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Dec 6, 2012

Early Poetry: Mahapatra

Jayanta Mahapatra is one of the most esteemed names in the domain of contemporary Indo-Anglican poetry. He is usually regarded as a post-modern experimental poet. An important aspect of the new poetry or modernist poetry pioneered by Ezekiel and Daruwalla has been a constant encounter with the personal and immediate perception in relation to the outer reality or the external world. In the sixties, Indian poetry in English entered a very exciting phase of creativity in the form of arrival of fresh talents; such Shiv K Kumar, R Parathasarathy, A K Ramanujan, Dilip Chitre, Arun Kolatkar, A K Mehrotra, and Jayanta Mahapatra. Of them, Jayanta Mahapatra enjoys a unique privilege and shares it with A K Mehrotra. In fact both of them view poetry as a structure of images and deal with their obsessions, memories, doubts and other personal experiences.

Mahapatra has confronted excruciating, harrowing and traumatic childhood. He was meek, shy, often an object of mockery and embarrassment in school. He was doubly detached from his ambient atmosphere—he was born into a Christian family in predominately Hindu neighborhoods, and, he wrote in a tongue, which was not his vernacular. It was conservatively thought that English was an outlandish parlance and could not be a medium of expression of edifying fortitude of our native land. Although he preferred this alien channel of utterance and articulation yet the sum and substance dominate his poetry are connected and communicated to the pragmatic and stark reality of Orissa as well as India such as hunger, myths, rites, rituals and sometimes they transcend all that is mundane and terrestrial to embrace the universal significance as, sexuality, spirituality, self and eternity. He is a kind of attentive awareness of the darker realm of being.

He has some salient features which makes him distinct from most of his contemporaries:
(i) He belongs to lower middle class family while most of his contemporary poets hail from well groomed and highly educated ancestry.
(ii) He started writing poetry at an age when people stop writing poetry. He was forty then. He himself confesses: “My poetry came at an age when most poets would have been basking in the warm glow of success.”
(iii) Right from 1971, he has published twenty volumes of poetry which is a record in the history of approximate two hundred old Indian English Poetry. Some are yet in the pipeline as he is still coining the verse even more maturely than he did ever before in the teeth of chronic asthma and recurrent migraine.
(iv) Moreover, he is the first poet in the Indian English Poetry to grab Shitya Akademi Award, the biggest in the field of literature, in 1981 for his ambitious and magnum opus, 'Relationship'.
(v) His poems have been publishing comprehensively in highly reputed journals of the world:

(i) Chicago Review(U.S.A), (ii) New York Quarterly(U.S.A), (iii) Poetry(U.S.A), (iv) Sewanee Review(U.S.A.), (v) Critical Quarterly(England), (vi) Times Literary Supplement(England), (vii) Meanjin Quarterly(Australia) and (viii) Malahat Review(Canada)

He is the poet who commands respect and recognition more overseas than at home. In an interview with Sumanyu Satpathy, he expresses his predicament thus:

“I got more encouragement from academics outside my country than inside because I was not writing the type of poetry that appeared in Bombay."

C.L.L. Jayaprada has similar opinion and in Indian Literature Today, the author writes:

"He is the case of a writer who first recognized abroad before getting deserved attention at home. Even now one could say that critical output on Mahapatra is not appropriate to his own work"

Even Arun Kolatkar also has similar observation:

"His work has been published in several important anthologies, including The Poetry Anthology (1912-1977) edited by Daryl Hine and Joseph Parisi. Despite these significant achievements, Mahapatra’s work haven’t got the attention it deserves in India."

(vi) Generally, it is observed that the faculty of science has poor control on language and literature. Though Mahapatra is an academician of Physics yet he treats the poetry with great fervour and vivacity. He converted this adversity into opportunity. In an interview to the newspaper ‘The Hindu’ he emphasizes:

“Physics taught me that time held you captive, but it also made you free. I was nothing but an infinitesimal speck floating in the vast universe. This broadened my vision, but I also feel pressurized, burdened by the weight of time."

