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Feb 28, 2021

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

BY: Bijay Kant Dubey

I

This is about the green miraculous trees,
And old clocks on stone towers,
And playgrounds full of light
And dark blue uniforms.
At eight I'm a Boy Scout and make a tent
By stretching a bedsheet over parallel bars
And a fire by burning rose bushes,
I know half a dozen knots and drink
Tea from enamel mugs.
I wear khaki drill shorts, note down
The number-plates of cars,
Make a perfect about-turn for the first time.
In September I collect my cousins' books
And find out the dates of the six Mughals
To secretly write the history of India.
I see Napoleon crossing the Alps
On a white horse.

II

My first watch is a fat and silver Omega
Grandfather won in a race fifty-nine years ago;
It never works and I've to
Push its hands every few minutes
To get a clearer picture of time.
Somewhere I've kept my autograph book,
The tincture of iodine in homeopathy bottles,
Bright postcards he sent from
Bad Ems, Germany.
At seven-thirty we are sent home
From the Cosmopolitan Club,
My father says, ‘No-bid,'
My mother forgets her hand
In a deck of cards.
I sit reading on the railing till midnight,
Above a worn sign
That advertises a dentist.

III

I go to sleep after I hear him
Snore like the school bell:
I'm standing alone in a back alley
And a face I can never recollect is removing
The hubcaps from our dull brown Ford.
The first words I mumble are the names of roads,
Thornhill, Hastings, Lytton;
We live in a small cottage,
I grow up on a guava tree
Wondering where the servants vanish
After dinner, at the magic of the bearded tailor
Who can change the shape of my ancestors.
I bend down from the swaying bridge
And pick up the river
Which once tried to hide me:
The dance of torn skin

Is for much later.

 

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra is first and foremost a surrealist who has learnt his art of poesy from surrealism and has tried to lend a hand to it by dabbling in the verses which seem to be cramming with images, pictures, views and memories inter-crossing each other, so full of observation and personal reflection. While going to the bazaar or reading in the library or in the park, he comes across the different sections of people exchanging their thoughts and ideas, this or that and as thus he gets the materials for his poesy. To him, it does not matter what it is important or unimportant. He is a poet of gossips, chit-chats, tidbits; of time-spirit and is maniac and moody too. The unconscious mind, the litter and play of thought and the juxtaposition, this is the format on which he writes, sometimes rational, sometimes irrationally, which is what, we cannot say it. As a poet he is but a tagger tagging the loose things in his language the experiences of life as seen, come to feel and marked closely. A post-modernist, he is a poet of the disjoint self of man; of disintegration and dismemberment. Just as welder he keeps heating and welding the metal scraps of wayward, trite, common thing poetry. To go down the memory lines and to collect is the poetic habit of his as he can often be seen loitering on the balcony, terraces, the courtyard and into the garden stroking his white beards and talking with the green trees. His love of white beards is excellent. In the younger days he had blackly lovelier beards. Arvind Krishna Mehrotra is but a poet of Lahore, Dehradun and Allahabad. The parallel lines running on the conscious and the unconscious levels he improvises them for his poetry.

What does he want to continue with here in this poem? But apart from giving a well-defined start, he starts it abruptly. This is about the green miraculous trees and old clocks on stone towers, the playgrounds full of light and blue uniforms. He remembers what has he as Scout Boy. He marks Napoleon crossing the Alps on a white horse. Here the lines are very striking as this one has to learn from history, from world history. Many fail to remember the dates and many go with learning by rote or some by hook or crook. To remember the names of the Mogul kings too is not easy as one often forgets them; the names are difficult to remember. Sometimes one does it when forgotten taking the tips from others. Such a thing it happens in the examination hall. What to say about the small children? Even the elderly fellows confuse them in taking the names of the Mogul kings chronologically. One who is parrot-like in imitation may be do it, we mean the learners by rote.

The second stanza is all about the wrist watches given, used and re-used, how we used to maneuvered to make it run, adjusting with, running abnormally, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. After that, he takes time in saying about the Omega Swiss watch running into trouble as for some mechanical and technical fault and he trying to adjust by hand. But what to do with the failed watches? The memories of the grandfather and his father hang over. Which home is he describing the Lahore home? The Dehradun home? Or the Allahabad home? Perhaps the second or the third is. But he is so much connected to Allahabad. There is something of family history, genealogy and his personal life in this poem. He sits on the railing till midnight above a worn sign telling of a dentist.

The third stanza tells of how he goes to sleep after his father has slept and started snoring. But before he sleeps he keeps standing in the dark alley and ruminating. There lies the dull brown Ford and the names of the roads come on the lips naturally,Thornhill, Hastings and Lytton as they live in a cottage. He grows on a guava tree as a line is suggestive of his plucking of the guavas frequently or may be it the tree is close to the building. But where do the servants vanish after the dinner is a thing of reckoning.

