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A Pinch of Sun and Other Poems: A Critique
|by Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar|
A Pinch of Sun and Other Poems
Dilip Mohapatra is a highly serious, sincere and prolific poet of humane thoughts. Born and brought up in Odissa, Dilip Mohapatra did his masters in Physics from Ravenshaw College, Cuttack and joined the Indian Navy thereafter. He started writing poems since the seventies. He has to this date five volumes of verse to his credit, in addition to “Points to Ponder” (P2P), a compilation of some of his Facebook posts reflecting his thoughts in point form on various life issues like relationship, social, spirituality, humanity, etc. His poetry books are 'A Pinch of Sun', 'Different Shades’, 'Another Look', 'Flow Infinite' and 'Taming the Tides'. Both in quality and quantity, his poetry is amazingly impressive. Besides, his poems have also appeared in various international and national literary journals.
A Pinch of Sun and Other Poems is Mohapatra’s debut anthology of 60 beautiful poems. Published in 2014 by Authorspress, New Delhi, this volume stands out as a poetic output reflecting upon the multi coloured world of contemporary times and life. He delves deep into affairs of life and meditates upon different shades of emotions. It opens with an appealing poem “The Cellophane Man” in which he underlines the power of time and the mortality of man. Time is all powerful. It can make or mar anything, anybody. His perspective on Time is quite remarkable. He is aware that “There would be nothing/for you to lean on/no mantelpiece/to display your laurels.” With an appeal to realise our true self while floating on the wings of time, he reminds us:
The theme of time and life is carried further in the poem “On The Sands Of Time”. Since we are inching towards our ultimate destination, we must make the best use of time to give our best to the world. We must be instrumental in bringing love and harmony in the world. Then only true worth of our existence in the world would be realised and the purpose of life served. The profound philosophy and his cosmopolitan outlook is very appreciable. He suggests
“Walking The Untrodden Path” is a beautiful poem that captures the joy of exploration and inspires journeys of life. The journey, with all its ups and downs, is an inevitable process that brings about inner transformation. Hence, the poet says-
He is a jovial poet of celebration. In his poems he skilfully deals with the theme of joy and sorrow. For instance, the extract from the poem Homecoming” can be seen:
Mohapatra is a poet of nature. As he has been a navy officer, he has had a wide range of experience in the sea world. The objects of nature, crept in his poems as metaphors, inspire his affirmation of life. The natural phenomena provide him with sufficient stuff that shapes and refines his thoughts on nature and its relation to life. “The Pit Stop” is a refreshing poem about the beauty and activities of nature -
The beauty of nature is also captured in the poem “Sunday Mornings” which presents a lovely picture of a fresh morning-
Nature is a great teacher and guide. The poet takes serious lessons from it and makes the best use of it in his life. He enjoys the melody of tweets and chirrups. The same poem echoes-
Universal problems also find expression in his poetry. He has vigilant eyes on global activities in the name of caste, creeds and religion. “The Blame Game “ is an eye opener as it reveals out the veiled motif of so-called politics the world over:
He is a sensitive poet of keen observation of life and surroundings. He skilfully captures vivid pictures of what he sees and finds around, in beautiful diction charged with emotion. Poems such as “Bouquet Makers”, “The Garbage Bin”, ”The Blind Man” etc are fine examples of his graphic craftsmanship.
In his poetry, he does attach more importance to everything neglected. He holds that everything under the sun is useful to us in some way or the other, if we have right perspective and outlook. Even from the worst and the wastes we can pick up the best for social, individual and collective betterment. That’s why he urges us through the following lines of his poem “Past Perfect” :
Mohapatra’s poetry is strongly rooted in the family. In some way or the other, he remembers various members of his family, particularly his daughters- Mona, Sona, Tina and granddaughter Ira. His poetry brings about the tinge of emotionality of father-daughter relationship. His deep love for them also embodies pearls of wisdom for them. “First Born”, dedicated to Mona is a fine piece of advice from father to daughter-
Similarly, “Inheritance”, written for Sona (Sona Mohapatra, now a popular Bollywood singer) reflects his love and concerns of a doting father who is always supportive of his children. He writes:
This apart, his personal and familial matters- be it mutual understanding, reciprocal love, conflicts or contrasts- are perceptible in many of his poems. With shades of emotional connectivity, he very precisely puts the colour of generalised and universalised reality on his personal and individual experiences of life.
In many of his poems he makes us hear his “cries’ and “moans”, and see his “tears’ though. As a victim of human predicament, the poet also feels let-down and low-down. But every time he rises like Phoenix from the deep gloom. He emerges out as a visionary. His “Resurrection” reflects his mental, intellectual, and spiritual capability to tide over the problems of life:
Mohapatra’s poetry is enthusiastic, inspiring and encouraging. In some of his poems he invigorates us to be affirmative and positive in stand .Even in midst of troubles we should never get deterred and face the challenges of life boldly. Faced with adverse circumstances, he also never gives up as is evident from his poems which motivate us to carry on the journey of life on right and smooth snail. “Embarked on (our)/life’s voyage across the high seas of time’ the poet feels and reveals in “Midstream”:
As a poet of spiritual bent of mind and conventional religiosity, he expresses his indebtedness to God. This is how he adds spiritual dimension to his poetic creativity reflecting his Indianness. He sings the glory of Almighty for his sustained inner succour to cope with ever hovering troubles. He articulates his thankfulness:
There is a greater emphasis on the purgatory process of sublimation and inner transformation. The poet very adroitly translates his trickling ‘tears’ into glittering ‘smiles’, well conveyed by the use of apt metaphors drawn from the world of nature. He also lays stress on the merger of a being into Super Being. His “Benediction” is a testimony to this fact:
Global harmony is also an important theme he takes up in the poem “The walls” which is a clear echo of Robert Frost’s “Mending Walls”. Robert Frost’s influence on Mohapatra is very much palpable. His heart is saddened to see the world broken into the pieces with relentless communal riots. Religious bigotry is eating into the vitality not only of democracy of a country but also of the harmonious fabric of society. He poses a question:
and he himself concludes like Frost:
His poetry is studded with nuggets of wisdom, universal truths, aphoristic and axiomatic expressions and maxims that speak louder than his words. Such brilliant expressions are:
His poetry has several autobiographical elements as well. Poems such as ‘Living on the Edge,’ ‘Walking the un-trodden Path,’ ‘Evolution,’ A grandfather’s Musings,’ ‘Victory,’ and the poems written for his daughters and granddaughter are some examples.
In this way we see that the poetic journey of Dilip Mohapatra through this anthological path veers from objectivity of life to subjectivity of self. As we read the poems further and further, we come to get at the truth of life, with more and more maturity of thoughts and ideas. Here in lies the true versatility of his being a poet. The poem “Will O The Wisp” contains his philosophic proclamation:” I am the beacon/the guiding light./Follow me/catch me if you can.” The best thing about his poetry is that in spite of abstract allusions and complexities at some places, his poems are not lost in a maze of unintelligibility and inanity. His similes and metaphors, symbols, imagery and allusions are striking and lend his poetry a subtle semantic extension. Obscurity and ambiguity, if any, is demystified with a little bit of understanding. However, the volume lacks in coherent and gradual development or progression of thoughts in an ascending order. But towards the end of the anthology, the thought progression picks up its tempo and the poetic purpose is all served.
(Abridged article published in the book Critique on Transformational Art of Dilip Mohapatra, 2018)
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