Feb 25, 2024
Feb 25, 2024
Multi-dimensional Props in the Poetry of Mahendra Bhatnagar
Mahendra Bhatnagar is seemingly an easy poet. But he is not. The caravan of images keeps constructing thoughts of varied hues. Passion adored with simplicity, spontaneity, stillness and sonority- sole delight of poetry anywhere-baffle the reader of Mahendra Bhatnagar. These characteristics reveal less the style, more the spirit and subject of the poetic creations of Bhatnagar. The subtle artistry of even the translators of his poems, with all their wealth of linguistic, language and situational equivalence and the excellence of their insight has faltered at most of the places, though their sincerity deserves all appreciation. That is why the translations of the original are a rare delight and its near-accomplishment is still rarer. The difficulties in such a venture emerge because of the complex intermingling of the philosophy of the metaphysics and the physics of daily life handled with excellence, conscious and unconscious, by Mahendra Bhatnagar. May be the scholarly translators also experienced the bumpy rides on the roads, which appear smooth and uncobbled, to Bhatnagar’s citadel on the wings of their own poesy. Once the journey begins on a happy note with a flowering heart, soon the road is seen branching off into different directions. And we move on the horns of dilemma. Even then, we reach there huffing only to relax after a good sleep amidst fresh and fragranced breezes blowing across the poet’s landscape.
The profundity and the intensity, the richness and variety of passion and pain, yearning, fulfillment and frustration of love, melancholy and despair of life - all incessantly lead to dreams and destinations where man is eternally seeking eternal solace in his emotional entanglements, rational unfolding and revelations, spiritual enlightenment, hope and faith. These are the inexhaustible treasures in the poetry of Mahendra Bhatnagar. What astonishes more the curious and the serious reader of his poetry is how Bhatnagar resolves these contradictions pertaining to the existential issues of the everyday life of the high and the mighty, the humble and the meek. His asphyxiated soul releases itself with the dare and the strength of its convictions and regales the audience with its liberated, luscious, lascivious, lurking and longing fancies.
A poet’s chief concern is the dilemma of man under various pressing and depressing situations. An ordinary man with his ordinariness of situation may find the triumphant emergence quite difficult or even the escape-route a blind alley. But the poet, gifted with the insight and far-sight, overcomes the crisis caused by the conflicting interests, finds progressive movement pleasant in faith and the message thus transcends. Social, economic, political and religious awakening in man has always created a transitional phase in the general setup of life. Such a transition leaves its deep marks and scars on the value system also which sets in a new era. People prosper and seek happiness in their shared experiences of matter and spirit but these glitterati’s, with all their material and intellectual attainments, suffer miserably from their moral and spiritual impotence. This not only disturbs but also aggravates the crisis in everyday life and living. The poet alone is alive to his concerns and the poetry is born.
This is how the poetry of Mahendra Bhatnagar is born. Dr. Suresh Chandra Dwivedi, in his preface to "Selected Poems of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar” says very aptly, “He is endowed with the gift of free imagination dedicated to bring about change in our soulless, heartless, dead, disintegrated, disunited, disillusioned capitalistic world where common man is foredoomed to be exploited, cheated and looted at every step.” As a champion of the common mass of down-trodden mankind, the poor peasants and workers, Mahendra Bhatnagar not only indicts but also condemns and crushes the forces in the establishment or outside it. Dr. S. C. Dwivedi observes, “He is alert, careful, and cautious, sometimes reminding us occasionally of Brecht, Auden, Pablo Neruda and of Carl Sandburg . . . . Like them, he is the spokesman of the people, and he employs a rare sensitivity, a rare intellectuality and a rare humanity.”
