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Sunny Rain-n-Snow: An Olio of Poetry for Pleasure
|by Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar|
Sunny Rain-n-Snow is a beautiful olio of sixty- three poems well wrought by U Atreya Sarma, a seasoned writer, matured poet and impartial critic of contemporary times. Divided into twelve sections, the collection explores various themes- from gravity to levity, from anger to angst, from sympathy to empathy, from ardour to humour. Impregnated with his wide experiences and observations, all the poems are painstakingly presented with vivid visuals of various palaces he visited. It is unique in so many ways. To understand this fact of the book one has to delve deep into the poetic world of Sarma. Dr. Sunil Sharma, eminent poet and critic, has rightly called the book 'a gentle cruise along routes, old and new'....' discovering fresh vistas of change; witnessing newer realms'. As a matter of fact, the book, with its ' inner rhythms, the energetic lines, the sonorous word- play' awakens us from a 'dull reverie' only to 'perceive the common things vividly, in a new light'.
A housewife appeals to her husband to try the above tips “Before you or I turn out of this world.” She says-
“‘WWW: Woman’s World of Woes“, one of the most striking poems, is a social commentary on a woman’s life- from being a girl to a woman. The hollowness of the male-dominated society is well exposed. She has to face a series of problems like’ ogling and seduction’ at every step of her life. Under ‘Damocles’ sword’, her life ever remains unsecured. Throughout her life she keeps swinging in uncertainty and insecurity. The poet comments:
The poet also describes significance of woman and her inherent power boundless. She is a bundle of countless virtues. The poet weaves paean in honour of her in the latter half of the poem in question:
Of the two other poems, “Crush and finish it!” exposes man’s ‘use and throw’ mentality and sacrifice of girls ‘for the parental sin’ while “The dead mother blesses” expresses mother’s concerns about her child.
“Aesthetic to the Bathetic” not only expresses the poet’s appreciation of natural beauty but also has a humor creating twist- bathos. Juxtaposition of two different attitudes of man is palpable here- a man with aesthetic sense and the one with no civic sense. While the poet is engrossed in the beauty of nature watching all its splendour, ‘a splash of paan spittle’ from a passing bus gives him a jolt. The poet does nothing but exclaim:
His poems are replete with sparks of divinity as perceived in objects of nature. For the picturesque beauty of the landscape he expresses his thankfulness to God in the poem “Cerulean cornucopia”:
His poetry also makes us realize the fierce aspect of nature. Going against nature in unnatural way might invite unpredictable and devastating repercussions. The poet is well aware of this stern reality. If nature, thanks to its elemental variations of seasons, provides ‘bagful of gifts-/jasmine, mangoes, water melons, palm kernels’ during summer, the emperor of seasons,, it might, in form of floods, cause heavy toll of deaths. In the concluding stanza of the poem “Oh, Emperor of Seasons!”, the poet makes us alert:
Elements of nature such as summer, winter, night, twilight, cloud, wind, have special meaning for the poet. They carry his thoughts and ideas that he gets them across. They are symbolic of shifts of thoughts from one point to another. However, in doing so, he creates the melody in his poetry with lyrical excellence and it is the major characteristic of his poetic writings. “Cloud’s Sibling” is one of the finest and chaste metaphorical poems of Atreya Sarma who presents objects and elements of nature as a wonderful family of nature so happy in the sky where ‘heavy bellied Cloud is eager/ to be delivered of the Rain’, where ‘Brother Lightning’ helps her with his ‘dazzling torch’; ‘ Ms Wind’ as the ‘midwife’ and ‘ Mrs Earth’ as the ‘foster mother’ spread out ‘the downy cradle down under’. Such a vivid description can only be given by none other than a man with a broader poetic vision, with a keen poetic insight, by a man who is adept in weaving words to wrap up the beauty of nature- all rolled into Atreya Sarma.