Mehrotra starts the poem with the green trees, old clocks on stone towers, playgrounds full of light and the blue uniforms doing the rounds:

This is about the green miraculous trees,
And old clocks on stone towers,
And playgrounds full of light
And dark blue uniforms.

His life as a scout boy finding craze in traffic control and others he takes a note of all that:


At eight I'm a Boy Scout and make a tent
By stretching a bedsheet over parallel bars
And a fire by burning rose bushes,
I know half a dozen knots and drink
Tea from enamel mugs.

People often mark it how the Scout boys and girls ask about to walk on the pathways and take to directions:


I wear khaki drill shorts, note down
The number-plates of cars,
Make a perfect about-turn for the first time.

But the routing changes it during the exam-time:

In September I collect my cousins' books
And find out the dates of the six Mughals
To secretly write the history of India.
I see Napoleon crossing the Alps
On a white horse.

At that time the watches used to mean so much for style and time-keeping and so is here the description about the Swiss watch here taking to the memory of his grandfather:

My first watch is a fat and silver Omega
Grandfather won in a race fifty-nine years ago;
It never works and I've to
Push its hands every few minutes
To get a clearer picture of time.

Again, he thinks of the autograph book and thinks of relocating it together with the homeopathy bottles. Bright postcards sent from Bad Ems, Germany engage the mindscape.

Somewhere I've kept my autograph book,
The tincture of iodine in homeopathy bottles,
Bright postcards he sent from
Bad Ems, Germany.

Again they return from the Cosmopolitan Club:


At seven-thirty we are sent home
From the Cosmopolitan Club,
My father says, ‘No-bid,'
My mother forgets her hand
In a deck of cards.
I sit reading on the railing till midnight,
Above a worn sign
That advertises a dentist.

The references to the dull brown Ford and the roads of Allahabad tell of his dormant passion and possession and the outing into those:

And a face I can never recollect is removing
The hubcaps from our dull brown Ford.
The first words I mumble are the names of roads,
Thornhill, Hastings, Lytton;

How the place where he lives, the cottage and the guava tree:

We live in a small cottage,
I grow up on a guava tree
Wondering where the servants vanish
After dinner, at the magic of the bearded tailor
Who can change the shape of my ancestors.

Here there is something difficult to explain so mythical, mystical and symbolical:

I bend down from the swaying bridge
And pick up the river
Which once tried to hide me:
The dance of torn skin

Is for much later.

With the flow of time and memory where does he want to go? The river consciousness it is there in him. The passage of time he seems to charter it, as seen, experienced and understood in life. This is as thus time passes off, memory slips down the lanes. This is as thus life continues it. One is connected with the other, one idea with another idea, one thought with another, one experience with another experience.






Feb 13, 2021

The Canonization

 Link: https://www.google.com/amp/s/literariness.org/2020/07/06/analysis-of-john-donnes-the-canonization/amp/

Analysis of John Donne’s The Canonization

 Nasrullah Mambrol

Critics basically agree to divide John Donne’s writing into two groups related to his life stages, his romantic, or love, poetry in the stage dating prior to 1615, and the spiritual poetry emanating from the time of his ordination in 1615 to the year of his death, 1631. However, most scholars also agree that much of his romantic poetry reflects his grounding since childhood in the Catholic faith, seen often in the figurative language he adopts to write of love and its erotic aspects. This combination proved unseemly to many in cultures that followed Donne’s own, and for that reason his poetry did not gain popularity until the 20th century. That era proved more open to the exaggeration and surprising comparisons of metaphysical poets and poetry that had so scandalized earlier readers. Donne’s focus on the theme of union, both physical and spiritual, dominates his work. Supported by the logical precision in which Donne excelled, his writing emphasizes balance in relationships and between themes. In “The Canonization,” he uses the relationship between the spiritual and the erotic as framework to emphasize the close ties between spiritual and physical love.

By titling his poem The Canonization, (1633) Donne prepares his readers for a religious poem but delivers something entirely different. He often utilized that technique, as in A Valediction, Forbidding Mourning, among others. Canonization in the Catholic Church occurs when individuals have proved themselves practitioners of “heroic virtue.” A person labeled as heroic is believed to have acted in an exceptional manner that ranks him above the common man, while one who practices virtue possesses a soul already redeemed by Christ, enabling him to reject things material in favor of things spiritual. Canonization preceded the granting of sainthood, and those deemed saints could be called upon by humans for intervention with God in important matters. Donne’s choice of canonization as suggesting role models and intercessors proves vital to the meaning of his poem.