In this regard, the observation of famous and critical critic, M K Naik is also plausible and interesting:

“In his persistent use of images drawn from the world of science, especially in his early verse, Mahapatra has few peers among his contemporaries. The presence of these images can be easily accounted for, when it is remembered that physics is Mahapatra’s 'Kitchen Wench'.”

It is further substantiated and supported by following example:

"Mahapatra establishes three plausible relations between a poem and a reader by applying 'Electrostatic Theory of Physics’. A poem is essentially an experience and this might
(a) Reach the reader almost immediately, spontaneously--in the manner of electric charge passing through a good conductor such as copper or iron;

(b) Reach the reader with difficulty, slowly, under great stress, like that of charge passing through a bad conductor like glass; or

(c) Not be able to pass or communicate at all, as though there was a break or gap between them.... The capacity or power for conducting the essential experience of the poet will primarily depend upon the poem itself---on the poem's design." add this

It is his knowledge of Physics that enables him to explain the relation between a poem and the reader in splendid way. And can we predict promulgation of such principle from a pure literary pundit?

(vii) Last but not least, the poet is peerless in profundity, prolificacy, peculiarity and poignancy of his poetic imageries, symbols and visions. Mahapatra’s poems have a cornucopia of images. He grips them by the sleeves. He draws his images from family and domestic life, from culture, myth, science, and nature where rivers, sky, sea, rocks and stone, everything become alive in images. His poetry accentuates a keen consciousness of cultural and sociological traditions of his native locale but his visions and imageries seem to surpass all regional or national boundaries to attain universal appeal and implication. His poetry is varied in theme and content but what enhances the appeal of his poetry is his individualistic stance on the role and function of imagery. This puts the uninitiated reader under severe strain and perhaps because of such difficulty Mahapatra remains ignored by the general readers and critics as well but persistent readers are certainly be rewarded if they try to extricate themselves with the valid meaning or argument from them.

Mahapatra has taught Physics as a senior professor for a long time in the famed Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. In a revealing interview, he even declared his intention of abandoning his teaching job for giving more time to poetry. His late starting of writing poetry did not deter him from the path of creativity. Two important factors have also contributed to his development as a poet of distinctive originality. His encounter with Physics made him analytical, detached and ambivalent towards phenomenal world and ancestral beliefs at the same time. Similarly, his attitude towards poetry is quite exploratory but initially his feel for words and their sound qualities made him turns towards it. As for his themes, he is a personal poet, obsessed with hunger, poverty, loneliness and a search for roots and self. His attitude to Orissa, the place to which he belongs is, however, a matter of deep concern. As M K Naik has rightly pointed out, Mahapatra’s poetry is ‘redolent of the Orissa scene’ and even the titles of his copious poems demonstrate the unmistakable hallmark of Orissa:

(i) Dawn at Puri; (ii) Bhubaneswar; (iii) Orissa; (iv) Main Temple Street, Puri; (v) The Abandoned British Cemetry at Balasore, India; (vi) The Temple Road, Puri; (vii) Konarka; (viii) Rains in Orissa; (ix) The Captive Air of Chandipur-on Sea; (x) Tourists at the Railway Hotel, Puri; (xi) In an Orissa Village; (xii) In the Autumn Valleys of the Mahanandi; (xiii) Living in Orissa; (xiv) Deaths in Orissa; (xv) The Chariot Festival at Puri; (xvi) A Brief Orissa winter and (xvii) Puri

In critical evaluations he is usually described as a significant poet of Oriyan sensibility but this is only partially true. As a matter of fact, Mahapatra’s poems deal with intricacies of human relationships, social problems of post-indepdence phase, personal themes of love, sex, sensuality, marriage and philosophical or cultural issues as well. In addition to these, Mahapatra has a special interest in the predicament of man vis-à-vis Nature, Time and rush of history. He is an academic poet but his poetry is highly personal, allusive, ironic and even confidential.

