Book Reviews

Pensive Senescence

Reddy T.V, Golden Veil, Authorspress, New Delhi, 2016, Pages 100, Price Rs. 250/- &12/-

Vicious is the veil, need of the hour is truth
Will let us free our self from the veil
and try to seek the Truth behind the veil
Uultimate Truth lies beyond the golden vein.

Vasudeva Reddy, an academic, known as a Tirupati poet, has so far published eight collections. Golden Veil came out recently in 2016. Now a septuagenarian, the poet has come a long way from flowering, fruition and maturity to enviable crystallization. The highest reward we can give for any poet is to attentively read his poetry and, to understand his imagination and the beauty of its rendition.

Writing at an age of mellowness, the basic poet has come out with his best of compositions revealing his inner self, his attitudes and his dislikes with deep honesty and simplicity. In the very first poem ‘Shell of Solitude’, he revealed his mentality with pensive senescence. There are seventy-five poems in a hundred pages and there are repetitions which don’t jar since they reveal his innate mental making. There is an additional interest here – nine metrical poems are included in this collection. Being a teacher of English, this poet wrote several types of sonnets.

The veil is called golden for it is as valuable:
Unused to hawkish hues of dash and drive
I prefer to say in sober shell of solitude,
I am forced to wear the veil of cool reserve
And get deprived of the dreamt of touch
… ….. …
I can’t transform my mute cells, now or old,
Indeed I know I need to be a bit bold;
Yes, I need the kind rays of the higher Grace,
Bereft of these lives and lines can’t blaze.
Courage often makes a common man a legend
or one has to live and crawl as a lone lizard. (p.9)

The poet has a deep social consciousness and he understands the immediate cure for the ailment he talks about in the poem ‘Need of the Hour’.

Thousand years of lavish sluggish timid sleep
After centuries of saga of sacrifices and blood shed
ended at last with our flag flying free and high
only see our corrupt forces hoisting selfish agenda
with their corrupt flag flying high on Mount Everest
….. ………. .. ..
We eagerly look to a true leader with a clean wand;
to save the most abused and misused ancient land;
another avatar of Narasimha is the need of the hour
to establish dharma and end corrupt secular power. (p. 11-13)

The poet deals with old age in many a place in various attitudes. He prepares himself to face the actuality with a sense of understanding and resilience. There is poem ‘Soon the Sun Does Set’ with words skilfully chosen. For the poet being a teacher of language is an additional utility.

You are tired, my child, you are grown too old;
No use in groaning and gasping for bad breath
Better not to breathe on the burning pyre of pest
The old frame is lad to rest with a formal wreath
The sun has set for good with the hope of rest. (p.18)

The poet has a sense of humour and he makes fun of adages like a bird at hand is worth two in the bush and speaks of a bird in the cage, a little thing undergoing great torture. He pities birds in captivity. A Bird in the Cage is case in point.

Like prisoners in the cells of white Andaman Isles
the captive bird pines all day and night full of dreams
of unrestricted flight in sunny skies for miles and miles
her songs at low tide turn out to be poor sickly screams. (p. 19)

There are many aspects to the last journey which is roughly called death and Vasudev described nearly all those. Two of those are here: ‘No More Tears’

No more drops of tears to fall
Nor more words or thoughts to call
….. …. ..
A black veil covers the northern hills
All the land the eerie darkness fills
as a dark cloud or a sable shroud. (p.20)

and ‘Forget Me Not’:

Let not your heart yield to tears or fear.
These words ring in my ears,
Kids are now birds that fly free from fears.
At the call I too would fly to the unknown sphere
from where none can come back alive here;
One who remembers me waits with loving eyes
Even if the world forgets I leave with no sighs. (p.21)

Life is for living and living needs a kind of self-limitation and understanding. In the poem ‘Tell Me What He is’ the poet describes a peculiar category of people:

A victim of insatiable thirst for power and wealth
he winks at our basic needs with looks of stealth;
in the tick of his watch, in the click of his wrist,
in the jerk of his neck or waist or lip’s twist,
in the grin of the chin or in his casual ride
there is the arrogant mark of bubbling pride;
in every sense it makes us sick. Tell me what he is! (p.25)

