BOOK: TO WHOM I RETURN EACH DAY, Poems by Jaydeep Sarangi
(Dedication to Poet Laureate Derek Walcott )
BOOK: To Whom I Return Each Day
Author: Jaydeep Sarangi
Publisher: Cyberwit.net (11 April, 2017)
Pages (Paperback) : 75 pages
ISBN 10 8182533988
ISBN 13 978818253398
Book Review: Leonard Dabydeen
Poetry is like a bird, it ignores all frontiers. – Yevgeny Yevtushenko
“Dear friend Leonard, We will be the rhythm and the tears and the blood of history.”
We will wait for the rain.~ Jaydeep Sarangi
This book, To Whom I Return Each Day by author Jaydeep Sarangi is an olio of forty-two poems packaged beautifully in a bundle of 75 pages. For some of us, it may be blasé to say, “All Good Things Come in Small Packages”, but to peruse poems in this book, To Whom I Return Each Day, will rivet your mind and keep you spellbound with deep-seated soul searching – in a world we continually observe in ways that are good, bad and very often indifferent. John Thieme, a Faculty Member and Professor of East Anglia School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing in the United Kingdom, with specialty in postcolonial and colonial writings, vehemently comments (see back cover of the book) that,
“Jaydeep Sarangi’s poems are moving testaments to parallel lives lived on either side of walls. Personal and political, they summon up the evanescent beauty and small moments with a quiet reflectiveness that speaks volumes.”
This “sari of poetry” as author Jaydeep endearingly describes his book, To Whom I Return Each Day, spans a period of a year in nurturing, during his sojourn in varied places he nostalgically called home away from home in Kolkata, India. With an ebullient poise and mindful jubilation, he writes in the Preface, “I wear it [sari of poetry] in different kinds. My familiarity with many poets of the world is the chief stream of my joys and happiness. It’s very unique in order and disposition. It is flowing in my veins.” And in the same sustaining oceanic depth of gratification, he sighs in continuance …”Now, I’m anchored in Kolkata, a city of rich cultural roots. I attend poetry readings and get the most of these gatherings of poets; young and old. … I ride with this rare legacy of languages and cultural plurality in my back.” And within this ambulatory cornucopia of poems, author Jaydeep presents us with this elegant platter, To Whom I Return Each Day.
More so, Jaydeep’s eclectic poetic journey is analogous to the thought process of the lead character, Percy Fawcett in the movie, The Lost City of Z, when he was cautioned by the Fortune Teller that, “What you see is far greater than you ever imagined.” And underscoring his [Percy Fawcett] mind-set, his wife Nina Fawcett said to him, “To dream is to seek the unknown. To look for what is beautiful is its own reward. A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, what’s a heaven for?”
And so, too, in absolute defence of poetry, Percy Bysshe Shelley (1821) said, “Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds.” In approbation, also, William Wordsworth quipped, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.”
This book, To Whom I Return Each Day is specially dedicated to late Nobel laureate, poet and playwright Derek Walcott, who passed away on March 17, 2017. It was published on April 11, 2017, and author Jaydeep Sarangi unequivocally sculpted Walcott’s name in the book, in dedication as a symbolic gesture of Walcott’s prodigious literary inflected experiences on the international poetry platform. Walcott’s poetic oeuvre, inclusive of his Nobel prize (1992) and the T.S. Eliot prize for The White Egrets (2011) among a constellation of literary awards, most likely served as an ecstatic paean to weigh triumphantly on Jaydeep’s own work. Without much pause for comfort, he continues his poetic navigation in the sea of thoughts, as in the words of New Yorker’s Hilton Als (reflecting on the death of Derek Walcott),
The sea, memory, the joys and terrors of physical love, the close distance of family, black market women surrounded by all sorts of color, palm trees, the lush funky earth known as home or elsewhere: these were his subjects.
And this is how we come to pan the pages of Jaydeep’s To Whom I Return Each Day. Let us take a look at the first poem, The City of Nine Gates (p 11),
“Fire is surrounded by smoke,
Deep water by its banks
Every action, every work, small and big
Is surrounded by defects.
