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[Review] 'After Tagore'
Poems inspired by Rabindranath Tagore
Bhuwan Thapaliya (Bhuwan)     Print Article 
Published 2009-05-14 14:01 (KST)   
"Poetry is the purification of the language of the tribe," wrote French poet Stephane Mallarma at the end of the 19th century. But the 20th century American poet William Carlos Williams, just 50 years later, would call for poems written in languages so natural "that cats and dogs can understand."

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In this context, David Ray, the only poet in the world to receive the William Carlos Williams Prize twice from the Poetry Society of America, in his new poetry book, "After Tagore," goes down into himself along with the mysticism and lyricism of Rabindranath Tagore's Bengali Poems, and finds his inspiration and his subjects in his own experiences, thoughts, and feelings with reference to his own individuality.

"After Tagore," takes us into a contemplating world of hope, meditation, dreams, freedom, destiny, and homage to nature, mysticism and spirituality. The poems in this collection are nothing but the heartbeat of the poets heart expressed in the form of verse.

His poems are short but they are powerful as the thundering sound of Kali Gandaki as it rushes through the world's deepest gorge.
We are lamps waiting to be lighted,
and the joy of a teacher is to see
the lamps light up one by one.

But when a teacher draws near
to help light the lamp we often see
a scowl transfigure the face of a student

who leaps into a lifelong flight into darkness.

- (After Tagore)
Why do the poems in this book work so well? How does it manage to say so much in so few words? Mr. Ray seems to have caught the amalgamation of man's character and the solidarity of nature, as if in a metaphysical net. The poems are a sequence of his mind shots -- dexterous imagination of intellectual illumination. It is a bit like a series of paintings with an acoustic commentary. "Ray's Tagore poems take us to a larger tradition and Tagore turns out to be a vital door," writes Yuyutsu RD Sharma, renowned poet and translator.

The poems reflect Mr. Ray as infrequent kind of wordsmith, that kind of poet who is capable to communicate himself with the reader almost immediately and at the same time substantially. He is able to extend a bridge towards our mind and send us the message of universal love as it would be so simple, as simple as love itself. He is a lover of freedom but he doesn't believe in a mere freedom, ultimate emancipation is his cup of tea.

Poetry means many things to many different people. Poetry doesn't mean the same thing to every person and understanding poetry isn't always easy to do. Hence, this book however has one little warning for the readers. "The book is not for those who want accuracy. If is for readers who may find images and ideas that provoke them to meditation, homage to nature, or even to right conduct -- a goal that is conspicuously missing from most contemporary literature, lest it stray into the realms of didactism," wrote Ray in the Preface of the book.

One can stand in front of a Van Gogh's painting and question: its authenticity and its meaning. Others stand in front of that same painting, full of appreciation, as they know why Van Gogh's painting is an art, a masterpiece. It is no different for "After Tagore." But for fans of the poetry, David Ray's new poetry collection, "After Tagore," will undoubtedly be an enormous literary treat.

* Bhuwan Thapaliya is the author of "Our Nepal, Our Pride."
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Bhuwan Thapaliya

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