Sep 25, 2023
Sep 25, 2023
by P C K Prem
I.K. Sharma will undoubtedly stay as a major Indian English poet devoted to poetry with definite objective. Social anxieties, the destiny of the neglected segment of society, ethics and principles governing life’s mechanism are the themes he quite often takes up, and warns man of the ubiquitous injustice and inequality. A widely published poet, he has won many honours at the national and inter-national level. To go a little earlier, makes the scenario clear.
One significant feature is apparent in the poets born after 1930. The poetry anthologies began to appear, with a few exceptions, in the late fifties and sixties. The poetry of I. K. Sharma, Som P. Ranchan, Baldev Mirza, Bhatnagar, Bhatia, Rizvi, Amarender Kumar, Gandhi, and K. N. Sharma is entirely different in sensibility, thought content and social awareness. No scholar notices the poets’ presence on the poetic scene so compellingly in the late seventies or even eighties when the city poetry ruled the psyche of the elites, who cared little about this group of poets. However, the poets demonstrated interest in Indian culture and background and did not appear very enthused about the anguish the city-bred poets often exhibited.
Therefore, a different poetry continued to grow in many remote regions of the country with the glimpses of rural backdrop. They were hopeful and foresaw a better future for humankind despite the fact that social issues formed the basic theme of poetry with a few variations. An archetypal incongruity or negation of ‘the self’ with regard to identity, was unique characteristic of some poets, who stayed far away from the impact of urban poetry of anguish, which on close scrutiny revealed hope in life.
The poets, who took birth between 1920 and 1940, harboured feelings of despondency and forlornness for various reasons because life’s desires, living conditions, and incessant erosion of morality constituted many areas of cynicism, collapse and defeat and the poets depicted the thoughts feelingly and ardently in verses. The nation witnessed far-reaching changes in life-pattern with drastic changes in the governing apparatus. A socialistic pattern of society put adequate thrust on the amelioration of the miserable conditions of the poor people and it gained momentum. Not to perceive life with anticipation raised genuine questions. Looking into the anxieties of the poets about the falling quality of life and ethical values, appearance of greed, hatred and widespread corrupt practices in the system began to corrode the socio-political fabric in seventies and it caused a hurt psyche, which refused to find appropriate remedy.
I. K. Sharma belonged to this group of poets, who wrote different poetry than the poetry of Shiv K Kumar, Ezekiel, Jayanta Mahapatra, Kamala Das, Katrak, K. N. Daruwalla, Dilip Chitre, Gieve Patel and a few others city bred poets. Thus, the years from 1920 to 1940 witnessed two streams of thoughts that exhibit adequate poetic strength. One group on maturity ventilated feelings of the city life while the other set like Sharma… revived interest in Indian culture and heritage, and social anxieties, and carried on the poetic path of Krishna Srinivasa, Mahananda Sharma and to some extent P Lal and others before them. However, irresistible impact and well-organized hype of urban poetry did not permit enough space to these gentle and self-effacing poets though this poetry began to appear in late seventies.
In adverse poetic regime, I.K. Sharma and others continued to write poetry without caring for the neglect. It was after decades that people take notice of poetry with genuine Indian consciousness and social disquiet. The disregard and casual sense of positive reception of poetry with deep-rooted Indian sensibilities and understanding that had roots in Vedic cultural heritage caused genuine worries he often shared such thoughts. Nevertheless, it did not mean to undermine what others wrote. In this background, it is worthwhile to evaluate the poetic world of I. K. Sharma, a significant voice in English Poetry in India.
I. K. Sharma is deeply worried about the complexities of life and finds it difficult to define and interpret it in simple language but he does it when one cautiously looks into the lexis. Man may try to characterize it through certain formulas or may theorize but it eludes precise description. The revelation of facts and truth confuses. Man may argue and ask clearly to think through the mystery of life but he fumbles about and fails. ‘Vigilance’ in The Native Embers is a short lyric but it puts life in perspective.