Our feet are in mud, doors half open,
Eyes are half closed. Always cover up
Stories for others. Write new lines
If poetry gives Hope. Poems set us free
From bonds of actions.
Whatever happens began in the past before the rain.
Moments swing between minds,
Moods and gates at several planes.
Each small moment is brighten up-
nava-dwara-pura, the City of Nine Gates.
We steer our ships in deep water. We are
Out for isles nowhere, for trials of our soul.”
Simple, lucid and powerful versification in this poem, The City of Nine Gates, in order to visit this garland of poetry, To Whom I Return Each Day. In Vedanta philosophy and according to the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, Part 76, Chapter 5,
Lord Krishna uses this metaphor of the city of nine gates. … . By saying that the self realized man living within this physical frame is ever watching over the activities of the matter equipment around him. He is a mere witness and so neither rejoices nor is he sad , neither acts nor causes others to act, while living in this city of nine gates.
And Jaydeep vehemently espoused that this mind/body consciousness, within the parameters and perambulations of the city of nine gates, can be realised through poetry. In his opening paragraph of the PREFACE in this book, he writes “Poetry bears a flag for peace and hope. They are prayers. Poems are for peace and order in human life.”
In this poem, My Mother (p. 14), Jaydeep writes (last three stanzas),
Your red soil gave fruits. I touched the cords
It became a full song.
As wagons of life matters move towards the eternal,
A quite fall under the Neem tree, pure air.
I’m healed. I hold origin of life.
Here the author refers to Mother Earth and the spiritual connection of man to ”Mother”. An esoteric touch.
In the title poem, To Whom I Return Each Day (p. 15), Jaydeep dwells on the emotional gateway of the human psyche. He writes in the opening stanza,
“My father, when I as a tiny boy, asked me
To have something to whom I can return each day.
I carry the frontier advice in my small chamber
Where boundaries shift, links delinked.
Mind is guru, at times, restless pointer
Useless as weapons after the war. I return in the night,
After the rain. Woods are fresh and green.
And in stanza 3, Jaydeep speaks to his ‘Dulung’ – the river that courses through the mystic Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, thus,
My Dulung has a natural course
My forefathers lay bare on its banks.
They have a happy abode, somewhere beyond these words.
Priest chants, santi santi santi.
Peace in the land is the rose that blooms
Every season. Every house is wet by love.”
And in the last stanza (p.17), the author brings to us a blissful home-coming consciousness, without dwelling on his multitude of poetic wanderings, so resonant in similarity to Nobel Laureate (Literature) Derek Walcott’s love for home, thus,
“I return to each small city
Where people are happy
Ethnic culture is their home
Where my mother sleeps. Eyes closed,
Hands folded. Morning prayers to the Sun God
Keep her healthy. Mind is free
For others to plant trees of brotherhood,
Of peace of the peninsula, home of hearts.”
A common thread weaving through this panoply of poems in Jaydeep’s book is his intensity to harness peace, love, harmony and brotherhood among humanity. His conscious (and subconscious) stream of imagery is consummated in the poems by nature, or things natural in the environment. Let us take a read of the first stanza in this poem, Last Rites of My First Love (p.31),
“When there are no stars in the sky
I count memory
I brood over present unhappiness
Blood sprinkle all my parts
My uneasy hands search for solid mass.
And in continuation in stanza 5 (first five lines, pp. 31-32) with a sacrosanct tone,
I walk anywhere to nowhere
I visit small rivers of the mind, plant my sapling
Wet green is my company
Leaves of these trees
Bear my survival. I live.”
There appears to be a symbiosis among trees and the human spirit in many of Jaydeep’s poems. And the analogy of Derek Walcott’s love for nature is so evident. Take a read of Tree in Me (p.33),
“Each one of us
Is having different weather.
And then in, I Go Green (p.34),
Wherever I go, my little brother’s voice,
I carry my green hopes.
And here on this, A Tree and My Daughter (p.44),
Do you hold history in your hands?
