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The Poet and I

This is the translation of the Preface, written by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his book 'Meri Ekyavan Kavitayein' 

I received poetry as a legacy from my father, Pandit Krishna Bihari Vajpayee, who was a well renowned poet of Gwalior in his times. He was a multilingual poet, well versed in Brij and Hindi languages. His famous ‘Prayer of God’ was religiously sung in all the schools of Gwalior. I remember vividly all his compositions. My grandfather, Pandit Shyamlal Vajpayee, though not a poet himself, promoted Hindi and Sanskrit poetry and fluently recited the verses. The poetic atmosphere of the household had aa remarkable influence on my brothers as well. My elder brother, Pandit Avadh Bihari Vajpayee made a mark among the poets of his time.

Those were the days when Kavi Sammelans (poetic conferences) were on the rise, but unlike the present-day recitations, a decorum among the poets was strictly maintained. Vir Ras and Shringar Ras (Poems on Bravery and Beauty) were much appreciated. Poems were composed to deal with the prevailing problems in the society. Rhyme and rhythm were specially taken care of. Free verses and flexible verses had not, by that time, been widely accepted.

Congenial environment at home inspired me to try my hand at poetry. Firstly, as an audience and then as an aspiring young poet, I started attending poetic conferences. The first poems I composed; I hardly remember but the poem on ‘Taj Mahal’ is imprinted in my memories. Rather than depicting the beauty of the Taj, the poem portrayed the exploitation behind the building of the masterpiece. The poem, though different from the regular description of the monument, was published in the High School journal.

Most of my friends and well-wishers opine that, if I hadn’t been in politics, I might have been a famous top-grade poet. Top and bottom I can’t really say for sure, but I do feel that politics has derailed my poetic journey. But does the blame rest on it completely? No!

Dropping out of the Law school; working as the editor of the monthly magazine ‘Rashtra Dharma’ (Lucknow) - and many such engaging factors were responsible for not being able to find time for my first love - poetry. Not just time, but a congenial environment is also required for a beautiful heart touching poem to take form. The work pressure and the compulsion of time limitation for publication of the magazine left no scope for the flight of imagination to soar high, diving deep into the ocean of emotions, sprinkling the ideas on paper.

Being the editor of the daily and weekly sections of the magazine, the poetry drifted apart farther and farther. The emotional tides took the form of the narratives. And then…..the dark phase of my writing commenced…

As I stepped into politics, not just poetry but prose writing also wafted away. Speeches drained my energy, becoming the only mode of expression after my 1957 Lok Sabha membership. Hardly did I write after that….

The fact is, poetry and politics, which demands speeches and that too the ones that draws audience, do not go hand in hand. The gentle tender compassionate poetry was thrusted out of the frame. The little that I have managed to write, is situation-based and related to the social scenario.

My efforts to maintain the balance in keeping the poet in me alive and doing justice to my passion, have not been quite satisfactory. At times, I wish that I should take refuge in an isolated tranquil place where I shall read, write and contemplate, immersed in my own self- but that remains a fantasy.

Seven decades, living a life of confused state of mind, have passed and the rest shall pass in similar dubiety....

(The beautifully composed Preface, written by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his book 'Meri Ekyavan Kavitayein' wherein the poet misses his first love- Poetry.

Originally written in Hindi on 19th April, 1995.)


More by :  Dr. Giti Tyagi

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