Life is not made up of straight lines,
clear-cut formulas, neat divisions,
absolute statistics, fixed propositions,
regular rhythms, and smooth change-over
like the roads of Jaipur…
It is not a new thought but still the poet’s intentions warn a man to remain guarded. He believes in hopeful and bright future and the optimism travels in many verses. He believes in the courage and will power of man, who has sufficient potential to create a world of choice where he can live happily.Images of Jaipur infuse hope and light with a little of uncertainty and agony of the tiny wound. Life moves in multiple patterns but little notes of harmony and a few disturbances make it meaningful. Life in totality requires sensitive treatment and one cannot solve life’s dilemmas as if it were a theorem. It is not mathematics that a man can reach a possible solution.
One ought to care for the emotional prototype one carries around to look great nay significant. In a crowd of possibilities, a man ought to find distinct rationale in life and make it purposeful. It is neither an architectural design nor a fixed pattern one can reach. If not taken seriously, it defies definition and leads to ambiguity and defeat. In fact, without philosophizing, the poet defines the anxieties and complex mechanism of which life is made of.
He laments at the loss in basic qualities of courage, confidence and fortitude in man in whatever field of life he is and talks predominantly of teachers, the mentors of future, who are lost somewhere and so, have forgotten the right path. Sharma in beautiful poems regrets dithering modern attitude and the loss of confidence in teachers as they confront pupils. Modern intellects and hearts of teachers do not inspire students to repose faith in teachers, perhaps, the fault lies somewhere else. He is not direct but obliquely, hints at the faulty educational and social system, and frequent shifts in thoughts, and cultural distortions a man often indulges in.
May be, the teachers of future have lost the path of truth and morality, and the vision is blurred and for the flaw, teachers are responsible one is tempted to aver. ‘Honesty’ (The Native Embers) has lost value and everything appears empty and sans piety and dignity, for it gets no importance. An honest man fails to get respect and he is unable to provide good education and comfortable life even to the family in an age of materialism.
He cannot send children to convent schools
nor give them an ounce of milk impure,
nor wrap them in rags to face winter
nor get them a toy on their birthday
nor buy a gift for his sweetheart
in memory of their wedding day.
The blatant reality still haunts the punctured moral fiber of social frame. He is not straight but talks of the social and economic limitations that determine the status of a teacher in the society. Possibly, ancient thoughts struggle in the mind of the poet, who recalls the exalted position of a guru, who was a god to the disciples, a saintly figure whose diktats even the mighty obeyed. Here, he takes into consideration the entire socio-economic situation in a free country where teachers are ignored and do not get enough to sustain life honourably. Acquisitiveness and material gains do not recognize old virtues - honesty, grace, dignity and uprightness in contemporary life. How to deal with invasive wearing away and fall in moral quality is the major worry the poet confronts but indicates at possible failure and so throws adequate hints in lyrics. Actualities of life haunt him and he appears sad.
A man of principles and integrity suffers and lives under constant threat of poverty, scarcity and hunger in the present system and whatever the mechanism of society claims, the corrupt, the greedy, the power hungry and the rich guide and govern the society. The vulnerable poor and the helpless genuine hardworking men have no identities. The poet hints at the jungle law of barbarity and loot, and still a man hopes for a better future in a democratic and socialistic system where justice and equality are the cardinal principles of governance and the premises raise questions with possibilities of no answer.
He is terse and precise, and conscious of the surroundings, and in expression, he is meticulous. A streak of anger saturates each word but he avoids tedium and staleness and so, an aesthetic sense prevails. If he is angry because of apathetic attitude of people to good qualities, he eloquently stands against it, wants freedom nay deliverance from the anarchic and exploitative forces making life of man miserable, and thus, questions the modus operandi of the political apparatus and its guides. He feels they constitute a reprehensible segment of society. They promise light, joy, comforts, happy life and a bright future but the anticipated ‘dawn’ never materializes.
He gave them aloud call
like a cock in a lane,
announced on the air,
dawn is not far off.