Gender Matters: The Women in Donne’s Poems

The speaker begins with a dramatic address suitable to the stage, crying to an unseen provoker, “For God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love.” In a few words Donne sets a scene in which his audience understands that the “hero” of his poem has been attacked through words, probably gossip, due to the hero’s manner of loving. The speaker is concerned that because of the provoker’s judgment, he will not be allowed to continue his love. He next offers the antagonist substitute targets for his slander, including the obviously aged speaker’s physical attributes, such as his “palsy,” “gout,” and “five gray hairs.” Donne chooses the verb chide to make clear that the speaker’s nemesis seems a nag with so little to do, he must select an innocent person to rebuke. His next lines further allow his speaker to belittle the antagonist. Not only might the antagonist attack him simply for his age, which amounts to petty cruelty, but he might also criticize the speaker’s lack of material goods and social position, saying the attacker might his “ruined fortune flout.” Again Donne’s word choice proves imperative for its connotation. A person who suffers “ruin” is generally reduced by an outside attack of some kind, not by profligate actions of his own. The use of alliteration emphasizes that the attacker does not simply whisper about the speaker’s problems but flaunts them, suggesting he shows contempt for the debt, defying laws of decency. The speaker orders his assailant, “Take you a course, get you a place,” suggesting situations that at first glance seem to have high status, serving “his hounour, or his grace,” or a “King.” But Donne makes clear that these positions of “service” equate to simple toadyism, contemplating, for instance, the king’s “real, or his stamped face,” with “stamped face” probably meaning that which appeared on currency of the realm.

The speaker does not care what other occupations the antagonist chooses, as long as he will “let me love.” He concludes the first of his five nine-line stanzas having established himself as an innocent, set upon by undesirables who have no loves of their own.

The second stanza continues the speaker’s application of logic, as he questions how his love injures or harms others. He contrasts small actions, such as a lover’s sigh or tears shed, with grand events, such as the sinking of a “merchant’s ships” and the floods that caused that sinking. The results escalate to the level of the absurd, with the speaker questioning,

When did my colds a forward spring remove?

When did the heats which my veins fill

Add one more to the plaguy bill?

His love has not altered the seasons or killed anyone with infection; nor has it, he adds, affected soldiers or lawyers who will continue with their normal actions even “Though she and I do love.” Having reduced his attacker to the level of fool, the speaker moves into the next stanza inviting others to label him and his lover whatever they wish; labels do not alter the reality of their love:

Call us what you will, we are made such by love;

Call her one, me another fly,

We’re tapers too, and at our own cost die.


The taper metaphor invokes thoughts of burning candles, which eventually disappear, as he and his lover might eventually die, consumed by their passion.

Donne next compares the lovers to “the eagle and the dove,” alluding to the Renaissance idea of the Ptolemaic theory of the universe as concentric circles. Within those circles various creatures moved. While the eagle flew in the sublunar space, that of the sky above earth, doves ascended and descended to and from the upper heavens, according to biblical passages such as the one in which the Holy Spirit descends from heaven during the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist. Donne extends the metaphor of fire by using the phoenix, a mythological bird that recreated itself every 500 years, and suggesting its constant renewal as a riddle. The speaker proposes that the heat of passion may keep him young, despite his advancing age. The stanza concludes with an allusion to the Platonic notion that two lovers could join to form a perfect whole: “We die and rise the same, and prove / Mysterious by this love.”

Donne carries the idea of love and death into the penultimate stanza, his first line reading, “We can die by it, if not live by love,” suggesting that once dead, the lovers will become the subject of legend and chronicle, their story preserved as an example to others. If their story is not told in history, it will certainly be presented through art:

We’ll build in sonnets pretty rooms;

As well a well wrought urn becomes

The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs.

His suggestion of the small urn’s equality to the most lavish of tombs was made famous in the title of the 20th-century formalist critic Cleanth Brooks’s seminal book The Well Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry. But Donne saves his most dramatic comparison for the final two lines of this stanza, writing, “And by these hymns, all shall approve / Us Canonized for love.” Here he broaches the blasphemous suggestion that his physical love bears an importance equal to that of the canonized saints. Not only do they provide an example, their names may be called upon in order to intercede with requests that their own passion be increased.

This suggestion supports the final stanza, in which the brazen speaker claims that the very antagonists attacking him, and others of his ilk, will call upon the speaker’s love as a model for their own. Those for whom “love was peace that now is rage” once valued a quiet method for romance but now crave a far more passionate approach, signified by rage. Donne incorporates various words suggesting religion, including invoke and reverend, that would have scandalized Victorian readers. The speaker states that the You he addresses made the homes, or “hermitage,” of others their own through their intrusion or spying. Donne writes,

Who did the whole world’s soul extract, and drove,

Into the glasses of your eyes,

So made such mirrors, and such spies,

That they did all to you epitomize,

Countries, towns, courts; beg from above

A pattern of your love!


