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When You Walk Alone – A Collection of Poems
by Dr. O.P. Arora
Authors Press, ISBN 978-93-5529-945-1
Price: INR 295 $25

About the Author:
Dr. O.P. Arora is an eminent poet, novelist, short story writer and critic.  Eight volumes of his poems have endeared him to the readers and critic alike.  His love for Nature, his penetrating social insight and his philosophical profundity lend a unique charm to his writings.  His poems are regular published in the leading national and international literary journals and have been generously included in the prominent anthologies.  He is the recipient of many awards and recognitions.  Dr Arora has been commended for his insightful and discerning reviews and articles which have appeared in some of the leading journals and critical studies. He holds a doctorate in English Literature from Panjab University, Chandigarh and has been on the faculty of Delhi University for nearly four decades.

~*~

The man who enjoys walking walks further…  as he loves the ‘journey’ more than the ‘destination’ – precisely what poet O.P. Arora conveys in his collection of poems ‘When You Walk Alone.’ As poet-critic Bernard M. Jackson alludes in the blurb - there is need for ‘these enlightening souls’ who possess such ‘remarkable insight and glowing integrity.’ Another poetry critic mentions- his ‘poetry is immeasurable.’

It has been a pleasure and privilege to review this poetic collection with seventy-nine poems, which have metrical verses and free verses and this also goes to prove Dr Arora is able to straddle between them with profundity.

‘Man, an angel if he loves harmony,
Nature, bountiful fulfils all his needs.
But, a devil, he chooses acrimony,
Greed and lust, his beastly passions he feeds.’
(p.11 Harmony -Shakespearean Sonnet)

Spot-on! With deep philosophical undertones, his poetic prowess amazes in this Shakespearean sonnet and in the following Petrarchan Sonnet

‘Bravo! The world, amazed, dazed in a swoon –
Strength is in men, you prove, not in machines.
The ant has ground the elephant, it screens;
The callous empire bursts like a balloon…’
(p. 12 – Human Spirit – Petrarchan Sonnet)

Accentuating the need for inner engineering, in ‘Temple of the Divine,’ (p. 14) Dr. Arora states:

‘Why pray and seek more, take your spirit’s care,
You, temple of the divine.’

Talking of ‘Man’ (p. 17) as the greatest ‘creation,’ his advice to all is to ‘prosper together, without greed, why hate, why sift?’  In the contemporary world filled with deceit, dejection, and dissatisfaction, he firmly believes that “small steps” for men can prove to be “giant leaps for mankind.” With much optimism and positivity, he states: 

‘Simple beginnings make big moulds
Mirror to such wonders Time holds…’
(p. 20 - The Dawn)

As is Shakespeare’s sonnets, metaphoric use of ‘time, mortality and transience’ is discernable in some poems, which add greater depth; also reveals his scholarly prowess.

His love for nature is aptly revealed in ‘If I were a Bird.’ (p. 26)

‘If I were a bird
heavenward my wings would fly,
kiss the cottony clouds, very nigh,
drink the balmy drops, high, very high..’ (p. 26)

Use of phrases such as ‘absolute freedom,’ ‘demonic destroyers,’ ‘suffering humanity,’ ‘anguished eyes,’ in the same poem juxtaposes independence and servitude with great ease.  Freedom from all shackles is his preferred choice as he reveals again with rhyme and rhythm in ‘Ever on the Crossroads.’ (p. 32)

‘Threw out the bags,
got rid of the tags,
felt free and whole
forgot about the hole…’ (p. 32)

His fondness for winged creatures is palpable in a tete a tete with a sparrow that ‘flew down, shook his neck, nodded, sat down…’ (p. 43). In the same poem, ‘Thus Spoke the Sparrow,’ unpleasant truths are voiced with temerity and conviction:

‘Loyalty, nothing sacred, only human hypocrisy,
your wife I find flirting with new men, shamelessly.
perverted, depraved and degenerated morally
your social and economic systems smacks of slavery.’ (p. 44)

Venerable wordsmith Arora presents an “edifying disclosure” of degradation in social values with such clarity, conviction, and candidness; in addition, he offers answers to the rigmarole, filled with ‘staleness, boredom, bitterness, ennui and indifference.’ (p. 65)

‘Life’s uncertainty gives you a mystical lore
you yearn to excel, before you go, still more…’ 
(p.65 - Transience, Life’s Spark)

‘even our greatest, who were beyond Time’s mace
craved release from the fret and fever of the frames…’ (p. 66)

The phrase ‘release from the fret and fever’ instantly brought along the final ‘wishes’  of Alexander the Great. I want my “physicians to carry my coffin” because people should realize that doctors are also “helpless in front of death.”  Secondly, “I spent all my life earning riches but cannot take anything with me.” “Wealth is nothing but dust.” Thirdly, let everyone know that “I came empty-handed into this world, and I will go empty-handed.”

As opposing this, H.W. Longfellow’s psalm comes with a clear message: 

“Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!-“

In sync with these great men and several other doyens, Dr. Arora in his inimitable mode of expression brings out the simple truths of life:

‘Nature’s endless churning, birth and death
Planets and galaxies, humans, millions of species
Nature’s cauldron, simmering, boiling, exploding
All transient, nightingale’s song evokes the depth
Everything coming from the Shoonya
Going back into the infinite Shoonya…’
(Shoonya – p. 96)

‘Shoonya’ aka naught has its Biblical connotation in: “and to dust you shall return.”

‘When You Walk Alone,’ in other words, when one introspects and dives deep into the self, subtle truths of life are revealed which encourages man to lead a purposeful life, in harmony with all.  As a seeker, I gather this is the underlying message in Dr. Arora’s insightful collection.

Initially, when I skimmed through the pages, I was delighted to find this collection dedicated to Dr. Tulsi Hanumanthu, editor of Metverse Muse, whom Dr. Arora describes as ‘guardian angel of the Structured Verse.’ I second these words wholeheartedly as Dr. Tulsi has been a mentor of sorts in my poetic journey, in fostering my interest in metrical and classical verses.  Such ‘Form Poems’ have withstood the test of time and continues to attract a niche audience in a world where free verse aka prose poems reign.

This poetry collection is certain to enthrall the hearts of earnest seekers and poetry lovers.

I recommend you procure your copy today.

20-Jan-2024

More by :  Hema Ravi

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