The early risers followed him,
Stumbled, and found
He walks with his back towards them,
Hides the rising sun
Not only irony and ridicule but also helplessness is quite apparent, for a man cannot hope to get rid of the disgusting social and economic disparities for which politicians are invariably responsible. He dislikes unprincipled outlook, exploitation, duplicity, political corruption and immorality, pretense and the system’s dehumanization acts against man, and still a politician in man obviously demonstrates non-existing ethics. A spurious game of belittling and destroying values and system in life occupies a man and therefore, he looks at the entire creation, and startles when the poet through an ant (The Shifting Sand-Dunes), an insignificant creation of the Invisible lord, dwells on the sacred task of creation and destruction in little bits.
Some pithy and abrupt lines ‘Age after age of man’s history /his art, culture, and poetry /lies unbound, in bits, without a babble /like remnants of dinner on a mahogany table’ depict teasing paradox. He throws many hints of a possible answer but leaves it to the lover of poetry to understand. However, the message is not very convenient if efforts to correct roughness remain halfhearted. It is here that he attempts to correct a few coarse edges in human attitude if man thinks of doing tiny acts of goodness and help to give a few cheers to people nearby. It was this thought probably that inspired him to get up early in the morning, bring milk and bread, butter and curd from the nearby market to solve some problems of his wife.
He does not talk of mighty heroes and historical figures generally but loves to penetrate into the life of an ordinary hardworking man and makes him a hero, who excites, elicits sympathies, inspires confidence and teaches the import of work, sincerity and values. Gangu Teli (Dharamsala and Other Poems) is one of the finest and beautiful poems. Perennial sufferings of the poor not only cause material hardship but mentally too, they feel harassed when promises and assurances unlimited do not bring anything concrete and consequently emptiness stares for generations.
Again, it is a strong denunciation of the system that boasts of social and economic uplift. It is a ruse to befool a poor man when it is said, “Your fate line is devious / Saturn looks crooked at you. / Wait a few years” as the burden of doings of those, who govern is shifted to fate and the evil influence of planets ruling the destiny of man, an absurd predicament. Destiny or the unseen hand causes everything unfortunate occurring in the lives of the deprived. A poor man begins to believe more in pundits and astrologers than anybody else does. Gangu Teli is a symbol of continuous hard work, strenuous labour, poverty, exploitation, innocent and naive unsuspecting temper.
A railway line soon crossed the countryside
and lapped up his hut with speed;
he only gathered embers for his breakfast.
and his broken family, clouds of smoke.
His faith in socialism however, did not wane.
Development, growth and progress in a socialistic pattern of society have sharp teeth but only destroy the dreams of an ordinary man without a voice, for the silent voice favours justice, equality and war against hunger and poverty that never becomes visible. However, progress usurps the hut and land, and he gets nothing concrete and so comfortable livelihood turns into a haunting nightmare. Even the concept of big dams proves a mirage since the man continues to struggle for a drop of water but gets none. Messiahs, netas, politicians, intellectuals assure and offer false tall promises on a platter, which vanish the moment messiahs go away or disappear and therefore, sufferings continue to burden. In truth, enlargement and development become metaphors for richness and consequent origin of scarcity, unhygienic conditions and sufferings. Does he hint at the perpetual life of miseries? It shocks. However, he asks the father of nation elsewhere to pick up the stick –the lathi and it will automatically disperse negative forces.
He works hard and tries to touch and measure the illusory poverty line. However, it recedes further and defies reasonable definition as mighty minds of economics and socialism apparently make efforts to minimize thirst, hunger and poverty but reach nowhere. He is aware of the planning and projects taking birth in air-conditioned rooms where the poor are the sacred subject. One can easily find Gangu Telis among the Harijans, the Kisans and the Jawans and everywhere, the poet tells with a hurt psyche. Gangus will die but again rise up to continue the heritage of sufferings in epical dimensions with a faint hope of a good future perhaps.
All messiahs are alike, dear,
of Harijans, Kisans, or of Jawans.
So far your promises?
They are fresh as ever…
Gangu Teli is not dead,
he is not alive either.
like the interminable sari of Dropadi
goes on and on and on.
