Friday, August 29, 2008

‘The Route to the Open Sea’- The Poetry of Rita Malhotra

When looking at the whole scenario of Indian English Poetry from pre independence to Post independence, Pashupati Jha’s observation is noticeable:
Although Indian English poetry written by women marked its presence in the nineteenth century with the arrival of Toru Dutt, further reinforced by Sarojini Naidu in the next century; this poetry, despite its strength and importance, lacked a sense of immediacy and intimacy of personal experience. These poets were more concerned with establishing their credential as an Indian poet writing in English than with the exploration of their inner urge…but after the mixed sixties of the twentieth century, a perceptive change was noticed with the emergence of ‘I’- an assertive self in the poetry of Kamla Das and this trend went on gathering strength with Mamta Kalia, Eunice De Souza, Sunita Jain, Lalita Venkateshwaran and Shri Devi. (Jha)

We find that a major shift of ideas and themes from objective to subjective, from self expose to self-identity and from imitativeness to originality. The simultaneous growth and development in the field of woman and her consciousness can not only be discerned in the society but also it is a living reality in the woman literature also. Woman poets have been the true janitors of different heritage and cultures as well as they are the emotional sculptor of civilization. In this context the post independence Indian English women poets mainly Anna Sujata Modayil, Chitra Prasad, Rohini Gupta,Dorothy Sinha, Gauri Deshpandey, Kamla Das, lluxmi Kanan, Lalita Vyankateshwaran, lila Dharmraj, Monika Verma, Ira De, Tapti Barua Kashyap, lila Dalmiyan, Renu Roy, Roshan Alkazi, Mamta Kalia, Mina Alexender, Sunita Jain, Suniti Namjoshi, Vimla Rao, Marry Andasgupta and Rita Malhotra are the pioneers of Indian English women poetry. Unlike their processors, these poets are rich in their sensibility and craft both. Besides, they claim to be categorized in a separate class called Modern Women Poets.
Moving our glance from the whole scenario to the poetry of Rita Malhotra in particular, we will find the velvety woman and caring and caressing poet in her. Sobrato Bandhyopadhyaya aptly remarks:

The ‘poetical- key’ in Malhotra’s poems opens doors to delicate songs with balanced rhetoric and emphasis of conviction a perfect admittance to one’s interior shadows, powerful enough to fly through innovative intuitions. (Blurb)

A reader in Mathematics at Kamla Nehru College and visiting Post Graduate Faculty, Delhi University-, Dr. Rita Malhotra is a PhD in Mathmatics and has been a Post Doctoral Fellow at University of Paris IX on a French Government Fellowship. She has published her two collections previously; the first one is Reflections published by Writers Workshop Calcutta (1997) and the second Images of love published by Virgo publications (2003). She is widely translated, published and awarded. Her poetry carries several imprints of romanticism but does not forsake the plight and challenges of modern life and woman in particular.
In her I am not Your Woman and Other Poems her latest collection, Rita mingles memory with meandering emotions and is seen absorbed in the quest of roots of love in woman’s life. In her opening poem ‘I am Not Your Woman’ when she in the end says:

Today he is synonymous
With absence
Today I seek a route
To the open sea. (1)

We find a blend of past with the present as the warp and woof of her poetry which is synonymous with aerial presence of love that is a light house anchoring the poetry of Rita to the new shores of experiences and meanings. Her poetry, therefore is not merely a document of personal experiences, rather it bears agonies, pains and anguish of modern life in society wherein she with the subjects of child marriages, rape of minors, child prostitutes, hypocrisy of man, homeless children and the hollowness of middle class ethos in urban India and the false babble of politicians. In her poem, ‘Woman’ she metaphorically compares woman to a ‘flowing river/ assuming myriads shapes, shades/ along her journey/ through life’s rocks and stones/ in its fickle twist and turns’ ignoring the ravages of time. She portrays all the images of Kali, Rukhmani or Gauri in her woman and expands her ocean of thoughts and makes the woman to ‘welcome, embrace/ to prayers, sins/ ashes and all.’ Similarly in her poem ‘Bindi’ which is marked as ‘caste mark of profound piety, Rita muses over myriad aspects and journeys through myriad moods and finally speaks in the words of Bindi:

I empower
I endow her with sense of space
As I pave the vibrant way
She remains the soul
Of this day.(20)

In another poem, ‘Cookie Woman’ she mirrors the fate and plight of woman when she says:

Woman, born, reborn
And born, again
All in one birth
A function of man’s desire
Seeking sense in
Sometimes- loved
Othertimes- ignored gestures
Shaped, chiseled,
To suit her master,
Is the manicured cookie
Relished bite by bite until
Dreams defeated,
She is a shapeless mass once more. (39)

Similar thoughts are exposed in the poem ‘Widow’:

