Thursday, 12 December 2019

RECITAL OF A HEART

Updated: May 23, 2015 5:38 pm

The first poem, ‘Soliloquy of My Poem’, in the collection of poems, The Grass Flower, by Ramakanta Das arrests our attention for two reasons. First, a poem projecting the poet’s response to various issues affecting his self can come close to a soliloquy. But, as the title suggests, Ramakanta’s poem has its own soliloquy. Second, the soliloquy reveals the tone, components and ideas constituting the poems of the collection. For this reason this first poem assumes significance.

His poems embody his ‘basic emotion and musing passionate with personalized symbols, imagery varied.’ There are also ‘allusions drawn from myth and life’s reflected realities.’ The poet goes on to say his poems are expressions of his ‘melancholic heart and elegiac mind.’ Afflicted by ‘destitution’ and ‘a deep sense of hurt and apathy,’ his is ‘an agonized poetic soul.’ Thus the poems are a ‘recital of the autobiography of a heart’ which finds it impossible ‘to hide the pathos.’

Most of the poems in the collection are, in fact, an extension of the poets’ sense of melancholy and agonized soul. This is partly indicated by recurrent use of words, like nothing, nothingness, barren Autumn, frosty December etc. images of rupture, separation, ruin galore. Ramakanta marvels at the greenery, red petals of gulmohar and singing birds brought about by drops of dew (Few Drops of Dew). This picture of regeneration and renewal indicates the flow of life. The poem, moreover, suggests that the poet feels the pulse of poetic creativity (‘greenery even on my bald head’). But the last two stanzas of the poems negate this positive picture of nature and his own self. He longs for different dew drops which can fill the ‘empty corridors of my ribs.’ The ‘wrinkled scalps’ of his broken desires and disabled opportunities’ pine for attaining perfection and fulfillment. He is conscious that this is a futile longing since the ‘pregnant eastern sky’ erases these impermanent dew drops.

His despair is more clearly pronounced in poems like ‘Topsy-Turvy’, ‘Autobiography’ and ‘Nobody knows’ etc. Creative pursuits—painting. Music, poetic compositions—are thwarted by hostile agencies symbolized by galloping horse with blind hoofs, Himalayan frost and icy-claws of December. His autobiography compromising ‘beaten moments like a heap of tangled threads’ remains unfinished. What he discovers is not the story of his life but scattered shells and erased foot-prints. The Cuckoo goes dumb, leaves fall, the fountain pen breaks.

Sparkling combination of words and brevity in expression made possible by evocative images characterize Ramakanta’s poems Individually most of the poems offer interesting reading in spite of the gloomy mood ranging from self-pity to death wish transmitted by them (‘Foot-Note’, ‘Epitaph’). A reader identifies himself with the mood and substance of any poem in the anthology.

 

By Ramachandra Behera

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