Another review of my poetry book http://www.themindspacemag.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46&Itemid=58
The Voyages that the Soul Undertakes: A Review of From Dulong to Beas
by Chandrakant Kaluram Mhatre
Asst. Professor, Dept. of English, N.G. Acharya and D.K. Marathe College, Chembur, Mumbai-71
From Dulong to Beas is Jaydeep Sarangi’s third collection of poems in English published in year 2012 by Authorspress, New Delhi. It comprises – in its 71 pages, along with an introduction and the poet’s interview – thirty-nine poems that deal with the personal as well as collective and the metaphysical as well as political themes: the collection’s sweep of poetic expression is indeed becoming of its title that indicates a pan-Indian outlook!
Most of the poems included in this collection are short lyrics in free verse. They are written in deceptively simple style which is highly conversational. One cannot help but marvel at how the poet shifts his poetic gaze from his personal experiences of longing and frustration in poems like “Take Me” and “What I Learnt from You” to the miserable existences of the marginalised in our society through his poems like “Living Alone” and “Exotic Jhargram”. He moves with same ease from grim politics in “Recent Trends” and “21st February” to lofty metaphysics in “When the Lamp is Lighted” and “Who will Solve My Problems?”. While poems like “We Need You” and “Stand up, Dear Friends” aim at motivating the youth of the nation towards social change, “Bengali Baul” and “Titas and Meghana” emphasise the cultural heritage and the lifestyle in the Gangetic Deltas. Indeed, Jaydeep Sarangi has succeeded in exhibiting his versatile poetic genius in this small collection.
Whatever the subject matter of his poems, Sarangi expresses some of the most complex human experiences through his exquisite images. The range of his images too is as extensive as the subject matter of his poems. Natural imagery obviously dominates this poetry collection, but among these images too he attains considerable depth and breadth of variety. A book titled after two rivers (one being Dulong from Midnapore region and the other Beas, one of the Sapta-Sindhus) understandably speaks through the images of rivers! Rivers appear in subtly beautiful images as in
Mind that has engulfed within
Disappeared as river into the ocean (“When the Lamp is Lighted”)
and they also appear in ragingly provocative images as in
Why are you silent
When the river turns into a gutter? (“What I Learnt from You”).
Other natural phenomena like birds and trees too have become the vehicle of Sarangi’s poetic expression enriching its ecocritical dimension. In one of his poems, “What I Learnt from You”, expressing personal anguish, appears this tree image at the beginning of the poem and gives it a depth that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise:
As you touch my body
Laden with fruit.
Something similar is achieved by the poet when he gives way to his lament as Sad wings twitter in “Living alone” or expresses his ecstatic joy in “I’m Ready with My Painted House”:
I have made wide verandah
Where you may unfold your wings.
This poet with so delicate sensibilities, however, possesses a penetrating gaze too, that sees through the modern urban existence and delineates it in a wryly unapologetic manner as in
Somewhere among the trees
Some rare species of monkeys
Jump form one tree to another
Like a busy man’s schedule in a metro city (“Kanakdurga Temple”).
He unmasks the hypocritical tendencies of our times in similar fashion when he observes in his poem “Recent Trends”:
We do not speak our mother tongue.
We only learn the languages that pay:
C++, Java and English.
Jaydeep Sarangi’s immaculate grip over his medium is definitely commendable as it enables him to shift from one realm of human experience to another so seamlessly. It is this faculty that enables him to bring together two entirely heterogeneous ideas as in the poem “Poor She” wherein he talks about the exhilarating experience of love in terms of a mundane car journey:
When my car is speeding through the highway?
or as in the poem “My Homepage”, he juxtaposes an elevated spiritual longing with the materialistic aspect of the existence:
For a holy bath.
Somewhere a holy spirit dismisses
Unwanted calls from a man
or the straightforward account of the frustrations and desperations of the poetic genius in “Bright Morning”:
Poetry dies hard on a summer afternoon
Where life falls flat in a busy metro city.
Not surprising then, that Jaydeep Sarangi cannot but register the political milieu in his poems. Not a big deal given the volume of politically tinted poems in Indian English Literature! But what separates Sarangi from the run-of-the-mill political commentators is his ability to poeticise (as opposed to the versification of the latter) his experiences from this strictly non-poetic sphere of human activity. An exquisite example occurs in the poem “To Goddess Pallas Athena”:
Secularism is a move
A chess master knows well.
It’s not only the internal affairs of the nation that catch the attention of this highly insightful mind, even the external and the international find a categorical mention in many of the poems in this collection of which “Titas and Meghna” being one remarks:
Two streams never commingle
Like two neighbouring nations.
The common man who bears the brunt of all that happens in the political sphere obviously fares prominently in Jaydeep Sarangi’s poems in this collection. Among all the hardships of the masses what gets special recognition from this sensitive poet is their displacement and the consequential separation from their loved ones. A number of his poems give vent to this helpless feeling gnawing at the hearts of the multitudes. For example, in “Exotic Jhargram”
Mukti’s daughter counts days
When her father lives in an alien land
and in “The Tree of Life”
The mother and her child look bright.
A rainbow colour hope
Or a letter from Mumbai
Leads them to the Christmas tree.
Despite all his brilliance in the representation of the social, political and economic realms of human experience, it is in the metaphysical that Sarangi finds his Aatmaswar. The culmination of his poetic genius is to be found in the poem “When the Lamp Is Lighted” in which the poet asks the Aupanishadic questions such as: Who am I? What is my Being? A fine lyric, this poem gives the reader a glimpse of the poetic might that Sarangi possesses through such sublime lines as:
However, the high point of this creation par excellence occurs when the poet, looking within, encapsulates an eternal truth in these words:
From Dulong to Beas thus documents the varied realities that a cultivated mind experiences in our times and tries to decipher and decode them in order to fit them in a pattern hoping that it finally all coheres! Saying whether Jaydeep Sarangi has found that pattern would be a statement made too early, too boldly and at its own peril; but what is apparent in this collection is the fact that he has definitely found the direction that leads to that coveted destination. Anticipating a more emphatic statement of his voyage on this highly treacherous course, one looks forward to hear more in the future form this ‘Bard on the Banks of Dulong’.
(published in CONTEMPORARY VIBES,India.2013)