Disarray of solitude
Shuts her eyes to lust lies
Brutal desires drowns her sobs of shame
Dignity imprisoned for life
She dies once more, and once more,
Numberless times. (50)

In the poem ‘Words’ she alike Baldev mirza considers words as a potent medium to bring the people close in the words of Mirza who says:
I fling a cord of words
To walk unto me.
Similarly Rita says:
“Words drew us close
Words tore us apart
Light- years hence
We reach out once again
Treading upon the word-path. (108)

The creative genius of Rita is chiefly visible in her poems of love, nature and man and woman relationship where she is both candid and confessional without any inhibition on her part and where she expresses her notions in simple, genuine and human style, displaying a rare emotional maturity, combining tenderness, passion and emotions and her weakness if any is the weakness of entire class. Her sensitive and sober observations are the both penetrating and piercing that can be seen in her poems ‘Untitled’, ‘Infidelity’, ‘Prisoners of Patterns’, ‘Canvas’, ‘Unwed Mother’, ‘ Solitude’, ‘Footstep’, ‘distant’, ‘Devote’, ‘New Son’, ‘Tempest’ and ‘Picture Perfect.’ Besides, poems like ‘Silence’, ‘the Sea Within’, ‘Borrowed Bliss’, ‘metropolis’, ‘ Land- Sea- Land’, ‘tempest’, ‘ Blanket night’, ‘ night’, ‘ Kaohsiung Images’, ‘Earthquake images’ and ‘Like Every Other Day’ are full of the hues of the Nature in which Rita has tried her best to portray almost all the aspects of Nature and life. For example, in the ‘Earthquake images, she says;

The earth quakes in fury
Puts life to a dreadful sleep
Shakes the dead awake.’ (96)
Or in ‘Kaohsiung Images’ she draws a sketch:
“Moments linger
Through reciprocal promises
Of meeting again
We return
Shut eyelids of the stare-strewn waters
Of the Love- river
Conceal sadness-rears. (95)

In another poem, ’Metro-morality’, Rita gives a realistic picture of the metropolis:

Sultry monsoon-evening
Screeching cars
On angry abused roadsoccupants sport
Latest- in- fashion’ garments
On way to a dinner meet
Deliberations on the Agra summit
And the Phoolan Devi- killing
Follow talks of
Hectic schedules and humid weather.

x x x x x

Curses damn the inhuman city
Warped morality manifested,
Pseudo-compassion warded off
Like a swarm of bees,
The car moves on, A C full blast
The F M channel plays
The next popular number. (101)

And in another poem ‘Freedom Fighter’, she is both realistic and emotional at the sad demise of a freedom fighter:

Today log-stiff, still
Draped in white
He smiled his death smile
The medal shines bright
On his frail proud chest. (86)

Or in ‘Their Tuesdays’ she puts a humorous and ironical picture of the hanuman temple:

The affluence-draped devotee
In white Jasmine fragrance
Falls prostrate
Seeking divinity
In garlanded exaggeration of stone idols
The priest’s vulture-glance gleefully crystallizes in
The generous offerings
At Hanuman’s divine feet. (79)

The short poem or the Tercets appended in the last of the book are no less sensuous, beautiful and poetic in which most of the poems are about love, pain, hope, nature and feminism where the three unities of rhythm, idea and vision can be found predominant.
The metaphoric images, graceful symbols, alliterative phrases, deed ruminations and excavations of heart’s pain, fine arrangement of words, appropriate linguistic use, constitute these short poems. For example, we may take the first Tercet in which Rita creates a metaphor when she says:

Lotus leaf
Trembling water drops
Hint of love. (123)

Or a silent pain can be heard when she says:
“The slow exudation of ironic perspectives the protraction of impulsive labouring and the conception of emotional candour is obvious in these tercets where Rita’s authentic poetic sensibility which is mostly charged with self-indulgence, self-experience and a vacuity which remains visible in most of the poems hits at the genesis and the development of the idea, and the motive of the poet. The Indian ethos and sensibility are nowhere absent nor the deep-rooted Indian rituals have become fetters like other Indian English Women poets who denounce the social bindings’ rather she voices the issues of woman more forcefully than any other current woman poet. She is never dismayed or dishearten in the adverse times when she appears to be saying:

I remember time
In colours of hurt
Yet I dream dream.”(126)
X x x
“Algae- covered pond
Depressed waters
Yet the lotus smiles a fresh pink. (130)

Yet we become reflective when we read such lines:

Can we give the street child
His last childhood by drooping
A coin into his begging bowl?’(134)
Woman today
Is not a mere mirror
That magnifies the image of her man. (135)

According to her, the human quest and human predicament is much similar to these tercets:

Immense daylight, edgeless
Scorching desert sands, endless
Search for an oasis continues.”135
Wild grass
In the graveyard
Flower struggle to survive. (Ibid)

