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O.P. Bhatnagar: A Study of His Art & Craft

by Bijay Kant Dubey Bookmark and Share

Another academic, O.P. Bhatnagar, has made an anthology of Indo-English Poetry for Commonwealth Quarterly, and his own work is collected in Poems, Angels of Retreat and Oneiric Visions (1980). He says candidly:

My visions are oneiric,
visual, immediate and self-owned
offering no mysticism
mixed with farce
like bird songs
in cage enclosed…

A poem is smile: a framed sand-dune: a dream captured. When we try to imprison its essence, it eludes us — or the capsule bursts. The reading of some of these poems –‘Like Phoenix risen from the Ashes’, for example — can become a dream-experience too. - K R Srinavasa Iyengar in Indian Writing In English, Sterling Publishers Private limited, New Delhi , Reprint 1993, p. 720

“O.P. Bhatnagar’s poetry published in four volumes Thought Poems, Feeling Fossils, Angels of Retreat and Oneiric Visions covers a wide range of themes and modes of perception and expression appropriate to each theme. One finds in his poems a Wordsworthian love of nature and a Wordsworthian vision too as occasionally for instance, in his poem “Scaling Heights” written on Nanda Devi, daughter of Dr. Willis Unsoeld.

Nanda Devi who has grown twenty years in grace and snow is betrayed by the treacherous heights in her brave expedition and is killed midway. Leaving her aged father in grief,

She now lies buried bold
In the bosom of the peak
Smiling at Wordsworth from her grave
Restraining philosophy to tithe and tax
Elbowing Hillary to distant shades.

He strikes us as a link between the older generation of poets and the modern.”  - K.S.Ramamurti, Twenty-five Indian Poets in English, Macmillan, Delhi, Reprinted 1996, p.65

O.P. Bhatnagar, himself a practicing poet, has recently dubbed alienation as an ‘elitist mode’ and ‘the most easily borrowed fad’. - Prof. M.K.Naik in Indian English Poetry from the beginnings upto 2000, Pencraft International, Delhi-110052, 20009 , p.158

Poetry as some suggestive art; words, ideas and images coming to as suggestions, made or given to help the readers in understanding them; poetry as the ironic mode, with the curves and diagrams of its own, with the rising and falling pitches of its own is the case to be pondered over. All the suffering and struggle of life lie in expressed ironically. If somebody puts before O.P. Bhatnagar as to comment forth, in his reply to, what is poetry?, he would perhaps respond it that poetry is ironical statements, falling short of becoming satiric and the writer himself a satirist. He has definitely the emotion and feeling of a writer, but he uses and applies them for irony sake.

Sometimes broken rhythms and statements make us assess his poetic stature otherwise. The nuts of wit and wisdom we feel it difficult to crack them. Bhatnagar’s is an intellectual base rooted into the social realities of modern life and the world. The ironic mode which he uses and applies falls short of making him a satirist which but he muffles down too to keep it suppressed. Apart from his emotional intensity, there is obviously intellectual monotony in him doing the rounds. Sometimes the poems appear to be verbose and jarring; the word-puzzles and cross-words. The age of reason and treason with the anxiety of living and intellectual monotony add to the poems. Somewhere he strives; struggles to say it. Western thoughts and their influences can be underlined no doubt. Urban society and culture, townsmanly living and thinking, this is the periphery of his poetry and he has not come out of that circle. Wit, intellect, fact and fiction seem to be the chief properties of the poet. His irony is the irony of living; tragic sense and vision realized. What can more tragic than to be befallen with tragedies, if life itself turns in a tragic living?

