Book Reviews

Ravi Ranganathan: Of Cloudless Climes

Of Cloudless Climes by Ravi Ranganathan
ISBN 978-93-88332-54-5 Authorpress, Rs. 295.00

One, two three……. A person who is excellent with numbers can surpass in language as well! Ravi Ranganathan, retired banker, who already has two books of poetry to his credit ‘Lyrics of Life’ and ‘Blade of Green Grass’ has regaled poet lovers with his third book ‘Of Cloudless Climes.’ In his own words – ‘it has been indeed a rewarding poetic journey which has helped me understand myself better.’ I did wonder at the choice of the title ‘Of Cloudless Climes.’ However, I was convinced after reading the poet’s reference to Lord Byron’s poems during his college days and how ‘cloudless climes and starry skies’ had left a deep, but inexplicable impression on his mind –‘celebration of simplicity’ as he states.

‘Of Cloudless Climes’ has been ‘dedicated to all the poets of the world. They are the best people around…. They should always be abound.” This reveals the personality of Ravi Ranganathan as affable, respectful, and sanguine.

Divided into four parts as ‘Inner Scape’ ‘Myku’ ‘Micro Muse’ and ‘Ravisdom’, the book of poems comprise a range of topics from human emotions, relationships, and moves on into the metaphysical and spiritual, which brings out the repertoire and expertise of the poet. Without a doubt, he is worthy of the awards conferred upon him by ‘Poiessis Online’ and ‘Literati Cosmos Society.’

How easily he glides from nostalgia to self-quest in ‘My Inner Scape’ is incredible.

The black and white picture of my grandmother
Mounted in my room is more than enough
For me to find solace this time, like every time
From the unreal world to my true, real one…….. (page 21)

And in the concluding lines,

To that invigorating task of reaching deeper and deeper
Task of peeling ourselves layer by layer
To reach the core; to resemble keenly the purge…. (My Inner Scape, page 21)

One gets to recognize his love for nature and environment in Ferndom (page 22), where he expresses with childlike glee ‘I suppose it liked my friendly looks….’

In the next stanza, the lines -

Life eternal is here, in this eerie little silence
In this compliance, this natural balance (page 22)

The phrase ‘eerie little silence’ evokes melancholy, of course, with positivity when he speaks of ‘the natural balance.’ The message to readers to exercise care and concern for natural surroundings is loud and clear in the poem.

In ‘Seeing Rivers as Life’ the poet has expressed his gratitude for the waters of Life. The following lines make the reader pause; reflect upon the gifts of Nature that we have been enjoying.

Our ancestors have known them even better
For their souls have grown like these sacred rivers (page 25)

He implores and asks if we would like the rivers to ‘shed tears.’ The concluding message also serves as a caveat, despite its seemingly optimistic tone.

You do not want them singing like ghosts
You want them to enjoy for ages, celebrate changes
You want them to sing along like angels……..(page 25)

His love for rivers has overtly been expressed in the verse Bridge, Flow and Me (page 26). The poem is highly evocative; in fact, it evoked memories of the all-time favorite R. L. Stevenson’s ‘From a Railway Carriage.’

If I would ever get down from the train
To kiss its mesmeric waters flowing thick and long?
Or would I ever stand at this enchanting riverbank
Watching trains pass by, bogies moving headlong? (page 26)

‘Why are we not like them?’ In this poem ‘Ask’ where the poet questions the sky, birds, trees, stars, clouds, flowers, rainbows, waves, dewdrops, rain and the sun, a great philosophical thought is expressed with words used sparingly –

You may have a hundred reasons
To question them why….
They have a thousand reasons
Not to reply……(Ask, page 33)

I believe that the poet spends many of his evenings watching the clouds pass by, marveling at the everchanging hues of Nature. Use of expressions such ‘clustered clouds,’ ‘sheltered ecstasy,’ ‘verdant woods’ ‘glorious clouds’ ( Beseeched, page 32) and ‘overbearing day,’ ‘restive stillness,’ ‘muted murmurs,’ ‘nocturnal inaction,’ ‘hapless plight,’ ‘silent sighs’ (The Reluctant Relent, page 38) depicts his mastery over the language.