If we map contour and compass of his poetry, we find that he has made every attempt to metamorphose from Oriyanness to Indianness and the books titled ‘Temple’ and ‘Dispossesed Nests’ are the best and relevant example of this. The former book deals with the weal and woes of ordinary women of India and the latter denounces barbarous and brutal killing of the innocents by the extremist and large scale death and devastation of human beings in Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Moreover, he is the avid fan and follower of Mahatma Gandhi’s thought and ideology. Gandhi and Gandhism is the recurring captions, theme and essence of his multitude poems: The Twenty-fifth Anniversary of a Republic: 1975; Gandhi; 30th January, 1982: A Story (M Gandhi); The Fifteenth of August; Red Roses for Gandhi and Bewildered Wheatfields. At the same time Mahapatra is shattered at the deteriorating and declining moral and conduct of the people of India, which is in defiance of the Gandhi’s preaching and contemplation. Mahapatra reveals his worries in an interview with Sudeep Ghosh thus: “I belong to a lost generation. I can’t look into the future. You see, we were brought up on Gandhi, Dostoevsky and Tagore. Today, any trivial act ends up in violence; there is no more tolerance in people, or in organization. Gandhism is a word, a metaphor for people. We appear to have lost our ideals.”

Mahapatra is adept and ambidextrous in short and long poems. Bruce King has suggested that there is ‘variety’ in his poetry. His early poetry bears resemblance to various modernist and post-modernist movements in poetic styles and theories of craft (e.g. collage, Montage, Beat movement). In the next phase, this kind of abstractionism or surrealistic word-play is assimilated within a proper structure. In the last phase, there is greater clarity by means of the poet’s wrestling with location, myth, ritual and cultural background.

Mahapatra is a reflective poet with ironic stance. It is a poetry of exploration where the need for survival with dignity in the midst disease, corruption and decay seems to be basic preoccupation. He is a master of many rhythms and harmonies. He is at times satirical but at other times he is confessional but never lapses into mysticism or solipsism. Even in his early poetry, one can notice poet’s struggle with words and phrases as an attempt to come to terms with the hard reality.

If we take a bird’s eye view of the title of his volumes of poetry, we can easily conclude what could be the theme and matter of his poetry. Most of them imply tragic vision of life to which the poet is predominately and essentially committed. They connote bleak, barren, loneliness, silence, frustration and repentance:

(i) Close the Sky, Ten by Ten (ii) Waiting (iii) The False start (iv) Dispossessed Nests (v) Burden of Waves and Fruits (vi) A Whiteness of Bone (vii) Shadow Space (viii) Bare Face (ix) Random Descent and (x) The Lie Of Dawns: poems 1974-2008

Critics, authors, analysts and readers complain of lack of humour in his poetry. For this he has got his own reason and defence. In a conversation with Sudeep Ghosh, he reveals:

“Oh well, may be I was made that way. It is difficult for me to be humourous in the poems I write. There is so much despair in the world around me – so much hate, so much injustice, so much poverty. And religious fanaticism, for no reason. I wish I could write a humourous poem. I haven’t.”

In short, Jayanta Mahapatra finally emerges as a poet of human conditions and grows into one of the finest contemporary Indo-Anglican poets. Mahapatra is a poet of quiet but ironic reflection of life’s bitter-sweet memories, happenings and revelations. Indeed in recent years, a number of reviews, articles and discussions have taken place and the poet himself has clarified his position in his own articles and speeches but even now he remains a neglected poet. Some of his best poems: Dawn at Puri, Hunger, The Whorehouse in Calcutta, A Rain of Rites, Grandfather, Total Solar Eclipse, Temple, The Lost Children of America, Indian Summer Poem, Evening Landscape by the River, The Twenty-fifth Anniversary of a Republic:1975, have found mention in curricula of various schools, colleges, universities of the country and the world as well as in the anthologies of Indian and world poetry in English.