A poet of the 1970’s, Om Prakash Bhatnagar, who used to teach English at Amravarti, Maharashtra, before settling down in New Delhi, took to creative writings in English long back as for to carve a niche for himself into the unchartered domains of nondescript Indian English poesy and by doing that, he succeeded a bit too. But what it should have come his way, which did not. The apathy of the critics may be another reason for that. But what ails us most is this that most of the men practicing criticism are the commoners. Had the olden-age, specs-laden classical scholars evaluated and assessed it, the things would have better rather than commonly-evaluated assessments. Many youngsters too proclaim to be the stalwarts of Indian English poetry criticism, but how can be this? An editor and a critic, he made a tryst with his destiny as a poet who was so much concerned with such a realm of writing as his companions were, as for example, H.S. Bhatia, I.K. Sharma, R.R. Menon and others too. Instead of the critical vacuum existent and the absence of an authority all over this, they worked in their own ways as for its furtherance and evolution in the best possible ways. His poems continued to appear in little magazines rather than in bigger ones, but apart from that, research scholars and supervisors evinced an interest into his poetic write-ups. There is something which but upholds it and it was because of that many did their Ph.Ds. on his poetry.

Thought Poems, published in 1976, had been the first poetry-book which Bhatnagar authored, followed by the second, titled as Feeling Fossils, 1977. Angels of Retreat, brought out in 1979, was the third one to see the light of the day. Oneiric Visions, which appeared in 1980, strengthened his stature as a creative writer of verse. Shadows in Floodlights saw the light of the day in 1984. The Audible Landscape, which appeared in print in 1993, too was a good attempt on the part of the practicing poet. Cooling Flames of Darkness, published in 2001, is the last one to see the light from the poetic pen of the poet. A poem to Bhatnagar is either fossil-feeling or sand-dune formation. The bitter experiences of life turn him into an ironist, but apart from it, emotions and feelings leave him not behind. Had he utilized, he would have scaled higher, but the technique drew him back and he turned to the ironic mode and its application as for experience sake and cute and curt expression. The poet feels the fossils and sees the sand-dunes with the creative curve and dimension of his own.

We do not know if his poems have been prescribed for any courses of studies and his biography put for our evaluation and assessment rather than researches for our self-interest. If the students read not in the classrooms, what utility will it be there in introducing him? The commonly available academic anthologies of Indian English poems carry not his poems for graduation and post-graduation courses generally and this has got some purported reasons, which is in some ways quite understandable. Barring passing references, there is not much in the standard history books though a few have appeared in print now quite recently. Whatever be the justice or injustice meted out to, he has certainly evolved in course of time and has come of age and can no doubt be studied. He was a poet not of the media glare and felicitation ceremonies rather than lukewarm response which he got for his comparably hectic literary service. Instead of, the attempts made in this regard took him to the pedestal and his name finds mention and we cannot help without thinking about him and his contribution.

O.P. Bhatnagar as a poet seems to have drawn from the age of anxiety and that of reason. Wit, irony, intellect, fact and fiction form the basis of his poetry. The intellectual element muffles the natural play of emotion and feeling. A consummate craftsman, he handles with so much dexterity and ease. The tragic vision which he is endowed with comes through his sense of struggle and suffering, all that muted in and muffled down to the core of his poetry. Somewhere intellectuality and urbanity break the lines loose and destroy the intrinsic qualities and features inherent in these. Something he lacks in and something it is in him ironically. This is how we have narrated our experiences; how we have felt them.

We do not know it why have we selected Om Prakash Bhatnagar as for analyzing his poetry for an assessment. Whatever be the reason, we are taking up his poetry as for an analysis from the thematic point of view primarily. It is themes which but give an idea and a thought with regard to the poet and his views which he seeks to pass it on. We do not like to go by what others have said about him. Even if the accolades and prizes cannot tempt and hinder across in personal opinion already formed and judged within.  The media, the ways and means of it, have never been the priority. The small editors ambitious enough cannot sway the whiff of judgment.  It is very difficult to say where lays the talent which often goes unrecognized. Time, circumstance and fate too have some role to play. A poet of the seventies, he rubbed the shoulders with the rank and file of Indian English poetry, be he or she the stalwart or commoner of such a genre of poetry.

