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Stray Summer Madness

Rudrangshu Mukherjee

By Pritish Nandy
Arnold-Heinemann, 1975, 30, 15.00

By Pritish Nandy
Arnold-Heinemann, 1975, 144, 25.00

VOLUME I NUMBER 2 April - June 1976

Indians writing poetry in English and not in their mother-tongue, Indo-Anglian poetry as it is fashionably known, has become quite a cult today. A cult particu­larly among the generation still suffering from the colo­nial hangover, the generation without any roots any­where, people who are aliens in their own land. Indo-­Anglian poetry is written and largely read by that strata who have gained most by the presence of the English in India and who still pathetically accept the 'do-gooding' influence of the English in this country. The Indo-Anglian poets are very much a part and pro­duct of that ethos, though the trend caught on in the post-Independence years. Fostered by English education and thus acquiring some degree of control over the language, they did not face the crisis of the two cultu­res but took the path of least or no resistance. They took to writing poetry in English rather than doing it the hard way by acquiring a control over their mother-­tongue—the only vehicle for writing genuinely great poetry—and by a grasp of the indigenous tradition, folk-lore and an absorption of the existing stream of literature. Hence, the foreignness of their idiom. Pritish Nandy is a poet of this genre though more lyrical in his choice of words than the general run of poets who wallow in the fashion of Indo-Angliana, and perhaps the most self-conscious in his style and choice of themes. Love is one of Nandy's recurring themes. But love very often in its sheer physicality and much too often in its nostalgia for the girl I lost and in the yearn­ing for the girl I will never get. Love in Nandy's verse never has a stable and permanent quality; the act of love for him is not a thing of beauty, the culmination of the most intense and the deepest of human feelings but just a ‘a tapestry of lust and agony’. A portrayal of these is ever-recurring in Lonesong Street till Nandy's verses almost get the painful quality of an Engelbert Humperdinck song. All that is left behind as the residue are a few lyrical lines and not a total experience. Lines like; Lonesong hour is when the first rain/chases the whirlwind midnight train. I remember you when the summer fell out of the sky and scalded us burnt Sienna was the colour of our lust  ...

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