Literary Shelf

Pensive Poet D C Chambial

There are some people who take poetry as a mission with a purpose and with a commitment. The Himalayan litterateur, and academic D.C.Chambial has not only been writing poetry but also been running a literary journal for the last two decades single-handedly from the distant Maranda in the distant Himachal Pradesh. He started writing poetry in 1974. His first six collections were published in 2004 in one volume containing Broken Images, 1983; Cargoes of Bleeding Hearts and Other Poems,1984; Perceptions, 1986; Gyrating Hawks &Sinking Roads, 1996; Before the Petals Unfold, 2002; This Promising Age. 2004. Later, Mellow Tones was published in 2009 and in 2010 Words were brought out. Hour of Antipathy, the ninth collection was published in 2014.

The fundamental aspects of Chambial’s poetry are angst and hatred for societal degeneration, loss of faith and devotion and crass corruption at all levels – more blatantly in the ruling and administrative levels. Basically he is a soft person loving nature, hills, valleys, lakes, clouds and agriculturists. His rectitude makes him abhor the ‘modern’ tendencies of deceit. Exploitation and corruption have been corroding honesty.

In the first collection Broken Images this poem reveals his basic mind:

Virgin hills!
Let honey flow
to those who have eaten
the fruit forbidden
and fiddle
with infant geriatrics
of human faith. (Human Faith, (p.14)

There is a poem which castigates the contemporary unresponsive stupor which swallows virtue and honesty.

Jackals, wolves, cats and rats
agog go to see
rising betaals
to pin stemming rays
from the Sun
we are engaged
in catatonic sciamachy. (Sciamachy, pp.18-19)

The pungency and power of diction reveals the poet’s depth of feeling. Betaals are more hateful than devils.  Early morning is described as victory over gloom and praised as heavenly absolution.

Victory over gloom
Of the night,
Gleeful smiles
…. …….. …..
Dendron heads stand
blood red before the altar;
a morning
of live hope dawns
to uncover ‘n’ absolve
sin of din. (Dawn, p.22)

Decay of human values under a stinking and rotten morality is described by this poet in collection after collection in nine books. Cargoes of the Bleeding Hearts is the second book published in 1984. Bleeding hearts are carried as goods.

The Sun’s gone
the Moon wails meteors play funny tricks,
…. …. … …
I write to voice myself
my tongue is cut. It’s how dumb
fight and try to unload
cargoes of bleeding hearts
in the dark sea of wild oppression. (p.25)

Chambial reminds us of T.S.Eliot. He has in his mind Wasteland V – What the thunder said.

Where are the words
That once echoed
in the waste land?
The words which echoed are:
After the torch light red in sweaty faces
After frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in strange places
The shouting and the crying
Prrison and palace and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who is now lying is now dead
We who are living are now dying
With a little patience.

We the ‘moderns’ are in Christ’s position. The mental condition of Chambial is that of that earlier one. Instead of being dead we who are living are now dying with a little patience. The great self sufferers are Sita and Savitri talked about in the poem ‘ Companions’.

Is it the same that
once sat in the heart
of Savitri and banished Sita (p.27)

The condition of women has not improved in spite of the so called development of the country, women’s education, employment and fashions etc. The poet encourages and goads women to be brave and put their foot down firmly.

Rise women, rise!
It is time to come out
from the harem and the kitchen
into open space.
The Shakti and Savitri
Slash the old shackles.
Hold fast the reins
O Lakshmibai!
Let yout sabre slay you miseries.
Be Bhavani
to ring the knell of the ashuras
that did cast a foul eye
on your crane-white self. (p30)

Chambial’s ‘Shivalingam’ is one of his finest poems of prayer of devotion.

Fill the Earth
with satyam, shivam, sundaram.
O, the Eternal Father!
execute who dare defy
and vitiate the flow of Bhagirathi.
Let none be deaf
To the sound of Your Damroo
And fear the Tandava.
When the universe is attuned
And enamoured to embrace
let the peace of the leaves
and the hue of the petals
scatter end to end.
….. …..
For wisdom and solace
we turn to you
O the Seed –
Shivalingam! (p.31)

Evil, villainous politicians in power and money create chaos. Unless they have money, they don’t win elections. The poet never bows his head to evil of any sort. He says that man is at mercy of evil sycophants and castigates them.

