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A Casket Of Symbols And Images


Jaydeep Sarangi

NIGHT SKY BETWEEN THE STARS
By Usha Kishore
Cyberwit.net, Allahabad, 2015, pp. 110, Rs. 200.00

VOLUME XXXIX NUMBER 9 September 2015

Indian myths, legends, philosophical threads and Gods and Goddesses constitute the quintessence of this collection presented by the Indian born British poet Usha Kishore. She does not present the Indian ethos as reference points, but she goes deep into these elements and combines her inherent ideas related to feminism and her native links. As a child, Usha Kishore was fed on a rich diet of stories from Mahabharata, Ramayana, Shiva Purana, Devi Bhagavatha and various folklores and legends, which have moulded Usha’s identity as a poet, clearly indicated in this collection, starting from the opening poem, ‘Twilight Prayer’: I breathe in GayatriMother of Vedas. (p. 10) The Gayatri Mantra is repeated and cited frequently in Vedic literature. Its recitation is traditionally preceded by om and the pattern bhurbhuvahsvah, known as the mahavyahrti. It often refers to Hindu cosmology. In the same poem Usha shows her elementary ideas in carnatic music: I am swara I am tala I am laya. (p. 11) Gayatri is a hymn from the Rigveda. As we are aware, Vedic hymns are chanted; hence they have been composed in Vedic meters which adhere to swara (chant), tala (meter/ rhythm) and laya (fusion of the two and the rasadhvani, which is sound echoing sense, roughly onomatopoeia.) Originally, the Gayatri mantra was meant to be chanted by brahmin men and not women. Usha challenges this in the closing lines of the poem ‘I am that woman/Gayatri/lover of Brahma’. As we whisk from one poem to another in this collection,we enjoy a feast of ideas, and Usha’s idiom turns into a multilayered discourse. The poems appeal to our senses. Night Sky Between The Stars is Usha Kishore’s second poetry collection where the poems are to be appreciated for their cadence and rhetorics: Ten thousand waves crashing in the Irish sea; one Indian woman fishing for poetry. (‘Writing in Exile’, p. 15) Swinging between her native India and the poet’s home, Isle of Man, between Hindu myths and monsoons, Usha’s personal beliefs manifest like a collage of ideas. The poet has also attributed differently to earthly and human concepts like times or seasons, events, objects and experiences. For example, in the poem entitled ‘Pilgrimage’ she writes: High above,the Sun God marks time in his rays,searing the skin with heat and dust. (p. 76) Things which are important to all of us are said to come ...


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