The speaker feels that those who spied upon others did so for vicarious needs and internalized what they observed. In the penultimate line, Donne adapts his frequent method for emphasis of an idea, expanding the individual concern or state to universal proportions.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

“Beatification and Canonization.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2.

Edgecombe, Rodney Stenning. “The Meaning of ‘Rage’ in ‘The Canonization.’ ” American Notes and Queries. 14, no. 2 (April 2001): 3.

Flynn, Denis. John Donne and the Ancient Catholic Nobility. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995.

Jan 27, 2021

A Little Distance: Vikram Seth

 By: Bijay Kant Dubey

A LITTLE distance from the waterfall

By a small pool the yellow beachtowel lies
On a long warm rock, and near it azaleas grow
And the shadows of thin fish fall
Across the speckled stones, and a light breeze blows
Rippling the skin of the pool, first this way, then that.
A blue-tailed lizard suns itself
And we ourselves as the sun burns through a cloud
Into the rocks, into our cold bones.

Tired, tired, my mind melts in the sun.
An ant crawls over my ankle. I sit up: there
You lie, beautiful, half-nude on the white pebbles,
Cream-coloured breasts open to the breeze and the sky
And a few lines of silver hair in the brown
To announce the burden of your twenty-eight years.
To be chaste, how frustrating for minutes,
How uncomplicated for days - to order fish, chives,
To discuss the rats in our room when the morning gongs
Sound out the monastery routine. To be
Just friends, reverting in a richer vein
To what we were, the way that we once were,
The way I hope, for a while, we may remain.

After six days, with nothing voiced, we are
Unexpectant, companionable,
Perhaps like an aging couple. We do not
Even kiss goodnight yet wake to friendliness.
It is perhaps the tiredness in my mind
Or the fear of the structure set. Unsettledness
Is what I have come to fear. We sit away
From the noise of the waterfall, by a clear pool,
Less conscious of the risk that is not worthwhile
Than of the warm grey boulders and the slopes
That circumscribe our peace, and the warmth of the sun
Melting us into the stones, and the azaleas
Mauve against a sea of pine.

 

We are clueless as for what the poem is about. Is it about love and loving or the suppression of the fact at the internal level? Is it about friendship just as there is a female persona too with him and he is addressing to say the things of his heart? The things are happening just a little distance away from and he is watching it all with sensuality. Sometimes she comes and he likes to sit with her and view, but what has it happened that still loves her not from his heart nor has the courage and guts to? Is she just a partner for the pleasure sake? We do not know all that as the story is just like the ones we see them in foreign countries. She is a friend for the time being, not a life friend.

A Little Distance is about the joys of swimming and bathing together with; is all about a pleasurable trip and sojourn. Both of them go for a sunbath and enjoy the pleasures of sunbathing. The sea shore, the swimming pool, stones and the waterfall add to the beauty of the poem and make it scenic and landscapic presenting the whole panorama. Seth as a co-visitor captures the photos shared together with, the moments lived with. Just as the travellers travel with, the foreigner tourists come and go away, just as the friends mix up so are the things herein. There is nothing special about it. It is just about a sunbath and roaming of the beach. Everything appears to be hollow and superficial. There is nothing as deep to be felt inwardly. Vikram Seth has failed to grasp what it is Indian love.

A little distance away from the waterfall there lies a yellow beach towel by the pool on a long   warm rock and this is how the poet starts his poem and nearer to it the azaleas grown and the shadows of the thin fish falling across the spectacled stones. A breeze blows rippling the skin of the pool. A blue-tailed lizard suns itself and a sunniness is spread all around.

The poet feels tired and his mind melts in the sun. An ant craws over his ankle and he sits up. But there on the white pebbles lies she half-nude the female protagonist with the cream-coloured breasts open to the breeze and the sky and a few lines of silver hair in the brown. To speak frankly, it is difficult to be chaste here. How the days pass by! Just as the friends they take the breakfast and go on chatting.

After the expiry of six days, nothing takes place in between them. They remain as they were. They are friends but are unsettled. This is what the poet has said it all and as thus the days keep running. There is nothing as that to kiss her and show affection. Just the goodnight is the last word bade during the night time and they take leave of each other. They are just friends, modern friends and nothing more. But we do not know it what it the interest of the poet if she is just a friend. They sit by the pool and keep watching the things around. What do they want to do, this he says it not. What does he want to do, he also says it not. What is in their hearts it is very difficult to take out? What partners or friends are they, we do not know it.

A Little Distance as a poem is all about temporary love and friendship, a visit to the sea-beach enjoying a sunny warmth spread all over the landscape spanning the waterfall, the pool and the near-by rocks and stones. There is nothing of proposition and disposition, everything is hidden under the wrap of it.