In a plundered land
weak and virtuous
at the mercy of sycophants
wait in vain
for some salve
and melodic refrain, (p.33)

Hope is the thing with feathers as the American poet said. The poet emboldens and enthuses the week and writes:

Youth a varied-hued-juicy spring
Leads to the sun-burn’t mirth.’
Wail not the pensive past
Nor hail the present might,
Meditate upon the unborn future. (p.35)

The poet tell his readers that our living nowadays needs a knack to live only ‘successfully’ in the modern world. This is said only to lead the reader to win the so called goals.

To live successfully
at the present hour
one must have two faces –
one of the angel
and the other of the devil
bedecked with
synthetic perfumes and creams
to hide the rotten smell
of blood nails and teeth
….. …. … …
We must live by two
or lag behind
to race the to knock
our rivals down
on the ground
to prove the prowess
and succeed in the struggle. (pp.39-40)

‘Perceptions’ is the most captivating collection published on 1986 dealing with an individual’s extraordinary private feelings. These poems need a careful looking into
and require deep insight and a long time. The poet’s tenor continues to be devotional involving serious thinking. There is love of the country and deep faith in God. Patriotism makes the poet enthusiastic to sing inspiringly.

Let us march, today, hand in hand
Concatenating souls like beads
Into the thread of the greatest ROSARY,
The ever cherished HUMANISM.
….. …… …… … …
Why not help this Earth
bloom into Heaven
where there is God’s plenty,
plan not to to make it stink?
World is too much, the life is too small! (pp.48-49)

It is the spirit that should bring people’s heads together unifying them. There is another poem ‘The Sermon’ about the Thathaagatha’s message. The Bhikhoos went out in all directions to preach the lesson of love. They were asked to teach:

Proclaim O Bhikhoos! The doctrine glorious.
Proclaim a life of holiness, perfection and purtity
Throw to wind the claim of caste and creed;
Out of love and compassion hug humanity.
….. ……. …… …. …
May the truth be yours
May the light be yours. (p. 51)

Some times there are poems to make us bold and instil boldness in us as in the poem ‘Fog’.

The wretched fog
Slowly and steadily lingers on
Over the river, stream,
Vale and dale
To mountain top.
…. ….. …
The fog comes riding
A driven chariot
By black horses.
........ ….. …
Telling about the abortive tales
Prone to keep the beds warm
Fighting unknown phantoms. (pp.57-58)

This collection is full of feeling, ideas, imagination and the poems are captivating.

You and I
play the flame an moth:
I am crippled by the heat of love.
The glimmer of glow-worms,
a gust of wind
tries in vain
to achieve the foul aim.
I think and for sure construe
It’ll pass by too. (p.58)

Here is another:

As I dare to peep out
through the window,
eyes roll
at the sight of a whirlgig
in the lee of pythons …
Headless bodies
march in
a mute procession
leading to a maze
Terrible cries follow
in an uproar
without human shores.
Numberless snakes
leave holes in Siberia
to leave in cities …
Strange! Can’t shut eyes
Ignorance and greed …
Perishing Man? (p.59-60)

These are indications of the catastrophe that is ahead. All this augurs wrath and pestilence foretelling nemesis.

Crows, jackals
Blood and carcass.
Grenades, guns, bombs:
Explosions and
Cancerous heads
on polio legs
Water, water, water. … (p.65)

The poet has a word of advice. Godlessness leads to destruction, annihilation. It’s He who steers the ship from summer to South. This is the most valuable perception of the poet who stands for obedience and devotion to win His Grace. Chambial’s words are impressive and figures of speech attract readers. Cargoes of Bleeding Hearts attracts quick attention. At his age with experience in teaching he captivates readers. His subjects glow with radiance. The following is a case in point, just one for a sample:

I sit and play with grains of sand
at the shore, stare in stupor
at the stinging swells
striking against the cliffs.
Drop by drop I melt
like a flaming candle
into the unfathomed deeps.(p.80-81)

The poet being a devout believer never loses hope. However bad things may be, there would come a time when good times come. Light would come emerge from darkness. Night cannot be long is a wise statement. Poetry celebrates and in the same way it weeps about great losses. Chambial bemoaned the tragedy of the Chinese students. who were shot dead when they tried to celebrate the dramatic enthusiasm.