To talk of O.P. Bhatnagar is to take into consideration several things, related to the growth and development of modern Indian English poetry. We generally take the names of Nissim Ezekiel, Keki N. Daruwalla, Purshottam Lal, Arun Kolatkar, Rajgopal Parthasarathy, Kamala Das, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra and so on as for those who have furthered modern Indian English poetry, but it will not be appropriate to say if we take not the names of the poets of the transitional period, covering it all both, the pre-1947 period and the post-1947 time-span. Similar is the case with O.P. Bhatnagar. Only the poets and poetesses from Writers’ Workshop, Calcutta, published by P. Lal, cannot be called the writers. Bhatnagar’s name does not figure in the list of standard publications and history books as because his books have appeared from small presses and independently too. Had he managed to get them published from elsewhere and had immigrated outside India, it would have been great and the critics would have appreciated as for being a diasporan or an expatriate academician. But instead of it all, he has the verve and vigor, the required wit and intellect to take the canvas.

Born in Agra in 1932, O.P. Bhatnagar did his schooling from Dehradun, later on college education from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh and all this took him to Maharashtra as for employment and he taught there till his retirement and after this, moved to New Delhi. A modern-age poet, Bhatnagar too is of the same track which the modern hollow men have been perusing it all along. Modernity, urbanity and intellectuality are the things of modern man which he prides over and this is there in him. O.P. Bhatnagar cannot be an exception to that. Indian philosophy, thought, culture and tradition are certainly not the things of the poet to delve deep and penetrate through. A modern man, urban and townsmanly, he takes to his own recourse as for delving. The city culture, town life and urban thinking are the poetic stuffs of the poet.

A poem to O.P. Bhatnagar is a vision, which can be made and unmade; a sand-dune forming and disfiguring. A small poem like this can express it succinctly what the poet has to say about the art and craft of writing; how the poems figure in poetic visions. The poem A Framed Sand-Dune can be an example to illustrate the point under our discussion:

A poem is a vision
Which one can make
And unmake it
Till it is lost.
To find it
One must go
To the desert
With wide-eyed wonder
Looking for shapes:
For a poem is
A framed sand-dune.
(O.P. Bhatnagar, Oneiric Visions,  p.15, Rachna Prakashan, Jaipur, 1980, Rs.20/)

O.P. Bhatnagar as a poet is definitely one who belongs to the age of reason as his wit, irony and intellect take to where he dwells within really. Again, a small poem like this can marvel us with the precision of words and phrases. The poem has enough to communicate, but less to be stated into words. The gist is so thin to be lengthened. The poem Feeling Fossils can be put as for our example. The poem follows the whole poetic process and the things happening thereof.

The age of reason
Overshadows feelings
Like moon shadowing sun.
The eclipse lasts a small hour
But feelings sink to the shadow:
Fail to reappear like sun
And go fossil
Till they are broke open
And salvaged by words
Resolving mysteries
By miracles of thoughts.
(Ibid, p.35)

The longer not, but the shorter poems of O.P. Bhatnagar are excellent ones thematically as well as from impression. Many of the sadhus who pose to be are not, but the ganja-takers and disciple-keepers. The poet takes those pseudo-sadhus under his poetic cudgels to dispense with. India is but full of such godmen and their miracles, doing scandals and scams in order to stain sacrosanct guruhood and these are not yogis, but the bhogis of India. When the myth is busted, they turn into the men of the racket and from the godmen slip into the badmen. A poem of just nine lines named Saint can work marvels and is so epigrammatic:

He preached abstinence
All his life
Keeping women away
At a light’s distance
In an absolutely purity of thought.
People ensainted him:
And when he died
More prostitutes came
To mourn the loss.
(Ibid, p.43)

The art of composition differs from poet to poet and the craftsmanship of it. Feelings, shadows, fossils, words, mysteries and miracles of thoughts are primary to the understanding of the poem in our hand and are also quite indicative of the poetic art and the process of his composition.

The poet seeks to say it that the age of reason overshadows like the moon shadowing the sun and by the way the eclipse lasts for a small hour, but the feelings sink to the shadows formed. Deeper within, the poem has got all the complexity of expression. Precision and brevity frolic in here as for statements. Similarly the poet too feels like the eclipsing moments and imagery seen and drawn from.