The poem is an exploit of the live-in relationship. Seth is in doldrums if he should love or not and this forms the crux of his life-story. This is the reason for which he prefers the gay as well as the bisexual relationships and is a votary of that. To be or not to be is the Hamletian drama of his, should he love that girl or not, is she likeable and lovely or not? On the one he likes and  loves her while on the other takes to her differently. What is the spectacle of his love and loving we do not know it at all nor can we say about. This is but a personal matter. When we read the poem, we get reminded of Goa where the foreigners come for a sojourn, a sunbath, a tour and a change.

Though we call him an Indian English poet, he is very much like an NRI, shuttling in between America and India. A student of economics, he has got his maximum schooling in foreign and has visited many Asian and European countries. While in China for research, Chinese poetry drew him so close. The manuscript of his first of poetry was not accepted in the West, but was brought out finally by Writers Workshop, Calcutta before being popular. Call him the suitable or unsuitable boy of Indian English poetry, he has come far, very far from where one cannot look behind, such is the name and accolade of his.  

A Little Distance is a modern love story where hearts matter it not, only partnerships make a way for. They are fellow travelers, tourists, visitors, not life partners, nor lovers of any kind. Just as the holidayers, picnickers and hoteliers go for an outing similar is the case herein. One who often keeps visiting from place to place remains it not attached to anyone. A foreigner girl bathing on the sea-beach too may be the point of deliberation and he looking her with so much so love and affection. The blonde beauty, she is perhaps not of India, but of the West, which but only Vikram can say it if enquired and he says it in response to. Where did he meet her by the Atlantic or the Pacific? Where? We do not understand if she is some ex-girlfriend of his.

 

Jan 17, 2021

Mount Kailash

 By: Bijay Kant Dubey

Har Har Mahadeva,

Har Har Mahadeva,

Shiva, Shiva,



Let the world be

With the blessings of Shiva,

Lord Shiva,

Bhole Shankara,

Shiva Shankara,

Sambhu, Bholenath,

Damruwalla

With the kamanadala and the trident

And in the rudraksha beads,

Bracelets,

Nilkantha Har Har Mahadeva.

 

A sadhaka,

A yogi,

A fakira,

A crematorium ground wanderer

Smearing the forehead

With the three ash-lines,

The Yoginath,

Night-wanderer,

Aghora-sadhaka

Daninatha

Shiva

On Kailash

In a meditative state

Of the transcendental meditation.

 

Nilkantha

One whose neck is blue

As for the poison taken

During the churning of the ocean

And the poisonous snakes coiling

Around

With the Ganga flowing from

The locks of the matted hair,

How to stand before

With the holds folded

And the eyes closed

Seeking the blessing from

Shiva, Shiva Shankara?

 

One who rides a bull,

Remains half-naked, half-clothed

Into the loin cloth,

The tiger cloth

With the kamandala, the trishula

Going the way

Unmindful of

Having taken bhang, datura,

Sambhu, Bhole Sambhu,

Shiva Shanakara,

Har Har Mahadeva,

You take my,

Take my homage,

Tribute, my reverence!

 

I see the peaks of Mount Kailash

And think of,

Think of the peaks in glow,

In snow,

During the night,

During the morning

While going through Mansarovar,

Marking the  waters of,

Kailash, Kailash,

Mount Kailash,

How the peaks of,

Peaks of it

Radiating, glowing it red,

How looking white during the chill!

Jan 5, 2021

"Don't Call me Indo-Anglian" by Syed Amanuddin

No i don't want to be
a hotchpotch of culture
a confusion of language
a nullity of imagination
an abortive affair between an indo and an anglo
I hate hyphens
the artificial bridges
between artificial values
in the name of race religion n language
i damn all hyphenated minds
prejudiced offsprings of unenlightened souls
i denounce all labels and labelmakers
i refuse to be a moonrock specimen
to be analyzed labelled n stored
for a curious gloomy fellow to
reanalyze reclassify me
for shelving me again

They call me indo-anglian
I don't now what they mean
Cauvery flows in my veins
Chamundi hills rise in my mind with stars afloat
eyes of the goddess smiling on the slain demon
Brindavan fountains sing in my soul

But, I am not tied down to my childhood scene.
I have led languages by their ears
I have twisted creeds to force the truth out
I have burned candles in the caves of prejudice
I have surged in the oceans of being
I have flown across the universe on the wings of my thought

 

They call me indo-anglian
The mistaken misinformed folk
In class me with a small group of writers
Cloistering me
Crippling me
I would rather roam with Kalidasa n Kabir
or go on a spiritual journey with Dante|
meditate with khayyam on the mathematics of existence
or sing with ghalib the anguish of love
or drown with li po kissing the moon's reflection in the river