Let’s make hay while the sun
Shines and shake hands with Jains,
Climb the hill of roguery

The demonstrators of democracy were killed brutally by the Chinese power. The poet’s heart throbs with love.

You wait and watch
the seeds planted here,
nourished with blood,
to bud into a rich crop of cacti
to prick the tongues of iron. (p’102)

The poet’s heart throbs with love. He is humane: that is the reason he hates and is ferocious. He has soft, godly feelings.

My love! In this pleasant grove
My leaves flutter like a dove.
Come, open and go through these leaves,
Pacify the peace of heart that heaves.
Come let us and sit together
In this fair and lovely weather.. (p.108)

The passion for the sweet heart would ever be the most pleasant. Flowers and love are closely related.

You and I
shall for ever be all, all alone
swinging up and down
the bulging hills,
the low lying vales
full of hyacinths. (p109)

Man’s aims and ambitions must be high and noble. Life must achieve something worthy. One must achieve nothing lower than heaven. Cleopatras and Helens are worth nothing in the ultimate analysis.

Ride crane-white horses,
Snap links with chains
Of time and space.
Fly past the Sun.
… ……. ..,
Drink at the fount
Of Prosperine under
The cozy, evanescent
Boughs of Heaven (p.113)

In his fifth collection of poems Before the Petals Unfold Chambial wrote ‘Death by Fire’ Hundreds of students and parents celebrating DAV celebrations were consumed by fire at Dabwali on Hariyana. Fire at Baripada, Orissa killed hundreds of students in 19977 assembled at a convention in ‘Nigomananda’. At Mina in Mecca hundreds of devotees were killed when fire broke out in the tents of pilgrims.

Wounded and dazed lie
jerks and jolts of joy
What a poetic justice
Fruit of past karma. (p114)

The mind goes hither and thither. One needs to make his mark sparkle. The poet uses the trope of anaemia - bloodless to make it to suggest the need for the strength for blood. This is how the poet emboldens:

My back aches, as I foray without
To see twinkling stars studded in sky.
Cold air from white peaks tickles
Pleasantly in the serene quiet within.

The speaker considers that he is pure as Ganga and Gangontri, totally free from the world’s wiles. He knows that this world is now growing as Yamuna nowadays in Delhi. Here is his wish:

Would they could
take the ulcer out
from this aily body
leaving it Volga go Ganga,
Missississipi to Sikiang,
crystal clear, dross less, rich
in the milk of humanity! (p.140)

Man’s devilry is growing by the moment, the poet wails.

Here the milk of man is dried
Chivalry of man is all dried
Man’s horrible deeds blood congeal,
Man from morals off it strips,
There’s no effort the man to heal,
Sun at the horizon down slips. (p.144)

The poet uses many metaphors, tropes and other figures to drive home his point. The degeneration causing microbes are ubiquitous organisms, microbes deadly.
The collection ‘The Promising Age and other Poems’ is published in 2004. By this time has mellowed his mind and his rage has abated. Prayer is realized to be the way to win God’s grace quickly. A proud pyramid says this:

I stood a proud pyramid
On the solid ground of vanity
A flash!
All walls of vanity
Crumble like a house of cards.
The debris melts… (p. 158)

The poet acquires serenity and preaches peace:

On this day
I pray
Lord! Come
… …. ..
and teach them
a lesson
when they get to rape the next time.’’ …… …
‘….. ….. …
Men and women born white as pearls,
innocent as lambs.
The lust for power
(political and religious)
Makes them blood thirsty;
Turn into wolves and hyena.
Save them! Save their souls! (p.160)

The poet takes refuge in Bhagavadgita. “nainam chindanti shastraani , nainam dahati paavakah:” paritranaayasaadhoonam, vinasayacha dushkruram” (Neither weapons pierce it, nor fire fires consumes,” (Gita III 27.and “For the protection of the pious and destruction of the evil doers, …(Gita IV:8)

Morality and simple living are the key to happiness.