She, at times, appear to be breaking all restrictive codes of decorous behavior of poetry but she never cuts across the boundaries of morality and decency rather she remain emotional, poetic, and flowing. A fusion of transmutation of image, symbol, metaphor rhythm and tone with feeling create a high sensitivity and vitality in her poems as well as the intensity of experience and the prominence of feeling and sensuality make her more passionate balanced and celebrated artist. Her ward pictures are lively, vivid as she is gifted poetic artist who uses vivid, crisp, evocative and alliterative phrases: - blank between, melodies, meanders, hired henchman, romantic resides, powerful prostitutes, dew drops, brocade-blanket, anxious anticipation, diurnal dip, deluging desires, falsity ferments, falsehood, whistling winds, glow golden, cheerful chocolate, gamine grin, soft silk, brown buds, permanent probability, earnest expression, colossal cosmos, pattern played , profound piety, soberly splendor, death disguise, seismic storm, fragment flown, bare breasts, shambling seaside, sounds, fragile fabric, monochrome magic dark days and rocking rhythms, (in her long poems) lotus leaf, time trembles, death’s door, still sighs, stone-still shelf and wind-worn (in Tercets).
According to her, when ‘the soul embarks/ upon a journey to fantasy land, / floating stars on dark water / make a poem’ or when ‘dawn smiles / foaming waves lack- hands / in an endless white chain / a poem takes shape’ or when ‘ words weave poems / a nourished soul / spreads its wings’. It is nowhere a ‘sudden outburst / inspired moment’ / or ‘spontaneous overflow’. To her, poetry is a daughter of love and agony. It is a perfect marriage of experience and expression. We find her nowhere vacillating between the two or over weighing the one. She is nowhere away from life’s realities, so she remains interesting and charming. Here the comment of Dragan Pragojlovic worth mentioning:

Malhotra’s poems come into being between love and agony. Her poems do not ignore life’s truths. That is perhaps the reason why her poems often convey very deep emotions and sound honest. The reader cannot remain indifferent and would be able to feel the warmth and pain of Malhotra’s verse in his mind. (Blurb)

Besides, the two poems, the one on Dr. A.P. J. Abdul Kalam and the other on’ Mother Teresa’ are also beautiful because they not only eulogize the two luminaries but also leave a didactic note.
It is our turn now
Deep inside, each one
Is a proved brave heart
Ready to walk along
The path you carve
Beyond thoughts, beyond dreams.
Beyond times. (114)

Therefore from the above observation, we may clearly see that the poetry of Rita Malhotra is pure and perfect in the sense as it dose not leave its readers reflective on account of its suggestive, vigorous and lively images revitalize and recharge the human being should be the aim of the poets to make their readers both passive and active; passive in the terms of human regeneration or disorganization and active in the terms of vivacity of thoughts and emotions.
The collection I am not Your Woman and Other Poems paves the way to open sea on which we find her moving constantly with silent steps. The Indianness, picturesqueness, truthfulness, innocence, viability, suggestiveness, clarity, appropriateness and the accurateness of Mathematics is well reflected in Rita Malhotra’s poems. So she remains graceful, delicate, mature, perceptive, innovative and balanced from beginning to the end of the collection. I personally wish for the long life of such creative genius so that she may continuously bliss her readers with her mesmerizing poetry.

Jha, Pashupati, ‘The Emergence of ‘I’ Among Indian Women Poets’ Indian Writing in English: Tradition and Modernity. Amar Nath Prasad (Editor) and Kanupriya, New Delhi: Sarup and Sons. 2006.
I Am Not Your Woman and Other Poems by Rita Malhotra, Kolkata: Sampark, 2007.ISBN 8-7768-0463, Price- 250/-, pp140. (All the subsequent references are from the same poetry book)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Live……..

I live a death
On the name of life
I live a hate
On the name of love
I live among false
In the sanctum of truth
I live an aphony
On the name of words
On the name of feelings
On the name of thoughts—

Do you live life in fragments?
Like I live in shattered broken glass pieces
Do you die of growing falsity in man?
Like I die often failing in life’s combat
Do you merge alike sinking ferry
Like I used to in my daily attempts of living
FRIEND! Can you understand?
What pricking of hearts means
What happens when you feel none around
Only dark mist beyond visions
Do you crave for stars
That fall from the sky
And just reside in eyes alike dreams
Do you ever grope something in dark
With hope of finding
And your search, when ends in
Desperation, farce and nothing at all

How do you live friend?
How do you live among these dead ?