They call me indo-anglian
It's true I write in English
Dream in the language of Shakespeare n Keats
But I am not an anglo my friend
I am a POET
I have lived forty centuries under various names
I am now amanuddin 

 ‘Don’t call me indo-anglian’ as a poem tells of what it should be called, Indo-English, Indo-Anglican, Indo-Anglian, Anglo-Indian, Indian poetry in English or Indian English poetry in the absence of a feeder dialect of its own and a linguistic environment not suitable to it as English exists it as a library-consulting communicative language in a written form rather than in a spoken form. But a language flourishes it if the spoken base nourishes it which Indian English lacks in miserably. Whatever be that, K.R.Srinivasa Iyengar has given an impetus to it by terming it Indo-Anglian. V.K.Gokak’s anthology too has been The Golden Treasure of Indo-Anglian Poetry which we like to study it most. P.Lal’s Modern Indian Poetry in English: An Anthology  & A Credo will explain it best as the amateur ones just with one book or the poems to be published too have been called in as poets. But let us listen to him, what he says and what he feels with regard to quest for identity. Is there anything of identity crisis? It is also a fact that the small band of Indian writers in English struggled too much for their survival and it too took time in evolving as good writers. What it troubled Shaun Maundy was the volume of bad verses written by the Indians in English. On the one hand, he says it, don’t call him Indo-Anglian while on the other he is in the States enjoying the nuances and idiosyncrasies of the American English. We do not understand the linguistic play.

Without following the punctuation marks, he starts the poem as E.E.Cummings writes and forbids calling him an Indo-Anglian writer as he does not like to be a hotchpotch of culture. The poet means to say that it is a mismatch for to identity him as a writer of Indian English verse in such a way and that too under a misnomer. It will be a confusion of language, a nullity of imagination and an abortive affair in between an Indian and an English fellow. He hates the hyphens, the hyphenated connections, extensions. The artificial bridges in the name of religion, race and language he admires them not personally. He damns all the hyphenated minds the prejudiced offsprings of unenlightened souls. He denounces all the labels and label makers. He refuses to be a moon rock specimen.

They call him Indo-Anglian, but he is not as they think it, he is Syed Amanuddin, one from Mysore, the Cauvery flows into the veins of his, the Chamundi hills rise above with the goddess looking down on the slain demon under the starlit skies and the fountains of Brindavan sing in his soul. Here the lines are extremely beautiful as they capture the music and rhythm and the devotional fervor can be marked in.

He is not tied down to his childhood scene. He has led languages by their ears and has twisted creeds to force the truth out. He has burnt candles in the caves of prejudice and has surged in the  oceans of being. But his group is not a small group of writers to be counted on fingers or difficult to be traced out. It is also a fact the Indian English verse has remained in circulation as cyclostyled, lithographed, typed and photo stated small booklets of poesy which the classic-read teachers of English used to frown upon and see with disdain as most of the verses were below the standard, poor, weaker in construction and meaningless and the practitioners of such a sort were but the minor writers of Indian verse in English. When they started to write they in a short time  turned into the poets of India and their first poems made entries into the anthologies as the ones  from established poets. It will be better to roam with Kalidasa and Kabir, go on a spiritual journey with Dante rather than to be a poet of a small group of writers and poets. It is better to meditate with Khyyam or sing with Ghalib or drown with Li Po kissing of the moon’s reflection in the river.

They call him Indo-Anglian, it is true that he writes in English, dreaming in the language of Shakespeare and Keats, but he is not an Anglo-Indian. He is a poet and he has been here for many centuries under names registered or unregistered. He is but Syed Amanuddin, accept you it or not.

While reading the poet we get reminded of many a thing. As per the legend, asura Mahishasura, the king of the city of Mysore was killed by goddess Chamundeshwari in a fierce battle. So she is called Mahishasura Mardini. The Chamundeswari Temple is atop the Chamundi Hills and has been named after goddess Chamundi. The word Mysuru comes from the Kannada word  Mahishooru. Li Po’s kissing of the reflection of the moon in the river adds another mystery to the poem. When he refers to the heritage of Kalidasa, his works flash over the mind’s eye, specially The Cloud Messenger and so on. Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat opens up new vistas of thought and reflection when he talks of his trend and tradition which Edward Fitzgerald has translated into English. The couplets of Ghalib add a new dimension to our thought and idea. The river Cauvery tells of the South Indian heritage and culture as well as river valley civilizations. It has been used as a demarcation well as a symbol. The Cauvery is also called Dakshina Ganga, the Ganges of the South. Fountains and water cascades add beauty to Brindavan gardens or it may refer to the river banks too. When he talks of the language used by Shakespeare and Keats, the whole corpus conjures up in its fresh imagery, reflection, colour, dream, fancy and imagination.