A beautiful home exists beyond;
without roof and without floor,
Even without walls around
not say of window and door.
…. …… ….
All the hungers and all the greeds
Left hereon this land, carry no trace.
Serene Satisfaction, sans deed
Writ large on every face. (p.162)

Every poet has his own definition/concept and prescription for a good poem Chambial has published hundreds of poems and no wonder he has his own description of a poem. Here is that:

A beautiful babe
flits in dark moments
the world is flooded with smile.
A crystal clear river
floods into
a vast expanse of searing sands
a gust of youthful spring
silently stirs
dark, dismal, autumnal desert. (p.165)

There is another distinction in our poet. He writes metrical poetry: there a few capable of penning in metre. (There is only one propagating it and what is more she has been running a journal for more than decades with international members from Visahapatnamm, Metverse Muse, Tulsi Hanumanthu. ) There are some favourite metres for Chambial like Triolets, Villnelles, and Kyrielle. He wrote about great disasters like tsunamis, earth quakes and the like all over the world in several times. For example he wrote about a loss caused by a flood in the river in Arna in Italy in Nov 1966 and many such five. Tsunami spelled disaster for Asia South, some years ago.

The souls who survived the Tsunami shocks
Yet had to encounter more dreadful fate
Never knew before such fury of the rocks.
…… …….. …
Down went trees tall, down, the domes high
Water broke into like the barbarians
Tsunami spelled disaster for Asia South.(pp.175-7)

There is a poem “Fantasmagoria’ about fear when rumours in 1905 made people spend rainy and cold nights in the open along with children. There be an earth quake in Kangra District in Himachal Preadesh:

Clouds thundered to frighten the doughty hearts;
Young and old all shivered in freezing chill
Awaited the Mother Earth to shiver, quake.
But, she did not: all turned out to be a hoax. (p. 178)

“Mellow Tones’ (2009) sings of love of life. Chambial is an admirer of nice living. He describes sapta swaras, seven tones of life. The sweet are lovely and fair , beautiful flowers, a sonorous song, a journey from door to door, a tricky game and a deep and dark sea. He considers death as not an annihilator but a boon to the denizens of earth, an end, a beloved, the best friend and a state of mind. This comes from equanimity of mind and rectitude. He describes a cycle thus:

You ask I give you
You ask I give you
Between you and me
asking and giving. (p.189)

However this requires an all seeing eye and a great understanding of the mind. Here is what he wrote in the poem ‘Birth to Death’.

Life, between two doors,
A beautiful flower
Like a lotus in a lake vast;
To present a pointillism
Outside this dark deep
Fragrance and hue blend
To present this dark deep
Wherein shines the ONE
Brighter tan the Sun (pp.189-90)

Triolets are this poet’s favourites. They are three line verses which attract lovers of these forms. Here are two on Ice-flowers:

How beautiful the ice-flowers!
Shine like gems in flower—beds
Those pink and white –beauty flowers
How beautiful the ice-flowers
dear to blossom lovers
Those pink and white-beauty towers. (p.192)

Humour is not forgotten by Chambial; here is the conclusion of the poem ‘Cat and Dove’:

With the wink of an eye
the harmless dove was done to death,
the wily cat.
Hunger satiated,
licked the lips and whiskers
vanished into the bushes. (p.194)

Here is the tribute paid to Krishna Srinivas a celebrity who started a conglomeration of young poets in Madras to begin with enthusing the youth. Chambial living in far flung Himachal had his encouragement. He wrote ‘Two Kyrielles’ and here is one:

Gone is the seer, gone is he
Gone into the rock’s lea
Gone to blaze the flame there
The peers with open heartt welcome where.
The world is left to bewail
His laurels with moist eyes to hail.
Ah! Gone is he, gone beyond the blare
The peers with open hear welcome where. (p.195)

The after life is a mystery and so is ultimate destiny. This thought is universal and nevertheless, every one thinks of that at some point of time. In ‘Mellow Tones’ there is a poem on that.

