गुरुवार, 18 नवंबर 2010

SELECTED POEMS OF DR. MAHENDRA BHATNAGAR -- AFTER THE FORTY POEMS



SELECTED POEMS OF

DR. MAHENDRA BHATNAGAR

AFTER THE FORTY POEMS

[25 Poems]

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Contents

* Preface : Dr. Suresh Chandra Dwivedi

* Selected Poems Of Mahendra Bhatnagar

By Dr. Patricia Prime, Newzeland


POEMS


1 O Winged Steeds Of Destiny

2 Gift Of A Lively Faith

3 To The Condemned Woman

4 Accept Me

5 The Offshoot

6 We Know It Well

7 Stop It

8 The Dawn

9 I Appeal

10 The Tremor Of The Trampling Feet

11 Many A Man

12 The Worship Of Art

13 What Is The Secret

14 A State Of Mind

15 Life

16 Through The Unwanted Moments

17 I Accept

18 An Awareness Within

19 The Irony Of Fate

20 How To Suffer Pain : A Point Of View

21 The Incredible

22 Who Are You?

23 A Submission

24 The Dusk

25 The New Life

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PREFACE

Dr. Suresh Chandra Dwivedi

Dept. of English, Allahabad University, INDIA

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Of the many Indian poets whose literary careers were shaped by poetry in the post-independence India of 20th century , the name of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is one of them. He is a progressive poet of renown. His poetic career covering several decades demonstrates his humanistic vision from beginning to end. In his works the thread of his humanistic vision can be seen vividly. He wrote poems to bring about a change in the world. His humanistic vision has its own distinction : it is connected with a world vision. He believes that a progressive, prosperous and purposeful world can be constructed. His poetry contains joys and sorrows of common men. 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. Prof. Mahendra Bhatnagar is a first rate intellectual, who analyses, interprets, evaluates and describes his emotions in the light of his humanistic vision. The forces of establishment and power – both Governmental and non-Governmental have crushed the hopes and dreams and ambitions of common people. A poet like Prof. Mahendra Bhatnagar uses irony to expose the fraud of exploiters. He has ultimately emerged in his poetry as a champion of the common humanity. He so often exposes the enemies of the labourers and the peasants of India. With his humanistic vision he constantly compels the readers to distinguish between power and propriety. He is alert, careful, and cautious, sometimes reminding us occasionally of Brecht, Auden, Pablo Neruda and of Carl Sandburg.

Like them he is a spokesman of the people, and he employs a rare sensitivity, a rare intellectuality and a rare humanity like them. Without the quality of their free imagination and immense love for the people Mahendra Bhatnagar's poems would not have seen the light of the day. A humanitarian poet he has always given his eyes and ears to his mother India. If one wants to know the sufferings and agonies of common people in India, he must give his days and nights to the poetry of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar. His poem 'Helplessness' typical of its kind reveals not only his own helplessness but also of the common people of India :

Thrust upon, undesired life, I lived.

Every instant, every step, shame I lived

History, now you ask me what

Folly and dirtiness of the world, I lived.

('Helplessness')