Jan 1, 2021

Autumn by TE Hulme

By: Bijay Kant Dubey

A touch of cold in the Autumn night
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded;
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.

T.E.Hulme, how to admire and appreciate a poet who is credited with the introduction of imagism into the realms of modern English poetry, how to assess and analyze a poet so imagistic in his approach and style? How to discuss his poetry who died in the prime of his youth just like Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen and others, got killed in the War while serving in Belgium? Hulme is a poet from whom Pound and Eliot have derived it poetic materials and think him fit to be called so. To read him is to know poetry is imagery, a study in imagism and imagistic elements. There must be poetic inspiration as well as the storing of new poetic images. Poetry is in images, poetry is the imagery of life, the poet means to say it. A Lecture on Poetry reminds us of Eliot’s essays, Arnold’s criticism and if poetry is criticism of life to Arnold, poetry is imagism and imagery, coming down to as a trail of images to Hulme and his explanation of romanticism and classicism too is splendid. Had he been alive for more, he would have surpassed and trespassed many great poets and masters of criticism, would have many laurels and awards and would have definitely changed the course of literature. One who has read Henri Bergson and Georges Sorel, translated them and has applauded the modern sculptors, what sort of poetry can we expect from him? He will definitely be introducing modern things, modern thoughts and ideas into the realms of poesy. How to pattern thoughts and ideas in the form of images and the trail of imagery?

Before we take to the criticism of this poem, we need to know something with regard to it. When was the poem composed? Had he been abroad? How his origin and upbringing? All these can allude to poetic anecdote and the inspiration behind creativity. It is very difficult to say what comes from where and what occasions which. Poetic meaning is very difficult to reach at.

Even after being touched by the cold of autumn, he steps outside and takes to the stroll of abroad, into the country with the ruddy moon hanging over a hedge and he marking it just like a red-faced farmer. He does not pause it there, just nods his head in reply to the ruddy moon lurking over a hedge just like a red-faced farmer and sees the stars blinking like the white-faced town children. Just with the images given under the wrap of a few lines, the poet hints towards the cold of autumn, the walks taken and strayed far into the country, the red moon lurking over the hedge and the white stars blinking like the white town children.

With a handful of words, he crams the poem with ideas and images and condenses the poetic thought lying inherent within the poetic texture of the poem. How beautiful the images are, how musical the lines rhyming with and so the phrases and idiomatic expressions! The ruddy moon, wistful stars, red-faced farmer, a touch of cold, autumn night, etc. add beauty, depth and meaning to the poem. All the lines are quotable.

The first two lines tell of the autumnal cold night which he could sense it but instead of his straying into the cold country during the night time,

A touch of cold in the Autumn night
I walked abroad. 

 Again he says,

And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.

The poet hides in meaning and the poem too defies it: 

I did not stop to speak, but nodded;
And round about the wistful stars
With white faces like town children. 

We do not the meanings hidden under the coating of words. Why has he used the word abroad? What does the ruddy moon? Why the words a red-faced farmer? Why the comparison with town children and wistful stars with white faces? When the poet talks of the ruddy moon, it reminds us of Ode to Autumn by John Keats and when he talks of the red-faced farmer, it reminds us of Gray’s village forefathers and when he talks of stars and town children, it of E.V.Lucas’ The Town Week, Lamb’s The Praise of  Chimney-Sweepers and Dream Children: A Reverie and Robert Burns’ A Red, Red Rose. There is also something of William Blake’s The Little Black Boy and P.B.Shelley’s To the Moon. There is something in it when he uses the words wistful stars.

 

Dec 28, 2020

Judith Wright

Source: https://allpoetry.com/Judith-Wright

 Judith Wright was a prolific Australian poet, critic, and short-story writer, who published more than 50 books. Wright was also an uncompromising environmentalist and social activist campaigning for Aboriginal land rights. She believed that the poet should be concerned with national and social problems. At the age of 85, just before her death, she attended in Canberra at a march for reconciliation with Aboriginal people.

Rhyme, my old cymbal,
I don't clash you as often,
or trust your old promises
music and unison.
I used to love Keats, Blake;
now I try haiku
for its honed brevities,
its inclusive silences.
(from 'Brevity' in Notes at Edge)

Judith Arundell Wright was born near Armidale, New South Wales, into an old and wealthy pastoral family. Wright was raised on her family's sheep station. After her mother died in 1927, she was educated under her grandmother's supervision. At the age of 14 she was sent to New England Girls' School, where she found consolation from poetry and decided to become a poet. In 1934 she entered Sydney University. Wright studied philosophy, history, psychology and English, without taking a degree.