He has been editor of some literary journals and newspapers. They are: (i) Chandrabhaga is a bi-annual literary periodical, named after the eminent but arid river of Orissa. This magazine is of great significance to the poet as it provided launching pad to the poetic career of Mahapatra as he was able to establish approach and rapprochement with numerous editors and publish his plenteous poems in, of copious and coveted monthlies of the world. The publication of this journal ceased in 1985 after fourteen issues due to financial crunch and it has been again revived in the year 2000, in the wake of the earnest request and substantial support from his friends, followers and poetry lovers especially Rabindra K. Swain. Since then the magazine has been publishing uninterruptedly till date. (ii) South and West (U.S.A. special India issue, 1973) (iii) The poetry for the Sunday edition of the Telegraph (iv) The poetry journal ‘Kavya Bharati’

Moreover, his writings in prose have also appeared in various special issues. He has published a collection of short story (The Green Gardener) in English and also composed poems in Oriya to canvass and win the love, affection and support of local people. Besides, he has also translated poems from Oriya and Bengla into English which signifies his trilingual possession. He has won several laurels and distinguished awards inside and outside the country. The list of recent honours and awards conferred to him are:

(i) Allen Tate Poet Prize for 2009 from the Sewanee Review for his poems published in it in 2009.(26 July 09) (ii) An Honourary Doctorate by Ravenshaw University, Cuttack (02 May 09) (iii) ‘Padma Shree Award’ from the President of India (26 Jan 09)

Despite the mixed blessing of Jayanta Mahapatra’s poetry, he was, he is and he will be remembered and mused by the poetry and literary lovers, in and out of the country, by virtue of the seeds of the verse sown by him. So let us conclude this essay by quoting an extract from the renowned British romantic poet, brimming and bubbling in confidence, P.B. Shelley:

“If I have been extinguished yet there rise A thousand beacons from the spark I bore”.


  1. I am an adept of Poet Jayant Mahapatra & value him as a Father figure .A great Indo Anglican Poet from the East.My thousand salutations to him.

  2. I am an adept of Poet Jayant Mahapatra & value him as a Father figure .A great Indo Anglican Poet from the East.My thousand salutations to him.

  3. Jayanta Mahapatra as a poet is first of all a myth-maker; an imagist of a high order taking the visionary glides.Sitting by the door, he dreams to dwell far. Depicted against the backdrop of the mythico-historical background, he continues to evade us with his escapades and flights of imagination, bringing poetry closer to physics, sociology, museumlogy, art and architecture. Apart from being closer to what it brings him nearer to, feminism, bare realism and other ground realities twitch him for an expression and he really views them with an aggrieved heart.
    Bijay Kant Dubey

  4. Jayanta Mahapatra when he started writing verses in English just wrote down the imagistic lines which took the shapes of smaller poems no doubt, but the meaning was not in them nor could it be found and it is also a fact that this also remains a specialty of his his poems that these cannot be annotated even now and it may be his so-called obscurity.Whatever be that he has not written for meaning's sake, but for photography sake. A teacher of physics one has read and taught physics in classrooms, how can we expect it that he will turn to literature barely? To see it otherwise, to him, physics is poetry and poetry physics, an exchange of both.
    Jayanta as a poet is first of all an Odia writing in English rather than anything else in his allegiance and loyalties and even if an Indian that too later on; an Odia poet writing about the Odia things and the demography and cartography of Odisha. A poet of Odisha, its hills, rivers, sea coasts, beaches, forest reserves, bird sanctuaries, rocks, stones and temples, his mind cannot dwell anywhere rather than Orissa and Orissan landscapes. Cuttack, Puri, Bhubaneswar, this is the periphery of his poetry and he moves around these. The rock-built temples of Orissa, the Lingaraj temple, the Khandagiri caves, the Dhaulagiri stupa, the Jagannath temple and the Konark sun-temple take the canvas away from him and he seems to photograph them in his full myth-making.
    Today we call him a modernist, a post-modernist or a post-colonialist, but the there is no truth in these statements as because when he started to write, nothing was in his mind, just to be a writer was the prospect. There was none to write and stake a claim and it was also true there was none to judge and those who attempted were too sure of they were going to end up as smaller poets and poetesses.
    Light and darkness basically form the basis of his imagery and he draws from and discusses in and with which the origin of the universe is connected with, where does light break forth, where does it retreat to?
    There is not one single aspect of his poetry. There are so many things and aspects of his poetry and he is so many at one go. A poet, visionary, thinker, dreamer, he is existential, nihilistic, realistic, symbolical, mythical, imagistic, feministic at the same time when we take up. His poetry is a poetry of absurdism. He writes the poetry of the absurd. A poet of rains, rites and waiting, he is very confusing as he confuses the readers with his very idea of the shadow space and random descent.
    Bijay Kant Dubey

