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|Flowering, Maturity and Crystallization of the Poet from Tirupathi|
|by Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.|
Poet Vasudeva Reddy (b.1943) published seven collections of his poems. All the seven need a quick look to trace the poet’s achievement of poetic imagination. Students of English literature are enthused by what they studied in their undergraduate courses and what they read later. Milton’s Paradise Lost, Gray’s Elegy, the poems of veteran romanticists, Tennyson and Eliot and the memories of their poems lay down a sort of foundation for their creative poetic imagination. Indian English poets are basically lovers of English poetry. When Grief Rains was published in 1982. Vasudeva Reddy dedicated his first collection to his father who, he tells us, taught him English and instilled in him the love of poetry. The very first collection won encomiums from critics both in our country and abroad.
The first is a collection of poems where melancholy, cerebration and sadness reign and there is not much happiness or joy in his imaginative expression. The title poem When grief Rains conveys a feeling of intense feeling of sorrow.
Gales, storms, rain give rise to desire too though not strong. Practicality and instinctive self-protection make him think of equipping himself with a mackintosh. Earlier he wrote on Futility too.
The imagery is bright and evocative even in the shortest of his poems, The East:
The present taking birth from the past, today from the gray ashes of yesterday and the radiance of the invisible hand make the readers thoughtful and take them to heightened sensibility. For a first volume, there is so much of fine sensibility about the nature of human life. In the Spark of Being there is a mystic, philosophical attitude and fine expression:
Moralization and wordplay attract the poet’s attention in the early stages of his creative and imaginative expression. See in the poem Patience:
The worry about decadence which is becoming the bane of modern civilization is usually the poet’s mental conclusion:
The poem Potent Drop reminds us of Tennyson, the lotophagi and indolent enjoyment. The ‘I’ of the poet asks himself:
Cultural decadence is a matter of concern and pain for the poet to be deeply thoughtful right from the beginning of his poetic activity. Loss of faith, utter neglect of tradition and lack of trust in heaven and God are the central themes of many of his poems. A Pinch of Faith speaks of those who buy dead bodies with fake notes:
It is only philosophy that one takes recourse to. We are told by many poets that paths of glory lead but to the grave. In Transience, Vasudeva Reddy says the same in a pensive vein.
Similar is the conclusion of the poem The Mortal Frame:
Life as a gruesome game full of stink and stench
Death is the theme in the poems toward the end of this collection. Quiet in the grave tells us:
Somnambulist is wordily transformed as funambulist, fun-walker. In Memoriam starts with a statement and goes on:
The poem I See No Other Way concludes:
Ashes describes the way life comes to an end – not with a bang or a whimper, but in agony and ashes:
The second collection, The Broken Rhythms, (1987) shows a significant development. The poet moves forward with musical cadences in expression. The lilts, the chimes, the twangs and thumps become impressive. The irregular rhythms in life and living particularly the life in our motherland lead to deep pain in his understanding of those. Thousand Pillars is a description of the 12th century Kaktiya temple destroyed in the 14th century historical capital of the rulers in Orugallu. The temple remains even now and 70km away there is the Ramappa Temple. The mindless Devastation of the great structures by enemies is touchingly described:
Poetry which does not preach anything directly or suggestively would not last long. Fortune- Teller with his parrot under a shady tree in the rural areas is a picture of reality, now not seen extensively.
His earnings are not much or easy. That way of living requires skillful mind-reading and scintillatingly expressive expression and even breath-taking make-up of the person who takes that. The two poems The Train and Travel by Bus are thoroughly native, thanks to the still developing condition of our country.
Travel by Bus is a progress too.
The Village is a realistic picture and it is the place of existence for the poorest of the poor, lepers, beggars and the like besides of course the farmers.
The heartrending realism in the farmers’ pensiveness is here in The Pensive Farmer for whom the yield is never certain.
The politicking panchayat leaders rarely come to the succor of even the poorest of the poor without a price.
The Swamiji is a scathing satire on the growing category of god-men. In decadent times faith would be surely in the hearts of the affluent but it is only outward and not either heart-felt or deep. Here is the portrait of the right worshipful:
Child is a short but very fine poem. For the avid learner a playing child would be a teacher.
In our motherland rural life goes on in different rhythms, broken, tumultuous, sometimes stolid and sometimes somber, sedate or squalid. Faith wavers – virtue is considered weakness. The poem Existence is a prayer:
Poverty is alarmingly painful as seen in the callous heartlessness of the youth and the rich. The poet calls the pilgrimage to Sabari Malai a matter of Quaint Faith. Huge crowds trek the long distance through the wilds to go up the hill.
The metallic smell of ‘Om Maruga’ only distracts the speaker of the poem from his nap.