A sad and dismal scenario is the consequence of ever expanding industrial growth, huge structures touching sky, hotels, pleasure resorts and housing colonies that result in ever-increasing miseries of the poor. Apparently, material progress and visible expansion of infrastructure are signs of a developing country but if people live in abject poverty, one cannot call it a developed and prosperous country. Happy people with upright values of life make the country great. A socialistic pattern must ensure that hunger and thirst, poverty and socio-economic inequality vanish, and if it does not happen, sufferings will never lessen.
Precision in what he says in lyrics is a singular quality. In Gangu Teli, he touches life of a hardworking man quite persuasively, draws out sympathy and compassion for the man and at the same time, reveals social apathy and coldness and without saying many words, speaks of the incompetent, incapable and non-functional social mechanism.
In spite of social worries and expression of love and empathy, society collectively does very little to ameliorate the deplorable life-conditions of the neglected segments of the society and miseries continue to determine destiny. Such worries dominate the thoughts and philosophy of the poet, which get insufficient space in city poetry. Whenever, the poet talks about the ordinary and socially not very significant class of people, in fact, he exposes emptiness and hollow claims of social reformers, planners, social scientists and the system. In a similar lyric on Indian Farmer (Nirantaram-keep moving), he offers a shocking and terrifying depiction of farmers.
your hung head
beneath the load of debt, and turban
strapped and yoked
like the castrated bullock
to the cart of life. …
for a shower of rains in time
your pious eyes look to heaven,
pray at temples,
pay small coins at fortune-teller’s dwelling.
Instead, misfortunes rains,
and I see tears on your chin,
spittle on clothes –a dustbin.
It is not a simple verse about farmer’s life, the backbone of the life of human beings –the country in truth but it is a scathing criticism of what people and the state do for the welfare of those, who work for the nation and society and get nothing. Indifference and wintriness in attitude create agonizing situation, and the men, who build society and the nation with sweat and persistent toil only confront scarcity, deprivation, disrespect, hunger and thirst and live in incessant suffering while claims of welfare schemes and reformatory measures continue to drum ears. Nothing definite emerges and the poor men choke and die. A sad commentary on a society it is that talks of social and economic equality. It disturbs.
In ‘Greetings from the Desert’ (Nirantaram-keep moving), the poet is sadly sarcastic and a bit prophetic. He stuns and shocks.
How will you counter the angel
of the new millennium
whose opening lesson is
a for alcohol
b for bribe
c for cigarette …
His menu is to chew the sinuous geometry
Of your body where flows
For him gold, not brine.
Inherent meaning not only shakes to the morrow but also visualizes a gloomy scenario and warns of a bleak and dreadful future. He is not philosophic but talks of a not very encouraging situation and prospect if man continues to act not only unwisely but also fiendishly but then, at other moment, he opts out for some definite time of hope. ‘a, b and c’ speak of a cultural birth, perhaps already born, in an age when ‘global thought and civilization’ talks of universal love and unity of humankind breaking barriers of caste, creed and colour. What a huge fallacy and a tragic visualization of man, who wishes to create something new and better. Lyric is a sad reminder of the desolate vision where acquisitive susceptibility would govern caring little for ethics.
Realistic images of woman shock and the relationship of contradictions haunts. One reflection is of opulence and absolute enjoyment (Address to a Lady, The Native Embers). Life of a wealthy woman is effortless, full of pleasures and gratifying with flashes of grace and charm and she looks bewitching and eye-catching to an onlooker while vital statistics of curvaceous woman amaze and tantalize.
It is interesting to watch you
moving inside the house
through the glass window,
your hair splendidly cut
adds beauty, grace, and charm to it,
your flesh lighted with desire
bursts at bottom
and lurks in covers at vital points.
It is dreamy sequence, a life of intensity and pleasure with scanty regard for morals. Then, the lethal and disgusting scenario opens up when one looks at a woman, who works hard and fights against hunger and exploitation.
pitched without permission
on a municipal land,
their children unnumbered
stuffed with lethal hunger
play with broken toys and guns
and display publicly
their private bones.
Not only hard work and chilling labour it is but he also hints at the bodily exploitation if one recalls the earlier painting.
