, sometimes it blows

Nature is the most significant and oft recurrent theme in the poetry of D Everett Newell. His interest in and fascination with nature and its innate beauty and charm is quite remarkable in his poems. Like a true romantics, he eulogizes nature in more than a number of ways through symbolical uses of objects of nature such as river, mist flowers, mountains, and hills etc that evoke mixed feelings in readers. The poet seems to be immensely fascinated by the beauty of nature. He is simultaneously aware of its healing power. That’s why he often takes resort to countryside landscape and natural surroundings of flora and fauna. Through the metaphor of ‘river’ representing nature, he brings home the point-

A river of droplets,
cleanses us,
refreshes, renews life (A River)

‘The River’ is an appealing poem that displays his poetic attitude to the conservation of water for prosperity and survival of mankind.

Water, rivers, building block,
we must protect it,
nurture it,
It perpetually protects
and nurtures all of us,
so that we can live.
It provides out life,
with never-ending,
bounty of fruit,
animals, vegetation!

The poet is of the view that on this land beautified by nature, all the people are supposed to live in harmony and this sense of co-existence amply gets reflected in the lines taken from the poem “ Icy Morning Embrace”-

This land of ice and snow
Simply there is no choice, we reside here stubbornly to resist
And here stubbornly we exist

Love to Teddy Bear, Memories, My old Pa Home,, Dreams are other poems which show his love for nature. He perceives in nature a divine element that refines and refreshes comforts and delights us. In a captivating poem “My Old PA Home“, he exclaims out with ecstasy :

Oh the blue skies speak eternal to the ideals of hope and life.
Water is the great refresher and a basic building block to my existence.
It heals all hurts insecurities and when life feels empty closes the distance.

His poetry presents a beautiful rapport between nature and human life. Life always flourishes in the serene lap of nature. He walks around the yard of nature and captures some beautiful moments of life. In the poem ‘Beginning of a Spring Poem’, he arrests our attention:

Where the Bee's make love,
and life begins,
this humbles me,
as they dance the dance of life!
Nature bursts forth,
in all of its pageantry!

D Everett Newell’s poetry is a rainbow of reflections on and about life and family, love, marriage and relationships. It is an extension of human experience. Most of the poems deal with his serious brooding over some familial aspects of life with formative influence on him. Dreams, memories, being the new creative materials for him, along with social and family values find a prominent place and exquisite treatment in his poetry. Love keeps humility and humanity humid with its warmth. He believes in complete enjoyment of life to the fullest with true emotions and pure feelings. He looks down upon the mechanical love or robotic human beings. In ‘Own Yourself’, he exhorts us-

…..…. live life to the fullest,
do not feign love.
Emotions dry up soon enough,
illusions wear on soul,
use memories to exercise,
let dreams be the fuel!

He calls upon all to ‘take time to be human’ in ‘this technological world’ where human beings are being turned into robotics and mechanical.

D Everett Newell’s is the poetry of positive and profound message that lays emphasis on values and ideals of life. His poems speak about the inculcation and preservation of values for the proper betterment of overall beings of the people. He believes in the established bonds of love that is traditionally rooted in family. Without morality, no man is man. Hence he puts sufficient emphasis on the ethical values to be imbibed by one and all.

He is a poet, traditionalist to the core. He holds the view that traditional and conventional values passed down to us from generation to generation are nothing but the fondled memories. He is thankful to God that we resort to our traditions in spite of all the vices and ills though we ‘walk through/ many valleys of evil!” In ‘Seated at Our Thanksgiving Table’, he expresses views about traditions that are handed down generations after generations-

They never leave us!
Our memories keep them alive
Traditions born from their sweat

Love and humanity is the crux of poetry of D Everett who puts stress on the global peace, harmony and prosperity. Humanistic ethos has been given top priority in his poems calling upon for global harmony. His love for the poor strata of society, particularly the downtrodden is highly reflective of his poetic heart. He believes in ‘heartfelt humility’ and ‘taking notice of the downtrodden’. He arrests our attention to the following lines of the poem ‘Magic’:

To be human,
Is to be divine
Care, comfort and warmth,
On your sleeve
Willing to use those,
In a moment’s notice
Then notice,
All the wrongs you can right

The poet is saddened to see the present plight of the world which is grappled with the global problem of terrorism. In every nook and corner, terroristic acts are being committed in the name of religion, castes and creeds. Humanity is being slain for no faults. Freedom of expression seems to have taken wrong turns. Dedicated to all the firemen, police, civilians that died in The Twin Towers and Pentagon attacks on 9/11/01, “Owed To Bin laden” holds up the mirror to this scaring phenomena-

Symbols of freedom gone,
but freedom rings,
in our hearts and soul!
In my dreams I see all who came before,
time again for the caissons to roll!

