A Woven Rope is a translation of Bhawani Prasad Mishra's Sahitya Akademi award-winning collection of Hindi poems Buni Huyi Rassi. The poem in this collection are clearly a movement from outer to the inner world. The poet is sharply aware of the ephemeral nature of each passing moment This awareness imparts an intensity even to the most mundane episodes in the poet's life. In contrast to the poems in his previous collections, Buni Huyi Rassi mostly contains Bhawani Prasad's shorter poems. Passing time, sense of loneliness in old age, conflict due to differences in perception, description of varied natural phenomena, close scrutiny of everyday life- are some of the subjects that these poems explore. In his unique style, Bhawani Prasad creates a diction that effects new meaning sometimes due to musicality of similar sounding words, sometimes due to pun and sometimes due to sheer vividness of imagery.
Bhawani Prasad Misha is often referred to as a people's poet. He wrote in colloquial Hindi and touched different aspects of human emotions with a rare sensitivity in his poetry. Bhawani Prasad experimented with many poetic forms like ghazal, song, folk, narrative and motivational poems yet he crafted a unique style of his own. He is the author of 2 poetry collections which include Gandhi Panchshati, Geet Farosh, Chakit hai Dukh, Andheri Kavitaen, Khushbu Ke Shilalekh, Trikal Sandhya, and Neeli Rekha Tak, etc. He received the Sahitya Akademi award in 1972.
Alka Tyagi is a poet, writer and a translator. She has a doctoral degree from the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She currently teaches in Dyal Singh Evening College, University of Delhi. She is also a yoga exponent trained at Bihar School o Yoga, Munger.
It is appropriate for a poet to write poetry, however I could never say with conviction that a poet should also write about his own poetry. Therefore whenever magazines and journals requested me to send write-ups along with my poems or whenever there cam an occasion to write a 'preface' for poetry collection, I was always quite hesitant. In my first collection, 'Geet-Farosh', I could do away with this hesitation by writing a poem instead of a 'Preface'. After that I kept writing poetry for about twelve years but resisted bringing out any collection mainly to avoid writing a 'Preeface'. I let my second collection, 'chakit Hai Dukh' go without a 'Preface'. Later a situation arose when I had to bring out my 'dark OPoems'. I wrote a 'preface' for it but I withheld it and did not give it for publication. Te fourth collection, 'Ganfdhi- Panchashatui' was subject based so there again I put up a long poem as a 'Preface'. Later, however, I felt that although I could avoid writing a 'Preface' until then but I would not be able to avoid it further. I must write something about poetry in general and about my poetry in particular.
I saw that my critics wrote mainly about 'form' in my poems. Although 'form' is an important dimension of poetry, it is mainly an outer shell of an inner thing. It cannot be the most important aspect of poetry. So I suppose it is all right to write briefly about it before bringing out this collection.
I did not begin to write because of some great inspiration or some deep restlessness. Perhaps I began writing because I had studies and had lived life to some extent. I believe that a well-read person becomes valuable only by writing. I had some facy ideas worthiness at that time. For instance worthiness means that people pay attention to you; that you are considered different from others etc. I had never seen poets writing about their own life or about their surroundings. Everyone wrote in a particular way about a particular subject. At that time, this was called, 'Chhayavad'. But I did not write about those things and also not in that style. I cannot say, "Why". It is certain that I did not write like that. I wrote about different things in a different way. Myself getting expressed in that "difference". Though what I was expressing were ideas and these were often other's reflections; ideas of the past; sometimes of the present, but other's. Gradually it was visile to me that this was very trivial. However the style, in which I expressed it, was my own. If felt as if the voice was rising from within me. I began to like my voice and more than this I began to like the fact that other my voice. Consequently in my enthusiasm and naiveness, I began to speak to more than was necessary. To when I realize that it is foolish to speak so much, I stay silent for a while. And when this wisdom of silence and contemplation becomes boring, I begin to speak again.
Earlier, what I used to say was conditioned by logic. As all that I said was thoughts taken from others, I did not have faith that it will stay with me for long. So I used to drag it by embellishing it with social Awareness, with 'Darshan', with 'Dharma' and with verse. These chains sometimes would clang discordantly and I would suffer. "What is this?". Even while building chains, I would say I am against chains. And since there was truth in it, it had power. Therefore all the false and clanging appeared to fall off slowly. But they were never broken completely, perhaps due to presence of something that was my own in this amalgamation of social awareness, 'dharma', 'darshan', verse and language. Something that is one's own cannot be revealed when separated from the self. Also it cannot be broken when .separated. How can one express an 'exclusive' self.
Gradually the need to express the self began to dominate. It appeared that man cannot do anything but to express himself; this is his fate. By expressing his 'individual' self, man can become complete. He can become useful to society only in this way. If the events of birth, education and social formation are not supposed to go waste, then man must express himself. Amongst the means of self-expression, I found that it was 'words' that were easily accessible to me. There are innumerable mediums of self-expression like colour and song; clay and stone; iron and cement. Some of these are reputed. Some are not so reputed but are very useful like spinning, weaving, sowing the seeds, weeding, reaping the crop, and making it available to others - even at the cost of going hungry and bare! I tried to practice a few of these means also but I could not follow them consistently. I have become more and more dedicated to what I have been able to do consistently. I am still not fully contented with it. There are many reasons for the discontentment; one of them is worth mentioning. Whenever I asked myself about my worth in poetry, I felt as if I am not a poet. I don't write poetry; poetry writes me. It might sound strange but I know the difference and this difference is a part of my personality. When I write poetry not only my mind but also my whole being vibrates with the sounds of words. These vibrations sometimes sound distinctly, sometimes in a cluster.