Nostalgic memories of revisiting his village after several years evokes mixed feelings. Reminiscing the ‘unalloyed fun’ of childhood, he succinctly depicts his fondness for that all-time favorite game of stumps. The poem is rich with imagery. A twinge of disappointment is revealed while describing the changes that have come about in the process of development - kith and kin are there and not there!’

At the corner of the grass-laden field
Where we drew three irregular vertical lines
With black charcoal to signify three stumps
In front of which we struck the tennis ball
With gay abandon like there’s no life beyond cricket…
…….And there where now I see a row of lined prototype houses
Was once our unsearchable hiding place……(Memories Resonate, page 47)

Endurance of bodily pain is part and parcel of life. The discomfort and pain endured has been expressed with subtle humour, which brings out his resilient spirit.

But in hindsight, it was good to endure
For now I love my little toe more!...(Corn on the Little Toe, page 55)

The resilient spirit is underlined with optimism in ‘You have it in you.’

Believe me dear, everything you have
Like a pearl in an oyster shell
Everything is within your tiny self…..!!((page 58)

The poet’s devout temperament is revealed in the ‘Corridors of Grace’ (page 74) when he revisits an ashram, enjoys the sylvan surroundings, peace, and aura of the place-

Here leaves, flowers, birds and cows
All meditate as much as we do…..(page74)

On the other side, the gracious temperament of Ravi Ranganathan is revealed when he declares the ‘euphoria’ in “Guntur Poetry Meet is a Glorious Annual Retreat.” (page 65). The poet has generously heaped praises and complimented the indefatigable spirit of the organizers (the college professors),

Patiently they read and re-read thousands of verse’
Penned and sent by hundred score poets intense
Do we know their pains behind and sacrifice of time? (page 65)

The poet’s three liners that he has patented as ‘myku’ expresses his ‘views and hues.’ The poet has woven words with such dexterity, celebrating the varied hues of Nature with bliss. ‘Myku’ adorn the pages as the thazhampoo (screw pine) flowers interspersed between jasmines and kanakambharams (firecracker flower) in the kadhambam (colourful floral string) enhances its aesthetic appeal. Here are some samples-

even a river day dreams
if left undisturbed
by human footfalls…(page 84)

kiss of light
dew breaks at dawn
a thousand sunlight’s!... (page 86)

to attain an aura divine
be like a pure petal
bathed by sunshine…(page 86)

lawn of green carpet
night scented jasmine shades
serene refuge…(page 87)

birds and words
in full form
exude eternal charm…(page 89)

halo driven one
between me, cloud and
a fine spiritual thread…..(page 90)

The Micro Muse in pages 95 -117 is a continuation of that communion with Nature and the environment, the philosophical truths of life with utmost simplicity and mathematical accuracy.

Flowers in full bloom
await blossoming of the sun
for tame submission…(Surrender, page 96)

…leave, leave everything behind
for you cannot even carry dust
when you are laid to rest…..(Reality, page 97)

‘Water me,’
said the young, wayside tree
I watered…
‘Daughter me,’
said the orphaned girl child
I ‘daughtered’…(Fruit, page 98)

……if your acceptance is innate
fate will never checkmate….(Date with Life, page 111)

‘Ravisdom’ brings out his sensitivity and love for nature with utmost brevity and candour.

Have you seen a dew drop cry?
I did and it opened up to me tenderly…… (Ravisdom, page 122)

In the process of addressing a flower, the impermanence of things has been brought out with such ease -

When he greeted the flower with a smile
Little did it realise that it was a guile
And its life would be plucked in a while……(Ravisdom, page 124)

In conclusion, the poems in this collection urges the reader to stay connected with Nature, without pretence or ignorance, but with passion and sensitivity.

A poetry collection that readers of all ages would enjoy and feel invigorated.


More by :  Hema Ravi

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