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A female poet's tryst with God: Maaya Dev's Shimmering Chimes
Maaya Dev's Shimmering Chimes (ISBN978-93-5207-110-4) published by Authorspress, in 2015 priced at Rs. 195 is a collection of seventy poems in which there is an attempt to go beyond musings on real life issues. A young mind so much elevated by mystic feelings is always a joy for the heart. The Krishna Consciousness, which is now inundating the globe is integral to her poetic debut.
Shimmering Chimes can be called a symphony of the soul that is devoted to the exploration of inner divinity: "I feel a divine magical wand and that is followed by a mutuality of realisation, There I see You! I see me! /Ah ! I see me in You!'. Charles Baudelaire once equated Romanticism with Spirituality: "To say the word Romanticism is to say modern art - that is, intimacy, spirituality, colour, aspiration towards the infinite, expressed by every means available to the arts."

Maaya seems to be romantic in this sense. In the endless universe she is positively in search of the glory of God as life is 'a cacophony'. Like Henry Vaughan of the 17th century British English Poetry, she is no less metaphysical when she prays to God: "Be my Guide/Help me glow." It is a Radha yearning for Krishna where sacred craving dictates all the wishes. Ravi Subramanian and Dr. Santosh Bakaya, the two great personalities of Indian English literature have focused on the excellent fusion of spirituality, impulsiveness and mysticism in her poems as she herself is aware that 'Shimmering Chimes' is 'a true reflection, an expression of experiencing various shades of life and emotions', with 'the sparkle of mood and feeling in the mystic fire of muse and struggle to bring forth a new emotive impulse or revelation.' She knows life is a continuous cycle of birth and rebirth: "Life goes on… it flows…/without any guilt… (Life's Quest)."

We feel submerged when she devotedly sings: "I see my flesh dispersed into thin air as fume/ I submerged in Sat - Chit-Ananda - Bliss!"( Sat Chit Ananda- Bliss) as she wants to escape the world of Maya. Even in her Robert Frost type stopping near the woods, she sees no dark negativism, but 'Nature's symphony, rainbows rehearsing /Koel's cajoling, peacock dancing'. (Beacon of Enlightenment) Serenity may be the keyword of her poems be it on nature or divinity. She feels invisible wings/taking me to higher levels and it is reminiscent of Wordsworthian Pantheism.

Sometimes she goes paradoxical to utter the greater truths of life: "The tranquility led me to fireworks of blissful moments." (Aurora and Avalanche!) Here nature and its beautiful ambience brings for her a 'Timeless tale of Eternity". In one poem of titular significance "The Metamorphosis', she is on a verge of flight and she discovers pristine truths about humanity.

'Desert Rose' is a wonderful poem revealing the poetess as she is focusing the beauty of the universe. Her eyes are always open to the beauty of the majestic ocean, green valley and all other beautiful aspects of Nature. But the recurrent theme is always a divine consciousness which elevates life's reality to the level of timeless truth. She realises a great truth which is mystical and divine: "Today I am somebody with name/Tomorrow I am nobody with flesh/While embracing the only truth left."

I bid farewell to embark a fresh journey!! (The Last Call) But at the same time she feels: "I am now a free soul/Reborn in the spiritual swirl… (Holy Bath). A true mystical note on which she embarks upon in these two beautiful lines."

A young mind that is concerned with divine sensibility is never blind to love and romance, joy and sorrow, and nostalgic past. In the poem 'Blazing Pain of Love', it is also a sojourn to the world of suffering and then the 'fizzling heart' revives its happy mood. Maaya moves from joy to joy and very rarely from joy to pain or pain to joy. She is not bothered much about the 'crazy anguish'as she calls it in the poem 'Love of Love'. Maaya shows her mastery in the use of poetic words such as 'fossiled love' , residual desire' or 'evanescence of horizon' or expressions like 'the inkling of allusion laden vista'.

She experiences sadness and sorrow and the spell of melancholy is sometimes too much for her when she imagines 'Feather of love came to rescue me." (Scattered Verses). Maaya's poems are not feministic nor are they reflecting feminism in the modern sense. Woman theme is there and feminine enigmas sometimes confuse her too but she philosophises feminism: 'Who swims in unclaimed light/and shines as an elixir of life!' In some poems she is concerned about woman's dignity and beauty when a woman becomes a flower like lily. Or 'an angel with golden wings.' Sometimes there is a searching into the abysmal depth of feeling and realisation as in the poem 'Womb's Doomsday': "A subtle journey from cells to embryo/where XY chromosomes merge divinely/ embossing a girl's gender magically.'

This is the best poem in the book where she imagines a woman as a suffering creature : "Her dawn bleeds to dusk and turned to a scary midnight/the darkness too failed to conceal her bareness./Night suddenly possessed with nightmares/Her sleep is hanging on its noose as pangs. ( Womb's Doomsday) Maaya being herself a woman raises serious questions which do not have any answer to be given. The sacrifice of the divine power of a woman is so excellently focused and becomes a soul searching for the poet.Depression can kill you 'wrote Krista Tippett, 'It's really an important part of my theology now and my spirituality that life is not perfect."' In Maaya's poems this idea is very prominent .

What is more important is that she is a poet who is always aware of her poetic art. She knows when she can write a poem as she describes it in 'Birth of a Poem'."My heart sang, my soul danced/when my fingers merged the flow/of unsaid words to the obvious./I remained ecstatic for a while!!". Here poetry is emotional downpour for her. In 'Unwritten Poetry' Maaya feels 'the passion of droplets splashing all over'. It provides a graphic picture of emotion. As a poet she prefers silence : "My voice whispers to me in silence." This self absorption of a poet is very much significant." You  talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts' wrote Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet  Maay also talks when she ceases to be at peace. She is sonorously silent  when she enjoys the 'euphoric ecstasy' like Rumi.  All great poets are lyrical because they speak to themselves and not to anyone.  Maaya too says : " Yes, I write because I love to/Not for anyone but for me." But she is vocal about her love for the country as in the poem 'Plight of Mother India'

Maaya is true to the kindred points of heaven and home like Wordsworth's Skylark rather than that of Shelley's that is gone to the sky and lost. She knows 'fragile life' and 'frail reality' but her wings of poesy aspires for heaven : "Let me live/in the space of/sweetest dream."(Unrealistic Glimpses) "As a phoenix risen from hopeless life /she heads towards the trajectory of renaissance."(Ability beyond Disability).

Thus the poetic debut is a landmark of Indian English poetry where a young poet who does not tread the beaten track. Pablo Neruda once wrote: "I love you as certain dark things are to be loved/ in secret, between the shadow and the soul." ( 100 Love Sonnets) ,This is also true of Maaya Dev's Shimmering Chimes.

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