Of Truth and Illusion
A.J. Thomas
A SUMMER NIGHTMARE AND OTHER POEMS by Ranajit Das. Translated from the Bengali by Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee Rupa & Co., New Delhi, 2012, 88 pp., 295
April 2012, volume 36, No 4

To me, poetry is the recording of the emotional world structured by the intellectual reinforcements of indivi-dual subjectivity, through images, metaphors and sculpted words and phrases of specific aesthetic relevance. Even Wordsworth’s well-known descriptions of poetry as, ‘spontaneous outflow of powerful feelings,’ ’emotions recol-lected in tranquility’ etc., hold good to some extent; however, no one would insist that poe-try should be delicate or dainty; it could be poignant, shocking, yes. A Summer Nightmare and Other Poems, a collection of selected poems of Ranajit Das translated from the Bengali, sets me thinking on these lines, trying to take a fresh look at what poetry really means. ‘He (Ranajit Das) believes that in the ultimate analysis poetry is the art of identifying all direct and indirect illusions and realizing the truth of life behind those illusions,’ says Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee, the translator, in his Introduction.

Going by this illuminating statement, let us look at the poems themselves. The very first poem gives the reader a foretaste of what is to come. ‘Egomobile: An Ad’ is like a mock-advertisement of an automobile. Almost all human preoccupations and passions are squee-zed into this tight structure.

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