Who knows
the next moment?
What lies buried
in the womb
of future –
unraveling, unveiling –
a mystery. (pp.199)

The eighth collection is “Words’ published in 2010. Like an observing, sympathetic and thinking poet, though very disgusted about modern callousness of cultural and humanist values, he has written about catastrophes, floods, earth quakes and heartless bloodshed besides terrorist brutalities. Mumbai terrorist attacks in Taj Hotel shook the civilized world.

It took some six hours to take commandos
from Delhi to Mumbai for the action
which demanded Nation’s immediate action.
Those who tried to defy the devils in Mumbai streets
Had to run for their lives; their 303 were on strike. (p.205)

Theories about the birth of a poem are usual to be propounded by almost all poets. The following is Chambial’s:

Some particular
in the world without
the very tendon
of heart
mind sets outs in
all over the
far beyond the bournes
of sky
and catches a beauteous
the Earth
… ……. ….
So is is released fantastic
A dream,
From the depths of dark is born
A poem. (pp 207-8)

Robert Frost made famous the road not taken. Chambial too is in the horns of a dilemma.

Time is very esoteric,
Its maze
Un explored:
It, my finger has brought me
To a point where
It diverged into two.
One allured and captivatiing,
Leads to a cave
Dense and dark.
Other: shining like the Sun
Leaving the glaring sheen of the first,
Come face to face
With the Light,
Free from gloom:
Return not to meander in MAYA
Gladly tread the TRUTH.
Choices matter much
And make the difference
Glaring white
Between Light and
Darkening gloom. (p.212)

Mother is an angel and a goddess. Here is Chambial’s description:

She is a vast sea of rollicking love
An eternal source of sonorous sound,
God’s wonderful gift like a dove,
Angel to drive way the heinous hound..
… ….. …. …
A cataract from where flows bliss
An evergreen garden where no snakes hiss. (p.216)

The tradition in this country is to think of God in everything one does. This Himalayan is basically God-loving. He goes to the Gita very often. In the poem he quotes the sloka which Swami Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada translates:

Whatever you do, whatever ever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, whatever austerities you perform – do that , O Son of Kunti, as an offering to me.

‘Hour of Antipathy’ published in 2014 is the most captivating collection of poems. In his introduction, Poetry, Memory and Dream, the poet wrote: The personality of the artist is lost in the personality is lost in the cyclone of his imagination and what remains is rock-slide and heavy matter called text that settles down as a poem or work of art for the amusement and deliberation for the posterity to conduct experiments for the gravimetric analysis of the constituent elements to ascribe their percentage.” The critical poems in the text ‘Temple’ and ‘The Old Hill’ are like a mystery story of the poet’s experience of the antipathy he has for the corrupt and insensate establishment.

In a trance, I leave the earth and begin
To levitate above the berth. Imagine –
Above and over the rivers and hill,
Across the wide, wide sky the birds’ songs fill.
Over the deep ditches and lustrous lakes
Enough to scare the plucky rafter takes;
Rise well-nigh and feel life’s bounce
And watch from above how creatures trounce.
Of great use, when one wants to evade eerie things,
One detests, and wishes, vigorously he sings. (p. 17)

The poet levitates, goes high, meditates and perhaps sees God. There is the transformation of the whole personality and the beauties of the whole world are seen. A few poems later:

Look at the beauties:
The texture and structure.
The cadence:
birds, wind, and water.
The colours.
tint the Earth, Sky, Sea
Incense inebriates
to swoon.
Whisper all
Silently His presence.
Foolishly –
The Everywhere, nowhere.
Between him and Him.
Siit, meditate upon
this LILA in awful wonder.(p.24)

‘Sweet Violas’ is about flowers when imagination flourishes and goes with sanctity in mind:

Wait vaporizes steadily
Like : the morning mist
nonchalanance nurtures life
to sprout into sweet violas.
….. ….. ….
Cacti and lilies
From the lips of
Sweet tulips lost in pink. (p. 31)

Humour is also there, a kind of merriment in talking of women in ‘Kitty’, banter and of course not seriousness.

The women giggle
and burst into peels of laughter
in the ground floor
sit and talk
not of arts
but of money.
…. …… ….
Host will be left alone
to quarrel with pans and plates
bottles and glasses,
mercilessly mutilated paper napkins.
Lucky! (p. 32)

The ways of the smart world are just the opposite of the nice. Guilefulness is normal and those not are considered ignorant. The wily are praised as wise ones. Hence the poet thinks humanity brands such as the poorest kind.