Monday, August 25, 2008

VISIONS OF DELIVERENCE by Syed Ameeruddin, Edited by Krishna Srinivas, Chennai: International Poets Academy, 2006. ISBN 81-900653-2-7, price 300/- pag

Syed Ameeruddin is a poet of new awakening and his poetry which is complex, evocative and emotive has been widely published, anthologized and critically analyzed by the critics of India and abroad. His edited collection Indian Verse in English is judged as the most representative anthology of our time. For his laudable contribution Ameeruddin has been awarded with Michal Madhusudan Award, Australia Day award for literature (1980) and other prestigious awards from Indai and abroad. Syed Ameeruddin, ‘… is a poet with vision, mission, fusion and transfusion to vigorate and rejuvenate the dejected and faded spirits like phoenix’, is rightly remarked by Shujat Hussain, an eminent critic. He is ‘emerged as a unique phenomenon for his poetic vision, spiritualism, vibrating dynamism, symphonic symbolism, complex imagery and above all for his humanitarian and metaphysical concerns’. (A Critical Review, 226 )

The latest collection Vision of Deliverance is before me for review and I find it too difficult to sum up the critically this magnum opus in few words. And yet an attempt is being made to look into the book in critical way. The collection has thirty poems and a few critical opinions on Ameeruddin’s poetry before and after the collection are incorporated for a better critical understanding of the poetry of Ameeruddin.

The first poem ‘A Prayer for My Grandson’ which is according to late Dr. K. Srinivas has ‘epic dimensions’ and though in the form of personal conversation the poet has beautifully mingled social consciousness, philosophy and predicament of modern life in the poem. We can see it in the following lines when he, addressing his grandson, says:

Who are you my little angel…!
Tears of blood
Roll into my eyes.
Where all this will lead-
And to what destination?
This fiasco of inhumanity
Will certainly lead-
To the symphony
Of demure sepulcher,
And to an orchestral cemetery-
A diabolic deluge!
A celebration-
Of vicarious vultures! (39-40)

Though the collection has poems of various tastes like, Nature (‘Moonlit Meanderings’), Nationalism (‘My India’), Spirituality (‘Mystery of the Divine’, ‘Vision of Deliverance’), yet the poems of love (‘A New Love’, ‘Drumbeats of Dampatya’, ‘My Beloved’, ‘Love Times’, ‘Your Eyes’, ‘Your Are a Beautiful Poem’, ‘Love Song’ and ‘Come Dancing Thine Way to Mine Arms’) have remained predominant in the collection. A fine example when poet referring mythological characters writers to his wife:

The rest is a ravishing history
Of nuptial bond-with a wiggling march.
I saw a sonorous Parvathi in you
And you perceived in e a vivacious Shiva
We Vis-à-Vis- and hand in hand
Crossed the travails and thrills of life
With melodies of devotion
And enchanting drumbeats of ‘Dampatya’. (180)

The title poem ‘Vision of Deliverance’ is the finest poem of the collection both from the points of view of idea and diction. The poem is replete with evocative phrases like ‘eerie furies’, ‘hoary diadems’, ‘phallic deliriums’, ‘trembling rills’, ‘rhythmic plethora, churny gurgles, canaled thunder, and purple holes, ethereal slumber, aspen pantomime’ on one hand and beautiful alliterative phrases like ‘alphabetic acrobats’, ‘labyrinthine lilts’ ‘scissoring slops’, ‘shimmering shrieks’, ‘smithereens souls’, ‘rottening riots’, ‘puerile play’, ‘vast vista’, ‘frenzied flash’, ‘tyrannous trance’, ‘luscious light’ and ‘gurgling galaxy’ on the other. This poem is coupled with lively similes, imagery and symbols to intensify the impact of the poem. The poem commences with the volley of questions of the protagonists resulting in Neti…Neti…Neti, and-

The Moksha! The Magfirat! The Nirvana!
The blow of ‘Soor’
The drumbeat!
The Shriek of Shankh!
Deliverance! Deliverance! Deliverance! (202)

The poem has universal appeal and charm which can captivate each reader’s attention and leave a lasting impression on him. The poem can be called perfect for it is rich in rhyme, thoughts and feelings. The deep-rooted Indian ness and philosophy epitomized in the poem has made Ameeruddin a mastercraftsman of our time.

To sum up, it can be said that Vision of deliverance is a book which gives us a glimpse of India, her philosophy and consciousness and establishes Ameeruddin among the finest poets of Indian English writing.

O P Bhatnagar: A Poet of Political Awakening

O P Bhatnagar is one of the most leading voices of Indian English poetry whose collections Thought Poems (1976), Feeling Fossils (1977), Angels of Retreat (undated), The Audible Landscape, Oneric Visions, Shadows in Floodlight (1984) and Cooling Flames of Darkness (2001) bespeak of political consciousness of the poet. As it is clear cut fact that Indian English poetry can never stay away from the socio-political atmosphere of India and poets who do not write under a single formula but rather start a dialogue between ‘man and man’ so Bhatnagar too deals with a number of issues of our society and politics. Dr. A.N. Dwivedi comments:
Bhatnagar’s poetry comprehends a great variety of themes which directly focus on the long ness of his experience and the solemnity of his involvement in the affairs of life. (CIE217)

