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This Promising Age: A Critical Analysis by Dr. Dalip Kumar Khetarpal
This Promising Age: A Critical Analysis by Dr. Dalip Kumar Khetarpal
Poetry, which makes its appeal through heightened language,
has restricted audience, especially in the new era of science and technology.
But, despite this, D. C. Chambial’s poetry spontaneously evokes a lively
response from almost all who read it precisely because he is successful in
weaving together a plethora of current issues with nature, science, mythology,
religion, metaphysics and psychology, with rare poignancy, panache and
dexterity. Further, instead of venting his aggrieved and disgruntled feelings
with the existing degenerative system and social evils ferociously, he vents
them calmly through beautiful verses, providing perennial interest and delight
to all. One only needs a discerning eye to appreciate and fathom out the depths
and truths of intense feelings and emotions of his verses. In fact, it has to
be left to a true connoisseur to asses his true artistic and literary
potentials and credentials.
I had to wade through Chambial’s reflective poems breathlessly
to reach his vexed psyche. A journey from “This Promising Age” to “Before the
Petals Unfold” was really hectic, but exhilarating and invigorating. It goes to
the credit of his spontaneity of thought, expression and inbuilt sense of
craftsmanship that there is an almost perfect fusion between his themes and
prevailing de-spiritualized climate, between the beauties of poetry and grim
realities of the increasingly depraved and mechanized world of today,
inconceivable perhaps, in most contemporary Indo-English poets. Though the
poet’s impassioned utterance crafted from the bleak scenario gives a painful
wrench to one’s psyche, yet it is striking and captivating. His ‘psychization’,
hence, is commendable.
Since the first section of the Collected Poems, “This Promising Age” is the focal point of my
present critical analysis; I shall remain confined to it only. The title, “This Promising Age”, is
doubtless, understated, rather undermined for nothing. Though in “Beautiful
Beyond”, the poet anticipates a perfect world for mankind, it could still not
be considered promising, because Utopian ideals exist only in imagination and
never in reality. The poem, obviously, is a glaring manifestation of the poet’s
sudden violent outburst of a sense of grievances against the evils of the
system. The glorious past for which he yearns is no more perceptible to him.
The world now has become the “Jungle of Automation” wherein:
Further, “In this robot culture”
… Soul defies
And enters into
interprets and amuse?
The poet also laments the disappearance of “logic of inventive
thought”, the dissension of “synthetic cultures and ideals” “on the earth” and
the annihilation of “compassion, pity, sympathy” “in the face of hypocrisy and
cynicism” by the dominance forces of materialized and industrialized world.
Humanity, therefore, is endangered and finds no place in this somber set-up.
The poem is also marked by psychological undertones in that it
delineates the predicament of tocophobic women who want to have children but
fear pregnancy which distorts the shape of their body. It is a pity that the
help of surrogate mothers has to be sought to materialize their dreams,
ironically “in this affluent society”. The poet’s agonized soul vis-à-vis this
robotized world is effectively and picturesquely portrayed through mental
On the cross-
roads of crises
Than hours and
contracted to seconds,
lips frigid to
The poem ends with the hint of the disastrous fate of modern
man’s painfully alienated plight explicated psycho- medically. A man shows
reduced normal reflexes and responses when he is under long influence of
Neuromycin. In quite the same manner, a man afflicted with schizoid personality
disorder is cold, distant, introverted, evinces shut- in- thinking, and has an
intense fear of reality, intimacy and closeness with other people.
Paradoxically, in this promising age one only witnesses “unreal schizoid
individuals” instead of sane, normal and schizoid-free beings. The idea of
degeneration of society which has been witnessed in the aftermath of mechanization
and industrialization permeates the whole poem.
In “Irony of Fate”, the poet empathizes with the fate of
Kalpana Chawla. The poem reveals the poet’s strong human element which surges
whenever he witnesses any tragedy in any part of the world. It also illustrates
how he wants to commemorate and honour a brave, dauntless international figure,
who due to irony of fate was cut in her prime. “She’d come to this world from
Beyond the Stars”, is the corollary of “Irony of Fate”. In this, the poet depicts
the tragedy of Kalpana Chawla whose ambition spreads to the stars, but
tragically “vanished among the stars” thus embracing death in her prime of
life. The poem is a poetically poignant tribute to Kalpana Chawla.
“On this day” highlights Chambial’s deep concern for the
corrupt- free world. He invokes God to arouse the conscience of corrupt
politicians and religious men by enticing them like the:
the pied-piper of Hamlin
and teach them
a lesson in
get to rape the
nation next time
in the name of
conscience is stirred
and they peep
into the deep well
full of mire
man from man.
The poet goes on to explicate how immaculate, pure and simple
was man when he was born. But with the passage of time, as he becomes an adult,
the lust for religious and political powers taints him and makes him “blood
thristy” and converts him into a wolf or a hyena. He fervently appeals to God
to save the souls of such people from damnation. To support and strengthen his
point, the poet quotes lines from the “Gita” which imparts religious
connotations and moral fervor to the poem.
“A Proud Pyramid” and “Dust to Man” have moral and
philosophical overtones in that they elucidate how a man is turned to dust which
is his ultimate fate. Arrogance and vanity cannot estrange him from dust for he
has to finally “Crumble like a house of cards”. The central idea of these two
poems reminds one of Shelley’s “Ozymandiaz of Egypt”.
“Misty Reality” explains the abstruse nature of reality which
is and has been misty, vague and opaque since times immemorial. A fine amalgam
of reality and imagination is displayed by the poet when he says:
We lived and
the river flowing
In this poem one also gets to see the poet as an ontologist
and thinker who can delve deep into the fathomless issues of life.