A scathing criticism it is of social system and of governance but none cares. Poverty still humiliates, and injustice to the majority of the people does not end, and tragically, women bear the brunt painfully. ‘Keep Lust Indoors, Not Woman’ (Camel, Cockroach, and Captains) is a soft and gentle lyric and touches heart with a strong message. Woman if ventures out is a potent force that can contribute to the growth of man and society. If a man keeps an eye for the bright and the noble, he fills life with cheers and inspires others. A benevolent and gracious look even at the little objects of nature offers plenty of pleasure. He startles with such little verses when he touches subjects that look insignificant to an ordinary observer but the ignored questions grant extra strength to the poet.
Flowers are not for cupboards.
set neatly in a vase they smile
and sing songs of joy. If you eye
is civilized they flash light
for all –alien or otherwise.
Ask your seedlings to grow straight.
they new air will turn into a strong wind
and unveil the wisdom of those
who are deaf
tender murmur of budding hearts.
He exposes stark reality of politics and ironically reveals the ugly and deceptive face of politicians. Not only time is in motion but the world of men also moves in a curious rhythm of mystery where everything changes. Politics in India is beyond understanding. Perhaps, unethically strong (?) self-styled politician is the cause of disease that victimizes the helpless people. He feeds people with slogans and false promises, amasses wealth, grows rich, forgets the cause of the downtrodden, and so, hurts humanity.
Out of the debris of history, Chanakya will find it difficult to read the minds of the contemporary politicians. He is curt and sardonic but down deep, he feels miserable and forlorn as he delineates the typical characteristics of the unprincipled and unscrupulous leaders (Three Cheers for Haryana, The Native Embers) when he says, ‘The course of your New Year rhythm is / Incomprehensible. /Aya Ram Gaya Ram is history. /You go. I come unblock, is a revelation, /A new truth. /Even the sudden change of group-name is /Not material; /What is material is the frequency. /The finesse you have done the deed with.’ In India, it is the truth and unfortunate reality where politicians are depraved, sinners and cheats but refuse to improve. Therefore, any change in the destiny of the vulnerable remains a distant possibility because one finds no visible value-oriented inclination among the politicians.
He is realistic and down to earth in lyrics. He is passionate, soft but curt, angry but restrained, hurt but forgiving many a time and at the same time, speaks of the suffering humankind. He talks of exploitation of the poor and the abandoned sections of the society. He is aware of the social disparities and so incisively speaks of a distorted governing system and shameless face of politicians, who after freedom, instead of serving the people are squeezing each drop of blood and never think of the poor and the country.
He reminds of a historical fact of recent times and truth when legislators change loyalties and so a sickening play of sale-purchase of elected representatives beginning with a bang, does not stop though the contours of furtive political peddling look distinct and refined, and so the scandalous political theatre looks rosy (?).
Change in political loyalties is now a practice, a habit in real politicking and it is an integral part of the ethics of politicians, continuing even after many years with a shade different. The character of politicians is a permanent issue of debate. “Aya-Gaya Rams” still decide people’s fate. In a democratic set up, unprincipled politics pollutes everything, and ill framed and distorted laws to suit political masters become the destiny of people, who bear the burden of immoral political guides. Now, intimate and opportunistic relations at different levels among the saints, babas and sadhus mostly fed on the State’s patronage and politicians determine the fate of people. Despite obvious geniality, the poet appears injured and deeply anguished at the social and economic utilization nay exploitation.
He is positive with a huge rider. If he paints a dismal picture of what a man does to ‘the self’, he also speaks of a positive attitude that makes life meaningful. He appears authentic, true, severely terse and piercing, yet he notices many suns in life.
History runs along its muddy bank,
centuries lie quiet on its wide flank,
saints and scoundrels lie within its pale,
New Year waits at the gate to tell its tale.
Like a big-bosomed granny, it nourishes all,
from the hill top to low ground, it covers all.
In Calendar (Nirantaram –keep moving), he is eloquent and metaphorical in depicting a colossal national scene where he is worried but optimistic.