Bhatnagar’s tackling of political theme is more firm and larger than any other Indian English poet for he has touched almost all the aspects of political scenario. Dr.V.K.Singh observes:
We find in Bhatnagar a frank analysis of the facts of contemporary life. Bhatnagar descants upon myriad aspects of political life as existing currently. No salient feature escapes his keenly discerning eye. Bhatnagar rips open the bosom of several political riddles. He mirrors before us what is what of all political problems. (152)

Themes like election, bribery, corruption, criminalization of politics, rampant bribery among the leaders degrading character of national leaders, division of society by communalism, castism, linguism, and regionalism etc and the utter loss of values in politics are touched by the poet in a remarkably sensitive and superbly sarcastic way which is still not being surpassed by any poet of Indian English Poetry. His assertion that ‘Indian Poetry in English has to be Indian’ cannot be overlooked if we aspire to promote Indian Literature. Merely copying and coping with the English and English Literature is insufficient because Indian sensibility is not suffering with the penury of thoughts, emotions and sensibility and because it has its foundation vitality and voice of potentiality. Dr. R.C. Sharma is right when he says:
The reason why Bhatnagar advocates making Indian Poetry in English is beset with conflicts and concerns; and these conflicts and concerns are basically Indian. Bhatnagar is conscious of the milieu in which the Indian poet in English lives as well as of the duty which the Indian poet in English has to perform.(79)

O.P.Bhatnagar has dealt with a number of themes like social consciousness, political awareness, love, nature, philosophy and Indianness. According to Dr. A. N. Dwivedi:
Bhatnagar’s poetry comprehends a great variety of themes, which directly focus on the largeness of his experienceand the solemnityof his involvement in the affairs of his life. (CIE,217)

In this way Bhatnagar understands the tempo and temperature of his times and accordingly orchestrates his poetry. Bhatnagar’s dealing with the theme of politics is myriad and real. The various social problems that agitate the conscience of man are the subjects of his poetry and he tries to throw a good deal of light on all of them. S.C.Bose observes:
The poetry of O.P.Bhatnagar which has indeed many dimensions is also significant as poetry of political consciousness. (V. V., 29)

The frank analysis of the fact of contemporary life, and the picturesque delineation make his poetry vibrant and appealing. According to Bhatnagar:
Most of the vital areas of the life today are governed by the quality of political life and atmosphere are creating and living. Politics today has replaced our religious mode of life. We are fast becoming concerned with a kind of nationalism that may define our role and responsibilities in the making of the destiny of our Nation in future. (RC, ‘Introduction’, 8)

According to Bhatnagar:
Indian poetry in English should primarily concern to social and political life of the people of India and it, ‘must democratize its concerns and relations to society and make it a source of shared expectations…it must throw light on the degeneration and corruption corroding identities. It must speak of the total lose of moral values, the gloom and the frustrations pervading the National scene. (RC, ‘Introduction’9)

Poetry for Bhatnagar is a constant search and effort to symbolize for a better socio-political life .to him, it is ‘a self conscious craft shaped and reshaped by constant practice-refined and retouched by way of the vision. Like life itself, it is the work of a gardener who after removing all weeds cultivates it to final growth and flowering. As such there is no influence of any particular school of thought on his poetry. It is entirely his own- a personal experiment inspired by surroundings, ages, times and above all by human predicament.
The first collection of Bhatnagar Thought Poems (1976) has good deal of poems of political consciousness. The poems rich in thought content lack in emotion like that of romantic poets but the first poem of the collection finds out the process of poetic creation. Bhatnagar writes:
Poetry’s meaning
Like a deity in enshrined
Words upon words, the edifice build. (T.P, 5)

Bhatnagar throws ample light on the question concerning God who cannot be resolved out in going round the temple by the worshipper. God is a meaning and deity enshrined in words of poem, the artist alone can expound and seek Him out:
We may go round and round the temple
Yet never be around God.
We may go round and rand an idea
Yet never be around a thought. (ibid. 5)

In one of his poems, he predicts the future as gloomy as the present:
The future looks faded
Like the blossoms of cacti after dawn
The saints from bars, brothels and night clubs
Tasting of casinos and underworld
Turn morals, values and virtues to ice-cream
Licked by fun loving childness in cones. (T.P, 10)

In the poem ‘The new Scale’ Bhatnagar tries to strike balance between one man’s meat is another man’s poison. The poet finds the dictum worn out in the modern context ‘a simple and honest man measures life in value spoons as he finds dishonesty to be the meanest way of life’. The stark reality of life can be seen as:
A simple, honest man
In a worn out mode
May still himself find
Measuring life in value spoons
Bribery, corruption and forgery
For him, a bitter poison be. (T.P., 12)