The small poem under our perusal talks of the making of a poem. The poems can fossils to be felt and marked. Our emotions and feelings too go fossilized sometimes. The mushrooms too can speak of an image viewed otherwise. How the emotions and feelings underneath, this only the poet can say it all!

Words and thoughts try to salvage the whole panorama; the scenic happening, taking place as some spectacle. Even if poets go by reason, fact and logic, all artificiality and intellectual monotony, they will not be able to leave by emotions and feelings wetting man. A poem of just eleven lines, it has all the things a poetic piece should have. The inward play of thought and action is intrinsic no doubt. Bhatnagar has of course the feelings and emotions, required for better writing but lets them to be down by wit, irony and intellect. It is the words which give thoughts to the ideas and images, and this is what he means to say, relay them here. The eclipse-scene and the fossil-feeling too have the qualities of their own to be viewed and felt through. The poems A Framed Sand-Dune and Feeling Fossils are alike in theme and expression as they contain in the poet’s thoughts with regard to craftsmanship and dabbling in verse.

To My Nearea, Dying a Century, Memories, Boundaries, Courage of Being Free, I Have Promises To Keep, Crossing The Bar, Birth of a Nation, Of Floods In India, Scaling Heights, The No Man’s Land, Insomnia, Over a Chair, Fear Is a Lock, Trading, Pearl, Harvest, A Poem For The Pantheists, Punishing Silence, etc. are the poems which lie in included in Feeling Fossils.

Bhatnagar as a poet is quite known for his succinct and short expressions, laying the poetic truths realistically. He is not a romantic poet who will speak coloring the things, but busts the notions of such a sort. ‘Brevity is the soul of wit’ holds true in respect of the poet.

Trading is a small poem included in Feeling Fossils collection of poems:

Hurled to helplessness
On their flesh.
Aren’t different
They trade their prowess
For flesh.
(Feeling Fossils, Paul Jacobson & Co., Dehra Dun, 1977, p.23)

Pearl too is small, but epigrammatic, if we come to mark the idea in its kernel:

Pearl is formed
Because it shies away
From the light
And bears the burden
Of the restless sea
In silence.
(Ibid, p.23)

Not to Die of Life  as a small is a realistic piece:

We hope
Not to die of frustrations
Not to die of realities
To die of truth
We have no heart
In order not to die
Of life
We have art.
(Ibid, p.47)

One will need to see the artistic images and drawings of Picasso before going through Bhatnagar’s poems. The poem entitled PabloPicasso has much to deal with the art of the proclaimed experimentalist artist:

Pablo Picasso
Was not a visionary
But a divisionary
Who set everything apart
Making harmony  from images depart.
He made suns sweat
And eyes like horizons part.
Rejecting the myth of mystic forms
He presented the dissociation
Of perceptive norms
And exploded the pretentious pose
Of profundity in art.
(Ibid, p.50)

A few have come to understand the poetic base and the features of Om Prakash Bhatnagar as he saw poetry into the ironies doing the rounds instead of the emotions and feelings which he so richly had been endowed with. Right from the 1970’s, he has been writing and perfecting it to contribute to and add to otherwise the things would not have been so as we see them today in the form of evolving things. Those days too needed his service.

The Best Time To Love’ is the first poem with which the collection Angels of Retreat begins with and it is no doubt one of the best representative poems of Bhatnagar, showing the art and craftsmanship of the poet under our review and perusal. Shadows in Floodlights as a collection starts with the poem of the same title. To My Nearea is the first poem of the anthology titled Feeling Fossils, but the second poem Dying A Century is personal and reflective, pathetic and painful indeed. The Crowded Metaphor is the first poem with which the collection, Thought Poems begins with. Nailing by The Wall is one of the finest poems ever included in Thought Poems. Bhatnagar as a poet deals with the sense of loss and the tragedy of our living. There is nothing as to as that caters to and tickles happiness and pleasure. Every moment when we seek to take up, he appears to be tense and laden. Something as that of having a hard life is quit suggestive of this.