I have quoted this poem because this is a poem which reflects his free imagination and humanistic vision fully. The poet opposes those forces which resent change. The last 110 years have been the years of wars, terrorism, apartheid, exploitation, unemployment, violence, criminalisation of politics, betrayal of godmen and bureaucrats. The dynamic poet Mahendra Bhanagar powerfully attached to this period of moral degeneration and disintegration. He is rightly of the view that this period has been a period of shame, helplessness and corruption all over the world. Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar's poetry mirrors our era of shame, helplessness and corruption. As an intellectual he stands on earth and questions, examines and tests terrestrial things. He employs irony and understatement to expose the enemies of people. He does not spare even those who are at the helm of affairs. Like Mulk Raj Anand and Premchand, the novelists he takes the side of the people and not the fascists, dictators and capitalists. We do not find servility syndrome or tendency of hero-worship in Mahendra Bhatnagar. In his several volumes of poetry, he emerges as an artistic reporter of the agonies and dreams of people. His poems have authenticity and sureness of death, and dynamism, truth, beauty and goodness of life. His great and valuable poetry should not be underestimated because of the fact that he is a Hindi poet and originally wrote in Hindi. Indian criticism does not have that free imagination, love for people and humanistic vision which creative writers have in abundance. Critics are either slaves of ideology or write with some selfish motive to please Academies or some gods. But a poet like Mahendra Bhatnagar is always free and has actively participated in the drama of mankind. The humanistic vision of Mahendra Bhatnagar is broader than that of Muktibodh and Kedar Nath Agrawal. His humanistic vision often combines compassion of Gautam Buddha, martyrdom of Jesus Christ, love for common objects of Kazuyosi Ikeda, commonness of Auden, skepticism of Brecht and involvement with mankind of John Donne. He is a fine poet of people's consciousness and his volumes of poems confirm this. Each poem gives a definition of life; each poem gives a clarification of life. He uses people's thoughts, consciousness and their language adeptly. So far as sensuous comprehension of thought is concerned, so far as love for people is concerned, so far as exposure of fascists, tyrants, terrorists and enemies of people is concerned, he is second to only a few. So far as quality of depiction of criticism of life with a sense of poetic truth and beauty is concerned he is second to none. He is clearer than Muktibodh, wider in emotions than Agyeya, deeper than Kedar Nath Agrawal and more readable than Shamsher Bahadur Singh.

Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar does not belong to any group or coterie of poets and critics. All his poems as well as his entire corpus suggest that man belongs to a large family. Man cannot live and should not live like an island. Man should choose to love and help each other and fight against enemies of people, country and democracy unitedly. Every man is a part of mankind.

Last but not the least, Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar knows Indian people and their pathetic conditions. He has given an authentic poetic record of the common humanity of India. He is a good observer of the life around him. His honesty, integrity, sincerity, authenticity and brevity are appealing and so are his sensitivity, subjectivity and tempestuous poetic capacity. He is a prolific poet whose books cannot be forgotten. He observes everything through his free imagination and humanistic vision. One is astonished to see the wide scope and vast canvas of his poetry which surveys all the occupations, classes and regions of India. The poet is seen shaking hands with the crowd, talking to them and rubbing shoulders with them. His books of poems reveal the collective wisdom of the people. The wisdom lies in synergy, cooperation, unity, collaboration, hard work, naturalness, peace and in Auden's thought – "We must love each other or die." and Arnold's thought – "Oh love! let us be true to each other." Mahendra Bhatnagar is a great poet of 'living moments and people alive.'

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Selected Poems of

Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar 2

by Dr. Patricia Prime, Newzeland

In his Preface to the Selected Poems of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar, Dr. Suresh Chandra Dwivedi says, “Of the many Indian poets whose literary careers were shaped by poetry in the post-independence India of 20th century, the name of Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar is one of them. He is a progressive poet of renown. His poetic career demonstrates his humanistic vision from beginning to end.” This is praise indeed for a fine poet, a significant voice in both Hindi and Indian English Poetry.

As we shall see from the poems, Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar seeks a “universal” or “collective” self, uncovered through poetry. In part this takes the form of a search for cultural roots, while producing a literature of revelation and prophecy that speaks in equal terms of the grandiosity of the universe and at times of the self. Bhatnagar’s work closely centres on an individual experience and voice. Poems such as “O Winged Steeds of Destiny”, “Gift of a Lively Faith” and “Accept Me”, lament the transience of youth while celebrating the individual’s place in a greater cosmology. Maintaining a tension between human consciousness and the world beyond it, Bhatnagar’s poems read as myths of creation and metamorphosis, which bring to mind the poetry of Auden and Neruda. Throughout there is an elegiac quality to Bhatnagar’s poetry that while communing with the greater universe, its generation and renewal, allows a subdued lament for the individual’s mutability to escape:

I throw open the gates

Of my small habitation

To give shelter to the life and honour

Of those who are hit

Hard by Nature’s ironies,

Or, by worldly ridicules.

