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ON READING ‘ DAWN TO DUSK’ : ‘Bhatnagararion’ poems

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FROM A READER’S DESK

There is an unfortunate cynical conclusion that our age is not congenial to poetry. ‘Poetry has no future, it is almost dead’ — such statements are not infrequent since commercialism has made us most un-poetical and un-musical. Consumerism has robbed us of our concern for poetry. Such a situation is not new. Even during the Victorian Age, people seemed to be sceptical of the future of poetry. Arnold while assuring them of the bright future of poetry said in his essay ‘The Study of Poetry’ (1880) that, ‘’The future of poetry is immense, because in poetry, where it is worthy of its high destinies, our race, as time goes on, will find an ever surer and surer stay … More and more mankind will discover that we have to turn to poetry to interpret life for us, to console us, to sustain us. Without poetry, our science will appear incomplete; and most of what now passes with us for religion and philosophy will be replaced by poetry.’’ It must go without saying that so long poetry has the capacity to console us, to sustain us, it can never die or become extinct for that matter. Poetry is beyond death.

It hardly needs reiteration that a poet of eminence in his own right Dr. Mahendra Bhatnagar belongs to a long noble tradition of poetic excellence which has become almost rare in our own time. Gifted with essential poetic sensibility, his poetic output is very vast and prolific. He is perhaps one of those surviving Hindi poets whose writings have made a special niche for himself in the sphere of poetic creation.

‘Dawn to Dusk’ is a collection of his select poems in their English version which has ably engaged the attention of a wide range of lovers of poetry, both in Hindi and English. The quality of these poems is manifest in their spontaneous outburst, comparable to the song of Shelley’s ‘Skylark’ : in which the bird, ‘’pourest thy full heart in profuse strains of unpremeditated art.’’ As ‘the taste of a pudding is in its eating’ the reading of these poems admits of no substitute.

These poems can be rightly compared to a kaleidoscope where we have wonderful patterns of poetic sensibility moulded into various shades of poetic creation. Here we have Nature adored in her various moods; we have heartfelt social and national concerns, and above all poet’s deep feelings for human good. The poet is lyrical, but is not deaf to the ‘still sad music of humanity’ like Wordsworth. As a social rebel he aspires for a society where justice prevails in all its forms. He is not like an ineffectual angel beating his luminous wings in void, in vain but he keeps his feet stuck firmly to the ground of reality. This gives him a special status as a poet of life manifest in all its variety.

On an appreciative reading and internalizing of these poems one may agree with me that these poetic outbursts are not destined for oblivion or reader’s neglect. So long as people have a yearning for ‘something’ that may softly touch their heart, or in another mood of discontent against social injustice, may kindle in them a fire of revolt; the poems of this book will certainly assure them of the timeless existence of poetry. They can also be sure that poetry in the hands of such veteran poets as Dr. Bhatnagar need not fear despite the widespread clamour that poetry has lost its relevance these days. Such poems will always have readers and admirers because humanity at large likes to be consoled and sustained, especially in this age of our strange disease of modern life with its sick hurry and divided aims; as was once uttered by a great Victorian poet, Arnold.

Considering the contents and craft of these poems one may feel that these poems are free from ‘labouredness’. The careful weaving of the images, the rhythmical rendering of the inner felt feelings and the ‘fusion’ of thought and feelings make these poems, to use my own coinage ‘Bhatnagararion’ poems by their very special charm and poetic appeal. It seems that no one can imitate this charm without having the poetic ability of Dr. Bhatnagar for such a task. Without being high sounding I believe that these poems, and also the entire corpus of Dr. Bhatnagar’s writings, will never become obsolete, outdated or irrelevant since they inwardly contain in them a potency of life.

* Dr. Narendra Sharma ‘Kusum’
7ch2, Jawaharnagar, Jaipur – 302 004 (Raj.)

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