Book Reviews

Poetry in Search of the Beyond,

Questions ‘the Self’

Rob Harle’s Winds of infinity A Publication, Allahabad 2016 penetrates deep into the inner world of man. It makes serious efforts to search meaning of life in post-modern era. Earlier poetry collections “Mechanisms of Desire” and “Scratches and Deeper Wounds” (Spinning Spider Publications, Australia. 2012, 2014) are philosophic in essence, where many lyrics speak of the terrible influence science and technology exercise on man and society as warmth in human relations chills and overwhelms. He is aware of anguish, transient pleasures and suffering modern life gives. It is born of immense growth in technology and its swift impact on life. Living in a computerized system scarcely has hope for man because the speed and the chilly contests to go ahead in life obstruct and suffocate. Man is conscious of the ambiance but fails to confront the challenges and therefore, an ostensible drift towards the collapse is visible. The poet rarely abandons the fundamentals of field where he tills and survives with the poetic talent and conveys a serious but beautiful message. He calls the latest collection as poems of transcendence.

The callous assault of material growth, technology and science on psyche and analytical faculty transforms a man to a mere machine, dead and dull. Harle is aware of the choking and strangulating system of colossal dimensions and therefore, he goes back and back to find what lies within and beyond the material world, and therefore, the inquisitiveness and anguished search for objective and meaning become significant. An ardent search of life of truth and liberty contains existential connotations. Rob Harle realizes that a life lived in artificial surroundings never bestows inner happiness. It wounds the soul, the inner man, the man, who speaks not but only warns against the possible ruin, degradation and fall. The poet is indirect and hints at the restraint, a man ought to exercise in case he wishes to make life beautiful and objective.

Nostalgia overwhelms when he thinks of ‘Attic Songs’. Here, he appears to touch the heart of everyone, who feels and realizes the onslaught of modern apathy. Possibly, he hints at the fanatical chase and continuous protest man indulges in to go ahead irrespective of the loss he suffers. The rustic and natural environ no longer exists as it falls victim to man’s rapacious designs of expansion and growth. Natural living and settings get the beating and the consequence of disfigurement, tortures.

If the ‘New roads cut the old village sharply, / a tired curtain flaps from the attic window. /drifting with the curtain /a child’s soft sweet song caresses my ears.’ 7 A poignant juxtaposition of the old and the new touches the heart. A scenario of past reminiscent of the happy times distresses the poet, when he observes, ‘All dreams are possible /a distant voice echoes towards me /all dreams are possible…’9. It is not out of joy that one visits abandoned dwellings and listens to the sounds of doors and notices the cracked floor, it is a wish to go beyond to find a perennial link with the intangible now that agitates and dampens the spirits. Nostalgia disturbs many sensitive hearts. It is a search of warmth, love and compassion in a machine-dominated set up that appears almost ridiculous.

Many questions disturb. Life remains a mystery. Time runs fast, it changes the destiny of many, and none can escape. What could be the mystery behind the design of life? Suddenly, metaphysical questions crop up.

The wheel of life spins endlessly
Like the sun rising in brightness
Then setting into darkness,
One day a beggar next day a king
A universal truth beyond uncertainty. 12

The focus of power of inquiry into the realities of life beyond space and time causes genuine anxieties. Search of man is chronic and assiduous, and the tragedy is he never reaches anywhere. Harle is aware of the predicament of multipart questions life raises before an intrusive mind and the answers discomfort many intellects. The vulnerability and total failure of intellectual prowess is apparent when in ‘Dancing in The Light’, ‘Dynamic neural labyrinths editing /complex interconnections of memory, /memory alone clones our memory.’ 17 What a queer situation! If a man goes beyond theoretically, something hurls him back from where he begins the journey again to know the incomprehensible and the dilemma overtakes every time.

‘The darkness of the sleeping city, the rhythm of the swaying shadows, I met Zarathustra at the village market’ are expressions, which eloquently tell of poet’s curiosity to know much more than the world. He, in quest of truth and facts, not only stuns and shocks but makes you sit up and think where to go from here, ‘Empty hearts in hollow suits /haunt Wall Street and the like, /these are no dainty monsters /no tears will ever fill their steely eyes /and our home the planet /slowly dies. ’ 35 It is not search of truth or god, it is something beyond and it distresses a curious intellect, for to touch borders of infinity is impossible.

The wish of the poet to travel from the physical plane to the spiritual through the terrestrial experience is strong and in the process, he seeks precision in experiences and therefore, an obvious effort to find appropriate idiom disturbs. Perhaps, he is aware or it is possible he does not know that to find appropriate language to characterize or explain an experience creates an impasse he fails to disentangle. An earnest desire to reach infinity exists and at one time, he is quite hopeful, when he observes, ‘And then a flash of hope ascends /I’ve foiled the arrows of the philistines /the clarity of inspiration /mocks my feeble efforts /as I realize the answer lies beyond infinity /in a realm that few minds dare imagine 51.’ Though he talks of ‘The Long Search’, 85 yet, it remains incomplete and the impatient shouts at the top of mount befuddle even if he knows or perchance, claims to know that he states earlier.

Through and through he denied his atheisms
even though the dirt drearily covered his feet,
pre-adapting bargains in the spiritual marketplace
…Desiring to demolish ingrained gospels
By deconstructing a deluded following mind
Play-land zones of decontamination…

The poet is conscious of the handicaps and the limits of intellectual wanderings impose, for despite unfamiliar horizons of the intellect and power to go beyond and beyond, he fails to demarcate the borders of time. Each time he reaches near the reality, it slips out of the hold and thus, existence on earth remains a harsh truth and a mystery. He could never imagine that unconsciously, he would feel the victory in vainness of failure because, ‘the philosopher no longer stirs /the old graves serene/troubled searching sols are now at peace /every searing question silenced /drowned out by the silent roar of smart phones.’101.

Rob Harle speaks of the intensive and inconclusive search, which every perceptive and cautious man of inquisition continues and the eternal permanence in the inquiry to see beyond is the ancient objective of man he appears to affirm. He does not claim to speak of truth but then, none can contradict what he says when he embarks upon the unfinished inquiry. He wishes to lay a hand on actuality, goes very near the secular existence and at times, goes beyond but retreats, and so surrealistic tendencies in perceptible symbols seem quite genuine and that explains his poetic art.


More by :  P C K Prem

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