(“Gift of a Lively Faith”)

Bhatnagar expends equal energy to his philosophy as to his Indian heritage. His poetry is a combination of sublimity and wisdom, and is a way of exploring the meaning of subjectivity and of pursuing philosophical beauty. The poet figure is presented as a humanist, visionary and compassionate ideologist. Spiritually-minded, and open to the greatness of feeling and experience through such vistas presented by the Indian landscape and its people, Bhatnagar’s work offers a relentless and vitalised search for the fullness of human experience, and the fulfilment of destiny, as we see in “the Offshoot”, where we are not to stunt the new growth and development of humanity:

So do not come

In the offshoot’s way.

Do not interfere

With their growth;

Let them sprout and grow

In the sun,

In the open sky!

“We Know it Well” and “Stop It” are two of the outstanding poems in the collection for their understatement and clarity. “The Dawn” is also a very sharp expression of the pathos and beauty of the poor who dream optimistically of a new dawn:

But they dream of a new dawn

(Can ever groans eclipse faith?)

as increases the cold,

Nearer moves

The ember of a new life;

The eyes will behold a little while hence

A new dawn, a new millennium,

And the passions of a new life!

In some ways a political poem, “I Appeal” speaks more directly to the politicians and bureaucrats on behalf of the exploited:

I appeal today

To the millions of the exploited world;

To the sighs of the starving,

The naked and the oppressed,

The helpless ad the hapless ones –

Do not grope in the dark any more;

Oh, do not cherish in your eyes any dreams

Open your eyes, my friends!

“The Tremor of Trampling Feet” offers a wry retreat from the grander movements of history and struggle of the oppressed to the slighter, though just as meaningful, struggle of the downtrodden:

When the thick walls of the exploiters’ citadels

Cracked with the reverberating sounds

Everyone thought –

There rocked the earthquake

But lo! that was the tremor of the trampling feet

Of the downtrodden!

The poem “Many a Man” satirises the man who, although thirsty, refuses to drink the water of the new Ganges, believing it to be poisonous and dirty, or the many men who shiver despite the new breeze of freedom blowing through the land:

The new breeze blows

Through the fields and barns,

There are many who breathe in freedom;

Still many a man shivers and sighs!

For Bhatnagar’s politically acute acceptance of life and its inconsistencies, I am left a little humble. Here, political and poetic “truths”, give way to the facts of life, the everyday and psychological survival. Some part escapist, some part realist, the speaker is profoundly conscious of humanity’s actions and reactions to his environment. It is a politics that centres on the community as much as it rejects hypocrisy. The final image in “An Awareness Within” is as skilfully crafted politically as it is tellingly human and real, and a recognisably truthful and exact presentation of the community where everything is shared: hardship, short-comings and pain:

The clouds

With the deep salty sea

And the destruction beaconing storm

Have knocked your doors,

Extend them

A hearty welcome.

Accept them gladly

Who have brought for you

A gift of pain!

Sustain on your weak shoulders

The great mountains!

Fill deep the heart

With anguish

And the compassionate eyes

With tears!

For his part, as a humanist, Bhatnagar develops a poetry of metempsychosis, by using poetry as a vehicle through which the speaker not simply communes but merges with the natural. Where “The Irony of Fate” acknowledges the desire to cause “the bewitching birds of fancy / - like silken slips of multicoloured cloth / To fly free in the immense sky!” – “How to Suffer Pain: A Point of View” charts the experience to speak of things as themselves, and not as metaphors, within the transformative nature of poetic language, creating a meditation that while desiring realism recognises its impossibility. It is a masterful piece of writing where language and the “real” are set into play evocatively.

Bhatnagar’s work is open and vulnerable, but couples this with a sort of ebullience, a hunger for experience that sometimes tips into anxiety, as if signalling the source of his energy. Central to the poetry is the desire to know and understand the self, to place the self in the deeper context of community, history or politics. For Bhatnagar, the poem is often a space of self-interrogation, where melancholy is mollified, and where the persona is an actor on the stage of life as we see in “The Incredible”:

Inside the auditorium

There are no spectators

It’s only me –

The actor,

The hero!