Pentagon, a building of power, crumbled,
as so many cement pillars made of flower!
I feel fear, I feel despair, damn it,
I feel anger, but we will never cower!

He is very much suggestive when he reveals that “We need to be more tolerant, we need to show more compassion. “(Cold). He takes pride in the fact that ‘We all are stronger,/Because of this shared history’.

Existential concerns, transitory of life, inevitability of death, helplessness of people are also some important themes of his poetry. He is quite aware of the footsteps of Time and this is the reason why he wishes to live life to the fullest, while making the most use of natural resources offered by nature. His poem “ I wish I could” is testimonial to this very fact –

Life is short, unexpected
And undetermined
Live it as much as you can
Obstacles at every corner
Guilt piles on survivors
Which we are, all
Sometimes pain,
Then the joyous memories, a
Balanced provided inertia.

The poet opines that that life is a comprehensive term with wide range of connotations, simplicities and complexities. Life is work, endurance, hardship, consistency, loss, beautiful, question. In short, it is subject to dualities of life. To him life is ‘so many hills, so many bumps’. He sums up what “Life Is”-

Life is , what it is
Make the most of it
Just because you can,
And Life is!

He believes in living the present moments of life. Due emphasis on the present life does occur in his poetry. His exhortation and suggestiveness are their best. In “This Day”, he underlines his stand on his philosophy of life-

Today is more important than,
Days past, Grateful I am for
This Day
Spend these moments wisely
Get the most of each heart beat
This day...

The theme of utilizing the present moments of life to translate all the dreams and aspiration into reality is carried forward in his next poem “My Dreams” which is impregnated with unflinching realism-

Reality is today,
Uncertainty is tomorrow
Yesterday belongs
To my dreams
Everything seen or felt
In my human experience
Both good and bad
Makes me happy

He further presents a fantastic elaboration, his broad perspective and the kaleidoscopic view of life in the poem ‘Stepping Stone of Life’-

Life is about survival, working, and living
Accepting things we can’t change
Changing things we can accept,
Looking over the precipice,
Of life’s many mountains

He regards life as a rare gift of God who has created us so that we can contribute to the growth of mankind while completing our journey in this world. As “life is short”, we must make it full and leave behind indelible impact on the coming generations by virtue of our good deeds in order that our memories must be etched in one’s mind. In his metaphorical poem “Beautiful Flower“, he writes-

We can’t ignore your huge gift to our being
Helping complete our journey
On this sacred of all planets
Our yearly friend, the Beautiful Flower

Life is not a bed of roses. It is full of thorns. It is replete with opposites, tensions, contrasts, binaries, conflicts, clashes etc. However, we don’t have to be bogged down in the quagmire of life. We have to keep tiding over the trials and tribulations. He, in his poetry “I Get Up” motivates and inspires us to meet all the challenges.

Life is a series of missteps,
Falling down
As they say it builds character
So we keep going despite our obstacles
I get up, we get up
So important amid the chaos
To just fight again
To keep living
When life knocks us down
I continually get up!

His poem is suffused with suggestiveness and didacticism. He always motivates and inspires his reader to believe in positive side of life. In this sense his poetry is steeped in deep sense of optimism and hope for the best. In the poem “U” he gives suitable tips to live our life in the world-

Run when fighting won’t solve anything
Fight when running won’t work
Know you will hurt
Both emotionally and physically
Rise above this, and then move on
Be human it’s we do best…

Being human and humane is a divine quality of man. No other traits can stand against it. It is common knowledge that no man is perfect. All are the bundles of virtues and vices. However, one has to be humane and supportive of humanity. He rightly states-

Don’t ever expect to be perfect
Man and woman have basic flaws
Just be the best you can be
Today, tomorrow, forever
Live with no regrets

His is poetry of tributes, homage and dedications. The poems as showcased in this collection are the poems of tributes and homage, dedicated to several family members and also to his near and dear ones, close to their family. There are some poems of condolences as well. Such poems are ‘Dear Alice’, ‘John Burns’, ‘Valentine’s Day’, ’Sorry Closed’ ,’One Less Hug’, ‘We Are Geckos’, ‘I Miss You Janis’, ‘I Found Gold’, ’Dreaming I asked’, ‘Reunion’, ‘Afraid of Dying’, ‘Blue Eyed Girl’,, ‘I wonder, a which Stop does the Love Live?, ’In a Touch’, ‘ Our Little White Church on a Hill’,, Our Vet, My Dad’,’ Imprints on my Heart’,’ She Keeps on Keeping On etc.