The poet is very sad about the small farmers and agriculturists who find making their ends meet hard owing their poverty, paucity of rain and draught and the cruelty of big land owners. Life in small hamlets and deterioration of assets makes water more dear than blood. The villages are deserted and the cattle which could not be fed are sent to butcheries by the owners with broken hearts. Bad government and corrupt politicians wreak havoc. There is poem: ‘Water is Dearer then Blood’:

Village is hard-hit with lack of water, lack of order;
thrown in the tiger’s grinding jaws of factions
bastards born of dirty elections and petty politics,
words and acts lead to clashes that spill pools of blood;
they spread cold wars with cold blood that yields
not a drop of water but only hate and hate breeds;
Road to water leads to life, not to pools of blood,
road to life lies in peace and smiles, not in lies. (p.26)

Again and again the poet speaks of the sad lot of the small farmers. Urban living meant loss of delight in small villages for a number of reasons. The poet is a lover of nature. Having learnt of Wordsworth and having taught the poet, this poet in many poems reminds us of that great bard. ‘Look at the Stars’ is a sonnet:

Look at the Milky Way and stars shining so bright
Countless stars exist countless light years away
And for countless years their sovereign sway
… … … ..
Life is futile if we fail to watch the wonder so high
We only love to watch the sky at night though late.
Stars are our surer guide showing the right way
If stars run away our lives are sure to go astray. (p.45)

At times the poet takes to moralising as here in the poem ‘Aim High’

In the midst of growing metropolitan slums,
mind-arresting sounds of deafening drums,
multi-storeyed mansions and high-rise towers
rise and stand as vertical columns of powers..
… … … …
As long as we roll on squealing squalor
we can’t have the feel of the ray of valour;
We need not crave for the glittering crown
Let us have the last laugh with real renown.
At our aiming high, let envy and ennui frown
With the power of will let us reach the crown. (p.46)

The speaker of the poems here is the poet himself talking in the first person. ‘This Fragile Body’:

I do not like to be crushed between Scylla and Charybdis
And I wish to stand firmly on the rock of the present
And chisel an eye-arresting stature of my bleeding self
my insignificant self without any identity on this stone.
Adieu to the ancient mysteries, mistakes and miracles;
All my experience over the year bursts as a bubble
if it fails to recharge and illuminate the crux of the now;
Then let this fragile unremarkable perishable body
dissolve in the unsolved mystery of five elements. (p.55)

‘Jai Jawan’ reads like a heroic story-poem. It starts with the love scene of the newly weds and ends with the heroic end of the hubby:

He fought like a hero till the end
Till the last moment his valiant spirit would not bend
His racing bullets swiftly killed ten before he fell
to the bullet of a terrorist, which none could smell;
The next day his body would fly from the border cold
and reach this remote village in State honours bold. (pp.57-58)

The poet describes with great pain the condition of poverty, utter helplessness of the villagers in “Today’s Rural Life.’

Here farmers look at the skies
Their bowed heads heave endless sighs
Our fields how can we cultivate?
…. … …. …
We, the marginal farmers now fail and fall
At the dry well or the mocking margin wall;
Unable to feed the cattle, them they sell
to metro kalebas*; for the dumb, the real hell. (p.62)
(*slaughter houses)

Coming from a rural background and being born in a small income family the poet remembers the way he used to spend time watching the farm land in the night, which a very valuable poem (Night Watch) describes:

Beyond our tiny hamlet is the range of hills
Atop the sacred seven shines the Supreme Lod
The famed Temple stands in all its ancient glory.
Lying on the high-rise cot I see the flickering lights
on the holy hill track the twinkling stars above.
I recollect the accounts my brave grandfather –
how some ghosts and salamanders carry the cots
with sleeping men in the fields after a midnight hour
and leave them on the river bank or at the burial site.
In the chaotic mass of confusing fears and thoughts
at midnight I slip into the arm of compelling sleep. (p.71)

Vasudeva Reddy has a mature understanding of love, the noblest of sentiments. There is the oneness of heart-mind and soul as well. ‘Syntax of Love’ is a statement of everlasting significance that the sweet heart is an angel:

Visual prints far excel finger prints
Our blood is the best judge and witness
We know we are born for each other
Our hearts quietly merges into one
and transform two sunny streams
two clauses, two destined causes
to one crystal clear symphonic stream
with bliss in life as the only goal
with the finishing touch of a divine dot. (pp 30-31)

And there is another captivating thought:

Let our hearts swell with sweet pride
of pure thoughts to have a joy ride.
As one let us transcend the ends of time
Melody of our heart tunes my rhyme
You are the beat of my pulse and heart
and sweet symphony of my art of life. (p.32)

The epigraph above at the beginning of this article is from the love song of the philosophical lover in whose heart love is crystallized as solid gold. Son of Mother India the poet sends up a prayer to mother Ganga in a devout sonnet. The poet is one the worshippers and he says:

A sea of devotees chant the prayer, a solemn crowd
As a necklace of neon gems yonder the bridge glows.
Bearing millenniums of chronicles of unseen pages
eternal Ganga flows with deathless faith of our gages. (p.59)

The great nature poet Wordsworth said ‘Let nature be your teacher.’ Our poet here says “learning is life” and writes a poem with that title. He makes pithy statements in the poem: life is the greatest teacher, life is the greatest school beyond norms and as long as the will to learn stays we learn. Owing to mellowness of thinking and the desire to do good, the poet wants to be a teacher and preaches goodness and makes the reader look god ward. This is his averment:

What we truly deserve we get, no more no less
God doesn’t interfere, He is an Observer
It is karma that shapes our means and ends
Let us learn and receive the good from all
to guide us to right path to save all from all. (pp. 81-82)

He has been a teacher by profession and by aptitude he has been a researcher too. He writes a poem “Thesis’ which a dissertation for the avid learner.

Love is synthesis, not a diagnosis;
Life, not a poor précis, but a thesis,
nor death a mere lifeless report
for the dull obituary column. (p.85)

‘Let Me Dream’ reads like the poet’s heart-felt desire sent up to his sweet heart:

I yearn to meet you in this delicate milky moon light
Our eyes feast on the dainty cream of tender love
Drinking nectar of the cheesy orb, comes as a star bright
… … … …
Only through loving care you are won, I have won;
Dream transforms my lonely life into a Paradise
Gloomy hours of pensive night see the sunrise.
Ah, my love, take me to your world of splendour rich
with the realized Elysian spell of your golden fairy touch. (p.90)

Some of the expressions in the poem suggest that the sweet heart is in the celestial domain. The poet’s mental make-up and personality are here in the all-revealing poem ‘What I Like’. He reveals what he as a person is not mindful of the wild world. He is what he wants to be, he is what he is. This is long poem but extremely self-revelatory. Only a few lines can be given here:

Some say I don’t mix with ease with others
as freely and idly as they do stick as glue
How can I fly with different faethers?
… … ,,,, ..
I like to relish this serene country solitude
laced with woods and pure ancient rustic attitude
I like to read my Shakespeare and the Romantics
and free myself from the clutches of urban antics
and spend my time on the Gita and its unique grace
that fills the mind with divine peace and eternal rays. (pp.94-95)

The last poem in this collection is a sonnet which is titled inspiringly as ‘Eternal Ethics’. It is necessary to quote it in entirety:

O Sanatana Dharma, why do you choose to be mute?
Your spirit seems to dwell higher in celestial sphere
unmindful of gross injustice and human pain acute;
Noble concept of ethics falls to abysmal depths here.
Flames of wrongs and heinous crimes rise so high
Fanatic fools and ruthless terrorists butcher and loot
Lives of righteous roll in poignant multiple cry
Gita alone can save the world and the chaos uproot.
In vices, lies and crooked deeds biped beasts are bold
This dark face neither sword nor nuclear arsenal, can slay;
O Lord, with thy trident protect us from chaos untold
Universe exists on Thy sole strength, order and fair play.
Thou art the glory of the Lord that holds the universe
Without thy base and breath world would be a curse.

Readers expect Vasudeva Reddy to bring out another great book very soon. May good writers and poets flourish!


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

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