  5. Jayanta Mahapatra as a poet is a dreamer, a visionary, a philosopher and a thinker apart from being mythico-historical, existential, nihilistic and absurd. The physics departmental stuffs are the things of his deliberation. If physics be his subject, how to expect for something different from, how to negate the influence of astrophysics together with that, which one can come to feel it indirectly? When he talks of the space and an uncertain tomorrow ever-coming, ever-changing or the same dawn-break breaking forth and bundling out, retreating with the glow of the twilight and vanishing in the dusk, he seems to be drawing close to that basics of study. Jayanta Mahaptara’s poetry is inclusive of many a thing, as for example, dream, vision, image, myth, mystery, symbol, history, art, tradition, belief, motif, trend and tradition; society, art, culture, religion, philosophy and spirituality. A poet of the Oriyas, he cannot help without thinking about them. The defeat and bloodshed of the innocent Oriyas into the hands of King Ashoka he has not forgotten them and the fall of the Kalinga. He dreams of, when will Kalinga rise again? This is the historical and regional background against the backdrop of which he reminisces and visualizes. To see it in this context, he is like Thomas Hardy and D.H.Lawrence depicting Wessex and Nottinghamshire and this the locale of his poetry, call it regional, national or international. D.H.Lawrence too has written a book named Etruscan Places as has Khushwant Singh on the history of the Punjab. Similar is the case with Jayanta Mahapatra, the Odia poet in an English garb. Wherever goes he, the dreams’ and the images of Odisha leave him not behind. An Oriya Christian, he has lots to talk about the great famine during which his grandfather converted to Christianity. He can tell about the ten-armed clay idol of Bhagavati with the light in the eyes and the sad immersion of it; the lingam-yoni motif and the yoga-yoginis. People may question with regard to Nissim Ezekiel and his identity, but can never him as he is first of all an Odia then an Indian, but fame came to him internationally first then nationally. Before getting awards here, he had made a way into the West as for his first introduction with the audience.
    He is difficult as for that he plays with word, meaning and image. Basically, his verses are frolicking into the hands of imagery and photography. Everything is but based on supposition and conjecture as these leave no room unturned for anything else to delineate upon. Had it been so, what would it have happened? Had it been not, what would it have? The places where there are houses upon would have been one day with the hills over that particular space.

  6. Nothing is what it seems to be and what it seems to be is nothing in respect of Jayanta Mahapatra and his poetry. Just the pencilled images, silhouetted, sketched and drawn are the things of his portrayal. To pick up Shakespearean and Hardyian terms to state it, men as walking shadows and puppets into the hands of destiny are some of the points; purviews of his depiction. His poems are just for to see, glimpse through, the pages to turn over and flit by, not to make out for a meaning as they mean it not. In a single poem he crams so many fleeting images, gliding and slipping past. Why are we,/ who can say it? What is this existence, who can but answer it? Though the poet does not raise these questions, but it appears to be after a study of his poetry that he seems to be making us think about that. He is terse and obscure as for the flimsy existence of light and darkness, the words picked up from an uncommon stock, imagery doing the rounds to owe to. His imagery and language make him obscure and this is the ground for which the critics call him modern, post-modern and post-colonial. As it is difficult to define light and darkness, to tell about the composition of them, the main ingredients and constituents of them so is the case with this poet delving into, a poet of the morning serene and sedate, full of tranquil silence, still arising from, awaking with the lotuses blooming and the sun flashing upon with the glimmering of its own impress him otherwise to be called a poet of silence and this is the Wordsworthian quality which enriches him. But he is differently aware of. Sometimes he contrast and compares the dawn-time, drawing from the scavenger women going to throw off excreta.