Bhatnagar wishes to opine that the one’s who amass wealth are the little concern with the interest with their fellow beings, nor do they feel any immorality in acting quite contrary to the code of conduct. In another poem ‘A Woe of Wonder’, Bhatnagar expresses our sentiments and helpless attitude. The poet regrets the diversity, disintegration that our country possesses today. The emphasis of the poet is nothing but Nationality, one sentiment and one attitude. This idea is penned by the poet as:
Our is a multiheaded country
Looking in no particular direction
Trimurti is an all inclusive vision
From here to eternity risen
Telling the tale of our frivolity. (T.P., 14)

Similarly in the poem ‘The Bonds of Country Care’ the poet comments on the loyalty and patriotism of those Indians who have been amassing vanity, wealth and arrogance by their services to the countries to which they have immigrated. These so called loyal citizens and tireless patriots visit India for their own cause:
Loyal citizens proud of patriots
Never forget the care of their country
And fly back home from time to time
Either to choose a bride like a prince
Or buy of ones country a jewel of a land
Placing their kingdom in a safety of bands
Sealed with the loyal assurance with a wink
That although they don’t belong to this country
It sure belongs to their empire. (T. P., 15)

The second collection Feeling Fossils has also some poems of political interest. Bhatnagar despite treating the politics in an indirect manner hardly fails to pin point very uncommon phenomena that somehow remain hidden from the eye of even those who have specialized in the game of politics. ‘Crossing The Bar’ is realistic poem that lashes on the modern politicians. His comment on the modern politicians is worth quoting:
Morals as dense
As thick forests
Let no light in;
The game is weird
Hunting loyalties
For romance. (F.F, 16)

Another notable poem ‘The No Man’s Land’ expresses the idea that freedom has brought no racial change in the life of the people who are still living the dark dungeon of poverty, illiteracy and justice. The movement of liberation was raised by the masses but only few privileged men came forward to control. And when the efforts and sacrifices of the masses resulted success those privileged few captured thrown of the country and continued ruling over the nation under the garb of democracy. So the poet feels right:
Before the British came
The land was not ours:
After they left,
It was not ours too
The land belongs
To those who rule;
The others merely inherit
The no man’s land. (F.F., 19)

The third collection Angles of Retreat has several thought provoking poems in which the poet explores the meaning of time as is evaluated from the events emerging from the cave of materialism wedded to hypocrisy. The tone of the poet in this collection is satiric and ironical. In the poem ‘History is A Sorry go round’ the poet wishes to propound that the historians often ignore the importance of the people at large and they tend to magnify the deeds of a few privileged men. The political sycophants have no other way of reaching the pages of History. The historians think that their labor in recording titles and tortures serve the cause of National unity and security and they are helped by political sycophants:
Political sycophants are their aides
On whose beguiling predictions
They fire eat and perform
The Japanese fire-walk shows
To dazzle the already dazed. (A.R, 40)

However political leaders and sycophants forget that the tyrants and blood suckers have to face a fall:
Too much suppression and much politicking
Ferments its own defeat
Forcing the masses to forge
In the smithy of their conscience
The invisible weapons of their conscience
The invisible weapons of their fall
Crowning shame on the foreheads of tyrants
And nailing bitter truths
On the crossroads times. (A.R.41)

‘Beggars can Be Choosers’ is a remarkable poem in which the poet extends his sympathy for the poor, homeless deceased and propounds that begging is not an evil as those that are harbored by shallow careerists, dare devil smugglers and cheating blackmarketeers. The beggars are away from the ailment of tension, alienation and loss of identity and the poet concludes:
All my humanitarian approach
Seemed a snarl to me
And my reformist fervor a celluloid zeal
Little realizing that beggars also can be choosers
And little less apprehending
The way we can misread one another
To keep our irrational forms going
That in endless deceit
End the shapes of our destiny. (A.R, 43)

Similarly, in another poem ‘Thoughts on A Election Day’ is another poem of political consciousness in which the poet ridicules and paints a very vivid and realistic picture of ignorant voters and literate officials as follows:
The ignorant voters in their routine
Queue up day-dreaming
And in a passion of a second
Get rid of their oscitant indecision
Stamping symbols for men.
With a handful of literates
Sealing illiterate favours in steel boxes
And recording the proud percentage of poll
A quite reigns over the polling booths
Like mourners retired from their obsequies. (A.R., 46)

The hope for new political miracles after such democratic phenomena in every five year is finely portrayed by the poet who wishes to say that Democracy is nothing but the ugly face oppression and injustice.
The fourth collection of verse Oneric Visions indirectly muses over the themes of politics wherein several fragments related to political consciousness are scattered in the volume. For example in the poem ‘If One Starts Asking Questions like Hamlet’ the poet gives a reference to politics:
The fanatic erect marbles statues
Of their transient heroes
On the evanescent route of times-
Some whispering revolution
Others proclaiming peace-
Leaving the common man
To elbow sun with sun-shades. (O.V. 25)