A stanza from the poem entitled Indian Widows, taken from Thought Poems, may be put as an example:

Widows are windows
To shut the past from the present
And see the future as remote
And the fading horizon at dark.
(Thought Poems, Skylark Publications, Aligarh, 1976, p.16)

He uses similes and metaphors deftly, as for example, the small poem Desires On Death in whole:

Desires on death
Sit in quiet evening arrays
Like amused sparrows
On naked electric wares
Watching with muted wonder
The fading glory of the dying sun.
(Ibid, p.7)

The Audible Landscape as a poetry-collection is inclusive of the poems, such as A Prisoner is More Free, The Walls of Prisonhouse Remain, Can Facts be Destroyed by Ideas?, The Still Questions, The New Morality, The Second Conversion, The Second Coming, Digging for Myths, Of Pains and Art, A Tribal Variation in Hunger, Grandeurs of Self Deceit, etc.

Shadows in Floodlights, Light in Being in Illusion, A Visual Truth, The Speaking Silence, Of Self and True Self, Ending a Beginning Before its End, Making a Poem, An Artful Jest, Of Poetry, Revolutions and Dreams, My Creation, A Poem for a Poem, etc. are the poems which figure in Shadows in Floodlights.

A stanza from the poem said Shadows in Floodlights from the book of the same title may be quoted as for our perusal and ready reference:

How much of dark does the sun hide?
How much of light dopes dark evade?
Are questions for diamond eyes
That see a stick bent in water:
Railroads meeting in a distant vision
Of the lighted dark.
(Shadows In Floodlights, Skylark Publications, Aligarh, 1984, p. 7)

A stanza from A Visual Truth tells about the audio-visual grapplings of the modern poet of the modern age visiting city centers, art galleries, digitech parks, techno markets and shopping malls, but the context is different here:

Lest beauty evade
Like happiness
A bird pecks at its image
In the glass
A girl smiles at  her beauty
In the mirror
A thinker dresses his ideas
In the mind:
(Ibid, p. 9)

The poem, The Stuff We are Made Of is a poem of some nothingness, as we come out from and mingle with it:

Are we made of nothing
With something filling it
From outside
Or something getting emptied
From inside of it?
(Ibid, p.33)

Another piece titled Hostage of Time is enough to corroborate it:

We see things pass by
Things watch us die
We are no more philosophers
Without the existence of matter
And others: Events
Self-sufficient at every moment
Obliterating as they proceed
Like words destroying meaning
By a tilt:
Objects raped subject
Staircases leading nowhere
Gestures noted but not explained.
(Ibid, p.13)

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Comments on this Poem Article

Comment Bhatnagar as a poet has been listed in the Encyclopaedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English, Routledge, London, 1996. Cooling Flames of Darkness is perhaps the last collection of O.P.Bhatnagar to have appeared in his life-time. The Turn Of The Century is the first poem with which the collection opens and closes by with The Virtual Reality OF A Handy God. The poet does not take to the normal recourse to life, but to reveal it how unnatural and abnormal have we grown in our sympathies to life. This is what twitches him; maligns the poetic self of the poet and he longs for an expression in words.

The Turn Of The Century as a long poem of the four stanzas has a story of sardonic reality, sarcasm to clutch along and to take on:

Like the sun, the self-illumined self
Which, once used to smile
Like easy cheer in marigold
And guard the hostilities
Of both, evil and good, weak and strong
Mending ruptures of conduct
Now stands split and crumbled
Like river banks in flood
Bristling with grey uncertainties
And the comic in dark doubts:
If Buddha was a tamarind style nihilist
And Christ, a de-caffinated lover of compassion:
If Shahjehan was just a recycled prodigal
And Napoleon, a leg-break rishi:
If Einstein was the ancient scholar
Ravana, by rebirth: And Stalin
By his moustache, a late Gita fan.