Some part dialectic, Bhatnagar’s poetry affirms a self not at odds with the world but unlocking its rhythms, accepting its limitations and nature, not making-do but witnessing and celebrating. “Submission” and “The Dusk’ richly evoke brief moments of the persona’s experience and the questioning of how it is we are in the world, and the knowing of its particularity and fleeting nature.

Finally, in “New Life” a short play in verse is taking part on stage where a young man sings in “a pathetic tone”. Poems such as this make experience and emotion almost tactile, while drawing the reader into the shared space of the poem, the shared space of being human and knowing helplessness.

Reading Bhatnagar’s work is one of those rare moments of discovering a poet whose voice and experience seem wholly integrated, so that in the reading not simply communication but a kind of communion is achieved.

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[1] O WINGED STEEDS OF DESTINY

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O Winged steeds of Destiny!

Holding thy reins

With confidence

And with firm hands,

We will pull them

To give ye direction,

Every time!

Lustrous and indomitable,

We are the sons of the soil

We stand by the toil

We cherish the youthful vigour;

We will pull

Thy bridle — mind you —

To give ye direction,

Every time!

O ye, the sentinels and the stars foretelling!

Our labour is marked with brilliance,

We will pull out

Thy light undecaying;

For, we can reach

The inaccessible Space

Through endurance and steadfast endeavours.

O ye, our stars!

We will, forsooth,

Take away from ye

Thy brilliance!

O ye, the moving invisible hand!

Thou art the invincible citadels

Echoing the distressed cries

Of the ill-fated ones!

Bathed in sweat

We will wash

Thy ominous lines,

And singing sweet the inspiring music

Of hard work,

We will break through

Thy citadels

Of distress and destruction!

O winged steeds of Destiny!

We will hold thy bridle

And give ye direction!

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[2] GIFT OF A LIVELY FAITH

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Lots of Love — love

That I have treasured all my life —

To each of those

Who are distressed

Either by Fate or the ways of the world!

I throw open the gates

Of my small habitation

To give shelter to the life and honour

Of those who are hit

Hard by Nature's ironies,

Or, by worldly ridicules.

O ye,

The downtrodden, distressed, dejected ones!

I welcome you

With the fragrant gleeful bouquets

Of new hopes and a lively faith!

Covet your life with beauty

And fill your heart

With an earthly fragrance!

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[3] TO THE CONDEMNED WOMAN

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O fallen woman

Condemned by the world

Come!

Me would give you cinnabar

To wish you blessedness!

O you,

Who have only known

Deep sighs and wailings

Me would bless your voice

With sweet melodies!

O you,

Who are rich

With the ironies of life,

Come,

Me would bless you

With the mirths of life!

O you,

Who are drooping

Being excommunicated,

Come!

O come,

Me would give you

The abode of lotuses blue!

O you,

Who are deprived of every-thing,

Mocked-at woman!

Come,

O come,

Me would feelingly

Tickle my fingers

Into your rugged locks!

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[4] ACCEPT ME

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My wishes :

Like the twinkling stars

On the breast of the blue!

My passions :

Like the bright streams

Of the fast-flowing 'Bhagirathi'!

That rises from the Himalayas!

My feelings :

Like the most beautiful garlands

Of red roses

Fresh, fragrant and blossoming!

I offer these to you

In adoration;

O celestial Beauty!

Every little bit of my heart

Is filled with

Your beautiful golden rays!

Accept me,

O accept me,

Even in my life of mundane existence

I offer to you my purest love!

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1- Name of the river Ganges.

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[5] THE OFFSHOOT

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The forward moving force in man

Grows. The offshoot breaks

The hard crust,

Withstanding the onslaughts

Of the whirlwinds

The brilliant sprouts into a new life!

As it grows into a plant

And dances with the winds

In arrogance,

Ominous forces of destruction

Lay down their arms

With a sense of frustration;

And those that wished to sap the energy

Of life — abundant, though —

Give their way.

