Dec 01, 2023
Dec 01, 2023
Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
- P.B Shelley, Ode to the West Wind
"Savage Wind", a foliage of twenty five English poems by Asoke Kumar Mitra, a bilingual poet, retired journalist and Editor, and their Spanish translation by Josep Juarez, a Mexican poet and translator, looks rather innovative, experimental, and the first of its kind with vivid, pictorial, and picturesque presentation of both poems and the visuals. Original essence of Mitra's English poems is poetically, aesthetically and aptly and sustained and maintained in their Spanish translation. The most beautiful feature of the book is its precision, compactness, brevity and time saving motive of the poet. All the poems are really poetry in conformity with art of poetics, diverse twisting tropes, tone and tenor and nuances. He makes objective use of ‘wind’ as a powerful metaphor to manifest the subjective realm of his inner world. ‘Shaken by a wild wind’, the poetic folios of his profound thoughts and ideas surface out with concrete entity and give off aroma and essence to feed the soul. As a matter of fact, his poetry shows signs of his poetic maturity both in the treatment of themes and techniques.
Suffused with conventional themes of love, nature, with dimorphic uniqueness, time, memories, nostalgia, agony and melancholy-all beautifully rolled with rhythmic flow of words on the surrealistic tapestry- Asoke Kumar Mitra’s poetry causes a soothing ring of ripples in a reader's heart, with scintillating thoughts and intensity of feelings and emotions, with emotive, evocative and stirring imagery, adroitly employed in his poems. He explores the world of love, longings, desires, passions, fantasies, peace and serenity and expresses his ideas, thoughts and delicate feelings taking recourse to fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtaposition of the content.
Love and nature are central to Mitra's poetry. He tends to personify nature as his beloved and creates a romantic milieu resonant with overwhelming emotion, intense desire, ecstatic passion and exuberant feelings with aesthetic portrayal of his inner world of silence. He defines and redefines love with various images drawn from the nature world. Hence, love takes different shapes in his poetic world. Sometimes love is 'tight roped.... between insanity and truth...' and other times a ' whirlwind of sorrows', sometimes it is a 'forgotten tale' and at times 'expressionless’. His love is a 'prayer for the beloved', 'a song of impatient heart'. In his poetry he tends to romances day and night with his beloved in thoughts. His poetry is a love tale, 'forgotten tale of love' that falls like 'leaves with the wind of nostalgia', like the rains with love for the rainbow. In the poem "Lovelorn" he says:
Love becomes expressionless
And unscathed as glass
Night glittered in pleasure
And pain between my fingers.
The poet is adept in weaving paean after paean on the graceful and majestic beauty of nature as his beloved ruling the roost in his memories. In the poem "Eyes”, he calls her blue eyes 'oceanic' and compares them with 'Unfolded petals of blue night'.
Temporal twists and turns are dominant in his poems with varying seasons such as autumn, spring etc symbolizing abrupt swings of mood. The poet, endowed with wide range of experience and keen observation of life, in and around, calls time ' hands of god'. Lulled by the song of 'the tide's ebb and flow', he feels loved and cuddled in his own 'intangible loneliness’, of ‘a dark abyss'. Happiness and sorrow, laughter and tears are all well blended providing succour and solace to heart.
Sense of loneliness and agony of the heart in is also being felt in his poem "In Exile". The poet makes use of various objects of nature such as 'mountain', 'moon', 'rivers' , 'rocks' to express his grief and anguish haunting him in his 'silent exile'. He sees in the eyes of his beloved 'footprints of lazy moon' in the 'thirsty night' and finds—
Meaningless empty memory,
Left by passion's trail
Silence down the mountain rock
Wounded by lazy moon
Nostalgia as a distinct theme is noticeable throughout the poetry of Asoke Kumar Mitra who reminisces about his love and romance of his young days. Love and memories go hand in hand. In "Daydreams", he still feels the pangs of his heartbeats for his love. He recalls 'memories of winter romance in 1977'. He reveals:
Your love, a flame of candle
The power of love, that fills the heart
Leave the brain in blank and in pain
Insane heartbeat shivers down the spine.
