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Poetry For Rhyme And Reason


N. Kalyani

THE CONQUEST OF MADHURA
By Gangadevi Translated from the Kannada by Shankar Rajaraman and Venetia Kotamraju
Rasala, 2013, pp. 118, price not stated.

THE SPIDER AND THE WEB
By Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre Translated from the Kannada by Dr G.S. Amur
Ruvari , Abhinava Imprint, 2012, pp. 116, Rs. 100.00

A STANZA OF SUNLIGHT ON THE BANKS OF BRAHMAPUTRA
By Arnab Jan Deka and Tess Joyce
Spectrum Publications, New Delhi in association with Philling Books, U.K., 2009, pp. 97, Rs. 80.00

TEN:THE NEW INDIAN POETS
Edited by Jayanta Mahapatra and Yuyutsu  Sharma
Nirala Publications, Delhi, 2013, pp. 126, Rs. 295.00

VOLUME XXXVIII NUMBER 4 April 2014

Poems, disparate though they may be in theme or form or style, are yet unified in expression—conveying much in little. Poems are a universe in themselves, and yet the many universes are revealed as microcosms deftly portraying the universe!   Also, poems have a spatial and temporal location and context and relevant and significant to that, yet they are also universal in their theme and substance and not restricted to a period of time making them obsolete or decrepit for another or a future time period. In other words, despite time and space being central to literary works of any genre, it is the fluidity and the lack of any straitjacketed restrictions that make truly beautiful writing readable and delectable always. One need only take note of the evergreen and forever-appealing poets, Kabir in the Indian context and Shakespeare in English writing as cases in point.   The books are here reviewed chronologically, not the year of publication of the books, but the period of composition of the poems and verses. And so, The Conquest of Madhura comes first. This bilingual book in Sanskrit and English, the Sanskrit title of the book being Madhuravijayam, is 9-canto long with 200 plus verses. This poem, found in 1916, nearly a century ago, was composed roughly seven centuries ago with some 500 verses in the manuscript. Written by Gangadevi, the queen of the Vijayanagara Empire, it is the saga of the birth and youth of her husband, Kampa, the Empire’s crown prince, and how he fought two battles at Kanchipuram and Madurai defeating the Muslim invaders and their allies. Then there are also those verses on Kampa, who ruled in the second half of the fourteenth century, and his wives soaked in love and passion. The Introduction to the book, not attributed to anyone however, rather surprisingly, notes rightly, ‘This is though neither a dull battle account nor a cloying panegyric, but rather an entertaining court epic (mahakavya) magically and elaborately wrought.’ What seems most enchanting in the verses is the allegory and analogy, simile and similarity that Gangadevi draws. Sometimes it seems like her imagination and expression were like a golden eagle flying high.   Take a look at these verses from the seventh canto:   To those on earth the glow of the evening sky seemed to be the crimson curtain drawn during the dance of the actor Time, as he changed from playing day to ...


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