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Reflections on the Poetry of O.N. Gupta


Even a casual journey to the rich poetic field of ONG, from Lilacs in Lab to Mosaic of Love and Legends to Prism of Poetry provides unique feeling of satisfaction and inner joy. Lilacs speak of softness, rhythm and music in life with bits of joys and pains. Optimism fills a reader with hope and he feels revitalized to live life meaningfully. Socially conscious, the poet is authentic and confirmatory. Mosaic is a determined flight to experiences of life and then, it connects itself to past to find cogency and relevance. In fact, it is a visit to present while past and future intermingle to give purpose where history and legends weave elegiac structure. Poets have a queer inclination to go back, wonder about, return to present, stay and see around and then, escape to unseen and unmeasured lands after killing ennui. When poets consider poetry ‘a sacred and selfless service’ it elevates and purifies even a sinful soul, the poet believes. The poet in ONG is aware of contemporary agony, violence and selfishness of people around who rejoice in a life of excessive love for material comforts and nauseating richness.

He begins his poetic voyage from personal problems – emotional and material, and then deliberates seriously over the predicament of humanity and thereby, he writes about nature, man and society, its life of frigidly warm love, chilly passions, unethical politics, of humanity past and present and its history, culture and heritage with a painful heart. The plight of man in abundance and scarcity shocks him, for he witnesses an appalling fall of morals and human feelings.


As he moves ahead, with each passing year, one observes that poet is growing more impatient and empathetic towards suffering man, feeling stings of immorality in disgusting material radiance but refuses to diagnose it and that sums up the tragedy of modern times the poet avers. His verses are document on contemporary times and whenever, he is upset, he tries to seek relief in the dead past as he is not strong enough to fight against forces inimical to modern man lost in splendor of bright squalor and hunger insatiable.

His latest collection of more than twenty-five verses speaks of modern man’s difficult and uncomfortable living conditions. These verses tersely speak about relationship, ego, pride, politics, victory, materialistic thirst, callousness and crudities of emotions and thoughts, ravenousness of netas and babus wasting public money and thus, emerge ideas of teaching, spreading and strengthening philosophy of dishonesty, corruption, violence, greed, untruth, unrighteousness and hatred.

‘Ego’ of a big man stands devastated and humbled the moment he begins humiliating the small and the nondescript. He philosophically bemoans the current attitude of the powerful and the rich damaging and destroying the system. Symbolically, he hints at the fast spreading virus of ego a man harbors. The poet quite rationally analyzes superstitious nature of man and ridicules deceitful behavior of man when he talks of ‘omens’, good or bad.

Poet in Gupta invokes ancient characters to justify a hypothesis that a man achieves victory and wealth by inequitable and unprincipled methods. Myths of splendor have potholes causing loss and destruction. He deliberates over the rot and says that netas and babus of kaliyuga indulge in fraud and deception, and act as naked and lecherous ‘appendixes’ of unethical life. His deliberations on the future of man disturb him like any other genuine person.


Recruitment reveals indictment of official investigating agencies used to harass opposition but exonerates tainted netas eating up public money. An incisive peep into the minds of modern politicians it is. He laments somewhere that those who govern lack ethics and sincerity of purpose.

A current of irony, ridicule, total disillusionment and melancholic temper is visible in ‘Diagnosis.’ Politicians corrupt and cripple the system filling it with dirt where ethics and truth are absent and thus, people suffocate and die in the hope of a new system. He wants people who work for humanity. He tries to throw light on the real face of politicians when he talks of managed rallies wasting public money. They do nothing worthwhile for the people he says and perhaps, he is worried about the total collapse of system where modern netas do no good and publicity of developmental works is just another way of wasting people’s money while filling private wallets.

Elsewhere, he speaks of people’s funds wasted on the upkeep and comforts of netas while ordinary men live in perpetual miseries. To know the poetic mind one might love to read verses like ‘Reckless rally, Development and ‘Interview’. If there is development, one is shocked at the ingratitude of people displaying little respect towards those sacrificing life for the wellbeing of people. Perhaps, people should be considerate to good souls like Gandhi, Napoleon, Caesar, and Christ…who really worked for the people. In fact, politics has brought total chaos and contamination around and thus, the poet in ONG feels tortured within. Verses like ‘There all the honor lies, If aliens came, Aloud speakers, Time has changed, Filling the Void’ contain curt and harsh observations on politics and its operators. It is unfortunate to notice that in politics immature minds even if educated outside the country, are considered wise and sagacious than those who think legitimately of nation, as dwarfs apparently claim wisdom and seem to stand tall.


Human relations are complex with a current of egocentricity. Bodily pleasures enslave men and women equally. As warmth and passions subside, coldness engulfs relations if there are no ulterior motives, for one should know that self-interest reigns supreme and determines conduct of man notwithstanding hypocritical claims to the contrary. If that is what ‘Hiccups’ tells, ‘My brand new car’ underlines disgusting behavior of men in authority, mostly unsympathetic and callous to agonies of ordinary men. The poet reflects on human relations in many verses.

He is a disillusioned man when he witnesses loss of warmth as relations are at a discount and a material world fascinates everyone while men in power show off privileges and power and look at relations with political eyes and remain pathetically cold to pains of public. They ignore real duties of guiding, protecting and governing. Self-service is supreme for men in authority and eating public money is dharma of modern rulers he tells. ‘Swan Song, Encounter with a doctor and Intimacy’ examine relations from different aspects where a man is worried about his pains only, and doctor and other people are not an exception. In intimate relations also, a man nurtures ‘enormous egotism’ polluting relations and stultifying growth of affection.

A poet in ONG is deeply worried about the falling quality of love, affection and genuineness in human conduct and sincerity and at this moment, he warns a contemporary man of a serious disease and indirectly asks him to find solutions. Only then, there shall be real ‘Home Coming’ and if it is not, than a man will die as a lonely and deserted man overwhelmed by moroseness, -consequence of untrue relations, and a kind of ‘nuclear living’ will push man to perennial consternation and depression. ‘Krishna’s Curse’ gives a vivid life-sketch of lord Krishna from birth to death and indirectly, one visits a grand past where created beings and sages are rewarded and punished depending upon karmas irrespective of status. Poet tells tersely that if a modern man looks around, he would find that purported great men and political leaders enjoy power and wealth for a long time belonging to people but ultimately die an ignoble death. He speaks of a truth that nothing is immortal and particularly those living unclean lives meet tragic end.

He is realistic and philosophic as well and talks of transitory existence. On the other hand, he is passionate about ancient heritage and culture, speaks about the Trinity and its great virtues, symbols of creations, preservation and destruction when he dwells on ‘Pyrrhic victory’ of man on earth. Again, his thoughts go back to Christ, Buddha, Mohammad and lord Indra and so words smell of terrific paradox, spoof and derision.

ONG has travelled a long distance in poetry. From sublimity and genuineness in human relations and system largely, he now appears a disheartened and disturbed man as morals and ethics lie down buried before him while a barefaced pageant of virtues and honesty continues to tell people around that dreamland of love, joy and prosperity is just very near. Here, relations are chilly, values (?) smack of surfeit of richness and lust and the system awaits unceremonious death.

More by : P C K Prem
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