So do not come

in the offshoot's way,

Do not interfere

With their growth;

Let them sprout and grow

In the sun,

In the open sky!

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[6] WE KNOW IT WELL

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We'll march removing hurdles,

Cleaving the dark

We'll march!

For, we know it well —

That lightning flashes not in the blaze of noon!

Awake, incessantly shall we proceed

Erecting an edifice anew.

For, we know it well —

That youth falters not — no, never!

The opposing gales will gaze in wonder,

And the adversities will then quickly end;

For, we know it well —

That the breaths of the undaunted

are wasted not — no, never!

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[7] STOP IT

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This is not the voice

Of the down-trodden;

the starving and the naked,

Nor, is it the voice of the human rights!

This is not the voice of amity and accord.

This is not the rescue-boat of the struggling man

Who is caught in the tempest-torn sea!

When you've in your hand

The naked carcass of culture;

When your vulture teeth are red

With blood of the teeming millions

And your breath smells of a deflowered virginity,

How could you talk of human rights,

Kicking the oppressed in their chests

With your iron-boots?

Oh, stop your dirty slogans of peace!

The night has now crossed over the exploited world

And there comes the light flooding in;

Paint not the paper-walls

With spurious colours to deceive —

There they are to speak for the human rights.

The mansion of your meaningless 'humanitarianism'

Will crumble down!

Climbing up the remains

Will each man sing

Fearlessly,

The song of equality!

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[8] THE DAWN

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In the snowy nights

Those who lie

Under a foggy blanket

Like bundles

Drawing their knees unto their chests

Are drowsy and anxious;

But they dream of a new dawn

(Can ever groans eclipse faith?)

As increases the cold,

Nearer moves

The ember of a new life;

The eyes will behold a little while hence

A new dawn, a new millennium,

And the passions of a new life!

For, never shall extinguish the lamp

Of hopes and ambitions,

Of the toiling millions!

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[9] I APPEAL

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I appeal today

To the millions of the exploited world;

To the sighs of the starving,

the naked and the oppressed,

The helpless and the hapless ones —

'Do not grope in the dark any more;

Oh, do not cherish in your eyes any dreams,

Open your eyes, my friends!

Ready to greet you, peeps the morn!'

There sings the cuckoo

In the groves,

Time and again, in her high pitched voice —

'A new dawn comes,

Comes a new millennium,

And the world is completely changed!'

I appeal to those who

Climb up the Himalayas

And tread the thorny path

That their goal is almost near hand

And they will certainly attain it soon.

Then will end the long prevailing

disease of exploitation

And the restless faces will beam in cheers.

There will blow a fresh, unpolluted wind

And the mosquitoes that suck the blood

And spread disease in the world

Will then go to the distant, dark corners!

I appeal

Oh, hail the new era,

With an irrepressible, sky-tearing voice;

Let thousands sing

The victory song —

For, the iron strength of the masses

Has this day got the better of the citadel;

Pray, such moments long prevail!

I appeal to those who worship life,

Those who are the living angels on earth,

Who lend their might to the common masses

Dig deep the soil

The Mother Earth has been waiting for years

To welcome you,

With the gifts of silver and gold.

Strike, strike,

The turn of the poor has come at last!

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[10] THE TREMOR OF TRAMPLING FEET

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When the dormant ocean of humanity

Was stirred to life at the beckoning call

Everyone thought —

There struck the thunderbolt

But lo! that was the thunderous noise

Of the downtrodden!

When the thick walls of the exploiters' citadels

Cracked with the reverberating sounds

Everyone thought —

There rocked the earthquake

But lo! that was the tremor of the

trampling feet,

Of the down trodden!

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[11] MANY A MAN

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The day dawns —

Yet, many a man is sleeping,

They are harvesting the crop —

Yet, many a man is weeping!

The new Ganges flows today —

Yet, many a man is thirsty,

For, behaving like Chatak1 they hold

The water to be poisonous and dirty!

The new breeze blows

Through the fields and barns,

There are many who breathe in freedom;

Still many a man shivers and sighs!

