Articles /Interviews

English Poetry from Himachal in Contemporary Context


It is generally observed that poetry contains inspired and heightened sensibilities and feelings. It is an uplifting and captivating thrill imparting meaning and purpose to life not only at the materialistic but also at the emotional depth of living. It not only offers refuge to a man hungry for psychological and philosophical food but at the subtle level, it caters to the inner desires where soul feels an itch to live and prolong life of inner delight.

To understand the poets’ emotions and sentiments, thoughts and philosophical wanderings, understanding of contemporary life while referring to history and culture, and correct appreciation of life in existential situation while not forgetting even for a second, the right social, economic and political structure on the one hand, requires reflective studies into the vagaries of experiences. On the other hand, one must have a penetrative eye to taste the lyrical and musical quality, rhythm and nuances, idiom and linguistic play indulged into by the poets at different times of mental and intellectual level. Mostly, one is confronted with the emotional content of poetry at a glance but down deep, if one peeps, one is carried away to another realm of feelings and thoughts. At the higher level, it is pleasure of thought –with philosophical contours- a good poetry must provide or else it stays at the emotional level, and so it is shorn of its fantastic quality of meaning. The hidden quality of a lofty poetry is its subtle sense of music, rhythm, nuances and idioms of freshness that not only feed emotional needs but also satisfy inherent thirst for thought and meaning of life. It is quite pertinent what a great critic Mathew Arnold observes:

…attaches its emotion to the idea; the idea is the fact. The strongest part of our religion today is its unconscious poetry…we should conceive of poetry worthily, and more highly than it has been the custom to conceive of it. We should conceive of it as capable of higher uses, and called to higher destinies, than those, which in general men have assigned to it hitherto…mankind will discover that we have to turn to poetry to interpret life for us, to console us, to sustain us. Without poetry, our science will appear incomplete; and most of what now passes with us for religion and philosophy will be replaced by poetry.” (Essays in Criticism 2) and these words led the critic in Arnold to agree with Wordsworth when he said, “poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge.”

If one looks up at the above words, one is simply thrilled by the sanctified and lofty impact of the poetry on man and society as a whole. It, in fact, determines its art, culture and literature. Poetry is not forced or imposed, it is a natural instinct and everyone is a poet in truth, in his own right. The lyrical expression beautifies a poetic thought. He, who commands words and language with a sense of music and rhythm, impregnates an ordinary experience with poetic glow and passion. When the great T. S. Eliot said that the experience of a poet is the experience both of a moment and of a lifetime, he spoke of a perennial truth which most of us fail to understand. To enjoy a good poem, one ought to reach somewhere near the experience of a poet. Again, the poet in Eliot believes that mature stage of enjoyment of poetry comes when we cease to identify ourselves with the poet while Read opines that it is a mistake to ask a poet to explain his poem. Such delicate nuances determine the understanding of poetry largely.

Poetry began to exhibit Indian outlook and genuine love for heritage and culture right from its birth. Indian poets in English display comfortable control on universal themes. In lyrics, the poets maintain a true Indian spirit with love for culture and heritage. In the earlier period, one may refer to colonial temper where materialism affected life, which led men including the creative artists to apparent spiritual vacuity and so they continued obsessively to find rationale in existence. Science and technology permit little scope for emotions and consequently a man’s identity is distorted. Ultimately, this brings weakening in quality of ethical values in life.
It must also be admitted that creativity, as an art is difficult, painful and time-consuming. When a creative artist expresses in a language other than the mother tongue, a few difficulties arise and to adept oneself to the idiom, nuances, rhythm, contours and musical qualities of another language does require immense patience, diligence, understanding and tenacity. Creative writers of varied genres born in India genuinely imbibed those qualities and now the command over an alien language is amazing while it refuses to Anglicize but Indian-ness remains innate. The concept of ‘colonial thought or hangover’ appears archaic losing relevance, one must understand. Indian poets are anxious about Indian realities –its traditions, culture and heritage. They are quite conscious of the social, economic and political realization with superb insight and virtuosity. Poets’ understanding and sensitivity seem fantastic with rural instincts bordering on urban anguish and sophistication. One discerns a proclivity towards emotional and philosophical areas with an authentic genius lending rare color to experimental and experiential lands of feelings and thoughts.

A characteristic uniqueness of creative artists highlights latent features of Indian culture and heritage in view of modern rational and theoretical anxieties, without prejudice to several critical theories. Indian sensibility with due deference to English poetry in India is the hallmark of poetry from Himachal, and the poets are able to emphasize thought-currents. Social, economic, political and philosophical anxieties of poets find ample footage with genuine desire to elucidate Indian heritage. The poets view social, economic and political life in a free country and interpret life in a vastly changed scenario. Women are integral part of the society and determine man’s awareness of life. Political thoughts play a major part in the life of a country, and everyone has the impact of materialism where environmental issues overwhelm and living life meaningfully provokes man’s intelligence and sagacity. It is obvious that pious sentiments about love and woman manipulate man and society. Religion and philosophy excite man and there he truthfully probes into the mystery of life, and it is relevant to say that moral values perturb man if not candidly observed and at this stage shrewd men, society, intelligentsia and leaders are put under a scanner by a poetic eye. The results may not appear favorable which; speak profusely of squalor of man’s values and ethics in modern times. When one goes through the poetry of Himachal, it does create an ambience of reformation, renaissance, idealism and optimism where a life of joy and fulfillment is visualized on earth but they are apparently self-effacing about the outcome and at this place, these poets strike a note of similarity with the national stream of poets. The subjects of love and women take the poets to quixotic and wistful stimulation whereas a realistic outlook drives the poets to face facts.

The poet has an eye for whatever is gorgeous, idealistic, appealing, charismatic and enthralling and this originates in poetic outpouring. The poet often identifies himself in various objects of nature and other phenomenal substances and thus, an entity begins living perceptively that bursts forth in words beautiful and rhythmic.

The intention here is not to recall the great names in poetry. It is to locate origin of inspiration. How an intensity of feelings, depths of thoughts, expansion of philosophical and psychological areas continued to occupy poets’ lyrics with contemporary bearing, is the question. They had control over the pulse of the people, set certain trends in the accurate understanding of times and appeared harbingers of a future of hope and growth. Initially, the poets writing in English had ostensible impact of the English sensibility saturated with the cultural influences of the land to which these poets belonged. It was a blending of diverse cultures and arts along with human feelings and thoughts owing its source to the heads and hearts of people, and it had its basis, one must know, in indigenous thoughts and emotional content. Nothing is beyond human heart and tracing out different influences invites caution, for, essentially, there is blending of various thought-patterns and areas of feelings, which culminate on a true spirit of universality. Poetic expression is always true to the soil despite the contention that it originates elsewhere and this feeling of somewhere remains undefined. From here, one discerns an appearance of Indian thought and cultural heritage with due deference to its myths, legends, folk-literature and history where images, similes, symbols, metaphors and oblique references to Indian-ness, take concrete shape and this is precisely the strength of English Poetry in India and poetry of the hill state is not different.

If one goes back to the early years of English poetry in India, one finds from the early nineteenth century a unique blend of nature, patriotism in a subdued form with restrained expression of nationalism, love and romance with plenty of poetic elegance that had rhythm and music. Poetry of Derozio, Taru Dutt, Aurobindo, Taru Dutt and other Dutts of Bengal, Naidu, Vivekananda and others, had these features. It was not poetry of retaliation but the poets generally displayed pacifying spirit of love and conciliation without a dissonant note. It there were certain voices against the system, these had nobility and softness inherent. This quality survived until the early twenties when we begin to find certain native voices taking control of the thoughts and emotions of the people and where nationalism and patriotic fervor take roots in a more emphatic manner.

From ninety twenty onwards, a new crop of poets began to register its presence and this group of poets had Keki Daruwalla, Shiv K Kumar, Pritish Nandy, Nissim Ezekiel, Gieve Patel, Jayanta Mahapatra and Kamala Das who mostly exhibit urban pains and anxieties of life in cities as sickening materialism as a result of industrialization took birth. At another level, Hazara Singh, Bhatia, Bhatnagar, I K Sharma and a few others ventilated poetically perturbing social issues with urban propensities. It had restrained philosophic and psychological interests. In certain poets, one is easily inclined to find impact of Eliot, Auden and Yeats with host of other English poets, which appears quite natural but it is debatable, I feel.

Above thoughts and emotional areas contained the poetic landscape of poets irrespective of the region and age to which they belonged. Himachal was not different. Urban obsession with a few variations continued to govern the poetic psyche until 1980. It was more or less the same scenario in India. It means that the poetic lines had begun to appear after a decade or so when India was free. However, the actual poetry in this hill state asserted in the early eighties. Som P. Ranchan, D.C. Chambial, K.N. Sharma, Suresh C. Jaryal, Kanwar Dinesh Singh, Krishan Gopal, Lajpat Nagpal, Kamal N. Awasthi, Hetty Prim, Lalit Mohan Sharma, S.C. Prashar, Virender Parmar, B.K. Dohroo, Suman Sachar and Harish Thakur are well known poetic minds from Himachal. The list is not exhaustive as one finds more poets growing up rapidly to aerate poetic feelings with a rare command on language and poetic idiom. It gives expression to the hill psyche and speaks of the Indian-ness in totality and thus, it identifies itself with Indian poetic stream.

These poets are excellent artisans of words with superb control over themes and content they handle. They are wonderful in the use of symbols and metaphors, myths and history. Not for a moment, they divert attention from the social aspects, which invariably depict cultural, environmental and conventional thoughts with an assuaging stress. The poets touch subjects relating to man and it does not appear anywhere that the poets of this State are different poets of stature. One unique feature of poets here is the ability to elucidate social issues in a forthright manner without any inherent reluctance. Environment worries and the loss of forest wealth torture poetic minds. With regard to social and environmental issues, they touch national borders of anxiety with a forceful poetic talent. It can be conveniently said that the poets now have gone beyond the urban anguish and social worries. They also concentrate on issues dealing with the future of humanity and this is exactly the strength of these poets but I am inclined to argue that these facets require enquiry and evaluation by arduous critics.

Som P. Ranchan (1932) is an author of more than two dozen books including collections of memorable poetry. He has an identity, a style and poetic idiom quite different and captivating. Ranchan employs myths, legends, and attempts to illuminate esoteric subjects. He appears at home when subjects on philosophy, metaphysics and spiritualism raise heads within. Ranchan’s poetry takes birth out of experience and existential pains. One finds him occupied with religious and spiritual themes, perhaps in the hope that he finds true meaning of life. The age weighs heavily on the mind and it seems he is desperate to attain enigmatic deliverance from the material sufferings and in the process; he becomes tricky and abstruse but even then, he keeps superb control over the themes. When, one has a glimpse of the subjects he takes up, it simply baffles. The titles of poems -Me and Columbia, Mother Sharda and I, To Vivek Then I Came, Durga Saptarshati, Soul-Making with Aurobindo, An Anatomy of Indian Psyche, New Sights on Krishna, Re-visioning on Gita. Love Poems, Three Poems like Shirdi Sai, Kali and Upgita startle and provoke but beautifully create an amazing aura of poetic radiance. At another level, Ranchan’s intellectual sweep irritates and baffles. Intensity of thoughts surprises. It appears he wants to take the reader along with him with the prowess of thoughts with dry emotional content but leaves him midway and then begins the eccentric journey all alone. It is here that he breaks contacts with the reader, which causes concerns. At that same time, intellect, reason, philosophy and passion merge and create a remarkable world of poetic rhythm, music and sound. Emotions and passions play a sublime game in “A Poem on an unhappy Woman”:

She distrust the vitality of intellect
Sensitive/she fears strong feeling.

In an amazing twist of thoughts, he talks of the world’s realities and then reaches heights of supreme wisdom while the voyage continued between the material and the spiritual world of reality and myth when he observes in “Shirdi Sai”:

When quizzed in regard to his transaction
He told a mini story
How the two kids were his brothers in one lifetime
One was lazy, tamsic
… …
They were together to sort out the past karma
The unresolved in the animal scale.
(“Shirdi Sai”, Three Poems: Shirdi Sai Kali Upgita 13)

If “Me and Columbia,” incorporates instinctive romance with America personified as Columbia, “Top Krishna with Love” is a colloquy wherein the poet challenges the philosophy of the protagonist of Gita. To touch the realistic world, he paints two pictures of different stages of life:

That village was full of mango orchards
yielding sucking mangoes with such
diverse shapes and tastes
some tasted honey sweet
some tamarind bitter
some had the flavour of aniseed..
(“Tapestry,” Love Poems 50)

Then, in another scene, the poet says, “Now I do not eat mangoes / do not drink milk / Instead / I muse on you / and write poems to absorb the Concentrate / prepared from diverse flavours / that you bring in your infrequent / brief visits.” (“Surrogate Interference,” Love Poems 51) Thus, stark realities of life haunt the poet constituting universal truth; a man cannot afford to forget.

D.C. Chambial is one of the finest poets of a tiny hill state with a force of immense elegance and grace, whose language appeals and enchants while thoughts and feelings captivate. He is not a noisy poet either but when he says, he says with a rare authority and one is just enthralled. Born in Bajrol in HP, Chambial has brought out seven collections of poetry, namely: Broken Images, Cargoes of the Bleeding Hearts and Other Poems, Perceptions, Gyrating Hawks and Sinking Roads, before the Petals Unfold, the Promising Age and Other Poems and Mellow Tones. The poet loves to probe into the dilemmas of life. He is disturbed within, for, the poet multifaceted personality interferes too often; and thus a coherent view of life is possible only when one goes into the psyche and intellect of the poet. It is imperceptible but it stirs. He speaks with an authority on modern anguish and pains arising out of the chaotic living conditions, of scrambled thought processes while, the poet realizes that the man fails to locate a correct existential position amidst surging despair and overriding frustrations. If he is troubled within, he displays rare brevity and condor. If, he is disillusioned, he also exhibits immense faith in life:

The bird flew very high
on its last voyage
to perche on the citadel of fame
and sang a note from the peaks
the valleys reverberated.
… ..
Bird is dead!
Flame is out! Light has gone!
Gleam, through my heart.
(“A Tribute to a Hero,” Collected Poems 33)

Sarcasm, irony, cynicism, images, similes and metaphors enhance the gravity of meaning and substance. His style incorporates varied linguistic articles to strengthen the impact of denotation. His poetry as a social document speaks of contemporary anxieties, violence, sufferings and harsh realities. If, he talks of poverty, exploitation, hunger, violence and general deprivations, he is also aware of the dark areas of life when he speaks out agonizingly about the cold-heartedness of men in hours of crisis. He is conscious of the apathetic feelings, a man harbours when he is required to show mercy and compassion:

A battered body lay
on the black road after
a head-on collision.
… …
They still wait for him
unaware about the fatal
stroke of fate.
(“Death on Road,” Collected Poems 109)

The poet treats life in totality. He touches almost everything that worries a man. From the life of an ordinary person or a man in the fields, he reaches the men of opulence and power. If, at one level he finds miseries and pains at the other level, he finds disgust, disillusionment and despair after initial joys and pleasures of materialism. He enfolds mysteries, adorns a philosophic aura, penetrates deep, reveals entangled psychological webs, and touches realities of life, and finally he goes philosophic where he leads us all to find solace and harmony with a streak of pessimism and that is precisely his strength.

With three anthologies of poems, Ancient Orchard, Song of Life and The Whiff, K.N. Sharma (1937) is a talented poet from Himachal. The poet is worried about the man’s life on earth and therefore, he talks of struggles, sufferings, poverty, and hypocrisy in life whether of the intellectuals or of the politicians. His poetry is poetry of protest and at times, he sermonizes but does not irritate. Loss of ethics disturbs the poet. Wide spread fall in the quality of values generally in politics and system, tortures the poet. He traces out the origin of corruption and greed and regrets that people who rule us now, have totally forgotten ancient value-system. The following lines attract attention:

As legislators, we make laws
as policemen we circumvent them.
We are the lion guarding the goat
who bleats
and we thunder
… …
We are the carnivorous fence
surrounding the golden crop.
We eat even its rodents
Envy us.
(“We are Democrats,” Our Ancient Orchard 72)

The above lines speak of the inherent pain of the poet and the truth reveals devastating facts we often ignore. The poet appears to warn but then falls silent when he looks around. There appears total fall in ethics he seems to tell sensitively. The poet has seen the system closely while in the job and as a freelancer journalist, he has observed other shades of life –bright and dreary, with a sympathetic and detached eye and so he speaks with an authentic voice, so near our hearts. In a beautiful short verse, he speaks about the dilemma of life that that sums up what he has to say:

The monsoons were late this time too
as they sometimes are.
A sharp shower was pouring gladly
while a solitary bird sat warbling
on the top of a dry stump
of a tree that was green below
… …
And to be leafless
during the monsoon
is a also a predicament
of the living.
(“A Predicament of the Living,” The Whiff 20)

Sharma’s poetry will always be known as poetry of soft protest and strong emotions and of historical truth and failure of system. When he is philosophic, he comes very near to the heart of a common person and when he confronts realities of life, he catches hold of the strongest and stands to challenge the rich and the powerful.

Suresh C. Jaryal (1957) from Sulah, Palampur is another important poet from Himachal. This poet has given five poetry collections so far, namely: Changing Faces, Reveries in Solitude, Flights to Immortality, Quest of Poesy and Finer Voices. Jaryal is worried about contemporary issues, which he touches with sensitivity. ‘Population Explosion, Drug Addict, Modern Fashion, At the Crossroads and City of Rains’ are poems, dealing with modern ailments. Jaryal penetrates deep into the beauty of nature, the changing contours of current life and anguish of existence. If ‘We, the Preceptors of the Town’, talks of city life in caustic words and defines the ugliness of living conditions, in ‘Stigma’, he says:

Above the earth looms dense darkness
Depressed, disheartened full of shame
Overcast thick layers of selfishness
Alas: we all have happened to be lame
(“Stigma,” Changing Faces 30)


The poet is genuinely worried about the destruction man brings to nature and environment. He also speaks vibrantly of the man’s mental set up when he speaks of nature:

We’ve become now so modernists, o friends,
Our repose to the Nature seems very cold
Everything cut down that came in the way
Now multistoried mansions in our void
(“Vegetation,” Quest of Poesy 59)

Jaryal impresses with the simplicity, a rare quality. He takes up ordinary themes pertaining to a man and impregnates these with intensity of feelings and meaning.

Kanwar Dinesh Singh is a lyricist with a wonderful economy of words. I remember how modestly he entered my office with remarkable humility and handed over two anthologies with a few exchange of words. Before I could reflect, this charming poet had already left. I carry those sober smiles and low words with me when I read his poems. Singh has nine collections namely: Reveries Incessant, Implosions, and Asides, Thinking Aloud, The Theophany, Sound-ings, Together: A Poem, House Arrest and the Flow of Soul Selected Poems. He is simple, straight and extraordinarily evocative while he takes up dazzling themes for poetic treatment. His dreams are expansive and at times hazy but keep stirring, and provoke imagination even of an ordinary lover of poetry and that I consider his singular beauty and poetic achievement. Singh moves eyes around and writes eloquently. If Jaryal is simple, Singh is quizzing and wistful but straight, whereas Chambial stimulates.

One is haunted when one reads: / I said I’m in love
She said it’s transgression; / I said I’m true
She said it’s deception; / I said I’m ailing
She said it’s hypocrisy; / I said I’m crazy
She said might be
(“She Said…” The Flow of Soul 23)

He is a master of little poetic pieces and thus many a time, it is left to the reader to imagine the latent meaning. It is interesting to look at the poet’s perception of life:

The shape of fire,
The geometry of water,
The form of air,
The surface of earth,
… …
Its parameters unmeasured;
The real meaning unmade
(“Human Life,” The Flow of Soul 65)

The poet plays with words and their meanings at various levels and creates quizzing situations while he motivates the intellect to think deep, and find purpose of life. Such like poetic pieces speak of poet’s terrific control over language and idiom.
Krishan Gopal is silent now but whatever he has written is important from a thematic point of view. He adds realistic dimensions to poetry and does not appear escapist but he is frank in short lyrics. Gopal manipulates life’s predicament realistically without much façade of linguistic orientation. The Live Censor is a beautiful collection of poems which is memorable for sharpness of tones with a plenty of images, metaphors and symbols that carry the meaning forcefully. In ‘Ghost City’ the mindset of people is clearly discernible which talks of hidden fears, violence, uncertainty and garish shame:

From the lurid firmament
Many acroliths shoot
The wanton, violent night wind
Sees flames end in soot.
Night’s mantle, bullet-ridden,
Makes the day shame,
Should raindrops wet this brink
When earth has blood to drink?
(“Ghost City,” Live Cancer)

Whatever, he writes; he slowly goes to touch philosophic heights and does not appear to create disbelief in life but always endeavors to uphold joy and optimism in life.

A highly gifted poet Hetty Prim, like Prashar and K.N. Sharma, is worried about the suffering people. She is sensitive and appears anguished at the miseries she finds. As a social worker, she has incessantly worked hard with dedication while at times; unfulfilled aspirations had found expression in soft and gentle lyrics. Her philosophical worries are linked to earthly life of an ordinary man and she penetrates deep into the psyche of people to find the origin of sufferings, which remain her strong points. Her areas of anxieties include environment, women, workers and deprived segments of the society. She observes:

For us there is no hope
The prison walls are solid
We creep around the gates,
And watch the cars go gliding by.
They say it is out fate
To sleep upon the pavements
To weep into the sod,
Hoping that we might glimpse in dreams
The lovely face of God.
(“The Rich and the Poor,” Shifting Shadows 35)

Hetty Prim is a poet of contemplative mood, and poetry is a vehicle to carry her message to man and society. She reveals charming humanism and religious thought.
Lajpat Nagpal (1936) from Nagrota Bagwan has a beautiful collection of poems, Twilight. His lyrics are short pieces of philosophical pouring that fascinate and at times, he stretches imagination to metaphysical areas where he tries to delve deep into the mysteries of life. If, one reads tiny lyrics like Pain, Destiny, Hopeless, Fantasy, Fate, Desires, Despair, Visiting Card Ripeness, Vain Hopes, Evolution, Insomnia and Dilemma one is clear as to what the poet has to say on life and it dilemmas. These not only speak of poet’s extraordinary flounce of imagining but also a strong hold on what he observes. He says succinctly:

Varied in shape and size
clustered beyond the fence
the imposing walls
of empty and desolate house
… …
as it resounds perpetually
to call the next one
to go by turn
the way of the ones
who went before him.
(“Destiny,” Twilight 8)

He is terse and straight and one feels like moving with the poet when he takes the reader to new ideas and visions and thereby he slowly enters the truth of identity. If, he is deeply worried about the social issues, he is also anxious to find solutions to the enigma of death and various dreadful symptoms threatening living.

Lalit M Sharma (1952) with The Brown Tree and Man with a Horn registers his poetic existence convincingly but he is not imposing. He is analytical in approach to poetry. If, he takes up a theme, he consistently probes into its relevance, and articulates feelings of defeat and dejection with a strong note. He uses concrete images and symbols, metaphors and similes and his reactions are incisive and blunt. He is simple, and in gentle words, he talks of failure of love, degeneration of values and gradually deteriorating relations. Simplicity of the poet continues to haunt for a long time:

I must confide, confess:
I had no visions
Of beatific bliss
But blessed is he who looks
At words of art,
In color, words and sheer sound,
In the sudden spread of snows
On the rugged peaks
Rising into high space
(“The Widening Space,” Man with a Horn 18)

The poet was expected to offer something new but the voice is silent these days. Perhaps, one day, one will find the poet waking up to the realities and dreams of life and there he would thrill and provoke.

It is difficult to put up with the pessimistic and teasing notes of Chambial and PCK Prem, like Daruwalla and Jayanta Mahapatra, but on the other hand, S. C. Prashar (1927) is a poet of hopes and warmth and when he treats subjects of nature, there is an inherent flow of spirituality. He is honest and mature when he speaks of life. He is an emphatic poet yet remains unnoticed but in the near future, he will definitely prove his existence, it is hoped. His poems like ‘The Sapling, Blood Relations, Cancer, The Time of Vultures and Journey in a Rail Car’ are memorable. In “The Sapling”, he conveys a philosophic thought with a spiritual undercurrent. This lyric is noticeable for its restrain and amiability:

Its leaves were layered clouds
The truth a pillar of flames
Dazed, I watched unbelieving
It dissolves in cloudy haze
But that shy look
Betrayed the secret we shared
Each to each
Me and my poplar plant.

He easily captures the attention of readers with his gripping remarks on science and technology and its disastrous impact on culture and civilization. Thus, one discerns a delicate subtleness in poetic expression.

Virender Parmar from Dadh is a different poet who is more inclined towards the subtle meanings of life and therefore, it appears he is trying to find a suitable medium. He knows language is insufficient to describe feelings saturated with spiritual thoughts but he continues with apparent handicap. His collections namely: Sandy Shores, Collage of Quietude, Invisible Shores, The Voice Divine and Within and Without are noticeable. The names suggest the meaning and the horizons of poetic scope. He says:

Prayers should come from within
they have no particular language or expression
replete with feelings, pure and sublime
they open doors of peace, bliss and spiritual expansion.
(“Prayer,” The Voice Divine 28)

Elsewhere he observes:

Bereft of relief and solace
They neither decipher nor decode
The lingering sickness
And pain of the soul.
(“Peace,” Collage of Quietude 29)

He is skillful in handling themes of contemporary import and talks about a man’s predicament quite aptly while dealing with life at the earthly level but there appear certain fissures in expression when he turns to divine and spiritual themes. Though he seems to be quite at home in this area, yet it appears he is still in search of an adequate medium.

Harish Thakur (1968) has three collections of lyrics: Candle in the Storm, In the Kingdom of the Dead and The Sun Lyre and each, is significant from the thematic viewpoint. Thakur was born at time when democratic institutions were trying to establish strongholds in the minds of the people. His natural propensity to stay free and independent provokes him to react powerfully and emphatically to situations and people, who do not conform to certain ideals on which he focuses attention. He is sincere and nostalgic and ethics is inseparable from his verses, one notices. It seems he wishes to be inscrutable but abruptly he opens up. He observes:

The meandering ways
The zigzag lines
and the rectangles and triangles
the make
on the slants of hills and mountains
… …
probably time has changed
their attire
in its own vein.
(“Poem 48,” The Sun-Lyre 54)

Like R. K. Singh, he keeps the titles of the poems invisible and indulges in a number game. Perhaps, it is easy to avoid a sort of concreteness. One still expects brilliant verses from this talented poet.

Omesh Bharti of Jawalamukhi has one collection of poems My Interaction with Life, which contain fine lyrics, which appeal immensely. He looks around and reacts meaningfully and at times, one deciphers emotional outbursts, which lack rationale but seem genuine.

B.K. Dohroo’s three collections, Musings, Plunges and Rose on Fire are quite appealing and soft. Love, emotions and thoughts on life constitute the area of his poetic landscape. He is compulsive, and inspires the readers towards the sublime feelings and mature reflection. In one of his finest poems, he observes:

Bhism, the grandsire, lay dying
On his bed of arrows
When the day of his
Heavenly departure drew near
Pandavas sought his advice
With tearful eyes.
Draupadi asked in veneration
The cause of his silence
At her public humiliation?
… And heaven-wards did he lift his head.
(“Bhisma’s Wordless Answer,” Rose on Fire 11)

Suman Sachar has one collection of poems, Flights into Vacuum. He is a widely published poet in India and abroad. He is quite aware of the ailing contemporary system where people are involved in a blind race to grab more and more and thus, end up in failure and defeat. Mostly he is sad but at times, he is also hopeful when he observes:

A new life springs up in the human world
a new charm awakens
in the young sprouts
to open their eyes.
(“In the Circle” 29)

He is man of few words and does not waste time and words, even while in social gatherings, and this attitude is reflected in his little verses. He is economical and at times, very miserly. If the above lines depict a life of hopes, he is also anxious and troubled many a time, when he says, “the charms of life ahead- / the cycle continues / with numerous spokes in its wheel” in “In the Whirl” 37. He is still miles away from the grips of the critics but when one reads, one is simply thrilled. He is a poet with a mission who is honest, genuine and full of zeal for humanity.

At a glance, one discerns social, political and various others worries of life including environmental anxieties of these poets, which speak of universal predicament where a man faces inner and outer conflicts of life and identity. These poets go beyond national boundaries and speak of humanity in totality and thus, a poetic genius is reflected conveying Indian sensibilities and thoughts. It is not present but future of man that worries these poets and that remains their greatest strength. In future, it is expected some more voices will appear on the poetic scene to delight and enrich. Here, I am tempted to say that a cautious and compassionate enquiry into the poetic and intellectual landscape of this poetry will further reveal its true strength.


  • Chambial, D.C., Collected Poems (1979-2004), Maranda, Palampur: Poetcrit Publications, 2004
  • Dohroo, B.K., Rose on Fire, Berhampur: Poesie Publications, 1993.
  • Gopal, Krishan, The Live Censer, Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 1988.
  • Jaryal, Suresh C, Changing Faces, Ranchi: Writers Forum, 1999.
  • ——, Quest of Poesy. Bhubaneswar: The Home of Letters, India 2002.
  • Nagpal, Lajpat, Twilight, Nagrota Bagwan: C K Publications, 1989
  • Parmar, Virender, Collage of Quietude, Kolkata: A WW Publication, 2001.
  • -------, The Voice Divine, Nawan-nagar: Vishav Ruhani Kendra, 2008
  • Prim, Hetty, Shifting Shadows, Kolkata: A WW, Publications, 1991.
  • Ranchan, Som, Three Poems, Delhi: Vrinda Publications, 2004.
  • --- ---, Love Poems, Delhi: Vrinda Publications, 1999
  • Sachar, Suman, Flights into Vacuum, Maranda, Himachal: Kanta Sahitya Prakashan.
  • Sharma, Kedar Nath, Our Ancient Orchard, New Delhi: Minerva Press, 2001
  • ——, The Whiff, Dharmashala: Wisdom Books, Publisheers.1991
  • Sharma, Lalit M., Man with a Horn, Kolkata: A Writers Workshop Publication, Kolkata 1986.
  • Singh, Kanwar Dinesh, The Flow of Soul, Delhi: Authorspress, 2002.
  • Thakur, Harish K. The Sun-Lyre, Bhubaneswar: The home of Letters, 2001
More by : P C K Prem
Views: 7837      Comments: 2

Comments on this Poem Article

Comment Sir,
I am from Nagrota Bagwan, Kangra.

I was elated on going through the article. Hats off to you sir for the efforts put in. I was a student of Dr.Ranchan in HPU while doing my post graduation in Shimla way back in 1987-89. I am personally acquainted with Dr Nagpal form Nagrota and have gone through his work "Twilight". I thank you for letting me relive those sweet moments.

I too have a passion for poetry, few of my works were published in "Poetcrit" edited by Dr Chambiyal from Maranda. I would love if you can spare time in going through my works on the following address: by name Sanjay Mehta. Sir you can also reach my work on search engine google by typing Sanjay Mehta Poems.

Thanks and regards

Sanjay Mehta

Sanjay Mehta
07-Dec-2013 00:00 AM

Comment Thanks a lot P.C.K. Prem sir for an illuminating article with so much of information .Your passion for poetry and love of poets is manifest in your silent service quietly carried on.You deserve highest commendation for your research and documentation of contemporary poetry and poets.Kindly keep the great work going,sir! Regards.

T.S.Chandra Mouli
07-Apr-2013 00:00 AM


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