He has also dedicated poems to his father and mother. Through his poems he expresses his love and respect to them. He feels proud of his mother because she has paved the path right for him to tread on. He heaps praises on his mother in the poem “She Keeps on Keeping On”-

I have seen her cry, to prevent us worry
I have heard her laughter, to give us hope
I saw the love she gave my Dad, our guiding light

Expression of love, affection, dedication and respect for the family and family members is another beautiful aspect of his poetry. Time spent with the family is well etched in the memory of the poet. As a matter of fact, hobnobbing with them has successfully shaped up his ideas and thoughts. He vows to love his family unto the last drop of his blood. He is feeling indebted when he says in the poem “Spirit And Memory” :

When I am gone, still I remain
A wisp of air, a dropping leaf
As the sun shines down
So will my smile, and with the rain
My tears mixed with yours
Forever I walk beside you.

Friendship is a special and important theme with the poet. He wishes to live ‘a life with trusted Friends’. He believes in cemented bonds of friendships, love and respect. Friends are pillar of strength for him. In some of his poems he has expressed his gratitude to them. In the poem “Friends”, he himself accepts-

You are there,
Through thick and thin.
I can count on you,
When troubles close in.

Hence, he always prefers a life ‘with trusted friends’. He is thankful to all- his friends and family members- for supporting him in all times- good or bad. Truly, a good friendship and true companionship relieve one of the troubles of life by cutting them down. He freely voices his views in “Thanks And Giving”:

Life can at times be hard,
Fraught with struggles, sadness
Yet gathering, we only think of happiness
Coupled in a communal warmth, together

In his poetry, Newell has also expressed his nationalistic zeal and fervor. He is a poet imbued with sense of patriotism. He has immense love and honor for his nation and the flag, so ‘honored’ and ‘revered’. He is all bent on holding the mast of his country’s prosperity and progress. “American Flag” freely unfurls this zeal of his-

It gives to us
Safety, humility, strength!
Always hold high and dear
Our American Flag !

Newell is a poet of unflinching faith in God. His poetry displays a spiritual manifestation of his ideas about God. All have their own perspectives when it comes to the conception and perception of God. We experience Him in different ways. He rightly reiterates it in the poem “ We are Geckos”:

God is all things, I mean
To many different people
The vision of him, or her changes
With each of our unique perspectives

Next to beauty of nature, divine beauty appeals to him much more. There is a precedence of faith and emotion over his reason and intellect. Religion side of his life amply gets reflected in his poetry. In a beautiful poem “I Ran I did not walk”, he dedicates his eulogy to the divine forces of the world-

I immersed myself in your beauty
I ran I did not walk
To the nearest white church on a hill
I immersed myself unto him
The great engineer, maker of all

As a matter of fact, Newell’s poetry is his ‘relief valve’ that lets his inner feelings and passion escape from his mind’s inner dungeon and makes him feel peace of mind and warmth of heart. As a result of assimilations and experiences of life, he has come up with his best recollections in this quintessential collection of exquisite poems, ‘most convincing and admirable’. Existential experience he had while living with different kind of people is all that finds a wonderful flow in his writings.

In this way we find that ‘The Best of The Big D” is a superlative compendium of the best poems of D Everett Newell. His love of nature and mankind, his unflinching faith in the system of family raising and relationships, his stress on inculcation of values and ideals of life with emanating reflections on varied aspects of life have been well portrayed. The choice of words, surcharged diction and glowing and refreshing images drawn from the world of nature are striking, and evocative. Simplicity of expression is yet another quality of his poetry that is sure enough to attract all poetry lovers. His poetry transports us to a clam, peaceful world of nature, with some fondled memories of family love, love for humanity, while long living with true friends, ruminating about life and its inadequacies and intricacies to address humanitarian concerns.

The book in question is worth reading and commendable to all the lovers of poetry across the world. Happy reading!

(Modied version of the review was published in the International Journal, Harvests of New Millennium, VOLUME 9 NUMBER 1 2016)


More by :  Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar

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