I give you words to paint your tree, dear,
The sapling you have. Colour it
In your mind. Plant it near the river you chose to live.
Give a name: My Green Tree. Watch it grow in you.
Here Jaydeep certainly takes me to Joyce Kilmer’s (1886-1918) poem, Trees,
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.”
But not all the poems are about greenery and trees. Some of the poems flow in confluence with a spiritual undercurrent to ignite a holistic nature on the reader. As in this poem, Nataraja (p.45),
“Shiva, the cosmic unison, of life and death
Of all orders, near the perfume river …”
And other poems flow in imagery and simplistic style with social nuances that have affects in the author’s life, as in A Dalit Poem (p.52),
“Years back, you had to wait
Till I fetch water from a pond.
Your touch polluted my creamy skin
I coiled within. I framed rules for you.
Won elections with promises, bellyful.”
And without much pause, the reader is obliged an open invitation to read this book of poems from beginning to end.
Jaydeep’s poetic sea of poems in this book, To Whom I Return Each Day, flows with a delightful wind-rush to the ocean of poetic joy. He visualises the poem as the magical elixir, empathetically remarking [in the PREFACE): “I’ve witnessed life in different shades; castes, creed and religions in India and overseas.” And continuing his brooding note, saying: “The candle of poems burns slowly, very slowly. I watch them burn in me. Poem build up a ladder to the heaven in mind. I try to explore what’s there between two ultimate pages: life and death.”
Jaydeep Sarangi was born on 11 December, 1973 in the town of Jhagram in West Bengal. He grew up with Muse in his childhood upbringing, writing poetry at a very young age. According to Indian English poet, Sahitya Gourav, writing in the Boloji blog, Jaydeep Sarangi is a prolific bilingual writer, translator, interviewer, editor, critic and a highly acclaimed literary academic. His works and achievements are too numerous to mention in this review. Jaydeep Sarangi is the author of 30 books, to include poetry publications: From Dulong to Beas: Flow of the Soul (2012), Silent Day (2013), A Door – Somewhere? (2014), The Wall and Other Poems (2015), To Whom I Return Each Day (2017), Lall Palasher Renu – Bangla poetry collection (2017).
“Dr Sarangi’s poems ,articles and reviews have appeared in different refereed international journals and magazines in several countries.He has read poems on different shores and reviews on his works have appeared worlwide.He has guest edited three issues for muse india on marginal literatures from the Eastern India and the North East and Derek Walcott.He has been invited as resource person/writer in several universities in India , Australia,Poland,Germany,Slovakia,Italy and USA.
Dr. Jaydeep Sarangi is Associate Professor, the Deptt. English , Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri College (Calcutta University), 30,Prince Anwar Shah Road,Kolkata-700033,WB, India.”
Jaydeep Sarangi was also the volunteered guest Editor for Muse India e-Journal Issue 73: May-June 2017, on the works of Derek Walcott (1930-2017), Nobel Laureate (Literature) . This writer’s article: “Musings on Walcott’s Life and Work” was published in this journal.
When I received Jaydeep Sarangi’s book, To Whom I Return Each Day by mail in May 2017, signed by the author, there was a note on the Dedication page (Book dedicated to Derek Alton Walcott (1930-2017): “Dear friend Leonard, We will be the rhythm and the tears and the blood of history.”
We will wait for the rain.
REVIEWER: Leonard Dabydeen
Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Leonard Dabydeen, born January,17, 1948, Guyanese-Canadian poet and member of The Society of Classical Poets (USA); Life Member of MetVerse Muse (India); member of Muse India Journal; member of Muse-Pie Press (Shot Glass Journal and Fib Review), contributor to Gandhi Way Newsletter (UK), https://english.pratilipi.com/leonard-dabydeen/, SETU bilingual literary journal (USA); OUR POETRY ARCHIVE monthly journal; Galaktika ATUNIS blog; my blog: https://ldabydeen.wordpress.com/ .
Free-lance writer and book reviewer; author of Watching You, A Collection of Tetractys Poems (2012), and Searching For You, A Collection of Tetractys and Fibonacci Poems (2015).