(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal
Devoted to English Language and Literature)
R.K. Bhushan Sabharwal. Terraced Fields in the Evening Sun. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2018. Pp. 145, Price: Rs. 295/-, ISBN: 978-93-88008-45-7
Reviewed by Sudhir K. Arora
Quite contrary to Auden’s despairing statement “Poetry makes nothing happen”, R.K. Bhushan, who has penned six collections, namely Sentinels of the Soul, Rustling Leaves, Melodies of the Broken Reed, The Invisible Visible, and Nerves of the Verbal Art, boldly states in his new poetry collection Terraced Fields in the Evening Sun: “Poetry alone is the reliably trusted panacea when all else is false, fake, fickle and fragile—love, relations, faith, commitments and even life’s valued best.” (21) Poets and artists are the pillars of the society. The poet in Bhushan feels:
Poets and artists alone
Conceive, carve and create,
Portray, present, practices and recite
Truth, Love and Beauty;
They sustain life... (99)
What makes difference in life is how one takes life. This is best manifested through the word-painting, titled, Terraced Fields in the Evening Sun (originally titled Meanings Lost in Voices from Afar) which is coloured with various colours—the colours which are the consequence of Bhushan’s art of blending images and ideas.
This poetry collection is mature, serious, gripping and penetrating. The evening sun, though devoid of its noon’s bubbling energy in the form of heat that scorches, has a soothing and relaxing effect. The scenario becomes enchanting when its sober rays fall on the fields. It is true that everybody worships the rising sun but it is equally true that everyone respects the setting sun. The setting sun looks sober, beautiful and meaningful. The fields become terrace where the poet sits, meditates and walks. It is the place where the evening sun of poetry showers fresh images and serious thoughts on the poet, who, by virtue of his poetic art, makes the reader feel what he himself feels. Here lies the poet’s victory in providing the terraced fields to the reader who can look at the sun and feel the soothing and blissful effect.
The poet has used every thematic colour—be it of devotion, of love, of relationship, of materialism, of selfishness and even of savage cruelty. The poet cries within and makes the reader feel when he writes for Asifa in “Dead Tears of Bleeding Soul.” Asifa is the little bud that is crushed. Her tragedy makes the poet cry:
Cracked and crashed
On a little bud!
Hunger gone mad,
The bud—sad and bad,
Failed to feed
The beast in the savage! (122-123)
Rationality is good but dark rationality is not good. Intuitions work better than merely dark rationality. It is a paradox that man is known as human being but he is devoid of humanity which makes him human. The poet in Bhushan gives more importance to humanity than to any other thing. This is humanity which can turn a man into a true human being. Love is the very soul of this humanity. He cries when he finds that people struggle to save “the prose of life” (70) and allow poetry to die. Yeats’ anxiety “The falcon cannot hear the falconer” seems to be true. More emphasis is given to the falcon, not to the falconer. The root of the malady lies in neglecting heart (that makes man a true human being) and emphasising head or intellect (that takes man towards materialism and makes him a selfish beast). What counts is relationship which does not require any philosophy.
It need no philosophy
or the study
of sciences and humanities—
no analysis, or diagnosis
no thought of vivisection! (78)
To have knowledge is good but to neglect wisdom is not right. The poet seems to be shaking hands with Gardiner who feels “the pleasure of living in healthy feeling rather than in the accumulation of fact.” Wisdom of Life is what counts in making life a true life—full of human values.
Wisdom of life
from the education
that gives knowledge,
trains the mind and body,
to multiply matter.
It is not far to seek—
Wisdom of Life!
Also it is—
Far to seek...... (79)
Bhushan’s technical aspect in this poetry collection is rich. He seems to be influenced by Shakespeare, Keats, Shelley and Eliot.
Sample the lines which spread the fragrance of Shakespeare.
Love is no love if not Divine! (102)
Life is a continuous tale
Being told by Eternity in totality
A tale of pleasures and plights
of human passions;
and challenges too. (51)
Mark the excerpt which reminds Shelley’s “rain awaken’d flowers” and Eliot’s “mixing / Memory and desire, stirring / Dull roots with spring rain.”
a sense of yearning,
inflame memory and desire (105)
The poet adorns his poems with figures but he uses them when they seem to be necessary. “Soul smiled” (83) and “patience doesn’t exhaust” (27) are the best instances of his use of Personification. The use of alliteration can be seen in the lines like “The Grand Illusion of Pandemonium / Perpetrated by the Pundits / Of prosperous posterity!” (111).
The poet pays his attention to the music. He uses words which are musical in tone. He follows the techniques of internal rhymes when he writes lines like “beauty blushes and harvest hushes!” (27) and “Love is raining and reigning!” (101)
He employs the paradoxical tone to make the lines effective and meaningful. For instance:
War in love and love in war (100)
Our writ on destiny
Destiny’s writ on us? (95)
Justice lies in the injustice / Done (92)
In Terraced Fields in the Evening Sun, Bhushan invites the poetry lovers to the terraced fields where they can see the colours of life in the rays of the evening sun and hear the song of love which becomes a sermon. No doubt he sings the songs of love but feels disturbed when he finds the strings of love “broken and muted / In the Mandi / Of Modern Poetry!” (113) He is pilgrim of love and so continues to sing the song of love which for him is “Life, light and lyric.” (112) The poet is sure that “Love brings all, gains all, gives all /All in all, in beauty and bliss.” (112) In brief, Terraced Fields in the Evening Sun reveals Bhushan’s poetic talent at its best thematically and technically.
About the Reviewer:
Dr Sudhir K. Arora, the Chief Editor of Creation and Criticism, is presently serving as Associate Professor, Department of English, Maharaja Harishchandra P. G. College, Moradabad, U.P. He has several significant publications to his credit including Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger: A Freakish Booker and Cultural and Philosophical Reflections in Indian Poetry in English. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.