In ‘Who is Afraid of Fear’ the poet’s idea about the magnitude of evils that tell about the nature of politics is expressed by the poet:
Up rise the ghost of smugglers
Hoarders, hooligans and holy-idlers
In a saucy denial of their treason
And evoke the deformed apparitions
Of the men who wished to rule
Or the man who just couldn’t be men
And like a Shikhandi shielded
The shadow of sin
Branding sun complain of gout
Bent with an aging dream
Wiping morals like beauty
Scrapped by actors with cold cream. (O.V., 35)

The Gandhian concept of non-violence is very well expressed in the poem ‘Non-Niolence and Violence’. Like Gandhi, Bhatnagar feels that even non-violence has its limits:
If one strikes you once
I invite him to do it again:
If one takes off your shirt
Offer him to remove whatever remains. (O.V., 35)

But it is not practically non-violence but a dearth of wisdom rather the poet suggests:
With ideals folded like umbrella
One may keep them for a rainy day
And indulge in violence for fun
But the wrinkled dialectic of violence
Is a bit too monotonous
Putting the ikebana of horror
Unrelieved and unpossessed
Of any sense of humour
Worth the while. (O.V., 43)

The collection Shadows in Floodlight has several poems of depth and observation in which the poet becomes philosophical as well as analytical. In the poem ‘Of Poverty, Revolutions and Dreams’ the poet upholds rightly:
We cannot value poetry than its contents
Like vice more than its purity
And frustrations behave a wfore:
For poetry in itself is a revolution
Undreamt of in dreamt undreams. (S.F., 17)

But in another poem ‘The Living Scene’ the poet presents the picture of modern India saying:
The living scene in my country
Is worth only for the granite eyes
Insensitive and resilient
For our visions to unfold. (SF,20)

And he adds:
it’s a scene where utopia and epic
Are merging into a palpable chaos
Adventure overrunning freedom
Gangsterism whipping justice,
Politics keeping dignity captive
Inaction to avoid thought. (ibid)

The sixth collection The Audible Landscape has ample poems related to political consciousness in which the poet vocalizes and reflects the present scenario of the Nation and its people. For example, the first poem reflects the slavish mentality of the people who are ready to suffer without making a sigh. The Nation has become coward and the malady is beyond all treatment. The poet says:
The self enslaving slaves are ruled
By glad ghosts. (AL, 9)

And he adds:
When slavery is loved as a rhetoric to survive
Rendering both Cervants and Dostoyevsky futile
Conceits of cowards need no therapist
Nor freedom a Marx or a Gandhi to revive.”(p.9)
He mirrors our predicament saying:
“A prisoner is more free than those
Who have no freedom even to dream. (ibid)

Almost the identical tone is continued in the next poem ‘The Walls of Prison house Remain’. Bhatnagar writes:
We’ve broken the chains of slavery
The walls of prisonhouse remain. (AL, 10)

The following extract from the poem mirrors the plight of the Indians:
Our despair is not because
There is less revolution
But little change.(ibid)
Even now we look for leaders to follow
God to send us his grace:
We’re afraid of speaking the truth
And resisting whatever is unjust
Foul and corrupt in our bones. (ibid)
What a fun it has that we have taken phrases for reality forgetting all resistance and protest. Bhatnagar says:
Long caged in slavery
We’ve become like circus lions
Incapable of freedom in emotions
Became our own prison walls. (.A.L. p.11)

The third poem in the volume ‘Can Facts Be Destroyed By Ideas, highlights the reality which cannot be destroyed by ideas the so called cat politics cannot play the game of hide and seek for a long time. The poet writes:
Yesterday they were the dreams of tomorrow
Today they are the memories of past-
Villages to replace heaven:
The unsheltered resting in villas:
Morals to be as firm as mountains:
With he hungry feeding at the Taj-
All this is history now of politics
That enrich country with poverty such long. (AL, 12)

The poet concludes saying:
Even poets are now weary of dreams
Readt like Caligula to depart
Let struggle revive to make up for the loss
In art turn material hostile to art. (ibid)

In this collection there are number of poems like ‘Still Questions’, ‘The New Morality’, ‘The Second Coming’, ‘On Seeing Rashtrapati Bhavan’, ‘Displacement More Spacious’, ‘That Space’ and ‘The Second Conversion’ in which the poet points out the foils and foibles of our character and presents the snapshot of the suffering humanity and reveling a naked of modern life Bhatnagar tries to reform the present scenario and motivates us to fight against injustice and humiliation.
The last collection Cooling Flames of Darkness (2001) has also a number of poems of political interest in which the poem ‘The Janus Faced Politician’ is remarkable. The poet starts saying:
Who says it takes yellow sweat and suffering
To become a leader these fruitful days!
It’s now faience with all imperfections
To charm the innocent unequals
With more charming handicaps
Way laying day-dreams by faldage
With deceptive drawings of fain hopes. ( CFD, 17)