When Wright was in her 20s, she started to became progressively deaf. Between the years 1937 and 1938 Wright travelled in Britain and Europe. She then worked as a secretary-stenographer and clerk until 1944. From 1944 to 1948 she was a university statistician at the University of Queensland, St. Lucia. At the age of 30 Wright met her lifelong partner, the unorthodox philosopher J.P. McKinney, 23 years her senior; they later married.

Most of Wright's poetry was written in the mountains of southern Queensland. Protesting the political policies of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Premier of Queensland, Wright left her home state in the mid-1970s, and settled to a remote property near the heritage town of Braidwood, south of Canberra, where she wrote many of her later nature poems.

During her career as a writer, Wright did not reject to produce hack work, school plays for Australian Broadcasting Commission and children's books, for her living. She lectured part-time at various Australian universities. In 1975 she collected her addresses and speeches in 'Because I was Invited'. Wright was appointed a foundation fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and an emeritus professorship of the Literature Board of the Arts Council of Australia. Wright's memoir, 'Half a Lifetime', covered her life until the 1960s, and appeared in 2000. Wright died of a heart attack in Canberra on June 26 at the age of 85. Her ashes were scattered around the mountain cemetery of Tamborine Mountain in Queensland. Wright had owned a strip of rainforest nearby, which she donated to the state so it could be preserved as a national park.

Wright started to publish poems in the late 1930s in literary journals. As a poet she made her debut with The Moving Image (1946), in which she showed her technical excellence without burdens of fashionable trends. Most of the poems were written in wartime - in 'The Trains' Wright took the threat of the war in the Pacific as a subject. The main theme in the volume was the poet's awareness of time, death, and evil on a universal scale. With the following collections Wright gained a reputation as a wholly new voice in literature with a distinctly female perspective. The title poem from Woman to Man (1949) dealt with the sexual act from a woman's point of view. 'The Maker' paralleled the creation of a poem and the creation of a child. Several of her early poems such as 'Bullocky' and 'Woman to Man' became standard anthology pieces. Wright also wrote love poems to her husband. His death in 1966 and her increasing anxiety of the destruction of the natural environment brought more pessimistic undercurrents in her work.

'I praise the scoring drought, the flying dust
the drying creek, the furious animal,
that they oppose us still;
that we are ruined by the thing we kill'.
(from 'Australia 1970')

Wright's poetry was inspired by the various regions in which she lived: the New England, New South Wales, the subtropical rainforests of Tamborine Mountain, Queensland, and the plains of the southern highlands near Braidwood. A new period in Wright's life started in the mid-1950s: "The two threads of my life, the love of the land itself and the deep unease over the fate of its original people, were beginning to twine together, and the rest of my life would be influenced by that connection."In The Two Faces (1955) she took Hiroshima as an example of man's power to destroy even the cycles of nature. Wright's activism on conservation issues led her to focus on the interaction between land and the language. According to Wright, "the true function of art and culture is to interpret us to ourselves, and to relate us to the country and the society in which we live." She started to see that her mission was to find words and poetic forms to bridge the human experience and the natural world, man and earth. "Poetry needs a background in which emotional, as well as material values are given their due weight; and the effect of this shallowness of roots is easily traceable in Australian writing, with its uneasy attempts to solve or to ignore the problem of its attitude to the country." Alienation from the land meant for Wright crisis of the language. She criticized the education system for failing to teach students the pleasures of poetry, and promoted the reading and writing of poetry in schools. Realistically she also expressed doubts about the power of poetry to change the scheme of things.

In the early 1960s Wright helped to found Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. She fought to conserve the Great Barrier Reef, when its ecology was threatened by oil drilling, and campaigned against sand mining on Fraser Island. In her passionate poem 'Australia 1970' Wright expressed her feelings of disappointment and anger, seeing her wild country die, "like the eaglehawk, dangerous till the last breath’s gone, clawing and striking." The Coral Battleground (1977) was her account of the campaign to protect the "great water-gardens, lovely indeed as cherry boughs and flowers under the once clear sea.” In The Cry for the Dead (1981) Wright examined the treatment of Aborigines and destruction of the environment by settlers in Central Queensland from the 1840s to the 1920s.

As a literary critic Wright enjoyed a high reputation, and edited several collections of Australian verse. She was a friend of Aboriginal poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal, whose work Wright helped her to get published. Preoccupations in Australian Poetry (1965) was Wright's pioneering effort to reread such early Australian poets as Charles Harpur, Adam Lindsay Gordon, and Henry Kendall.

Wright received several awards, including Grace Leven Prize (1950), Australia-Britannica Award (1964), Robert Frost Memorial Award (1977), Australian World Prize (1984), Queen's Medal for Poetry (1992). She had honorary degrees from several universities. In 1973-74 she was a member of Australia Council

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