“Beautiful Beyond” is a sudden deviation from Chambial’s
earlier socio-moral, ontological and philosophical poems. From a somewhat
dystopic world, the poet has shifted to a Utopian world as if to relieve
himself of the agonies and sorrows of this sordid world. He dreams of an
unachievable world of perfection wherein there is no “Sun fires”, “drought”,
foggy “freezing chill”, “hungers and all the greeds”, but only:
satisfaction, sans deeds
Writ large on
Chambial, no doubt, evinces a healthy, positive thinking in
this poem, but it is an unrealistic and impracticable one. The real life as
lived by us is a blend of the good and the bad. The good can never be sifted
from the bad; neither can the reverse be done. But however, wisdom consists in
synthesizing all heterogeneities and diversities into a homogeneous harmony.
The poet’s longing for a glorious future or an ideal world, shows his deep
dissatisfaction with the current dismal scenario, making him appear even an
escapist. But his craving for an ideal world acts as defense mechanism which
works as a protection against anxiety, tension and conflict that fiercely brew
in his sub-consciousness.
However, in this poem, there is nothing to suggest that
Chambial’s yearning is in the manner of the desire of the moth for the stars.
Shelley and Keats yearned for the past glory by totally rejecting the present.
This leads them to construct a dream world of their yearnings and sighs in
their poetry. But, conversely, Chambial’s yearning and craving for an Utopion
world emanates from his mysticism. His firm faith in God motivates him to yearn
for the abode of the Almighty which is a beautiful home, which “exists beyond”
this mundane world and where “All the hungers and all the greeds”, are
inconceivable. The poet’s yearnings, as such, have moral, spiritual and
As a sequel to “Beautiful Beyond”, the poem, “Light”,
spotlights the beautiful life beyond life which could be perceived only by the
soul after its release from the body:
To fathom the
And have vision
Of the beyond
The poem breathes an air of mysticism and reveals the poet’s
faith in life after life. The idea of man’s relentless efforts to explore the
final truth also indicates his scientific temper, spirit of enquiry, of
unraveling the mysteries of life. The harmonious blend of religion and science
in the last stanza posits the poet’s holistic vision:
The fullness of
And even beyond
Man is engaged
The scientific temper of the poet is also evident in “Words in
Commotion” when he clearly envisions that there was darkness with him since big
bang; before his entry into this world. The same darkness will now remain his
companion even after his exit from this world.
“Gyrating Hawk” is weirdly dramatic and metaphysical in that
it portrays the unpleasant hovering of evils and dangers of corruption over the
vast expanse of peace-loving and innocent humanity. To disturb the harmony of:
Over the vast,
deep and calm
Sea of dawn…..
The psychological comparison of hawk to evil or corruption and
vast deep and calm sea to humanity is apt and precise even at the metaphysical
level. Further, the picture of “Waterfalls” (through lettered graphics) by
sensuous hillside/ where Kama and Rati sleep together is drawn sensuously,
tellingly and meaningfully, reminiscent of Keats’s sensuousness and pictorial
The harrowing spiritual and moral sterility, the threaten
human peace, virtues and values in the current distressing scenario has been
symbolized by horrifying images like “hawk gyrating”, “squeaking”, “snake in
claws”, “ Cats, leopards and wolves” stretching their legs and walking “into
the pool of blood”. The poem, in fact, is a terse and bleak documentary account
of the current moribund civilization.
“On my Death” is written in anticipation of the reaction of
mourners attending the poet’s funeral. It is quite true that the poet while
alive could never buy the “free, frank and fair” judgment that the mourners
would pass after his death. Though the poem has an undercurrent of melancholy,
a tinge of mordant wit pervades throughout and manifests a unique display of
witty sarcasm by the poet:
Tears could not
Vie with blood
Water too dear
To be washed
For blood or
“Sand Smell Spreads” is a highly metaphysical poem and
demonstrates Chambial’s pictorial quality and sensuousness. Though all the four
stanzas appear as fragmentary pieces, yet there is a unity of thought and
impression. How sand smell is emitted and spread owing to extreme drought in
Rajasthan is sensuously delineated:
spreads in sunburnt desert
drop of water,
volition of earth.
Further, with “Pagodas on heads”, “miles of fire-tread” is
made to obtain the “ambrosia of life”, reflecting a moving scene of struggle,
hardship and privation one undergoes for bare survival in drought- hit areas.
But the struggle is not fruitless for “ploughing the sands/mirage metamorphoses
into reality”. The picture of the poem may appear grim, but from this grimness
emerges fruits of success and victory, for even “The fiery sun feels defeated”
before human endeavour.
The poem is a fine specimen of Chambial’s optimism and
pictorial composition of metaphysical ideas deftly tampered with sensuousness.
The first section thus, highlights Chambial’s skill in communicating his
perception, imagination and experience meaningfully, objectively, symbolically,
dramatically, scientifically, metaphysically, sensuously, mystically and
morally with full poetic candor, conviction and beauty, thereby carving a niche
for himself in the realm of modern poetry.
Author’s Bio: Dr.
Dalip Kumar Khetarpal has a long experience as a Lecturer with various colleges
in Delhi and Haryana.
Dr Dalip has also started a new genre in the field of poetry which he calls
‘psycho-psychic flints’. His poems are flints because they emit spark when they
hit the readers’ mind. His criticism and poems are appear widely both in
national and international magazines and journals.