The Unseen Abode and Others Poems by Chandramoni Narayanswami. New Delhi: Har Anand Publication pvt. Ltd. 2003

Chandramoni Narayanswamy hails from a Tamil family who is now settled in Kerala. She is a prolific poet and fiction writer who took voluntary retirement from the prestigious position of an I.A.S. and joined the Orissa Administrative Tribunal as a member and later became its Chairman. Chandramoni who is a versatile genius regards:

Poetry as the language of silent sufferings, the angst of one’s heart bursting out with or without words, birds and animals , speechless and suffering, shed silent and unseen tears. But their grief is vividly reflected in their eyes. Similarly human beings with no right to speak, talk to themselves or to the invisible molder of their destinies in poetic language while in grief. In these poems (the present collection) I have tried to capture that inexpressible language. (Preface)

Her insistence to capture that inexpressible language has become the whys and wherefores of her poetic creation. Chandramoni embodies a modern tradition of the Indian English poets whose sole devotion is to the cause of poetry, its exploration, expression and exposition. She is a poet of vision of spirituality, pain and pleasures (material), thoughts and silence, words and beyond words. To her, the inter-relational reality between the earthly and heavenly existence forms a kind of paradoxical comprehension for a poet who always vacillates between Maya’ and ‘Reality’. In her forward entitled ‘Confession’, she regards the spirituality as the mother of her poetic creations and the first poem ‘The Unseen Abode’ indicates the source of his poetic creation:

Tears swelling drop by drop,

                                Sorrow laid layer upon layer

                                By dumb suffering not all my own

                                But witnessed by eyes

                                Too proud to weep

                                Too strong to forget

                                There is a perennial hot spring

                                Unseen, unknown and unfathomable

                                Wherein lives the poet in me. (11)

                The prominent themes of collection are feminism, social consciousness nature and love. Poems like ‘The Unsung Martyr’, ‘A Rickshaw Puller Looks Back’, ‘I Saw a Face in Kaleehandi’, ‘The Child of Shivkashi’ and ‘Durga’, deal with social consciousness. ‘The Better half’, ‘It is A Man’s World’ and ‘Aprajita’ deal with the plight of woman. ‘Monsoon’, ‘Spring’, ‘The Drooping Deodar’ and ‘The Strong Horizon’ deal with the theme of nature and ‘Never Failing Labour’, ‘The First and Only Love’, ‘The Dear One’, ‘You’, ‘Lovely Words’ are some notable love poems.

Besides a number of poems of the collection are reflective, for example we maytake the poem, ‘The Connecting Corridor’in which the poet puts up several questions to us:

What connect the earth to the sky?

Is it the grief that breaks a poet’s heart?

Cascading down in a torrent

Of red hot tears

That burns the touch?

Or is it the glass case

In which he lives

The many splendoured illusion

Elusive as the rainbow or the mirage? (47)

                But the answer is also noticeable when she says:  

                                No, it is an infant’s laughter

                                Unspoilt of the baser world

                                Bursting forth like the first beam

                                Of the sun at dawn

                                That spans the sky and the earth. (ibid)

                The vision of Chandramoni is beautiful which is perceptively activated by her sensuous and thoughtful force and has a refreshing verbal expression and much which is not said or is left by her, is no less beautiful. Her vivaciousness to depict the situations is marvelous, for her narrative art is more powerful than any other poet and she feels the situation with full intensity. The use of Hindi words in her poems adds the taste as well as makes her poem Indian. The words like Ashram,Champa, Golmohar, Vedas, Vijayadasmi, Shivkashi , Devadshi and Pooja make her poems perfectly Indian. It is also good that a glossary of Hindi words is given in the end of the book that the non-Hindi knowing people may enjoy the book in its totality. I wish Chandramoni a bright and successful literary career and prays Almightily Lord to bless her with more and more creative ability.

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