A new world has emerged though,

Some take it still to be an evil world;

Scared of their own shadows,

They are caught in illusions wild!

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1- A mythological Indian bird which drinks only the rain water under the ‘Swati’

constellation. Here it is symbolic of a static and conventional attitude.

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[12] THE WORSHIP OF ART

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Why, the worship of Art

Fills each heart

With love!

Sing,

The stone will turn into wax,

The hot desert into a tidal sea.

Sing,

The whirlwinds will calm down;

The dark night

Will turn into a golden day.

Sing, O sing,

The birds of life will chirp

In the lonely valleys of death

And the desolate, dreary faces

Will gleam in moonlit smiles!

The worship of Art is meant to lit

Candle in each heart,

Or, fill it with the fragrance

Of sandal wood.

The worship or Art is meant to fill

Each heart with love!

O sing,

The world shall excel the Heaven in beauty,

No man will suffer old age;

A man will only an angel be

And a woman,

A divine damsel she will be!

Sing, O sing,

That the spring may come

To the distressed life;

The boughs and flowers may dance

In mirth;

The eyes may cherish

The sweet dreams.

O sing,

Playing on the world's harp;

Stir each mind

With the priceless tunes of love.

The worship of Art is meant to rouse

A sense of beauty

In every man!

The worship of Art is meant to fill

Each heart, with love!

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[13] WHAT IS THE SECRET?

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The wind is cold !

The night is still

Listless like your lips !

What the matter is ?

What the mystery is ?

That asleep is each ripple !

Slumber keeps vigil,

Harrowing darkness deep,

Shooting pain is afoot !

The wind is cold !

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[14] A STATE OF MIND

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My desires are oppressed

And restive

To find expression!

My lustful desires

Are carefully preserved by me

In a lone, hidden place,

In the hope

That they will find

Their fulfilment.

My lustful desires

Are restive

And oppressed;

Yet, they are keen to actualize

Themselves

In all experiences.

But, somehow,

The atmosphere is laden

With tear-gas,

Leaving me to weep

Unto myself; Or,

Suffer wrath of the unfulfilled desires!

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[15] LIFE

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All is being lost;

Nothing gained.

Life is like

An ill-arranged and lonely closed room

Or, like a yacht

On the distant sands with its bottom-holes.

Knotty problems

Tightening their grips all around

Evade solutions.

Life is nothing

But an unwanted comet;

Life is like Sita1 —

Stigmatized and distressed;

A vast river with great whirlpools

And full of swelling waves accursed,

How to cross it?

How to bring peace to the restive mind?

Life is like

An ugly canvas

Full of mud and dust

No world of flowers blossoming it is,

For, that is all a dream.

Destiny always takes us on the wrong path

Leaving nothing for us to cling

Yet I live

On the bed of fire;

Yet I live

Holding a mountain on my head!

Yes, I live in the manner of Siva2

Drinking poison unto the neck!

Life is intricate, complex, too

It's not so easy, not that easy!

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1- The wife of Lord Rama.

2- Lord Shiv is known to be the destroyer as well as the preserver of this world.

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[16] THROUGH THE UNWANTED MOMENTS

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O giver of life,

Give me love,

If you have given me thirst

Give me nectar to drink.

When the soul is blessed

With a physical mould,

Give it shape, give it beauty;

And fill the heart

With the tidal waves of feeling!

Oh, deny me not the natural emotions,

For, that would make a hell of life,

Or, mean the passing of years without a song

Of love or beauty.

Oh, deny me not the happy Savan1

If you have opened up the eyes to light

Let them rock the countless dreams;

Let my consciousness enjoy

A whit

Freedom from pain or sighs

Oh, tighten not the strings of helpless moments

Let the broken wings of desire play

For a moment before they die.

Oh, do not fix the nail of vile hatred

Into the throbbing heart

Do not reciprocate the fire of anger

For the fire of love.

O giver of life,

Let me taste the sweet smell

Of every flower,

If you have given me life

Let me relax on a creeper's lap

Free from all inhibitions.

