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Book review: 'Solitude and Other Poems' by Rajendra Krishnan
Rajendra Krishnan is a marketing professional settled in New York with his wife, children and grand-children. Born in 1951, Krishnan believes in freedom of expression. He is an ardent follower of Kabir and loves to read his poetry a lot. He writes both in Hindi and English. Solitude and Other poems is his poetry collection, consisting of 48 poems based on many themes like religious, social, cultural, and political and personal history.

THE VERY first poem, ‘Core of the Onion’ is highly philosophical and mystical in tone. He has beautifully used the metaphor of onion to describe the human body and soul. There are many other poems which are also philosophical in tone like, ‘Breath’, ‘Speech’, ‘Hunger’, ‘Crossroad’, ‘Freedom’, ‘Here and Now’, ‘Blessed is the Emptiness’, ‘Tat Twam Asi’, ‘Mirror’, ‘Dominance’ and ‘Silence.’

There are some poems which show his religious temperament as, ‘Realization’, A Raga is Born’, ‘A Hindu Obligation’, ‘Buddha’ and ‘Illumination.’ In poem, ‘Realization’, he is searching for his eternal self as he says:

“I” dissolve

and realize

the eternal Self

Hari Om Tat Sat

Formless fathomed!

In poem, ‘Sigh’, he is speaking about his faith in God, as he believes that in life, whether we get happiness or sorrow we should accept it. Then there are poems based on loss of faith in the contemporary scenario viz, ‘Light and Dark’, ‘Renaissance’ and ‘Intercourse.’

In poem,’ What I Am’, he is searching for his own identity, as the lines reflect:

What I am?

A confluence of epithet

that defines my identity

So, in this way he is questioning his various roles in different relationships:

discernible with relationships

giving me a semblance of

a son, brother, husband, father, uncle

colleague, friend, enemy, neighbor –

an earthling, Indian, Hindu

or just another somebody

a mere nobody!

What really I am?

He is speaking about eternal love in ‘Silent Love’ and ‘Sandbanks.’ There are poems like ‘Relationship’, ‘Immersion’, ‘Journey’, ‘Who is Valentine’, ‘Love is in the Air’ in which poet has reflected his emotions on the significance of love in a human life.

In poem, ‘Reflections’, he speaks about his own marriage and asks his beloved to marry him. And in ‘You’ve Reflected’, his wife gives her response towards his question. So there are some poems which are purely personal or subjective in manner viz, ‘Reflections’, ‘You’ve Reflected’, ‘Who is Valentine’, ‘Politics’, and ‘Sandy’s Tandava.’ He speaks about sensuousness oh human nature in poems, ‘Nirvana’ and in ‘Naivete.’

There is a poem namely, ‘Solitude’ in which poet has expressed his desire to be lonely. He speaks:

I have tried hard

to discover solitude

but it remains elusive

He wants freedom and wants to be lonely even from the memories of his beloved and so he further says:

I cannot let go

this singularity of life

where I experience

the essence of freedom

in the association of

your perpetual presence  

He has dedicated some of the poems to Mother Nature like ‘Deluge’, ‘The Changing Face of Man’, and ‘Migratory Birds’ in which he has tried to show the various developments taking place in the world and which are affecting the nature. This also reveals poet’s concern for environment and the thought that he derives his inspiration and motivation from nature poets like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley and Yeats.

In, ‘On Being a Mother’, he is telling the experience of every mother who sees growth and development in his own child. And in poem, ‘Physics and Social Chemistry’ he throw lights on the importance of science in an individual life.

Poet is sensitive about various problems existing in this world which are disturbing the peace of people and so he has highlighted many social problems of international importance in his poems. In, ‘Struggling Workers’ he is highlighting the problems which workers are facing at their workplace. In, ‘Irony’ he is throwing the attention on different prejudices which are increasing in the society. As the lines reflect:

stuck in the grooves of

coercive and manipulative societies

divided by isms, castes

and sectarian dogmas

ruled by the selfish

in a state of governance

that stands wrinkled and defiled

by the mafia of merciless politicians.

He speaks about growing American gun culture in ‘Death in Kindergarten’ which is disrupting the peace in the US every now and then and is resulting in the killing of many innocent kids. In poem, ‘Wolves’ he is talking about sexual violence against women, rape in which the victim is only the sufferer. In, ‘Mortification’, he is sharing his ideas about the dictatorial attitude of our politicians and the suffering of the common people at their hands. By showing his concern over various problems existing in the world which are disrupting the lives of the people, he comes in line with Plato’s opinion: ‘poetry and literature are inextricably tied up with the values and ideologies of culture as a whole; art is not separate from the socio-political sphere.’

Krishnan’s poems are highly philosophical in tone allowing the readers to go into a different world. He has beautifully used Hindi words like atman, udana, prana, pranava, prarabdha, iccha, aniccha, parichha karmic, nirvana,\karma, where necessary, increasing its charm and beauty. Mostly the poems in the poetry collection are written in free verse. He has artistically and sensitively woven his thoughts on various issues in all the poems. The poems in the collection reflect his creativity and craftsmanship. This poetry collection is recommendable for the lover and admirer of poetry.

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