New Login   

G.J.V. Prasad

By William Radice
Writers Workshop, Kolkata, 2004, pp. 139 & pp. 99, Rs. 250.00 each


I have known of Radice as an eminent translator but this is my first encounter with Radice the poet. The bio note says that he has published seven volumes of verse, including these two. Once again, I am embarrassed but not too surprised by my ignorance, the circulation of poetry being such in our country. Beauty, the first volume under review, is a collection of poems that have to do with India or Bangladesh, the poet informs us in his Author’s Note. This is a selection of poems written over a period of thirty-four years, from 1969 to 2003. The book is in three sections; the first being poems written in his early years in India, which have been unpublished so far. Since these were written in 1969, he must have been about eighteen years old then. This was the year he worked for some time at Lawrence School, Sanawar (what did he do there?) and then travelled around the country. This Grand (sub-) Continental Tour was to have a lasting impact on him, bringing him back again and again, and making him the most well-known translator of Rabindranath Tagore.   ‘Beginnings, 1969’, the first section, shows evidence of poetic talent, but its inclusion in a collection is perhaps only to underscore the India connection. You see in the young Radice a kindred spirit to the poets of the soul, the “true” Orientals. But you also see a poet who has the eye and the words for striking images, a poet who has a sense of humour (and can break words to get rhymes), one who can play with form. So, if you feel terrified by the opening lines of the first poem in the volume, “Why do we meddle with words?”, do not despair, carry on meddling and the poet will take you beyond visions of his youthful cosmic angst. You glimpse that his experience of music tries to permeate his poetry, that even as he strains to catch the high notes his feet are firmly on the ground. Hence, even when he says “Beauty, be my Brahman” it is in a poem entitled ‘The dance is failing’, which ends “… you falter every time/ The music howls, face it, and you flounder in the grime.” There are many good lines in this section, but the two poems that impressed me are “New song of experience” (p. 3), and “When the river is gold”. The ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.