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1- One of the months of the rainy season.

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[17] I ACCEPT

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O Large-eyed

The Khanjan1-eyed

Pretty one

The curse

That you have inflicted on me

..... I accept.

O bestower of benedictions!

The life-giver

The poisonous gift

That you have given me

..... I accept.

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1- Wagtail; often used as a simile in Indian Literature for depicting beautiful,

playful eyes.

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[18] AN AWARENESS WITHIN

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Fill deep the heart

With anguish

And the compassionate eyes

With tears!

Agony is your only fate

Why, accept the hand

Whose lines foretell of a tragic life;

Accept the ice-benumbed, yet lovely, hand,

It has fallen to your lot

Accept it cheerfully.

Why, accept the grief-stricken life;

The tiring moments —

The dark, dirty and tearful moments

Of a darksome life,

Accept them cheerfully.

Yea, fill your iron-heart

With anguish,

And fill your barren eyes

With tears!

The clouds

With the deep salty sea

And the destruction beaconing storm

Have knocked your doors,

Extend them

A hearty welcome.

Accept them gladly

Who have brought for you

A gift of pain!

Sustain on your weak shoulders

The great mountains!

Fill deep the heart

With anguish

And the compassionate eyes

With tears !

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[19] THE IRONY OF FATE

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In the flower-beds of my heart

I caused the fragrant flowers to bloom

All, all my life

The flowers of feelings!

All, all my life

I caused the bewitching birds of fancy

— like silken slips of multicoloured cloth

To fly free in the immense sky!

I wished I could

All, all my life

Bring the sun and the moon

To the deep most valleys

Of my heart

To kill darkness!

But, why this error,

Oh, Providence!

That the body is tightly tied

with countless snakes

And is encircled with sharp thorns;

That the persistent strokes of the gale

Give gifts of vain venomous dust!

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[20] HOW TO SUFFER PAIN : A POINT OF VIEW

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Smile

If the heart aches.

If, however, the pain

Finds its expression

In the slightest wrinkle on the face,

Or, when its expression

Is even half-consciously

Disallowed —

It is only condemnable

Fie it!

It is unmanliness!

Sing

If the heart aches;

Sing with such an ease

That none can ever get at it,

Sing with the honey-soaked voice

The mirths of life!

Let not the dead, pale leaves of autumn

Even slightly rustle,

Oh, sing

The songs of spring!

Sing,

Burying sobs and sighs,

The tinkling, reverberating melodies

Of the ankle-bells;

Sing —

Being oblivious of the sad and painful moments

Of a lonely life —

The never ending laughter

Of a boisterous life!

Sing

The songs of love

Love, that is a great boon,

Love, that is priceless,

Love, that smells like Life's

sweet scented shrubs!

Smile

If the heart aches :

Smiles that are milky white,

Smiles that are immaculate white,

Smiles that are silver-like,

Smiles that are moonlight-like!

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[21] THE INCREDIBLE

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Inside the auditorium

There are no spectators

It's only me —

The actor,

The hero!

Whose life —

Far from being delightful —

Has been most woeful and tragic.

It's really me

Who lives up to the main story

And sings

In broken voice

It's own requiem :

It's so pathetic, monotonous and uncharming.

I am the 'Bhojak'1

The 'Bhojya'2 too,

Soaked in sorrow,

Made of blue tendons,

Tediously and slowly grown plot;

The introduction, the middle, and the end!

But

Who are you

Like an intoxicating side-plot?

Are you 'Rambha'?3

Are you 'Urvashi'?4

Who deviates so sudden

From the main plot?

yes, its all too sudden

So out of place

So unnatural!

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1- A person that rouses an emotion. [A technical term in Sanskrit poetics.]

2- The comprehension of a sentiment. [A technical term in Sanskrit poetics.]

3- A divine damsel.

4- A divine damsel of the court of Lord Indra.

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[22] WHO ARE YOU?

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In the solitude of this darksome night —

Who has poured

Into my poisonous, bitter self

The sweet words of great consolation —

Sounding like a charming musical note,

Coming from a distance,

Springing a pleasant surprise?