“The man lives on
The seeds of world’s resurgence now find fulfillment and fruition and their “fragrance embraces the whole universe.” The tragic plight of even “Woman Reborn” is purported to be a poem of regeneration and emancipation of woman, notwithstanding the fact that it remains a far-cry in the din and pandemonium of Women’s Lib. However, “Lose Not Your Heart”, a song of rebellion sings on a note of high optimism:
“Your destination itself will arrive one day
That is why the poet’s “Vision” is a pledge for the realization of those dreams and ideals. On this pilgrimage, Mahendra Bhatnagar is “Not Alone”. He is so self-assured that he asserts :
“I am not alone,
This is a poem of message for the New Age in which his optimism sparkles with a rare glow; this is a poem of faith and confidence which creates the atmosphere of constant cheerful movement of myriads of men with inexhaustible energy advancing towards the golden blooming world on the splendid peaks of liberty unhaunted by even by the remote shadows of despair and helplessness. It is today and today alone- undying today becoming forever! This is to be the ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan where
“Green, red, yellow and rosy gardens
Imagistic pattern here is more spell-binding than the thought-content.
“And let hopes bloom
His unflagging faith and optimism are further strengthened when his firm, bold convictions anchor his spirit. In “Conviction”, Mahendra Bhatnagar says:
“The tiny lamp of man’s undying faith
His conviction sees the transitional darkness vanishing:
“And wrest from heavens
There is sure to be a new awakening, new resurgence, New Age, the Golden Age when “The Firmament Will Change its Color” and “The Flags of Peace” will reinstate our strong faith in “peace and humanity”. The innocent dreams of “Resurgent Man” will re-write the history of the world with its aglow with love, freedom and dignity, understanding and brotherhood. All walls dividing man against man, man against God, shall collapse or stand demolished. This planet will become the habitat of sanctified beings working for the evolution of cosmic civilization. The poet can see a new awakening blazing and the world’s history taking a turn. So:
“From the world will banish
The jubilations of national liberation, “the eventful day”, bring forth “the soldiers of freedom universal” and “This is the day Universal resurgence/ This glorious day/Of the famished, the naked and the suppressed!” The ecstasy of the poet is overwhelming-
“Impediments have turned friendly,
History bears ample testimony to the enduring truth that masses are never lost in age-long slumber otherwise the era of dark despair and despotism would not have died so soon and “the myriad lamps of life sublime” would not have been lighted to “to sow the seeds of vibrant life on earth.” It is always the awakening of the masses, the thunder of the “collective voice” that fructifies the vision of the prophets of mankind. Mahendra Bhatnagar has given fine, splendid and subtle expression to the working of the divinity of life in the universe age after age in his poem after poem. Of course, Bhatnagar’s leftist leanings also come to the fore when he asserts that “the demon of capitalism is “the root cause of hunger, starvation, suffering and misery. Then we feel constrained to ask ourselves, and also the poet, if the God of Communism has ever succeeded in alleviating and mitigating these social and economic ills and ailments! There may not be an answer to this question, and if there is any, it will be the subject of futile heated controversy, but the poet sees the wonderful resurgence
“A new flame is blazing in every direction;
Again, in another poem- “For the First Time” - Bhatnagar blows the bugle of the New Age fight for human rights; a call of the red revolt for the liberation of the common man trodden down since ages. He says-
“The new age is busy struggling
So there is no reign of terror, no king, no beggar! He is right that concrete convictions never collapse. His poetic rebuke to Mao and Chou are also his message of national resurgence. Similarly, “O Winged Steeds of Destiny” is a poem of challenge and indomitable will as sons of the soil and the toil show their determination coupled with confidence to lead destiny and shape up their own. They have the will to achieve the unachievable with the virtues of steadfastness, perseverance and endurance to take away even the brilliance of stars to adore our daily life. The poet says:
“O winged steeds of Destiny!
“Gift of a Lively Faith” is a loving welcome to the dejected and the discarded as he is gifted with a lively faith. In “The Offshoot”-
“The brilliant sprouts into a new life!”
This is also a poem of resurgent life in a revolt against whirlwinds. In “We Know it Well” we find
“That lightning flashes not in the blaze of noon!”