The poet’s sadness grows, deepens and almost strangles him in the poem My Soul’s Plea:
The New Year Day is no day of celebration or feeling of joy:
There is an overwhelming sadness owing to the feeling of agony for the decadence in values in the glory of modernity. The Sacred Soil lost its sacredness:
The title Broken Rhythms is apposite for even the last poem is one of grief:
The third collection Fleeting Bubbles (1984) has no joy or happiness. Lacrimae rerum, tears in the nature things, makes the poet (and us thoughtful) along with the wails from his poetic imagination. The titles of the poems in the collection are indicative of the poet’s feelings and imagination: The Hospital, Flux of Life, The Cry, The Wreck, In Exile are examples to cite a few. The Indian Bride is a plaint against injustice:
In Flux of Life there is no joy or satisfaction:
An Old Woman is about a helpless destitute:
The Snake-charmeris no more charming:
In Exile how can there be anything bright or happy?
Memories is a poem worth ever remembering
Blessings of Jasmine are a divine blessing:
God only can help us escape from the stink of human life and existence, its ugliness, vicissitudes and darkness. The poem The Supreme Being is a revelation of joy after grief- stricken heart:
Melting Melodies (1984) is the fourth collection. The poet’s imaginative fervor has increased and the flowering is now reaching fruition. The poem on Kalyani Dam is about the great structure. The waters flowing are spoken of symbolically as a woman with child at the end.
The poet has reverence for historical monuments of the ancient rulers like the Kakatiyas of Orugallu, now called Warangal. The Fort is a poem about Chandragiri near the poet’s place Tirupathi where the hoary Vijayanagar kings lived after shifting from Hampi.
The Taj is a poem about our country’s present pride, Taj Mahal, a joy for ever for any lover of majestic love. The poet feels that the sight fills the mind and soul with serene love:
While the poet’s imagination soars high, his mind still cannot mitigate sorrow and penury of the downtrodden. The woman who suffers makes the poet’s heart throb with compassion and pity. The Toiling Woman breaks rocks but not the hearts of the rich:
The Tiller is also a hard working peasant:
Sinful, indolent and rapacious politicians are disgusting to all and more poignantly to the poet who talks of their elephantiasis and capacious stomachs. Our Leader is illustrative of his dislike:
Penury is everywhere and in this collection of poems too. A beggar-like person is spoken of in the poem The Bird Hunter who hunts only to keep his body and soul together on the infernal altar of greed body and soul intact:
Devilish doctors and wrong-headed academics are also described in this section:
Red Triangle is about surgeries called tubectomies in women. Then there is a plangent threnody on University Wits, professors:
An Interview tells another tale of dismay, a sad and painful incident:
This satire is as scathing as Alexander Pope’s in his Dunciad where Shadwell is pooh-poohed plentifully. There is still another in The Fair Sex Centre again on headless heads in the academia. This time the gnash is on the unfair fair-sex.
Mercifully by God’s grace there is an exception in the Omniscient Teacher:
An aphoristic phase comes in here in the poem That Thing Money:
A Bubble contains another
The last poem The Sacred Hills is a prayer:
Pensive Memories (2005) is the fifth collection. This carries the Foreword by Nissim Ezekiel who is a renowned poet who died in 2004 of Alzheimer’s incurable disease after long years of suffering. He was impressed by Vasudeva Reddy’s simplicity and the undeniable truth of his statements in his poems. In this volume and the later ones the passion for high-sounding words is given up and the earlier tinges of wordiness is contained with power, skill and wisdom. Can I Sing has these telling lines:
This mood is surely a passing one since there are two joyous poems a little later: The joyous poem The Bridal Bosom:
While this is the speaker’s song, the bride’s wish is described thus:
There is another joyous poem Sailing Saree where the reader comes across mellifluous lines:
The dullness of mind creates ideas of death and the elegiac mood comes. A Lone Bird is the precursor:
In the poem Pseudo Spark the lover’s passion is described as the thing leading to sadness and sorrow:
After this in the poem, This is the City, there is penury and its consequent pain:
Wisdom of the highest order makes man think of maya. In the philosophical poem Maya, this what the poet says:
Grief is writ long and hard in the poem Waiting even before the long elegiac poem on the death of his wife:
The same mood is felt in the poem From Graces to Ashes:
All this grief is further intensified in the poet’s manas, heart-mind, in the one hundred and thirty lined elegiac poem To My Other Half:
The poem Pensive Memories concludes with the illumined realization:
Gliding Ripples (2007) is the sixth collection which shows crystallization after maturity. A kind of serenity and insight into human condition has made the poet sadder and wiser making him takes things in his stride. Erase the Borders is the feeling of fruition in the capacity to think deep and high:
The poet being a bibliophile, his birth, upbringing, education and profession all related to academia, his thinking is one of a philosopher. A poet’s personality determines the width and intensity of his thinking and imagination. The Mortuary of Books is an expression of his grief about our present neglect of books, the treasures of wisdom.
In the poem Idols for the Idle there is expression of an ideal and a wish.
Our Leader is a snap shot of the worthy person who leads and inspires:
The most recent collection, Echoes, is the latest published in 2012. It has a poem Revolutionary Writers criticizing pretentious writers and balladeers.
Ashram is a poem against pseudo god-men, again.
The poet is always grieved about acts of vandalism. A Broken Statue is a sigh of sadness:
After Sixties is about the only cure a man thinks of:
Now a septuagenarian, the poet has come a long way from flowering, fruition and maturity to enviable crystallization. The highest reward for any poet is to attentively read his poetry, to understand his imagination and the beauty of its rendition.
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