  7. As a poet, he is mythical, imagistic, symbolical, mystical, artistic and bodily too when he talks of the twitches of the intriguing body and man-woman relationship envisaged on the walls of the Konark sun-temple and the carvings on it, the erotic sculptures in sex, love, romance and relationship, rounding about the Indian philosophy of dharma, artha, kama and moksha. Something of the man and his mind seen in the makers and workers too is evident on these. The good wife’s siesta by his side dreaming the noonday dreams, oblivious of the chants of the burning ghats far away, the summer noon hot, perspiring and wet with, he clutches them along the varied imagery and description in the same poem. He is a visionary who goes dreaming against the backdrop of the rock-built temples. All the time he keeps thinking about the glorious past of it, the times of the making of the rock-built temples and the architects and makers at work, we mean the construction site. The overtones and undertones of the Vedic hermitage full of Vedism, Upanishadism and Puranism continue to hold their sway over Mahapatra and we overhear them in the incantatory voice, the chorus coming down from the temples and this contributes to the mythic base of his poetry. The beauty of ancient India we can feel it in its splendor and magnificence.
    The poet is a naturalist and a conservator when he talks of the Olive Ridley turtles, the Chilika bird-sanctuary and the moving of crocodiles into the waters at midday during the summertime and this draws him close to eco-criticism and eco-appreciation of poetry. Can poetry be written at the cost of existence, when our survival will be itself in danger? The sun burnt earth and the dark hamlet with the nameless woman waiting for the coming of her husband with an oil lamp into her hands has many a tale to tell about the Indian countryside. The pains of life and living namelessly are untold. Life is very slow, dull and dreary in the countryside. The peepul tree, the banyan tree and the mango orchards save the villagers from heat and dust during the long summers and the unknown mother and daughter seeing into the hair and waiting for the drop of a mango adds to the story. Which astrologer can predict the poor lot of the poor girl-child of India? The pains of his heart none has come to understand it. What has this freedom given to us? Has poverty been eliminated, eradicated? Still the tales of hunger have been doing the rounds. Poverty keeps quarrelling in the shanty; Poverty as Poor Daughter keeps sucking the breast of Mother Malnutrition. What more do we want to hear? Dowry deaths, female feticide, gender bias, atrocities against women, domestic violence, rape, murder and torture maraud the humble self of the poet and he seems to be helpless to dispense with them.
    What is poetry to Mahapatra, if somebody asks it, how to answer? Poetry is photo-negatives; Orissan landscapes, a peep into Oriya life, culture, thought, philosophy and society. Poetry is a dip in nothingness, existentialism, agnosticism, faith and doubt. Why is this waiting? What do we wait for and what does it turn up finally? Is life a waiting and man keeps waiting for it life-long? To see it otherwise, Jayanta’s poetry is a study in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot. Who is this Godot? Even Samuel Beckett cannot say it. What to say of Jayanta Mahapatra who keeps turning poetry into physics, even going to the extent of deriving and drawing from light and darkness and the origin of the universe?

  8. A catalogue of his books may furnish with more details:

    Close the Sky, Ten by Ten, Dialogue Publication, Calcutta,1971, Svayamvara and Other Poems, Writers Workshop, Calcutta, 1971, A Father’s Hours, United Writers, Calcutta, 1976, A Rain of Rites, University of Georgia Press, Athens (USA), 1976, Waiting, Samkaleen Prakashan, New Delhi, 1979, The False Start, Clearing House, Bombay, 1980 , Relationship, Greenfield Review Press, Greenfield, New York 1980, Life Signs, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1983, Dispossessed Nests, Nirala Publications, Jaipur,1986, Selected Poems, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1987, Burden of Waves and Fruit, Three Continents Press, Washington, 1988, Temple, Dangaroo Press, Sydney, 1989, A Whiteness of Bone, Viking Penguin, New Delhi, 1992,The Best of Jayanta Mahapatra, Bodhi Publications,Calicut, 1995, Shadow Space, D.C.Books, Kottayam, 1997, Bare Face, D.C.Books, Kottayam, 2000Random Descent, Third Eye Communications, Bhubaneswar,2005,The Lie of Dawns: Poems 1974-2008, Authorspress, New Delhi, 2009