“Stop It”- the very title is a command; this is a poem of forceful but silent protest against starvation, misery, suppression and atrocity. Mahendra Bhatnagar uses dreadful images of exploitation, social and sexual, because, in such a disgusting and dehumanizing situation, all slogans and appeals of peace and faith and love sound hollow and dirty and carry no meaning. He says:
“The naked carcass of culture;
Hence the poet makes a wonderful appeal to the helpless, hapless and exploited millions to open their eyes and see the glimpses of the new purple dawn with a new message of bright cheerfulness and happiness for themselves. This is a message of the New Age full of optimism in the better times. The title-“Poems For A Better World”- is quite illusive from this dimension as the poems here are mostly personal though the poet is fully conscious of his chief concern and tension- a better world for all human beings. His poems like - “The Bigots”, “Invoking Modern Man”, “In 1986 A.D.”, “The Other Age”, “Dictum”, “Someone Unknown”, “Corruption”, “Trickery of Votes” etc. all deal with the issues that pertain to our daily living and are really essential to the life of rejuvenation and resurgence.
“From time immemorial the orchestra of youth
He also advises youth not to languish itself away in romantic fancies and must not be simple and sentimental but work for the realization of dreams of a fresh, golden smiling life!
“What’s this weariness?
His soul is fatigued and its melody finds no echo even in heaven. Even his firm convictions melt and life’s paths are beset with difficulties and thorns. It is a grim reality and it is no longer an illusion. Should he surrender or use all the might of the soul to fight stark reality? The poem is loaded with Keatsian echoes, note of sorrow and melancholy marked by irresolution. All is wrought out here of the images flirting out of his lavish mind and the reader is fleeced into the overflowing beehive guarded by the mother bees posing danger and providing delight of “sweetness and light.”
“Dear! The love is still alive with all its aspirations,
Mahendra is romancing freely with moon and moonlight in “To the Moon” and “Moonlight”. The very opening of the former leads us into a life of sensations:
“Please smile not and tempt me thus,
He is enchanted by the lavish beauty of the moon “Where dance the naked damsels”. Than he says in “Moonlight”:
“This moon-light speaks not to me none knows why,
These are highly picturesque poems reminiscent of the pastoral moonlit nights in the poetry of Coleridge and where life has not been assaulted and bruised by the jungles of concrete enveloped thickly by the dust, dusk and soot or threatened by terrorists, political or religious. Mahendra Bhatnagar is frequently a poet of fresh moods and memories in “No Grievance” and in “Conviction”, we see the blush and shyness of the full-blooded love of youth and it is all a graceful sight with not even a remote reflection or shadow of physicality. “Day-Dreaming” is a lyric of intense of intense love and beauty, a superb example of tension, intention and extension. He says-
“Like a lovelorn bee,
“Betrayal”, another poem of beauty, romance, love and lust, is a betrayal of the beloved’s love to hug the cosmic love to find “a new kingdom of joy and smile.” “Accept Me” is a poem of love in all its purity and brilliance. He says:
Then - My passions; My feelings -
“Like the most beautiful garlands
He offers these all in adoration to her persona of love and idolization, celestial beauty! We roll in romance in other poems- “The Worship of Art”, “A State of Mind”, “Life”, “Through the Unwanted Moments”, “The Irony of Fate”, “How to Suffer Pain”, “The Incredible”, “Who Are You?”, “A Submission” etc. They all give to us a relish of romance and beauty- lusty and gusty! Almost all the poems here are the poems of desires and dreams and hopes and happiness. Mahendra Bhatnagar has the cardinal feeling of the song, music and beauty of life but this crashes against the inevitable pains, agonies, sighs and tears. The ironies of fate awaken Bhatnagar to the dread:
“The Incredible” is a poem of the life of loneliness without love and romance. Such a life adds to the woes, pains and misery verging on the tragic; the poet, the actor, the hero, the performer, the singer- all alone on the stage of the auditorium completely empty of the audience and the spectators. Singing in broken voice his own requiem from where come out the notes- “so pathetic, monotonous and uncharming.” However, from the background appear the intoxicating images of the divine dancers and belles, and they, vanishing so sudden and so fast further aggravating the tension of loneliness and horrifying the romance of emptiness.
|More by : Prof. R. K. Bhushan
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