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Sunday, May 6, 2012

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:

Machine instructs
Calculates and infers
Of Homo-sapiens.

Further, “In this robot culture”

… Soul defies
The principle of metempsychosis
And enters into
Wires, screws, transistors,
Magnets and diaphragms
To help, 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 images thus:

On the cross- roads of crises
Minutes are stretching longer
Than hours and days
Years contracted to seconds,
Passions degenerated
Into mechanized smiles
while coming and going
lips frigid to flowery kisses
inside the tube.

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:

…Gopikars or the pied-piper of Hamlin
and teach them
a lesson in ethics
when they
get to rape the nation next time
in the name of serving people,
their conscience is stirred
and they peep into the deep well
full of mire and stench
that alienate 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 die
Embracing a misty reality
That’s keeps the river flowing
Forever and ever!

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:

Serene satisfaction, sans deeds
Writ large on every face

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 purposeful bases.

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:

Now I experience
A falcon freedom
To fathom the deepest skies
And have vision
Of the beyond
Where reigns Fullness.

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 kalpas
And even beyond
The truth
Man is engaged in
To unravel.

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:

Songs from earth
And sky….
Hawk gyrates and gyrates
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 quality.

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
Blood with water
Water too dear
To be washed
For blood or tears.

“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:
Sand smell spreads in sunburnt desert
Squeezes every drop of water,
Fire, the 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.

1 comment:

  1. Most brilliant analysis have I ever read by any critic.Dr.Dilip Kumar Khetarpal comes accross as a unique person in his comments on a poem.His comments are like a white light passing through a prism and breaking into seven colors.
    Manohar Bhatia.


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