In most of the lyrics, he highlights the issues arising out of social complexities where man fights against man in an age of competition to grow fast. In a fierce race to go ahead, a few men leave the majority behind, halt, look back and begin exploiting those left behind because those, lacking determination to fight effectively eventually confront deprivation and exploitation, thirst and hunger, and the consequential miseries culminating in death. Sharma’s message if hurts also indirectly, provokes a decent and noble man to stand up and face the challenges and that instills hope. Along with others, his poetry carves out a poetic path at a time, when urban thought and sensibility dominated the elite of the society with a sickening attitude, for urban intellectualized life of anguish failed to look at the wretched and ignored ordinary man.
I am inclined to a make a brief reference to very fine books of translation–‘Lu’ and ‘Badali’. Chandra Singh Badali, a Rajasthani author penned down these long poems -a memorable tribute to nature. Sharma’s rendition in English is simply amazing and striking, for it carries essence and fragrance of the soil and sand of the State. To translate is a hazardous task but if one imbibes the spirit of land, its soil and its people, one is truly intimate with the sensibilities of the region and this is precisely the achievement of Sharma, whose patience and adroit efforts in rendering poetic lines in English not only astonishes but provokes one to understand and enjoy nature lyrics. ‘Lu’ a fiery face of nature is the mother of ‘Badali’ –the clouds. ‘Lu’ means hot winds that blow during summer and are excruciating but it is also beauty of the hot weather. The lines below give the depth of understanding when the poet speaks of ‘Lu’ –
O Lu, do spare the tender petals,
also the newborn leaves,
finger not, in your high tide
the slender, tender vines. 1
With love and immense care
creepers nurse the buds,
they all sob, now, watching:
Lu robs them of their wealth. 7
The journey and face of ‘Lu’ carry drawbacks and wrath in that order, which depend upon the understanding of poetry lovers.
In your infancy in Baisakh
if you are so remorseless, hard,
in Jeth, in full bloom, heavens!
How do we save our skin? 16
As life on land slowly wilts,
Lu quickens her pace,
mad with pride she singes and sucks,
burns all that is pleasing, lush. 20
A request melts down a stony heart, when he makes a plea, “Spare the land, where people /are frail and of tender limbs, /Murdhar alone can hold you:/blow fast as and when you can.” Then, he says, “Clouds that bring life to the land /get their life from you, /may you blow hard and fast at will /we shall, as ever, welcome you?”
Rajasthan is a land of vast sandy land, areas of deserts, mirages and camels and here, life has its charm, beauty, hard work and suffering. Here, one has glimpses of beauty of nature in Rajasthan and the two books celebrate nature in its fury, unbearable heat and loveliness when dark –grey clouds (Badali) overcast the sky and appear harbingers of soothing experience ahead. A few word paintings simply enthrall and catch the imaginative strings tightly. The lines below impress and fascinate –
May you bring us rains, Badali!
Ashad has already arrived.
fields, bushes, shrubs all dray –
each one starving for life.
Here are no rivers nor streams
nor tanks that overflow,
you the only hope, Badali,
leave not Maru withour rains. 5
Nature in sandy regions has its language and its blessings and if an insightful human heart listens to the beatings and the eyes see closely what the hot wind contains it offers meaning. At one stage, he says, “Badali did come after a long wait, /stayed for a day or two,/poured out rain here and there, /but back are we to the westerly wind 99 and a delightful experience lingers on somewhere inside and one does not know how to articulate exquisite feelings.
…and then, a suggestion is obvious, “Farewell, o Badali, farewell, /live among the heavens and reign supreme, /but come down uninvoked in the rains: /you are life of Murdhar-des.”
‘Lu’ and ‘Badali’ metaphorically not only speak of nature and its magic that is life giving and almost nectar to humanity but it also appears intimidating and fearsome when in anger. Nature’s embryonic supremacy and potential where it benefits humankind suggests subtly that to live in harmony with nature prolongs the pleasure and longevity humanity aspires for amidst apparently not very genuine and healthy efforts to guard beauty and wealth of nature.
Interestingly, Chauraha aur anya Kavitaien- a collection of Hindi poems, is a small book but it impresses in thought content and is again a symbolic representation of contemporary anxieties man confronts. Lyrics speak of a few rainbows life contains and give enjoyment. Each verse has its area and aroma of thoughts and feelings and the quick shift in thoughts and feelings astonishes. Not very long lyrics in blank verse adorn the thoughts that charm and provoke to reflect on life deeply. Images and similes swing and pop out to startle and if one wants to comprehend the hidden message, one must work hard.
