1st Vol, No1 (Dec 2013)
BOOK REVIEW: Lahiri speaks in silence
I have seen critics quoting varied definitions of poetry whilst reviewing poetry books. Many of them tend to hypothesize poetry in a different light, which is exclusively their own. I have often wondered: What is the exact purpose of defining poetry? Until now I have not found a single definition which is universally accepted. Hence, mentioning the definition of poetry in the review bears no additional importance. As I was personally requested by the author to critique the poetry anthology Silent Steps, I made my conditions visibly clear. My first and foremost condition was: I will not just highlight its positive sides, if I find something that pains me being a reader I will quote it as well. The author of the said book, Gopal Lahiri was more than willing to have my honest and straight views. Let me start with this poetry collection now.
Silent Steps was published in the year 2010 by Cyberwit.net. The book has no formal introduction written by the poet himself, nor has there been any foreword by a guest author. The cover seriously lacks a professional touch, and does not gel smooth with the title of the book. The price has been set on a higher side given the number of pages the book carries. These were my initial reactions as I tried to turn the pages in order to taste the poetry contained in the said anthology. Silent Steps carries seventy neatly composed poems by the seasoned poet, Gopal Lahiri. I will share excerpts of the selected few that I found extremely invigorating:
My dear readers, what exactly do you expect from a poetry book, or from a poet to be precise ? I am aware that expectations may vary from a reader to another reader. Expectations are obviously on a higher side if the reader happens to be a poet him/herself. But, from a general perspective a poet is expected to deliver finer nuances of the worldly existence. Even if the poet attempts to deliver something that has a supernatural presence, the readers try to locate their imaginative sphere within the poetic rendition. The fact remains: poets rarely receive their due recognition. I have seen quite a few poets who consider them being looked down upon by the rest of the literary world. Lahiri murmured, he was probably ‘In Exile’ as he wrote:
“No one looks at me
As if I am not worth it.
Not even a cursory glance
That may put smile in my lips
While trampling grass and tearing flower
The cold looks and the wicked smile
Pierce through the flesh and bone
In every hour, in every minute
In the street, in the movie hall
In the crowded lane, in the park
The eyes filled with hatred and sarcasm
Take the light out of my life…”
Lahiri stayed honest to his observations as a general human. In ‘All that I have seen’ he wrote concisely what only poets can successfully deliver on behalf of the population:
“As I come back again and again
To my words, to my mind’s closet
The emotion flows into every pore
Cleanse the endless sins that committed.
Should I turn away from life?
Let the flame of fire spreads far and wide
Let the starlight oozes into my own world.”
Like other individuals a poet has the right to air his/her desires. Lahiri has put up his wants remarkably:
“I want to value
The gift of freedom
To delight in
The face of winsome.
I want to visit
The untutored path
Show in time of need
The meanings of love.
I want to address
What I feel inside
Not the shame and fear
The beauty of life.”
Lahiri wanted to traverse the untutored path. He wished to walk anywhere, and everywhere. As a poet and as an artiste he invited his fellow mates:
“… A breeze of love blowing
Open your arms to welcome all
To inhale the smell of spring
To walk anywhere everywhere.”
A poet’s love to the civilization can, hopefully, be termed universal. Poets ceaselessly love the components of the earth, of the existence as a whole! Lahiri’s rendition mesmerized me actually. Dear readers, come on, face his endless love to all concerned:
“I do not love birds I do not love bees
I do not love clouds I do not love trees
I ask the little bird
Am I so cruel?
The bird gives her food from the beak
And fly away.
I ask the tiny bee
Am I so selfish?
The bee hums a sweet song to my ears
And move away
I ask the cloud
Am I so wicked?
The rain clouds gather in a moment
And drench my body.
I ask the tree
Am I so indifferent?
The tree shakes his head to shed leaves
And the breeze sooths my soul.
Come on all the birds Come on all the bees
I love you all I love you all.
Come on all the clouds Come on all the trees
I love you all I love you all.”
Gopal Lahiri is indeed a seasoned poet who minds his words. He has demonstrated an adorable style of writing English poetry in Silent Steps. His words were simple yet elegant, his expressions were transparent yet so intrinsic! Lahiri evidently made his way to the hearts of the readers:
“…Before I reach you
Give me some more time
From your heart.”
I don’t know if Silent Steps is available in any leading book store across the country. Not all the readers feel safe to buy books from the virtual chains. It is now the responsibility of the publisher to distribute the anthology amongst all viable retailers. A poetry collection of such caliber should never go unnoticed. Silent Steps is truly a collector’s edition; not only for the poetry lovers, but it is indeed appealing to the general readers of literature.