Some of his poems do underline the poet’s wish to live in the lap of nature. The narrative exposition of his love for nature is wonderfully manifested in these poems. He expresses his longing in the poem “In the bosom of a breezy hill”:
In the same poem towards its end he also reveals his earnest desire to transcend the scenic beauty of the world to get at the bottom of the ultimate Beauty. He regards his journey as an insightful exploration from the physical and objective world of nature to the subjective and metaphysical world to know the Reality:
As is apparent, seasons have specific meaning for the poet. “Summer & Spring bid adieu” sums up wonderfully the poet’s natural inwardness. Here, the poet celebrates seasonal carnival to recharge his body and spirits under the colourful canopy of ‘dazzling splendour’:
And the last two lines reflect the equanimity to be sustained in all the varying seasons of life:
The poet tends to be ambivalent in his poetry. If he has country sense of observing the scenic beauty of nature, the urban sense as well makes him capture the deep impact of this high-tech world which can be witnessed in the vivid description as given in the poem “Terrace Twilight” poems. He finds—
Also, ‘Psalms from temples’ and ‘azans from minarets’ of the mosques add secular cadence to the musicality of his experiential reflection.
He himself replies to it as a beautiful message to the people-
His experiential methodology to turn ‘every spasm’ into ‘spiritual bliss’ is highly praiseworthy. The last two lines of the said poem deserve special attention:
An element of sensuousness is palpable in the poem ‘Phantasmagoria’. He feels ‘the thrust of her finger’ on his cheek. He describes-
“The mermaid’ and “Nocturnal Bliss’ are the significant poems carrying the personal experiences of the poet. Sights, colours and sounds are the poetic confluence where his experience is bathed afresh.
The poet sums up:
The poet very skilfully adds a universal dimension to his observation and thoughts.
In the above lines, the internal rhyme with the cadence of semantic melody is remarkable, thus echoing the poetic musicality of his poetry.
The scenic beauty of Bloomington is wonderfully captured with all its picturesqueness in the poem ‘Tons of blooms’. The poet is mesmerized by this city with’ soft hilly terrain’,’ winding roads of vintage’,’ rustling windy beats’, ‘unique Indiana University’ with thousands of ‘scholars’. He is so happy to see the students from India, with ‘their qualities superior’. His sense of Indianness is indeed noteworthy here.
In his ‘That my poetry is, too…’, he talks about his poetry. He avers that his poetry is ‘simple’ and ‘complex’, ‘high sounding’ and ‘mysterious’, ‘recondite’ and ‘ rough and gruff’, ‘soft and tender’ and ‘harsh and prolix’, ‘dismal and dreary’ and ‘dampening and sodden’, ‘stark and cold’ and ‘sound and fury’, ‘languorous, slow and sleepy’ and ‘hot and searing’, ‘verbose’ and ‘ plain’, ‘mild and bland’ and ‘rococo, rhyming and rhythmic’, ‘cynical’ and ‘negative’, ‘provocative’ and ‘direct and explicit. In the conclusion he declares:
“Relations and Equations” is the next section comprising of three poems only that deal with the theme of love, relationships and friendships. In the poem “Ah, what a friendship”, he is all praise for selfless friendship. He compares friends with tree, sun, and candle and metaphorically explains the significance of friendship:
The same theme is carried forward in “Faces of friendship”. On the other hand, “Made for each other” manifests marital co-operation and mutual understanding between wife and husband, lover and beloved. The lover is thankful to God for ‘the angel’ of his dream-‘in mind and body, in heart and soul with beauty blest’. The poet reveals:
The sixth section “Romantic peeps” is the poet’s peephole into the world of love and romance, fancies and fantasies. Poems such as “My dream girl’, “My simple song”, “Lip-lapping”, “Ouch, a forced bachelor!”, “Valentines” are exemplary of the romantic and imaginative exuberance of the poet who, looking into the eyes of his beloved/wife, finds the true meaning of love in life. In “My simple song’ he sings the spousal song of his blissful life:
Above lines highly portray the sense of togetherness through the semantic melody par excellence. The poet enjoys the conjugal celebration in the poem “Lip-lapping”. He very sensuously expresses his experience of the kiss of life:
Next section “Reflectively Yours” presents the poet as a contemplative man of matured thoughts. Atreya Sarma reflects upon even small things, coloured or discoloured, of life and brings to the fore serious meaning out of his insightful reflections. The poems under this section are his profound musings. Sarma is a poet of colours. In addition to the objects of nature, colours are of paramount significance in his poetry. He draws his thoughts from nature and dips them in natural colors. Hence, his deep thoughts are multicolored. For instance, his symbolical poem “ A riot of colors!” has ‘green leaves’, ‘red flowers’, ‘yellow fruits’, ‘white scowls’ etc. Each ‘color of the earth /And the creative world’ has its own meaning that finally adds to the glory of ‘Divine Rainbow’. Colours, in isolation, clash against one another. But if united, they create the rainbow of divinity. The poet’s Oracle demystifies:
Another brilliant piece of the poet’s soulful reflection can be witnessed in his short didactic poem “Human orbits” which appeals to the people to stay firm and committed to their eternal course of action like the objects of nature:
“Man...Powerful or powerless?” is a powerful expression of infinite capability of man who can leave no stone unturned if he/she wants to. The poet very meticulously describes many a quality, physical and mental, of man who can delve ‘Deep into the myriad mysteries’ and go ’Beyond aeons-long light-years of galaxies’, ‘and ‘continents’. He alliteratively says that man can-
Besides, he also mentions ‘material man’, ‘avarice man’, ’arrant man’- all being powerless- who can never have control over some external forces. Furthermore, above lines are testimonial to the fact that scientific and technical lore of the poet helps him a lot to get across his point effectively.
“Sin under the Sun” is a caustic satire on the man’s sins he is committing in the world. Saddened by his evil deeds, the poet feels unbearable pang like the ‘tired’ and ‘defeated’ sun:
“Tantrums of Nature” shows the duality of nature changing its moods through its various objects or elements such as wind, weather, rain, earth etc, which are ‘unruly themselves’. However, the poet suggests:
Atreya Sarma is a philosophical poet who makes a bitter comment on the indifferent attitude of the people. In “Truth- A casualty”, he defines the truth in a different way:
In the ninth section “Social bristles” the poet muses over some serious social, national and international issues –from terrorism to earthquake. Dealing with this grave theme his poetic exuberance coupled with immaculate and strong command over linguistic enrichment deserves our special appreciation. In the epilogue towards the end of the poem “A tryst with the terrorist” must be mentioned for it has double acrostic articulation about the problem of terrorism the world is faced with. The poet stands for ‘peace and harmony’ across the world. He boldly declares:
Another heart-touching poem “Let’s succour our Nepali brethren” expresses the poet’s sympathy for the affected people. He is aware that ‘lip sympathy won’t do, only acts can- little or big’. With deep philosophy of life and principle of three-aspects of God as propounded in Sanatan Dharma he suggests:
With yearning for global peace and harmony his realisation of the ultimate reality is well articulated in “Shalom! Shalom! Shalom!”:
The section “Tongue-in-cheek” deals with the theme of hush-hush affairs of life. The poems of this section are full of wit, irony and sarcasm. “An exotic-n-quixotic affair” gives a vivid account of voyeurism, flirtation with women, seduction, extramarital affairs, getting sexually physical, etc. “Femmes fatales”, written for adults only, speaks is a documentation of plight of woman- physical and mental exploitation, marital torture, burning of brides, stalking, and suffering in male-dominated society. However, towards the end of the poem, the poet becomes philosophic:
The second last section “Occasional voices” is the poet’s take on some important festivals such as Holi, Rakhi and Maker Sankranti etc and also on the hair's-breadth escape of his brother and birthday celebration of his better half. ”To my birthday baby” is a lovely poem dedicated to his wife who taught him-
Most of the poems of Atreya Sarma are written in free verse. However, the concluding section”Metrical forays” is worthy of attention for some metrical poesy. With a natural ease and clarity of meaning well maintained with a perfection, nine limericks (a humorous five-line poem with a rhyme scheme aabba), a sonnet, a ballad, a ballade (a poem consisting of one or more triplets of stanzas with a repeated refrain) showcased in the book establish him as a fantastic metrical poet.
(An abridged version published in Different Truths, 2018)
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