Lyrical Tide: a review of Tidal Interlude


Title:   Tidal Interlude
Author:  Gopal Lahiri
Page: 70
ISBN: 13: 978-81-931666-7-3 (Paperback)
Edition: (2015)
Published by: Prabir Roy at Shambhabi – 
The Third Eye Imprint, A-10/1, Amarabati, Sodepur, Kolkata 700110

Book Review by: Sutanuka Ghosh Roy

        Gopal Lahiri’s  poetry collection Tidal Interlude (2015) drifts the readers with emotional waves and the readers feel as if with the tide. He is such a poet who brings in a new perspective to the waves of life, trying to soak up the moment. Lahiri is a bilingual poet, writer, editor, critic and translator and widely published in Bengali and English language. He has had seven collections of poems in Bengali and English. He is the recipient of the Poet of the year and award in Destiny Poets, UK, 2016 and also received featured poet award in Poetry In A Cup, USA, 2004 and a winner of Haiku in Poetry.com, USA, 2004. In the Introductory note to the poetry collection, Tidal Interlude, Usha Kishore, the renowned poet writes, in the Introduction to the book, “Gopal Lahiri’s current poetry collection, Tidal Interlude certainly conforms to Wordsworth’s renowned definition of poetry.  There is emotion here and amidst tranquil interludes, there is a powerful and spontaneous tide of feelings”. The collection highlights panchabhuta or the five elements of Indian philosophy and aesthetic:  earth, water, air, fire and sky. Lahiri’s is a distinct elemental voice mapping the wilderness of the mind”.

        Nature has a special place in Lahiri’s poems and tide is a recurring motif which reflects the energy of swell and the inherent interlude. Tide is intrinsic in periodic rise and fall of water and the overlapping moment breaks into lyrical music. Nature appeals to him which leaves the noise of the world behind and reconnects with the mosaic of words in his poems. Tidal Interlude is his third poetry collection after Silent Steps and Living Inside. Sunil Sharma, the noted poet writes: “With Gopal Lahiri, you hear each word speak clearly! The Mumbai-based earth-scientist is very sharp when it comes to crafting a tech report for the specialists or a sparkling poem for the connoisseurs. And each word counts in the composition: The dewy silence, clear crisp twilight, big skies and empty landscapes — well, the words deployed are so every day and simple but undergo a quick metamorphosis in the poetic hands of Gopal and assume a special property called by consensus as lyrical!” Poems like “Secret Code”, “Water”, “My Space” are the reflections of an accomplished poet, who weaves a beautiful web of temporal spaces in contrasting shades of light and darkness. The poet deftly traverses a wide range of experience and emotions.

        There is an elegance in Lahiri’s verse that acmes convoluted craftsmanship: in the linear arrangement, in the syntactical ingenuity and in the delicate literary devices that wing around like birds in flight.

 “for now though,
  the optimum happiness signatures are those
 in the eyes of the rain washed birds
 tempered with silken feathers and rummaged greenery”. (“Secret Code”,13).

 The recurrent motif of birds, voice the poet’s thoughts that read the unknown in the colours of the rainbow.  Birds don the role of metaphysical conceits, while concurrently carrying out their flights and birdsong, while being “tossed in the blue sky.”
The ringing sound of the distant temple bell,
A link between the past and the primordial,
Losing altitude the birds wind up their songs all too quickly” (“Water”,16).

The poetic persona is a “solitary bird making rounds in a way of finding the art of survival”, providing occasional wing flashes of autobiographical feathers.

        Tidal Interlude takes its readers by surprise at every corner. The poetry collection has pulsating tracts of resistance: in references to injustice, in allusions to past pain, in endeavours to break walls of silence and glass doors. The transferral in emphasis from philosophic replication to recalcitrant angst is dramatic:
Now my hands are chopped, my skin is burnt, my face is blackened
Do not wash me in holy water
 I cannot join in your prayer in the temple. “(Prayer”,18).
 “The starry night/ Silent and still,
Burdened with mystery and milky ways,
Told more than you could tell” (“Admission”, 22).

The words deployed here are so every day and unassuming but undergo a nippy metamorphosis in the expressive hands of Lahiri and assume a lyrical perspective. His genius as an acute observer of the common, the everyday, the ordinary and aestheticizing those tiny bits and remains into surprising metaphors and images and words that spark like the fireflies in the scented dark of a verdant valley.
Let go the past and move on.
The wall clock reminds...
Entice the sky to come down to this beautiful earth”. (“That is Unknown”,  24).  

The poet is fascinated by the history and people. There is an exemplary dexterity, there is a certain intensity and depth in Tidal Interlude.

        Lahiri brings an extra edge to the lived familiarity in spaces urban; wild; touristy or solitary. Everything is under his curious gaze and ideas and images cartel in a bizarre alchemy and gets converted into texts of passionate radiance and density. The poet is able to convey with all clarity the surge of competing ideas in a masterly way to his intended audiences:
I knew you missed that sailing boat,
All was not well – your eyes told
 Renewal,  rebirth turning to grimace” (“Undone”, 25).

The present collection of his poems unwraps the linguistic and imagistic fairyland where each item — a vigorous gale or a fond twig or a wandering star — is compiled with precision and is a discourse, like each symphony of Beethoven. The poems here come out of the dynamics of tide, more of life itself. Lahiri reminds us of Sylvia Plath who has also shown a larger truth about how emotional suffering makes people feel isolated under their own airless glass jar. The poet thus writes:
I script the footprints but missing lines,
That drags me backwards
 And then I know the gentle push
 Of the  sheared wallflower”. (Tide# Wallflower, 55). 
Lahiri’s poems definitely add to the oeuvre of Indian poetry in English.


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