Book Review of Depth of the River – The Light Within / By : Gopal Lahiri

Book Review of Depth of the River         

The Light Within

Vatsala Radhakeesoon in her second poetry collection ‘Depth of the River’ explores the spiritual cadence in all its radiance and summons also the resonance of human life in divine light. Poetry is always in her subconscious mind and she loves to tell the tale ‘As far as there is life, happiness and sorrows will always keep on flowing.’

In her note, the Mauritius based poet mentioned ‘Life is like a river. It flows and we cannot stop it. The stages of life, that is, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age naturally flow. No human with a normal life span can skip any of those parts.’ Needless to mention, her poems are always intense, buoyant and absorbing.

But it was no more than two or three poems in before I started to sense the book’s atmosphere, to feel the poets’ experience beyond the mundane – in a way that is fascinating, revelatory and only possible through poetry.

The book is divided into two parts- Life and God/ Spirituality. She asserts

“Like a warrior, I’ll fight

for the gift called Life. (Depression and Reason)”

Most poems here do not overtly address the issues but admirably track the signature moments. Embedded in such forms is the belief in the power of language and its emotional effect But the collective spirit is new-imprinted, unmediated and invigorating.

“I may bend, bleed

by your violent, manly blows

Your wickedness may smile

like a winner

but my Creator – the Divine

will always lift

the light within me (The Light within).”

An explorer in mind, she is a poet of great seriousness of purpose and concentration of effect. Her poems don’t simplify things, they explore In her note, Vatsala told emphatically, ‘Poetry is also like a river. It is the flow of communication from the poet’s pen to the hearts and souls of the readers. It invites the readers to first swim at the surface and then dive deep down to explore new horizons, new perceptions and new thoughts.’ Her poems are ‘Simply drawn by the circle of light/ so bright, so pure’. The poet sees something which we have missed.

“I stand on the bank

of the River of Experience,

I watch my own life

flowing by. (Simply an Observer)”

To single out a few from this rich tapestry, the following poem captures the essence of the poet’s meditative space that celebrates the divine moments.

“In silence, when I meditate

I often realize

Happiness and sadness are the results*

of present and previous life*,(Reflections Upon Life)”

Poetry is language that tells us, through a more or less emotional reaction, something that cannot be said.” Edwin Arlington Robinson once said and Vatsala’s pulsing presence and eloquent response can never be overlooked,

“In poems

In paintings,

In songs

or other forms of Arts,

Love has always been

the pillar,

the backbone,

the undying echo (Sweet Valentine’s Day).”

Her effortless and subtle poems combine elegance with immediacy. What is remarkable is that, the poems in this collection are seldom agenda-driven and never display routine emotions that connect men and women.

“I still talk to all,

I still listen to all,

I still sympathize with all,

But now I’m detached from every soul (Detachment)”

This poem persuades us that such disjunctions between inner and outer identity exist and, furthermore, that some significant meaning adheres to the term soul. The poet believes,True beauty lies in the immortal soul, /Physical beauty tarnishes, /It never embraces eternity.’

Here is a poet who wants to push the boundary of ‘home’ and ‘wall’, ‘life’ and ‘death’ and rejoices the Universe in all its vastness and glory in an elevated, restorative tone. Her poems are a story of inclusion and expansion- not of excess and indulgence but of order and discipline and in the process the poems acquire a unique voice. Sometimes a prayer is hidden between the lines.

The word ‘Divine’ elicits a powerful declaration. For the poet, it’s the enabler of liberation and scaling heights.

“Blue sky,

Warm sun,

Green island,

Perfect creation by the Divine;

Now I truly feel them,

Now I can really breathe,

Now I can genuinely live,

Now I am completely free.(Embracing Freedom)”

The spiritual quest of the poet continues, ‘Will “we” be “free at the end”?’  The poem ‘Spiritual Quest’ is remarkable in its clarity and precision.

“God himself was the True Teacher I realized,

AUM., Omnipresent in Egoless Minds also resides,

Within us his powerful light he always casts ,

reminding us to embrace Good Karmas till Life- breath

lasts. (Spiritual Quest)”


 Vatsala Radhakeesoon

Vatsala Radhakeesoon’ work is riotously broad in its canvas, elegant and intimate in its portrayal of lives, liberation and spiritual conquest. The present collection of poems shows the consistency of her achievement and her undiminished capacity to enlighten and entertain. It’s a must read for all poetry lovers.


Depth of the River

By Vatsala Radhakeesoon

Scarlet Leaf Publishing House:

Toronto Ontario Canada

ISBN: 978-1-988827-39-1


By :Gopal Lahiri


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