In poetry, I consider myself as someone who is flowing with waves of words. When I see people not enjoying the flow of my words, I feel that they have not understood even my primary intention. The second reason of discontent arises from my helplessness about not being able, for sometime now, to look at poetry as an expression of an experience. I rather see that instead of being an effort to express some experience, it is a process of experience. I have realized now that poetry is not a means of self-expression; it is a kind of process of 'knowing'. What I can learn through the medium of poetry, I cannot learn even through the medium of 'darshan', the philosophy and 'dharma', the moral code. So to learn through any other medium is unimaginable to me. Therefore what I have to learn, I have to learn from this very medium. Up till now I can only say that I have not seen anything yet; I have not achieved anything yet. I don't yet have the realization or suspicion of achieving something. Still whatever I experience, I dwell over it; examine it; analyze it. And then when I write it, I make it a medium of understanding. I fine-tune it to receive from it a bond of affection.
In one of my poems, I have said that 'I don't consider this writing' and further I added that 'I should appear to be engaged in work till my last breath; this, for me, is the purpose of being a writer. I want to convey that this feeling and this writing were there for a particular moment. These days I write because I have to comprehend certain things and I don't know what else is there for me except for writing. For many reasons, now I am beyond the stage of being perpetually in doubt in life. I want to arrive at convictions.
Now I am not willing to stay contented by just taking a few steps with the help of a little light. I believe that through the process of writing I must keep reading myself. I realize that almost everyone feels the need to 'know' themselves and their surroundings by doing their work efficiently.
In this world, everything has a meaning. You call it 'meaning', 'sense', 'idea'; all are correlated and contingent. One meaning becomes a symbol for another. A person can be a flower; a thorn is also close to a flower. In such a situation there is a consistent possibility of an epiphany arising from different contexts of words and symbols. I see that I take a word and words over word begin to build; meanings, new meanings and ever-new meanings begin to flow.
In such situations, when I get surprised, critics get annoyed. Once a critic, annoyed by some poem of mine, said, "It appears that the writer is spinning on a spinning wheel." He wanted to say that the poet has woven something out of nothing. In my understanding although angry, he was right. Unknowingly he said that the poet has a bundle of words, his fingers are in position and spinning wheel is moving in a rhythm. Now who doesn't know that after this the thread would appear which would be woven into a cloth to cover the needy.
It is not surprising and there is no need to get annoyed at this. I just said in the lines above that a person is a flower and also a thorn. Anything can be transformed into a symbol in this manner. I have observed that sometimes people derive different connotations from a certain denotation. Sometimes people derive impossible meanings from denotations and get angry. In my, last collection, 'Andherein Mein', there is a poem called 'Sangrali Ke Khilaaf ('Against Collection'). A friend felt that in this poem, the poet is hinting at the 'critic' who is 'Sangrah Ke Khilaaf, i.e., against a poetry-collection and that the 'dog', which is referred to one place in the poem, is 'critic'. However in this poem I wanted to say that although a writer can give form to his poems by putting them in a 'collection' but more important things could be done at the moment like saving a passerby from a barking dog.
Sometimes very funny situations arise due to prejudices. Two years ago a collection of modern poetry was released. Everyone knows that the editor considered that modern period begins from Bhartendu although he did not find any of Bhartendu's poems suitable for the collection. This is remarkable because in Bhartendu's time social reform and oppression were major problems. These problems were so enormous that to' -talk about anything else would have been awkward. In those days poets wrote about those issues. Poets of Bhartendu-era had to fight a dual battle - one for the language and one against the social problems. In this dilemma, there was not much possibility for poetry and prose had to be used more extensively. Quest for modernity was unavailable to them. They were constantly aware of ancient glory and contemporary decadence, so they wrote about it. Now to get annoyed over this is to get angry with a wounded person because he cannot forget his wound. For this reason some people smile at Maithilisharan Gupt's poetry and fall silent after quoting a few lines from him.
It is possible in the present scenario where to bring in the 'penny' of modernity is considered to be the most relevant achievement in poetry. It is unfortunate that these days poetry is imitation. Imitation is endemic in our modernity. It is difficult to see the difference between two poets. After all, imitation of what and to what extent!
Poetry has its own challenges today. It is laden with not only these two problems but with many more. It has become difficult for poetry to set an anchor and to think, comprehend or express from that point. If it does so forcefully then no one wants to have anything to do with it.
Earlier poetry was mostly optimistic. Wherever it began, it ended on an optimistic note. Until recently the world was small and there was enough stability in life to feel that one's own life was long enough to accomplish everything that was there to accomplish. Besides, there appeared to be not much difference between the bygone eras and our times. The future also did not appear to be very different from the present. So even if poetry sometimes spoke in a tone of despair, this despair was not more than a transitory sadness of a strong man sitting comfortably. Today the 'sthayi-bhav', the basic sentiment of poetry is one of anguish and despair. At that time, that was natural; now this is natural. Man, especially a poet, who is intensely emotional, receives only setbacks from his environment. If we think of it then actually everyone is emotional, the difference is only that of degree. Some people perceive things as they are and others as they want see to them. When things to be perceived become many and time and space and either they stop perceiving things or suspend the process of perception. Other people do not stop the process of perception but they stop looking at the things differently; they look at one thing and reach all other things through this one. In this way neither do they have to stop looking at things nor do they have to suspend the process of looking. In other words they create a kind of concordance between things. Thy do not want to learn about everything or pretend that they know everything. To know everything is not necessary for them – it is not necessary for anyone for that matter. 'What is this world and what is should be', - it is very difficult to create a well-rounded picture of this. If we begin to think about this then the society, establishment, 'dharma', literature and the tensions within these categories raise their head. Then it is difficult to remain, 'Buddhinishth'. We are not even able to remain 'Vastunishth'. Some turn into intellectuals, 'Vicharnishth' and start projecting their own prejudices.
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