In Gandhi Chauraha, he is satisfying but satirical and so awakens consciousness to face truth, when he says (translated lines), “I asked Gandhi, /who stood at the crossing -/‘it looks you are a traffic inspector, /who is confirmed /in the government job. /…under your nose /the friendly horses are grazing/the green grass/what will happen to the stick/you hold.” 24
Precision in phrase is the power of lyrics rarely witnessed elsewhere. He is incisive, sharp and terse when he speaks of social evils and man’s hypocritical outlook on life and relations. He speaks plainly, when he laughs at the heroes of past, who are just a medium of celebrating artificial and untruthful thoughts with immense pretense.
A look at some of his notable works will be valuable -
The Shifting Sand dunes, Jaipur Publishing House, Jaipur (1976), The Native Embers Ibid (1986), Dharamsala and Other Poems, Skylark Publications, Aligarh (1993), Camel, Cockroach and Captains, Sand-Pra Publications, Jaipur (1998), My Lady, Broom and Other Poems. Ibid. (2004), End to End, Nirantaram, Deepak Publishers, Jaipur, 2016 are collections of poems.
Books on translation are –Poet (Rajasthan no.) 1974, The Man-eater, 1978, Contemporary Rajasthani Poetry, 1979, Panchali and Other Poems, 1997, Lu and Badali, 2001, Gandhi, Chauraha aur anya Kavitaien (a collection of verses in Hindi) 2013. He has edited Poet (Rajasthan No. 1974), Contribution of Writers to Indian Freedom Movement (Section on Hindi Writers Volume II), 1985.
New Indian English Poetry -An Alternative Voice 2004 and O. P. Bhatnagar: The Critic with a Big Heart, 2006 reveal the reviewer in him. Two poetry books in Hindi are memorable for fresh themes and treatment, which again highlight social concerns of a sensitive poet. For the guidance of the young students, he authored A Practical Approach to General English, 1963 and A Practical Course in English, 1971.
A versatile author of substance, he has always been objective, meaningful and evocative. He appears a subtle reformer with a cynical eye, and the satirical tone hurts social consciousness deeply that appears awakened but often yawns and blurts out welfare projects and then, lulls to sleep and forgets. Therefore, socialism in a democratic set up grows and suffocates to death the poor and the destitute contrary to what the purported plans say. He is terribly incisive and the truth pierces violently. The depiction, at times, turns lop-sided. Obliquely, he hints at the social sensibilities of Hindi poets Nirala and Muktibodh. The thoughts of Marx, Ruskin and Gandhi may paint positive future for the poor but somewhere, despite human efforts, a few crevices appear that ultimately lead to breakdown and defeat also amidst flickers of hope and therefore, the connotation of persistent optimism flows in each lyric and that probably speaks of the poet’s strength.
1. The Shifting Sand-dunes. Jaipur; Jaipur Publishing House, 1976
2. The Native Embers. Ibid, 1986
3. Dharamsala and Other Poems. Aligarh: Skylark Publications,1993
4. Camel, Cockroach and Captains. Jaipur Sand-Pra Publications, 1998
5. My Lady, Broom and Other Poems. Ibid. 2004
6. Nirantaram. Jaipur: Deepak Publishers , 2016
7. Lu and Badali (two books of Chandra Singh ‘Badali’, Aalekh Publishers, Jaipur 2001 –Translated lyrics of Rajasthani poet
8. Gandhi, Chauraha aur anya Kavitaien (a collection of verses in Hindi) Sand-Pra Publications, Mansarovar, Jaipur 302020, 2013.
More by : P C K Prem
Thanks a lot Dr Sahib.
|Thanks for highlighting the major features of I K Sharma's poetry. His sense of humour and irony is extraordinary. Your article should motivate the new generation of scholars and researchers to explore Sharma's poetry for higher academic degrees. I appreciate your support for the poets on the margin, even as I K Sharma has been a mjor voice.|