All this is serviette to wipe clean
The slush and waste of long-lousy conduct
Made deadly even for normal.
Living-relationship and growth.
That’s why uneasy feels the head
With a Maruti-dent in the conscience
That wears modernity for a mask
And hides the shortcomings, stuffed
In the restless graves of old-spice souls
Convulsing with much painful anxiety
Of unrelieved pains: Living or dead
Relive the time of change
Like light or dark present
Both at dusk or dawn.

With leaping forest fires and rumbling volcanoes:
Crippling earthquakes, devastating tornadoes
And persistent floods
The turn of the century closes in like octopus
Drawing peace, harmony and happiness
To damning convulsions of misery, turmoil
And unrelenting grief, lamenting
What man has made of existence and man
Groping for a future into which
One may let one’s country awake:
Light discover its face.

In this age where doubts overcome solutions
Questions overpower answers; Drought, rains
People may be happy with magic
Or make-up for inspiration
To plug fissures and divides
Spring cleaning their cordless souls
To live really, not just virtually
Battling truths from the sunbaked cultures
Of tired times: combing winds from the skies
And waves from the sea.
(O.P.Bhatnagar, Cooling Flames of Darkness, Samkaleen Prakashan, New Delhi, p. 1-2)

Bhatnagar as a poet seems to have drawn from angst and the age of anxiety, faith eclipsed by doubt and suspense and tragic experiences of life making him suspect it all and he sees no good at all, not in anything else; an existentialist, a nihilist of his stature.
The present is an age of doubt, one of angst, bewilderment and anxiety, with a strange vacuum of own, with nothing to believe, nothing to draw from and enlighten upon. The survival of existence is itself in askance and what it to say it more? What to do, where to go, is the thing of the crisis? It is a question of survival. How to sustain, how to survive?
The Turn of The Century, The Half-Hurt Brothers, Song of The Innocents, Ravaged Children of the Civilized Times, The Primitives of the Age, The Janus Faced Politicians, Kite Flying, Appetites at Kalahandi, Risen or Fallen, Restless Peace, Refracted Images, Of Beauty and the Beasts, Beauty Queening, Of Dreams, Realities and Truths, Looking at My Solitude, Death Wish, Deathful Lie, Ceasing Come Alive, Life and Death Face to Face, The Vacuumatic Centre, Something to Nothing, The Art of Creation, Of Shadows and Substance, An Ungodly Poem, Some Wonders, The Scarecrow, The No-End of End, Hell of a Heaven, The Nuclear Suffering, The Space Within, When Something is Ready to be Told, Thoughtographs of Recollections of Vidarbha, The Senior Citizens of Morgan Town, The Trapped Cause, The Advanced Age and The Virtual Reality of a Handy God are the poems which appear in this collection of poems. He is a poet of anxiety and it is anxiety relayed through words, nourished and nurtured by doubt and suspense.

Bijay Kant Dubey
02-Apr-2014 00:00 AM

Comment O.P.Bhatnagar is often discussed not as one of the mainstream but on the sidelines of Indian English poetry and we do not know what it is that makes a way for this type of bias and prejudice or the error committed by mistake. Whatever be that, Bhatnagar is no less than; he is of course of the modern age, a modern poet writing modern poetry. To discuss him as a poet is not to turn to ancient Indian thought and tradition, but to modern life and living, the concept of modernity, how modern are we, how the feeligns of ours? There is of course a feeling which twitches him often and that is his deploring of the loss of values and ideals. We may have become advanced materialistically, but not spiritually. The poet often questions it, how humane are we indeed?