Oh, who is it

That opens the closed windows of my heart

To peep in

Like a spark in the dark clouds

Of a gloomy life?

Who is it

That moves

Into the charred sky, or

Into the sultry suffocating world,

Like the moist-laden east wind?

Oh, who is it

That stirs my consciousness

To mitigate my sufferings?

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[23] A SUBMISSION

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The flowers that fade away

Without beaming full smile

On the branches of the earth

Stir my questing spirit!

O my love, forgive me,

If I cannot sing these days

In thy praise.

Forgive me

If I cannot appreciate

The fragrance or the golden beauty

Of the physical mould.

Forgive me

If I cannot smile

At your enchanting beauty!

O my lovely love!

When the flowers are fading

And the world looks like a widow,

What meaning could there be

In the beauty-aids, or

The jingling of the ankle-bells?

Pray, Oh, Pray

That the buds may blossom

And the branches quiver with love!

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[24] THE DUSK

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On that hillock —

Hesitatingly sprawls a massy stone,

Black and nude and crude.

Hesitatingly — yes, perhaps,

Someone may now come

To lie on it.

Someone — yes,

May be a lover of heavenly bodies,

May be a poet,

Or, a deserted lover,

Or, someone fretted with the world!

All around the hillock

On the dark soil

Spreads a big velvet;

May be a blanket, if not a velvet,

That covers the one who 'sleeps'.

Nearby, there is the lake :

The rays of the setting sun

Weaken their embrace of the soft ripples,

Reassuring them to visit them the next day,

Say —

'Like the home-bound birds of twilight sure

We'll visit again,

Now you go to sleep!'

A soft breeze blows

As if dame in georgette sari

Crossed this way. Oh,

What a charming scene! But

Before I could enjoy it,

A rustic painter slowly but callously —

Painted it black!

It can't be redeemed —

May you, however, smudge the white

Several times

On the blue sky

It can't be redeemed!

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[25] NEW LIFE

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[On the stage, a young man sings in a pathetic tone. His hairs are dry and dishevelled. Its' dark on the stage; the young man's face is, however, dimly lighted. As he sings, soft melody of an instrument — quite in tune with the song — comes from behind the curtain.

Man's life is filled with helpless moments;

The days and nights are all dark and dreary

And the stale talk of those dire needs

Rap my heart —

How long will it take the rains to come?

The song of life is left half-sung — never done!

My life is given to helplessness!

The same old dreams deceive as yet,

And the heart is filled

With those very lusts, throbs and commotions —

How long will it take a new world to bear?

My life is filled with dreary moments!

My life is given to helplessness!

[The background music becomes a little high-pitched and a female voice, as yet subdued and indistinct, is heard, also echoing the tune of the song. The young man continues to sing ...

The hot winds blow

Howling at the nests,

Scaring me to wonder —

How long will it take the spring to bloom?

My life is fading amidst autumn's dead leaves!

My life is given to helplessness!

[The approaching sounds of the ankle-bells accompany the melodious voice of the lady and the instrument. The voice of the young man becomes soft; but all the same he goes on singing ...

My fatigue-intoxicated body aches

And my heart is rendered

Weak, helpless and demoralized —

How long will it take to beam a smile?

My life becomes a show of skeleton!

My life is given to helplessness!

[A young and vivacious lady appears on the stage. She is basked in colourful light. She is the symbol of a New Life. The young man looks at her in amazement and his song abruptly stops. But, he background music becomes somewhat sharp ...

Man's morrow is bright and gay,

Be it though not a better path,

Strewn with thorns, an intractable path,

But he tramples down the thorns

Alleviating adversities comes then

the New Life beaming smiles!

Mitigating darkness comes then

the New Life showering light!

[As soon as the words, 'beaming smiles' are heard her face beams with smile. The young man, singing the background music, approaches the Lady of Life. His dry hairs wave in the air; and the Lady of Life holds his hands into hers. Then the melodies of the instrument, the song and the ankle-bells linger to reverberate for a little while.]

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