    The books of Jayanta Mahaptra have appeared from both, big and small presses. If we talk about the first book of poems, it is a slim volume which follows the course of its own. There is nothing to delve deep, but instead of it, morning shows the day is the thing to be marked in here. Mainly the shorter and simpler, but meaningless poems figure in it and they can make sense if related to with references.
    If Night of the Scorpion by Nissim Ezekiel is a poem of Hindu-view karma, dharma and bhoga, Jayanta Mahapatra’s Dawn at Puri is a poem of some asthi-kalsha and pinda-dana combined with will and testament of Jawarharlal Nehru. This is as because the poet’s mother wishes to be cremated on the sea beach near the temple complex as Puri is the swarga-dwara, the gateway to heaven and it might have made her move along the Hindu line. We do not know what it has happened to her as she is perhaps a Christian. The pyres burning on the sea beach adjacent to the Great Temple, the Jagannath Puri temple, a little away from, scenic and landscapic tell many a tale against the backdrop of the temples, the sea and the lacklustre widows past their centre of hectic activity and the formless lepers beyond recognition. Nissim and Daruwalla also refer to them in their poems. Service to man is service to God corrodes the base of faith and belief. The things seen through the dawn scenery against the backdrop of life and death, faith and doubt belittle it all and we turn into a skeptic. Faith like light too is frail as this human body of the helpless widow is in reality.

  9. ‘Svayamvara and Other Poems’ as a collection of poems made a way after Close the Sky, Ten by Ten from Writers Workshop, Calcutta in 1971 when Jayanta Mahapatra had been a teacher of physics traching at Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. Though the book is no variation from his as usual style, it is essential to record as for his growth and development as a poet. We do not know if the editors pick up from Close the Sky, Ten by Ten or Svayamvara and Other Poems. Peace, For a Displaced Season, Blind This World,
    A Kind of Love, Sonnet, Sometimes, Morning, Awareness, A Point of View, Betrayal, The Marriage Portrait, Apartment, At The Zoo, Love’s Caress, Where Does Night Begin?, Bells, The Bride, Traditions, Svayamvara, Between, Bones, Sun Worshipper, Child and Teacher, Traffic Constable, Intimacy, Faith, Poem, The Poster, My Boy, Blind Singer in a Train, Henry the Robot/ A Theme of Love, A Name,
    Poem (For R.M.) ,etc. are the poems included in it. Whatever be the theme of the poem, but he has not left his love of imagery and imagism, lyric and lyricism, so private and personal, so delving into the realms of nothingness, the space and the vacuum, the things of his perusal.
    As Jayanta Mahapatra has evolved today so the people are after Close the Sky, Ten by Ten and Svayamvara and Other Poems. Generally, the readers do not attach any importance to the first entries. But it is easier for the Indian English poets even after their first publications. Those who are going to write first poems also pressure for to be called poets and poetesses. The first anthology which P.Lal edited will show the things in a very poor light. Even Nissim too had not been established in the sixties. Jayanta’s name does not figure in the anthology of poems edited by V.K.Gokak.


  10. Song of The River

    There is no song of India

    of the stone
    lie across the dead valleys in a trance

    A sacred river grows silently in my mind
    The rhythm of dark waters only comes and goes
    (Waiting, Samkaleen Prakashan, New Delhi, p.21)

    Song of The River as a poem is just like Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Brook. While Tennyson's poem is full of natural beauties and descriptions contrasted with this life and living and its stability, but Mahapatra's is a sub-conscious tuning telling of time, duration, life, death and living.


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