Poetic Impression as a poem can be put as an example:

Impression is not experience
Like a rainbow steady for a while,
Poetry recording impressions
Only serves like a view
From a running train:
Earth photographed from moon:
Truth placed as a mannequin
Behind glass walls,
The pain of the poor, the naked
And unsheltered
And the cry of the hungry,
The exploited, the virtuous
And wronged
Offer Indian-English poets no more
Than a visionary essence of suffering
After the unsoiling bases
Of western perfumes:
The wearer more poised
For tingling the nostrills around.
Poetry is neither an impression
From outside nor a traditional belief
At variance with acquired doubts
But an inner sympathy
Dynamic of revolt:
An experience olike a shiver of cold
Changing perception
In the chemistry of thought.
(O.P.Bhatnagar, The Audible Landscape, Skylark Pulications, Aligarh, p.40)

Poetry to O.P.Bhatnagar is a series of thoughts, feeling fossils and oneiric visions; angels retreating to after a tryst with social poetry of protest and dissemination. In Bhatnagar, one can mark a tragedian in the making and his works fall short of becoming. A few poems included in Thought Poems show it themselves. Desires on Death is a small poem all about modedrn life and living. The circumstances and situations are as such that we cannot hold back. Feeling Fossils as a poem speaks of how wit has been used and applied in, the fact and fiction of life.

The New Tragedy too can put in for ready reference as per to prove his verve and stamina, worth and relevance:

Death in modern times
Leaves man more naked
Than dead,
For unwelcoming death
Is not worth dying.

People do not die
Of growth these days
Instead struck dead
By dadly diseases
Or dreadful atrocities of man.

The tragedy now lies
In the uneasy silence
Of the wounded surviviors
Who suffer deaths
Without enoblement.
(Thought Poems, Ibid, p.11)

The No Man’s Land is another to take us by strike:
Before the British came
The land wasn’t ours
After they left
It was not ours too
The land belongs
To those who rule
The others merely inhabit
The no man’s land.
(Feeling Fossils, p.19)

Of Emotions & Thoughts from the collection Oneiric Visions deserves a mention as and when we think of in terms of ideas and thoughts in aplication:

When emotions are barred from thoughts
They look like fishes quivering
In an acquarium
Diffusing seas into an image of glass.
How do they feel their significance?
Lost in the sea is a lot better perhaps?
They can share their insignificance
With the sea.
When emotions are framed in a poem
they share their insignificance
With inaccessible thoughts.
(Oneiric Visions, p.34)

Of Tongue In English Chains is all about his grapples with the acquired language:
Caliban got colonnised
And alianted for a tongue.
Were we Calibans?
We had our voices
Beyond the livingness of signs.
The trick was not in the tongue
Not the minutes of Macaulay:
It was submission with laughter
To the two virtues of Prospero--
Aggressiveness and homosexuality,
Which colonised even Ferdinand
As a robot for Miranda:
An egg in sand,
A male figure in Greek art.

The new tongue didn’t prove a witchcraft
Nor a mrijuana to feel psychedelic:
But an unconsummated symbol
Telescopic of revolt
Eagling out the dispenser its prey.
We kept the tongue in cheek
Like beetles living in the cracks of walls.
No more English or fith
Nor a passivity endemic to prostitution:
But a variant like American or Carribean
To explode the Prospero myth:
And play football like Germans
With the prisoners of war.
(The Audible Landscape, ibid, p.42)

A poem of two stanzas, it expresses with novelty in thought the art of writing poems in a second language and the ideas concerned with that. It may be taken as his use and application of the language. His tryst with the alien tongue lies herein expressed.

If we take to Bhatnagar, a poem can be a smile affecting the heart to soul; maybe it a simile. A Poem Is a Smile is the first poem of the collection under our perusal which keeps the ball rolling:

What can a poet say
That words cannot feel
In smilies, metaphors,
Symbols or wits
In any suggestion of art.
A poem is a smile
That spreads
From eyes to heart
Using gestures
That have hidden
Their meaning
In an ecstacy
Of being beautiful
Presenting visions
After the feminity
Of a woman
Emerging from a happiness
Locked in blue waters
Reavealing its unconscious beauty
In parts.
(Oneiric Visions, p.7)

Man Is Lived is a small poem of just eleven lines:

The man
Whose dear one dies
Is breaved.
Others keep sun in a bag
And distribute griefs
Dipped in moonwater.
But the man who dies knows
That man does not live
But is lived
And dies only as thoughts
In an image.
(Oneiric Visions, p.12)

Bijay Kant Dubey
16-Mar-2014 00:00 AM


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