The farcical face of Indian politics and the imposters called politicians are sketched by the poet so well. Bhatnagar urges us:
So, watch a hardcore bandit
A seasoned-green kidnapper
A smart murderer: a high-fi smuggler
A high moving scamster
Talk glib on television
Or dictate his undercover turns
To the twice beleaguered people
Voting him to power with little choice
Democracy forcing its way to a farce. (CFD, 18)

The poem ‘Ravaged Children of The Civilized Times’ shows almost all the outer conflicts in the world where the people of the modern times are more indulged in cancerous violence, sins and crimes rather being ‘in the line of the best selling fiction:/ media blow-up on sight on internet’. Politicians are like Cassius and Shakuni who are fixing distant designs of personal power-park and are ‘perambulating their nebulous dreams.’ According to him, politicians will never let the world change in its earlier glory. He says:

We’re ravaged of civilized times-
Our limping spirits have their own vexed truth:
Philosophers, physiologists or politicians aside
All fires end- find their glory in ashes:
And waters emptying themselves out
Through all the mountain gashes. And
Howsoever much innocence may stand the test
By fire and water:
Violence will never lost its radiance
The woes of innocence their cold surrender.
May be the return to the tenderness of heart
Lies through bestiality, faxed all over the world
The text in its authenticity unchanged. (CFD,14)

Likewise, in ‘The Primitives of The Age’, the poet imagines the more ghasty mishappenings and the overgrowth of the ghost of dirty politics:

Come one, come all
Come hyenas or wolves
The inlaid roots will naturally force
Their trampled power to fresh shoots
And survive the grizzly undergrowth
In a new grace of their old salons
Tesing the civilized in their
Much biting teeth. (CFD,16)

In ‘Looking At My Solitude’ the poet tries to unburden himself from the agonies of time but finds solace nowhere and says:
For the agony of it
Philosophy, music or poetry
May only half-persuade the fine taste
To savour the taste of solitude
In good taste and trust:
For, the bitter at best can turn
Only less bitten not sweeter still. (CFD, 36)

Thus, from the above narration it is revealed that Bhatnagar’s poetry is free from all the movements of Rightist or Leftist nor it has any relation with any particular school of thought or ideology rather to a depiction of reality crystal-clearly and narration of truth in pictorial and vividly. The Religion of Bhatnagar’s poetry is love and peace. His poetic creed is essentially human and kind. He seems to be a true advocate of simplicity when he says:

Poetry at its best is a clear and a simplified version of the complex and the confused for there is nothing more transcidental beyond the creative simplicity of poetry. Poetry wins not by its snobbishness but by its simplicity. Simple poetry is the poetry of togetherness. If more Indian people are to read poetry in English then it must get common and accessible and related to the living human concerns of the times than mere to words, animals, damsels and sex. (FD, 122)

Therefore, we can say that Bhatnagar has treated the politics as metaphor in his poetry and his poetry has established itself as the clarion call of awakening in the present milieu of political darkness.

· A.N. Dwevedi (ed.), Contemporary Indo English Verse. 1998. Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot.
· V. K. Singh. ‘Silhouttes from Political & Economic Life’ The Poetry of O. P. Bhatnagar- A Critical Evaluation. Under the supervision of Dr. T. K. Ramchandran, Submitted to Rohilkhand University, Bareilly, 1992
· R.C. Sharma & Dolly Oswal, ‘O. P. Bhatnagar’s Treatment of Politics’, Agra University Journal of Research., pt. 1, Jan.1982
· S. C. Bose, Vision & Voice. Vol.2, Ed. G. P. Baghmar, Nagpur; Vishwa Bharti Publications. (Abbreviated as V. V.)
· O. P. Bhatnagar(ed,) Rising Columns-Some Indian Poets in English.Amravati; Kala Prakashan.
· ------------------------------Thought Poems.Aligarh: Skylark Publications. 1976,(Abbreviated as TP in the text)
· ------------------------------Feeling Fossils .New Delhi: Samkaleen Prakashan., (Abbreviated as FF in the text)
· ----------------------------Angles of Retreat .New Delhi: Samkaleen Prakashan., (Abbreviated as AR in the text)
· ----------------------------Oneric Visions. Jaipur: Rachna Prakashan., (Abbreviated as OV in the text)
· ------------------------------Shadows in Floodlights. Aligarh: Skylark Publications.(Abbreviated as SF in the text)
· ------------------------------Audible Landscape. Aligarh: Skylark Publications.(Abbreviated as AL in the text)
· ----------------------------Cooling Flames of Darkness. New Delhi: Samkaleen Prakashan.,2001 (Abbreviated as CFD in the text)
· ----------------------------Future Directions- Indian Poetry in English Jaipur: Rachna Prakashan, (Abbreviated as FD in the text)