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The Long and the Short of it


Mrinal Pande

KAHIN BHI KHATM KAVITA NAHIN HOTI
Edited by Narendra Mohan
Sambhavana Prakashan, Hapur, 1978, Rs. 35.00

VOLUME IV NUMBER 1 July/August 1979

The book, the dust jacket claims, is the first ever collection of long Hindi poems written in our time. The poets whose works are included are Agyeya, Muktibodh, Dharmvira Bharati, Raghuvir Sahai, Raj Kamal Chaudhary, Dhoomil, Amrita Bharati, Baldeo Vanshi, Mani Madhukar and Leeladhar Jagoodi. One of the weaknesses endemic in most anthologies of contemporary writ­ing (in Hindi at least) has been the unconscious grouping together of talents so diverse in nature that there appears to be no other reason for putting their work together in the same book except a very superficial similarity in certain traits that have come to spell 'the modern sensibi­lity' in recent years. The present collec­tion seems to me to labour under a similar misapprehension, for it seems to disregard the inner dialectics of the poems as criteria and focus more on form. A long poem differs from a short poem not merely in length, or the number of coordinating beliefs and images that it contains, but in its basic genetic principles. The forces, artistic and personal, which go to produce a long poem and make its active ingredients interact, are all very different from the ones that shape a short poem or a lyric. The success of the long poem depends entirely on its inner structure and the poet's handling of its organic parts, as is illus­trated by an astoundingly moving poem like Andhere Mein; in contrast is a basic­ally weak poem like Mani Madhukar's Ghas Ka Gharana which is at best a reportage of the wretched of the earth in stereotyped journalistic cliches which do not stir the emotions. The only similarity the two poems have is their length, but that is neither here nor there, poetically speaking. Similarly Patkatha, a poem by Dhoomil is again a flawed work of a genius, and certainly does not represent the best part of Dhoomil's output. A long poem like Mochiram would certainly have been a better choice. In the preface the editor claims that one of the reasons for bringing out the present volume is to challenge the relaxed habit of reading that most of our critics have, and to provoke them into discover­ing new standards for critical evaluation. This perhaps explains the inclusion of several intrinsically weak poems which take up for their theme fashionably con­troversial subjects like the rot in the 'System', the sexual and spiritual ...


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