This is the way of the wisest smart world.
…… ……. ….. ……..
The struggle between honest and clever,
who throw all ethics to the winds
In a wild chase of money and matter
And break morality’s rind that Man binds.
So goes the world with her artless mean naïve
Siphon blood out of ones, who direly crave. (p.35)

‘The Lascivious World’ drives home the truth of the human-heart mind in such a way that it that it takes out to dry the Sun of all power to freeze balmy freeze. Men of such ilk vilify the good even in the Sun.

All human milk is dried in human heart
That can balm the wounds of misused mortals
To give them hope, a puff of balmy breeze,
To take them out to soothing sun from freeze.
They too long to stand enter the portals
With warm blood in veins, song divine in heart. (p.37)

God’s powers are mysterious. Nature, the sun and moon and stars make the cosmos so powerful. The skilful poet can make nature hold in position a handful of water in a puddle into cosmos:

Sun , moon, stars
Systematically scattered –
Held in position
In a handful of water –
Puddle. (p.45)

‘Stunned Mirages’ reveals the basic tenor of the poet’s thought process again. He goes often to the Vedas, the Upanishadic expressions and sacred texts, related to God-related thinking. Animal within the soul is the real understanding. Living forms get back into the Creator.

Animal within
seeks to enjoin
animal without
Soul and soul stout
Atmaiva paramatma
Brothers - His creation.
Bodies and desires, passion
Differences can’t be absolute
Mundane Maya estate.
The tress tremble
intestate the hurricane ravages
life stands stunned mirages.
Shapes and forms only to pin
As look back to origin. (p.57-58)

In the autumn of life, shadows broken into small bits, mix and fight. Advancing life fades since it is nine days’ wonder. What is beyond the hill can never be seen.

Life – a nine day’s wonder,
Make hay while the sun shines.
What is beyond the hill?
In the autumnal eyes
Smithreened shadows clutter
Mêlée of memories. (p.72)

The philosophising poet looks at the end of living. The sun is used as a trope. Metaphorically it is said:

Dark dungeon
Drives dark horses
The door of dawn.
The devils of
Ego, desire, greed.
Heaven rises
Out Hell
On this bloody Earth. (p.74)

What is to be done is to sacrifice the devils while there is a little time. Ego, desire and greed have to be shed. Then heaven rises out of Hell.

The cuckoo is exasperate in its life-cries
To fulfil His design of life pure; and people
Think it wailing after an unknown tragedy;
But who knows, life itself is an unsought tragedy.
Life a unified whole of the most disparate ways
Trials sequentially dog the human harried days. (p.77)

In this hour of antipathy the poet comes to this conclusion. This is logical. Here is a true unification of sensibility, ideas and images. We can just call it an imaginative exuberance or excellence merging into poetic synthesis.


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

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Views: 3591      Comments: 2

Comment This is a highly perceptive review of the poetry of D.C. Chambial,the eminent Indian-English poet,offering a thorough insight into the poetic oeuvre of Chambial. The review reveals the masterly grasp of Chambial's muse and the critical acumen of Dr.Rama Rao. Kudos to Dr.Rama Rao. It's the vision coupled with soaring imagination and dexterous handling of language that makes one a great poet. This is exactly true in the case of Chambial. It's no exaggeration if I say that the poetry of Chambial offers a delectable poetic feast to the votaries of the muse.
I hope that more collections of poems may spring out of the mighty and prolific pen of Chambial. I also hope that more such highly analytical reviews from Dr.Rama Rao may enlighten the readers and bring to readers,the beauty and joy of poetry,promoting good poetry.I appreciate and admire the wonderful service Dr.Rama Rao has been rendering to the literature through his excellent reviews.
Dr.Venugopala Rao Kaki

Dr.Venugopala Rao Kaki
30-Oct-2016 02:30 AM

Comment A detailed and enlightening piece of work which amply show-cases the rich poetic sensibilities of Dr DC Chambial. Kudoes and respects to both the author and the poet.

25-Oct-2016 02:59 AM

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