Another poem "Whirlwind" also carries the long cherished memories etched in the psyche and heart of the poet. He finds love spread far and wide on the cosmic countenance of nature. ‘Leaves’, ‘clouds’, ‘moonlight’, ‘boulevard’, ‘flowers’, ‘wind’ etc present the romantic spectrum of the notion of love the poet has. He gives a vivid account of love by redefining it:
Stitched moonlight on the stone
We climb through
Heart shaped leaves,
Secret desire, love is like the wind
The poet is aware that there is a slight difference between insanity and truth. His poem "We" is remarkable for highlighting this fact of life. He gives a call to his beloved to come back 'from the yellow river/ Beyond the lilac trees’. He is so much caring and concerned about her that he also makes her alert against' steep climb', ' Treacherous bends of life' and mirages in front' as he knows—
We remain tight roped between
Insanity and truth
Nothingness in solitude.
However, the poet as a lover feels ecstatic while roaming in the world of imagination 'on merry-go-rounds' of his intense feeling of love. Verbal inability of the poet in proper communication of his woos to his beloved is seen in his poem "Words" dealing with 'Untamed passion' restless in the closed chamber of his heart. The pang of separation in his loneliness keeps 'Swirling amidst the ruins of words'. He wishes-
Passions were tears
Dripped like warm blood
Lost in your shadow...
Dreams and desires as major preoccupations of the poet recur in his poetry. With very explicit subtlety what he does is giving a slight clue to the reader to figure out and conjure up. For instance, in the poem "Tonight", the poet painfully remembers the 'song of winds/ Frozen moon/ Alphabet of savage night...' and finds 'Voiceless shadow of phantom night'. With a brilliant trope of river, he expresses his agony-
Desire and silent wounds
Like a river that flows inside the heart
On the other hand, the poem, "Dreams of A Broken Leaf" breaks and echoes 'The silence of soft lips’. He creates a parallelism between a broken leaf and a fluttering angel' and heaves a sigh of relief because
Broken leaf laughs
Left a love note in the sky...
Silence and whispers help the poem colour his thoughts in his 'old loneliness' and romantic reflection on the beauty of love. With a proposition he woos his beloved in "Drunken Silence" :
Let us share the dreams of desire
Let us throw our silent wounds in the sky
Let us return to our passions
The Poem "And Now" is poem of emotional fulfilment. The happiness and smile of a pining heart is resonant with translation of 'fragrant dreams' into the reality where there is now no silence between the two hearts. In the beginning of the poem, the poet's appeal to "unbutton" dreams and silence seems to have been heeded to as the poet asks-
Unbutton your silence
A night bird's laughter echoing in an empty room
Savage night of desire,
Two tired birds on the wings of darkness...lost for ever
The poetry of Asoke Kumar Mitra is pervaded by various nocturnal and insomniac feelings. The Poem “Sleepless Nights”, a brilliant example of transferred epithet, deals with ‘Infinite nothingness’, colourless hunger, greed, and death’, ;pain and love’, hope and rage’, and ‘placid rhythm ‘of ‘tearful longings’. Over all, it evinces out ‘strange aroma of love’ ‘in the night sky’.
His poem “Stain of Love” is one of the most powerful poems of the anthology. It sums up the poetic pondering of the poet who remembers his love in his ‘innocence’ in his ‘broken home’ Her lips, hands, eyes, her sensuous beauty all come out of the ‘shadows’ of the past memory rummaged and ruffled by ‘the savage wind’. He gets a feel that the more he runs after love, the faster it runs away. He realizes:
Love is an empty room
A slow sensual flame, licking the wounds
I have searched for your memory
Each time I have lost my way
It is apparent from the foregoing analysis of the poems showcased in “Savage Wind” that Asoke Kumar Mitra, a sexagenarian poet, maintains remarkable restraint in the use of words. His poetry is not lost in the welter of verbiage; rather it is singularised by verbal economy. His poems have lyrical spontaneity coupled with profound emotions, and priceless precision. His poetry is symbolic expression and reveals his immaculate command over the language. His craftsmanship is appreciable and conspicuous for subtle use of imagery, and meticulous choice of diction. In short, his poetry can be called foliage of subtle thoughts and intense feelings synthesised together that exemplifies the objective correlative and the unification of sensibility.
(Abridged version published in Tuch Magazine, 2018)
More by : Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar