Articles /Interviews

D C Chambial’s Poetic Achievement: A Critique

by Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B. Bookmark and Share

Robert Burns’ ‘My love is like a red red rose that’s newly sprung in June’, the lines of Eliot:

Between the desire
And the spasm,
Between the potency
And the existence,
Between the essence
And the descent,
Falls the Shadow.

‘For Thine is the Kingdom’ are ever memorable. These words and expressions ‘stick’ in the mind – in consciousness - though the word defies definition. But words do not always convey the complete complicated thought patterns. A poet’s use of words suffices not sometimes to reveal the depth and the width of the perambulations of the imaginative thought processes. Hence, the complexity of expressive function. All poetry lovers in contemporary Indian English poetry know D.C. Chambial, who has been a practising selector and editor for the last three decades.

There are some people who take poetry as a mission with a purpose and with a commitment. The Himalayan litterateur and academic, D.C. Chambial, has not only been writing poetry but also been running a literary journal for the last three decades single-handedly from the distant place, Maranda in Himachal Pradesh. He started writing poetry in 1974.His first six collections were published in 2004 in one volume containing Broken Images, 1983; Cargoes of Bleeding Hearts and Other Poems, 1984; Perceptions, 1986; Gyrating Hawks & Sinking Roads, 1996; Before the Petals Unfold, 2002; This Promising Age. 2004. Later, Mellow Tones was published in 2009 and in 2010 Words were brought out. Hour of Antipathy, the ninth collection was published in 2014.

The fundamental aspects of Chambial’s poetry are angst and hatred for societal degeneration, loss of faith and devotion and crass corruption at all levels – more blatantly in the ruling and administrative levels. Basically, he is a soft person loving nature, hills, valleys, lakes, clouds, and agriculturists. His rectitude makes him abhor the ‘modern’ tendencies of deceit. Exploitation and corruption have been corroding honesty.

In the first collection Broken Images this poem reveals his basic mind:

Virgin hills!
Let honey flow
to those who have eaten
the fruit forbidden
and fiddle
with infant geriatrics
of human faith.   -  (‘Human Faith’, 14)

There is a poem which castigates the contemporary unresponsive stupor which swallows virtue and honesty.

Jackals, wolves, cats and rats
agog to see
rising betaals
to pin stemming rays
from the Sun
we are engaged
in catatonic sciamachy.   -  (‘Sciamachy’, 18-19)

The pungency and power of diction reveals the poet’s depth of feeling. Betaals are more hateful than devils. Early morning is described as victory over gloom and praised as heavenly absolution.

Victory over gloom
Of the night,
Gleeful smiles
Dendron heads stand
blood red before the altar;
a morning
of live hope dawns
to uncover ‘n’ absolve
sin of din. (‘Dawn’, 22)

Decay of human values under a stinking and rotten morality is described by this poet in collection after collection in nine books. Cargoes of the Bleeding Hearts is the second book published in 1984. Bleeding hearts are carried as goods.

The Sun’s gone
the Moon wails meteors play funny tricks,
I write to voice myself
my tongue is cut. It’s how dumb
fight and try to unload
cargoes of bleeding hearts
in the dark sea of wild oppression. (25)

Chambial reminds us of T.S. Eliot. He has in his mind Wasteland - V ‘What the Thunder Said’.

Where are the words
That once echoed
in the wasteland? (27)

The words which echoed are:

After the torch light red in sweaty faces
After frosty silence in the gardens
After the agony in strange places
The shouting and the crying
Prison and palace and reverberation
Of thunder of spring over distant mountains
He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience.   -  (‘What the Thunder Said’, ll. 1-9 )

We the ‘moderns’ are in Christ’s position.The mental condition of Chambial is that of earlier one. Instead of being dead, we, who are living, are now dying with a little patience.

The great self-sufferers are Sita and Savitri talked about in the poem ‘Companions’.

Is it the same that
once sat in the heart
of Savitri and banished Sita (27)

The condition of women has not improved in spite of the so called development of the country, women’s education, employment and fashions etc. The poet encourages and goads women to be brave and put their foot down firmly.

Rise women, rise!
It is time to come out
from the harem and the kitchen
into open space.
The Shakti, the Savitri
Slash the age old shackles.
Hold fast the reins
O Lakshmibai!
Let your sabre slay your miseries.
Be Bhavani
to ring the knell of the ashuras
that did cast a foul eye
on your crane-white self.   -   (‘To Woman’, 30)

Chambial’s ‘Shivalingam’ is one of his finest poems of prayer and devotion.

Fill the Earth
with satyam, shivam, sundaram.
O, the Eternal Father!
execute who dare defy
and vitiate the flow of Bhagirathi.
Let none be deaf
To the sound of Your Damroo
And fear the Tandava.
When the universe is attuned
And enamoured to embrace
let the peace of the leaves
and the hue of the petals
scatter end to end.
For wisdom and solace,
we turn to You
O the Seed –
Shivalingam!    -  (31)

Evil, villainous politicians in power and money create chaos. Unless they have money, they don’t win elections. The poet never bows his head to evil of any sort. He says that man is at the mercy of evil sycophants and castigates them.

In a plundered land
weak and virtuous
at the mercy of sycophants
wait in vain
for some salve
and melodic refrain.   -  (‘At the Mercy of Sycophants’, 33)

Hope is the thing with feathers as the American poet said. The poet emboldens and enthuses the weak and writes:

Youth a varied-hued-juicy-spring
Leads to the ‘sun-burnt mirth.’
Wail not the pensive past,
Nor hail the present might,
Meditate upon the unborn future.   -  (‘Time is More Powerful’, 35)

The poet tells his readers that our living, nowadays, needs a knack to live only ‘successfully’ in the modern world. This is said only to lead the reader to win the so-called goals.

To live successfully
at the present hour
one must have two faces –
one of the angel’s
and the other of the devil
bedecked with
synthetic perfumes and creams
to hide the rotten smell
of blood bedaubed nails and teeth.
We must live by two
or lag behind
to race the to knock
our rivals down
on the ground
to prove the prowess
and succeed in the struggle.    -   (‘Masks’, 39-40)

Perceptions is the most captivating collection published in 1986 dealing with an individual’s extraordinary private feelings. These poems need a careful looking into and require deep insight and a long time. The poet’s tenor continues to be devotional involving serious thinking. There is love of the country and deep faith in God. Patriotism makes the poet enthusiastic to sing inspiringly.

Let us march, today, hand in hand
Concatenating souls like beads
Into the thread of the greatest ROSARY,
The ever-cherished HUMANISM.
Why not help this Earth
bloom into Heaven
where there is God’s plenty,
plan not to make it stink?
World is too much, the life is too small!   -   (‘Let Us March’, 48-49)

It is the spirit that should bring people’s heads together unifying them. There is another poem, ‘The Sermon’, about the Thathaagatha’s message. The Bhikhoos went out in all directions to preach the lesson of love. They were asked to teach:

Proclaim O Bhikhoos! The doctrine glorious.
Proclaim a life of holiness, perfection and purtity
Throw to wind the claim of caste and creed;
Out of love and compassion hug humanity.
May the truth be yours
May the light be yours.   -  (51)

Some times there are poems to make us bold and instill boldness in us as in the poem ‘Fog’.

The wretched fog
Slowly and steadily lingers on
Over the river, stream,
Vale and dale
To mountain top.
The fog comes riding
A driven chariot, driven
By black horses.
Telling about the abortive tales
Prone to keep the beds warm
Fighting unknown phantoms.  -  (57-58)

This collection is full of feeling, ideas, imagination and the poems are captivating.

You and I
play the flame and moth:
I am crippled by the heat of love.
The glimmer of glow-worms,
a gust of wind
tries in vain
to achieve the foul aim.
I think and for sure construe
It’ll pass by too.   -  (‘The Flame’, 58)

Here is another:

As I dare to peep out
through the window,
eyes roll
at the sight of a whirligig
in the lee of pythons …
Headless bodies
march in
a mute procession
leading to a maze …
Terrible cries follow
in an uproar
without human shores.
Numberless snakes
leave holes in Siberia
to live in cities …
Strange! Can’t shut eyes
Ignorance and greed …
Perishing Man?    -   (‘Perishing Man’, 59-60)

These are indications of the catastrophe that is ahead. All this augur wrath and pestilence foretelling nemesis.

Crows, jackals
Blood and carcass.
Grenades, guns, bombs:
Explosions and
Cancerous heads
on polio legs
Water, water, water.   -   (‘Rising Images’, 65)

The poet has a word of advice.Godlessness leads to destruction, annihilation.It’s He who steers the ship from Summer to South. This is the most valuable perception of the poet, who stands for obedience and devotion to win His Grace. Chambial’s words are impressive and figures of speech attract readers. Cargoes of Bleeding Hearts attracts quick attention.At his age with experience in teaching, he captivates readers. His subjects glow with radiance. The following is a case in point, just one for a sample:

I sit and play with grains of sand
at the shore, stare in stupor
at the stinging swells
striking against the cliffs.
Drop by drop I melt
like a flaming candle
into the unfathomed deeps.   -   (‘Flaming Candle’, 80-81)

The poet being a devout believer never loses hope. However bad things may be, there would be a time when good times come. Light would emerge from darkness.

Night cannot be long is a wise statement. Poetry celebrates and in the same way it weeps about great losses. Here he refers to Hawala scams to become rich overnight.

Let’s make hay while the sun
Shines and shake hands with Jains,
Climb the hill of roguery.   -   (‘Night Can’t be Long’, 81)

Chambial bemoaned the tragedy of the Chinese students, who were shot dead when they tried to celebrate the dramatic enthusiasm. The demonstrators of democracy were killed brutally by the Chinese power. The poet’s heart throbs with love.

You wait and watch
the seeds planted here,
nourished with blood,
to bud into a rich crop of cacti
to prick the tongues of iron.    -   (‘Tiananmin Square’, 102)

The poet’s heart throbs with love.He is humane: that is the reason he hates and is ferocious. He has soft, godly feelings.

My love! In this pleasant grove
My leaves flutter like a dove.
Come, open and go through these leaves,
Pacify the peace of heart that heaves.
Come let us and sit together
In this fair and lovely weather.    -   (‘A Cry of Heart’, 108)

The passion for the sweetheart would ever be the most pleasant. Flowers and love are closely related.

You and I
shall forever be all, all alone
swinging up and down
the bulging hills,
the low lying vales
full of hyacinths.   -   (‘Full of Hyacinths’, 109)

Man’s aims and ambitions must be high and noble. Life must achieve something worthy. One must achieve nothing lower than heaven. Cleopatras and Helens are worth nothing in the ultimate analysis.

Ride crane-white horses,
Snap links with chains
Of time and space.
Fly past the Sun.
Drink at the fount
Of Proserpine under
The cozy, evanescent
Boughs of Heaven.       -    (‘Boughs of Heaven’, 113)

In his fifth collection of poems, Before the Petals Unfold, Chambial wrote ‘Death by Fire’ Hundreds of students and parents celebrating DAV celebrations were consumed by fire at Dabwali in Haryana. Fire at Baripada, Orissa killed hundreds of students in 1977 assembled at a convention in ‘Nigomananda’. At Mina in Mecca hundreds of devotees were killed when fire broke out in the tents of pilgrims.

Wounded and dazed lie
jerks and jolts of joy.
What a ‘poetic justice’
Fruit of past karma. (114)

The mind goes hither and thither. One needs to make his mark sparkle. The poet uses the trope of anaemia - bloodless to make it to suggest the need for the strength for blood. This is how the poet emboldens:

My back aches, as I foray without
To see twinkling stars studded in sky.
Cold air from white peaks tickles
Pleasantly in the serene quiet within.     -   (‘Anaemic Sun’, 120)

The speaker considers that he is pure as Ganga and Gangontri, totally free from the world’s wiles. He knows that this world is now growing as Yamuna nowadays in Delhi. Here is his wish:

Would they could
take the ulcer out
from this ailing body
leaving it Volga go Ganga,
Missississipi to Sikiang,
crystal clear, dross less, rich
in the milk of humanity!     -   (‘I’m Little …’, 140)

Man’s devilry is growing by the moment, the poet wails.

Here the milk of man is dried,
Chivalry of man is all tried,
Man’s horrible deeds blood congeal,
Man from morals off it strips,
There’s no effort the man to heal,
Sun at the horizon down slips.    -   (‘The Moral Void’, 144)

The poet uses many metaphors, tropes and other figures to drive home his point. The degeneration causing microbes are ubiquitous organisms, microbes deadly.

The collection, This Promising Age and other Poems, is published in 2004. By this time, his mind has mellowed and his rage has abated. Prayer is realized to be the way to win God’s grace quickly. A proud pyramid says this:

I stood a proud pyramid
On the solid ground of vanity;
A flash!
All walls of vanity
Crumble like a house of cards.
The debris melts    -  (‘A Proud Pyramid’, 158)

The poet acquires serenity and preaches peace:

On this day
I pray:
Lord! Come
and teach them
a lesson
when they get to rape the nation next time.
Men and women born white as pearls,
innocent as lambs.
The lust for power
(political and religious)
Makes them blood thirsty;
Turn into wolves and hyenas.
Save them! Save their souls!    -   (‘On This Day’, 160)

The poet takes refuge in Bhagavadgita. “nainam chindanti shastraani , nainam dahati paavakah:”paritranaayasaadhoonam, vinasayacha dushkruram” (Neither weapons pierce it, nor fire consumes,” (Gita II: 23) and “For the protection of the pious and destruction of the evil doers, …(Gita IV:8)

Morality and simple living are the key to happiness.

A beautiful home exists beyond;
without roof and without floor.
Even without walls around
not to say of window and door.
All the hungers and all the greeds
Left hereon this land, carry no trace.
Serene Satisfaction, sans deeds,
Writ large on every face.     -  (‘Beautiful Beyond’, 162)

Every poet has his own definition/concept and prescription for a good poem. Chambial has published hundreds of poems and no wonder he has his own description of a poem. Here is that:

A beautiful babe
flits in dark moments
the world is flooded with smile.
A crystal-clear river
floods into
a vast expanse of searing sands
a gust of youthful spring
silently stirs
dark, dismal, autumnal desert.   -  (‘Poetry’, 165)

There is another distinction in our poet.He writes metrical poetry: there a few capable of penning in metre. (There is only one propagating it and what is more she has been running a journal for more than decades with international members from Visahapatnamm, Metverse Muse, Tulsi Hanumanthu.) There are some favourite metres for Chambial like Triolets, Villnelles, and Kyrielle. He wrote about great disasters like tsunamis, earth quakes and the like all over the world in several times. For example, he wrote about a loss caused by a flood in the river in Arna in Italy in Nov 1966 and many such five Tsunami spelled disaster for Asia South, some years ago.

The souls who survived the Tsunami shocks
Yet had to encounter more dreadful fate
Never knew before such fury of the rocks.   -  (‘Tsunami Disaster - II’, 175)
Down went trees tall, down, the domes high
Water broke into like the barbarians
Tsunami spelled disaster for Asia South    -  (‘Tsunami Disaster - V’, 177)

There is a poem “Fantasmagoria’ about fear of an earthquake like the one in 1905 that had spelled disaster in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh; the rumours in 2005 for the same kind of earthquake [repetition after 100 years] made people spend rainy and cold nights in the open along with their children.

Clouds thundered to frighten the doughty hearts;
Young and old all shivered in freezing chill
Awaited the Mother Earth to shiver, quake.
But, she did not: all turned out to be a hoax. (178)

Mellow Tones (2009) sings of love of life. Chambial is an admirer of nice living. He describes sapta swaras, seven tones of life.The sweet are lovely and fair, beautiful flowers, a sonorous song, a journey from door to door, a tricky game and a deep and dark sea. He considers death as not an annihilator but a boon to the denizens of earth, an end, a beloved, the best friend and a state of mind.This comes from equanimity of mind and rectitude.

He describes a cycle thus:
You ask I give you
You ask I give you
Between you and me
asking and giving.   -   (‘A Cycle’, 189)

However this requires an all seeing eye and a great understanding of the mind. Here is what he wrote in the poem ‘Birth to Death’.

Life, between two doors,
A beautiful flower
Like a lotus in a lake vast;
Fragrance and hue blend
To present a pointillism
Outside this dark deep
Wherein shines the ONE
Brighter than the Sun   -  (189-90)

Triolets are this poet’s favourites. They are three line verses which attract lovers of these forms. Here are two on ‘Ice-Flowers’:

How beautiful the ice-flowers!
Shine like gems in flower-beds,
Those pink and white – beauty towers.

How beautiful the ice-flowers!
dear to blossom lovers
Those pink and white—beauty towers. (192)

Humour is not forgotten by Chambial; here is the conclusion of the poem ‘Cat and Dove’:

With the wink of an eye
the harmless dove was done to death,
happy the wily cat.
Hunger satiated,
licked the lips and whiskers
vanished into the bushes. (194)

Here is the tribute paid to Krishna Srinivas a celebrity who started a conglomeration of young poets in Madras to begin with enthusing the youth. Chambial living in far flung Himachal had his encouragement. He wrote ‘Two Kyrielles’ and here is one:

Gone is the seer, gone is he
Gone into the rock’s lea
Gone to blaze the flame there
The peers with open heart welcome where.
The world is left to bewail
His laurels with moist eyes to hail.
Ah! Gone is he, gone beyond the blare
The peers with open heart welcome where. (195)

The afterlife is a mystery and so is ultimate destiny.This thought is universal and nevertheless, everyone thinks of that at some point of time. In Mellow Tones, there is a poem on that.

Who knows
the next moment?
What lies buried
in the womb
of future –
unravelling, unveiling –
a mystery.         -   (‘Eternal Fate – A Mystery’, 199)

The eighth collection is Words published in 2010. Like an observing, sympathetic and thinking poet, though very disgusted about modern callousness of cultural and humanist values, he has written about catastrophes, floods, earthquakes and heartless bloodshed besides terrorist brutalities.‘Mumbai Terrorist Attack’ in Taj Hotel shook the civilized world.

It took some six hours to take commandos
from Delhi to Mumbai for the action
which demanded Nation’s immediate attention.
Those who tried to defy the devils in the Mumbai streets
Had to run for their lives; their 303 were on strike.   -   (205)

Theories about the birth of a poem are usual to be propounded by almost all poets. The following is Chambial’s:

Some particular
in the world without
the very tendon
of heart
mind sets out in
all over the
far beyond the bournes
of sky
and catches a beauteous
the Earth
so is realized fantastic
a dream,
from the depths of dark is born
a poem.    -   (‘Birth of a Poem’, 207-8)

Robert Frost made famous the road not taken.Chambial too is in the horns of a dilemma.

Time is very esoteric,
Its maze
Un explored;
It, by my finger, has brought me
To a point where
It diverged into two.
One: alluring and captivating,
Leads to a cave
Dense and dark.
Other: shining like the Sun.
Who decide to tread on it,
Leaving the glaring sheen of the first,
Come face to face
With the Light,
Free from gloom:
Return not to meander in MAYA,
Gladly tread the TRUTH.
Choices matter much
And make the difference
Glaring white
Between Light and
Darkening gloom.    -  (‘The Roads’, 212)

Mother is an angel and a goddess. Here is Chambial’s description:

She is a vast sea of rollicking love,
An eternal source of sonorous sound,
God’s wonderful gift like a dove,
Angel to drive way the heinous hound.
A cataract from where flows bliss
An evergreen garden where no snakes hiss.  -  (‘Mother’, 216)

The tradition in this country is to think of God in everything one does. This Himalayan is basically God-loving. He goes to the Gita very often. In the poem, ‘His Benevolence’ (219), he quotes the sloka which Swami Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada translates:

Whatever you do, whatever ever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, whatever austerities you perform – do that, O Son of Kunti, as an offering to me. - (the Gita 9:27)


Hour of Antipathy published in 2014 is the most captivating collection of poems.In his introduction, ‘Poetry, Memory and Dream’, the poet wrote: The personality of the artist is lost in the cyclone of his imagination and what remains is rock-solid and heavy matter called text that settles down as a poem or work of art for the amusement and deliberation for the posterity to conduct experiments for the gravimetric analysis of the constituent elements to ascribe their percentage.”The critical poems in the text ‘Temple’ and ‘The Old Hill’ are like a mystery story of the poet’s experience of the antipathy he has for the corrupt and insensate establishment.

In a trance, I leave the earth and begin
To levitate above the berth. Imagine –
Above and over the rivers and hill,
Across the wide, wide sky the birds’ songs fill.
Over the deep ditches and lustrous lakes
Enough to scare the plucky rafter takes;
Rise well-nigh and feel life’s bounce
And watch from above how creatures trounce.
Of great use, when one wants to evade eerie things,
One detests, and wishes, vigorously he sings.  -   (‘Levitation’, 16)

The poet levitates, goes high, meditates and perhaps sees God. There is the transformation of the whole personality and the beauties of the whole world are seen.

A few poems later:
Look at the beauties:
The texture and structure.
The cadence:
birds, wind, and water.
The colours.
tint the Earth, Sky, Sea.
Incense inebriates
to swoon.
Whisper all
Silently His presence.
Foolishly –
the Everywhere, nowhere.
Between him and Him.
Sit, meditate upon
this LILA in awful wonder.    -   (‘Beauties of This World’, 23)

‘Sweet Violas’ is about flowers when imagination flourishes and goes with sanctity in mind:

Wait vaporizes steadily
like : the morning mist;
nonchalance nurtures life
to sprout into sweet violas.
cacti and lilies
from the lips of
sweet tulips lost in pink.   -  (30)

Humour is also there, a kind of merriment in talking of women in ‘Kitty’, banter and of course not seriousness.

The women giggle
and burst into peals of laughter
in the ground floor
sit and talk
not of arts
but of money.
Host will be left alone
to quarrel with pans and plates
bottles and glasses,
mercilessly mutilated paper napkins.
Lucky!   -  (31)

The ways of the smart world are just the opposite of the nice. Guilefulness is normal and those not are considered ignorant. The wily are praised as wise ones. Hence the poet thinks humanity brands such as the poorest kind.

This is the way of the wisest smart world.
The struggle between honest and clever,
Who throw all ethics to the winds
In a wild chase of money and matter
And break morality’s rind that Man binds.
So goes the world with her artless mean naïve,
Siphon blood out of ones, who direly crave.  -   (‘So Goes the World’, 34)

‘The Lascivious World’ drives home the truth of the human-heart and mind in such a way that it takes out to dry the Sun of all power to freeze balmy freeze. Men of such ilk vilify the good even in the Sun.

All human milk is dried in human heart
That can balm the wounds of misused mortals
To give them hope, a puff of balmy breeze,
To take them out to soothing sun from freeze.
They too long to stand, enter the portals
With warm blood in veins, song divine in heart.   -  (36)

God’s powers are mysterious.Nature, the sun and moon and stars make the cosmos so powerful. The skilful poet can make nature hold in position a handful of water in a puddle into cosmos:

Sun, moon, stars
Systematically scattered –
Held in position
In a handful of water –
Puddle.    -  (‘Mystery’, 45)

‘Stunned Mirages’ reveals the basic tenor of the poet’s thought process again. He goes often to the Vedas, the Upanishadic expressions and sacred texts, related to God-related thinking. Animal within the soul is the real understanding.Living forms get back into the Creator.

Animal within
seeks to enjoin
animal without.
Soul and soul stout
Atmaiva paramatma
Brothers - His creation.
Bodies and desires, passion
Differences can’t be absolute
Mundane Maya estate.
The tress tremble
intestate the hurricane ravages
life stands stunned mirages.
Shapes and forms only to pin
As look back to origin.     -   (58)

In the autumn of life, shadows broken into small bits, mix and fight. Advancing life fades since it is nine days’ wonder. What is beyond the hill can never be seen.

Life – a nine day’s wonder,
Make hay while the sun shines.
What is beyond the hill?
In the autumnal eyes
Smithreened shadows clutter
Mêlée of memories.    -   (‘Mêlée of Memories’, 72)

The philosophising poet looks at the end of living. The sun is used as a trope. Metaphorically it is said:

Dark dungeon
Drives dark horses—
The door of dawn.
The devils of
Ego, desire, greed.
Heaven rises
Out Hell
On this bloody Earth.   -  (‘Heaven on This Earth’, 74)

What is to be done is to sacrifice the devils while there is a little time. Ego, desire and greed have to be shed. Then heaven rises out of Hell.

The cuckoo is exasperating in its life-cries
To fulfil His design of life pure; and people
Think it wailing after an unknown tragedy;
But who knows, life itself is an unsought tragedy.
Life a unified whole of the most disparate ways
Trials sequentially dog the human harried days.   -  (‘Trials Dog Man’, 77)

In this hour of antipathy, the poet comes to this conclusion. This is logical. Here is a true unification of sensibility, ideas and images.We can just call it an imaginative exuberance or excellence merging into poetic synthesis.

Basically a person of soft and imaginative temperament and professionally an academic, the Himalayan poet D.C. Chambial has already published nine collections of poetry. Hour of Antipathy is his collection published in September 2014. Here is the full blossoming of the poet’s creative imagination. The poems in this book are short, cerebral and serious minded most of the time. What shook the poet has been the way of the world he has seen, experienced and suffered too at times.His dislike for the way the world goes on causes flashes of his imaginative expression. He wishes for harmony to emerge like a flood and spread its love over the world. The trope needs to be taken only with regard to love with power and vigor.The first poem in this collection is ‘Temple’. The shine is a memento to memoirs. ‘Escapade’ reads like a story-poem. The rope gives way but the boy on the swing is saved and the heavens are thought of.‘The Bliss’ is about the tale of Manmadha, our God of Love, receiving the Supreme Being’s ire. The tough soil of the mountain is hard to penetrate and the kitchen garden needs what the human being needs too.

Soft is what one needs
Soft sentiments, soft moments,
Soft touches and, of course,
Soft relations
To avoid hurts and bruises
For copious growth
Of stout relations and roots.   - (‘Radishes and Turnips’, 15)

‘Levitation” is about a trance
Of great use, when one wants to evade eerie things,
One detests, and wishes vigorously he sings.  -  (‘Levitation’, 16)

The hour of antipathy is brought out in the poem ‘Clouds in the Sky’

Earth turned black,
cries for a drop like papiha
to wet the dried throat
in this cruel hour of antipathy. (18)

Delicate sensibility and sparkling brevity of imaginative expression are the sleight of this poet’s hand. There are poems of the hard actuality around in poems like ‘Panic’ and ‘Smoking Sounds’. Degeneration in society raises panic in the intellectuals. There is a storm within and without. Then comes the savior Anna Hazare, people rejoice in His victory. But the poet wonders whether the rats stop to nibble, running blindly in the labyrinth. The poet is pained that burnt stub, desiderated life, desolate desert surround smoky sounds of treason. There is the single syllable that gives solace. Here is the poem in its entirety.

like a horse
the canyons
and hills
In search of
one’s true
Bruised and wounded
and stumbled
Over a stone,
heard the sound.
Om! Om! Om!
since eternity
Solace!   -   (‘Om’, 21)

When one is in devout thought, the Supreme Being unveils the beauties of the world:

Look at the beauties:
The texture and structure.
The cadence:
Birds, wind, water.
Sit, meditate upon
This LILA in awful wonder.   -  (‘Beauties of This World’, 23)

The hour of apathy is best treated along with thoughts of the Master, His compassion and His concern.

Shepherd holiness, though present,
Lost in the maelstrom of modernity.
Search for innocence
of heart since ages    -   (‘Where is Gone the Song’, 24)

The key words in the poems reveal the poet’s mood in the hour of antipathy. ‘Wizened’, ‘simmering’, ‘chase’, ‘smoky’ ‘shades’ ‘remorse’ ‘thunder’ ‘stunned’ ‘tsunami’ and ‘trials’ are some. The hardened, hateful and disgusting ideas are a pain in the neck to the sensitive poet. We feel this expressed in a poem where the country is referred to as mother.

She – a desert
without hope,
waterless, grey,
scorched and ashen,
hanging by the evening sun
on the mountain top
looking into the wizened sky
counting the lost stars.
Himalayas and Indian Ocean:
vast stretch of rugged tears and blood.   -  (‘Butterflies in Wizened Skies’, 26)

The poet ruminates about solitude in its shapes and shades, a pool of water, serendipity, birds, and mountains.

skim over, slide on
the soft sun
merrily minting joy
discovered in the dungeons
of desperadoes –
shades of solemnity   -   (‘Shades of Solitude’, 29)

‘Women in Kitty’ is half-serious and half-humorous — both ways it makes the reader think of kitty parties. The lines about remorse are about the speaker of the poem or the poetic self.

Some times, somehow even angels
mislay their sanity
to enter the devil’s dungeon.   -   (‘Remorse’, 33)

The poet’s bitterness experienced is expressed in disgust thus:
This is the way of the wisest smart world
To work with faces veiled to shun truth
So goes the world with her artless mean naïve,
Siphon blood out of ones, who directly crave.    -   (‘So Goes the World’, 34)

There are many ways to get rich by digging or filling sacks. Rag pickers survive. Some even become multi-millionaires. The poet is disgusted with the despicable greed of people expressed thus:

The kindred souls, in cold, they shiver,
Spring up to toil and calm the fire in the belly,
With first ray of sun, their faces aglow,
Pounce on the garbage hill, their sacks to fill.
They do not know. Life follows. Their hope stands
Like morning fog, ready with sacks in hands.    -   (‘The Kindred Souls’, 38)

There is scathing criticism of evil living and soulless bodies:

We’re living in a land
that abounds in
wolves, hyenas, and jackals
care for none
save for their own selves and broods;
proficient in pilfering
the share of the meek hen and lamb;
their concern confined to their clans.    -   (‘We are Living’, 43)

The poet chose the metrical form of Villanelle to sing his praise of the country. In fact it is a satire on the polity. The word means a rustic or peasant. It is a composition with six stanzas of three lines with the last having four lines. Here are two stanzas out of the six:

With coal their face all black to pate
Rolling in the mire of fraud, who guess?
My country is indisputable great
Men may live or men may die of their fate.
‘Sukh-dukhe same kritva’, they equipoise possess.
My country I indisputably great!
Her polity is yet all the more great!   -   (‘My Country is Great’, 61)

The poet, Chambial, doesn’t leave anything for imagination – adds in a foot note ‘coal scam during UPA II’. He has a flair for encapsulating his poems in brief stories. One such is the piece written long-after visiting the North-Bay Island, Andamans.The narrative is about feeding the poor kids with tasty Paranthas. The conclusion reveals the fine sensibility of the poet:

They grab it all and hop to their sweet hall
True happiness lies here on this Earth
when we have time to look around and care,
the Nature too seemed all the happier:
she blessed them all with a mellow mizzle,
hot after-noon, by the beach, the place a sizzle.  -  (Rue Happiness, 65)

Many of the poems, ‘Melee of Memories’, ‘Pan-Historic Eons’, ‘Down the Valleys’, are records of intimate personal feelings with the heart in the right place. Readers remember long the last two lines of the last poem in the collection and think of the poet with affection and reverential admiration:

Life a unified whole of the most disparate ways;
Trials sequentially dog the human horrid days.   -  (‘Trials Dog Man’, 76)

Songs of Sonority and Hope is Chambial’s latest publication in which brought out both his Hour of Antipathy and his Rivers of Happiness written in 2017.There are fifty-one poems in this book. Twenty poets of acclaimed merit have contributed their opinions briefly –deceased poets of the yesterday like Shiv K Kumar and the contemporary poets of eminence like P.C.K. Prem - to cite a few.

The poet has empathy for the have-nots, a human trait that is to be ever-desired: Chambial wrote a poem as a tribute to a fisherman.At the same time, he wrote a poem dealing the life’s grandeur for the haves in a place like Wellington saying:

House on house
Lean in leisure
On the hillside
Rising to the top
Some two thousand meters
From sea-level
To slumber in calm and quiet
Soothing chill
In the lap of Nilgiris.  -   (Songs of Sonority and Hope, 88)

All life is lovable and there is a poem ‘Trivandrum at Dawn’:

The yawning life around floods soon
Into the hum of sea; full of
Day’s joy-in-drudgery that fills
Life with glee as if ever on spree.   -  (Songs … , 90)

The place has the shrine of Ananta Padmanabha Swami.

The poet’s native ethos is such being born in the Himalayans region with the Ganges flowing down and life is there in his poems in its various hues and shades. There is a poem on ‘Durgashtami’ too:

All pray; look towards the Mother
For bliss and redemption
From the human sorrows and miseries.
Seek the boon of all embracing
Human happiness on this day!     -   (Songs, 91)

There is poem Dhanushkodi describing the tsunami’s fury washing away entire population.  And then there is a poem on the vices destroying families whole:

The money to buy another pouch of hooch
to drown his pain and bruises and penuries
in the lake full of mists of forgetfulness
and the paralysis of his nerves.
Hooch the best friend of the depraved one;
Ever ready to sell life for a pouch even.    -   (Songs …, 93)

Bliss is divine. It is His blessing! The poet is devout and his devotion is everywhere along with miseries of various kinds. Here is the essence of the title ‘Songs of Sonority and Hope’.

The breeze that blows, the peace that flows,
The warmth that tow, the sheen that glows,
Transport, O Lord, to land so serene,
Far removed from harried hours preen.
In such ambience of cozy bliss,
Let mundane senses kiss the bliss divine.   -  (Songs …, 94)

‘Goal’s at Hand’ starts with a lead of the eternal truth expressed in a sloka in Srimad Bhagavad-Gita. Here is its translation by His divine grace Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada: “What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage” (Chap 2. Sloka 69). Chambial looks deep into thoughtful statements of universal declarations, remembered as Mahavakyas also in the Upanishads.

Light in dark; Dark in light.
March on alone undeterred
without caring for brambles,
without bothering
for honeyed music,
workings of the Snake.
Goal’s a hand! Fix the eye
at the ultimate STOP. - (Songs 101)

Works Cited

  • Chambial, D. C. Words 1979-2010. Jaipur: Aadi publications, 2012. Numbers after the verse quotes refer to page numbers from this edition.
  • It is an omnibus Vol. and has all his eight books published from 1983 to 2010: Broken Images (1983), Cargoes… (1984), Perception (1986), Gyrating Hawks (1996), Before the Petals Unfold (2002), The Promising Age…(2004), Mellow Tones (2009), and Words ( 2010)
  • Hour of Antipathy. Maranda: Poetcrit Publications, 2014. Verses, in the critique, have been cited from this book.
  • Songs of Sonority and Hope. New Delhi: Authors Press, 2018. Abbreviated as “Songs …” in the text. This is a double anthology of Hour of Antipathy (2014) and River of Happiness (2017)
  • Swami Prabhupada, A.C. Bhaktivedanta. Bhagvad-gita As It Is. Mumbai: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 2013 (39th rpt.)
More by : Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.
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