Soothing Serenades - An Analysis

 Soothing Serenades-Straight From the Heart
A Collection of Love Poems
Authorspress, New Delhi, 2018
Pages 113, Price Rs.250

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”  Said  Helen Keller. 
All of us can definitely vouch for the fact that Love is a breezy feeling which our heart alone experiences. It is an abstract emotion which gives people hopes and the will to survive.  Therefore, in hearts filled with love, the presence of God is  an absolute reality.  Love has got the capacity to  explore  beyond  the physical and experience the metaphysical, which is an  attribute of Mysticism.  The quest to perceive God is the characteristic of Mysticism. 
In metaphysical love often it becomes such an intense and graceful state of mind that lovers go to the extent of forgetting themselves and remember only their lovers, which is the height of it .   Love and spirituality cannot be separated and   it is difficult to verbalize spiritual love.
A book of love poems in itself is a novel idea and the young poet Bhaskarand Jha Bhaskar, a gifted trilingual poet in Mythili, Hindi and English, in his latest poetry collection entitled ‘Soothing Serenades – Straight From the Heart’ brought out by the renowned publishing house Authorspress, New Delhi presents 62 love poems with intellectual ease which are capable of awakening sublime feelings in the minds of the readers.  Poem after poem he conveys the power of love and deals with the theme with passion, sincerity and conviction.   With verbal agility when he presents the poems with depth and beauty and a sense of commitment, readers can experience a kind of catharsis.  Considering the modern poetic trends, these poems perfectly qualify to fit into the era of contemporary sensibility.  In many places his artistic language gives thrust to the overall efficacy of the theme based poems.

Dr. Amarnath Jha in his Foreword to the book says, “The love poems included in it are Platonic, spiritual, mythical, fantastic as well as realistic. The poet talks of all the Western mythical paraphernalia of love, such as references to Eve, Cupid and Aphrodite.” which is also endorsed by Prof. R K Bhushan Sabharwal in his Foreword.  Mr. Arun K Jha in his introduction has taken up an elaborate dissection of the poems with meaningful conclusions, which give an insight in nutshell to its contents.   The book also contains 30 blubs by eminent writers and poets from India and abroad, which give various inputs on the poet as well as the poems in the collection.  In one of these blurbs,  Dr. Cijo Joseph Chennelil , an erudite critic,   lists out twenty salient features inherent in the poems included in this collection extolling the virtues of love,  in his own lucid style. 

The book opens with an invocation ‘To the Goddess of Love’ to “Dispel the darkness of hatred/From heart and mind of the ignorant people/And burn all weeds of their impure and lurid desires... “                                                                    (p. 29)

‘I Am’  is a poem, wherein the speaker of the poem  identifies himself to be ‘a man with poetic sensibilities, scribbling on the sands of time giving shapes to thoughts even though he lacks rhythm and rhyme’ and  sounds a bit remorseful in tone.
I am a man of heart
With my head nosed into love;                                                                              
Life is a beautiful art,                                                                                 
Love leads me unto Him above.
I form a bigger part
Of the ramparts of humanity; 
Vicious vices apart,
True self gets sparks of divinity                             (p.31 )

Love is a feeling which is normally difficult to define like beauty.   Here Jha in poem entitled ‘Love’   gives quite a few descriptions for love such as a fantasy, a willing drug, a sweet invisible relation, an enigma beyond understanding etc.   The poem I quote here in full which brings   various realms of the subtle emotion called love and this proves the poetic dexterity of  Jha.

 Love is a fantasy
A pleasant feeling
Tickling the strings of heart
Caressing it with sweet soft touch
Resounding life.

With the music of soothing happiness.
Love is a willing drug
To the soulful youths
Intoxicating minds and heart

Making them ever lost
In the world of imagination
Of their sweet future and ecstasy.

Love is a sweet invisible relation
Between two hearts
Either unified by society’s hands
Or separated physically
At two different places
But mingled together at heart and soul.

Love is an enigma
Beyond the understanding
Of the body and the mind
But within the realm of soulful heart
Tempting the youths of all ages
To understand and measure its profundity                                  ( p.32)

In the poem ‘Definition of Love’  the poet delves deep into the term and states that ‘Love is poetry’ and establishes therein   “…..That ultimately melts into the eternal ocean/Of peace, bliss and the union divine.”  Ultimately the poet sees divinity in Love.                                                                                      (p.33)

And this is once again reiterated in the lines “love alone elevates /our soul and mind/with lofty thoughts and ideas,/taking us to ecstatic heights/of peace and tranquility/beyond the horizon of desires” in poem titled “Fountainhead of Love”.                                                                                                    (P.35)

Poem titled “Healing Power of Love” ,  sings the powers of love and the poet believes that love heals the deep wounds of life.

Love never stops at one station
Until it carries and ferries us all,
Soulful bonds and loving ties,  
Breaking fetters of gloomy heart
Locked in cranky casket of life,
Love consoles the unheard sobs
Healing the deep wounds of life.                                                           (p.45)

Poem “She”  is full of  straight from the heart emotions  as the title of the book suggests and the ‘She’ in the poet’s life  comes alive in simple terms here.                                                                                                                        (p.46)

The idealistic care and concern for lovers are drawn to a perfect scale in poem titled ‘Whenever I Speak to Her’.

I do speak to her
but in my heart
holding her past in my present
stretching my arms in time
to capture some rays of hope and joy
to illumine her future
with brightness of loving light
inner and outer, gleam and brighter.                                                                  (p.48)

In some places Jha uses sensuous images like ‘salacious beauty’, ‘lascivious eyes’  like for instance  in poem titled ‘Love in Dreams’ and the personification of sugar canes as honest dutiful cops is a fresh baked idea and the poem he concludes thus.  
we were sucking the sweet canes
as if extracting the essence of life
in the midnight’s dream
through the secret rendezvous.                                                                      (P.50)

Love here is romantic and passionate.

 ‘In Metaphysical Love’, as the title suggests,  the lines “We are invisible beings/Living in the abode of Love,/Carved out beyond time and space/From the stark reality/Freed from social shackles,” take the readers to another realm of Love.   Human beings are blessed with an inborn gift to delve beyond the physical and experience the metaphysical, find oneself and also to establish a relation with the creator just like a lover with the beloved.                        (p.51)      
 ‘Wintry Night and I’ is another passionate poem and here poetry is equated to something that perennially uplifts the mood of the poet even in pain or at times of melancholy.  Poems of this stature not only elevate the mood of the poet, but those of the readers too enabling them to enjoy  joy in pain.

Soul is lost yet happily embraced
with soothing solace
for I am sitting in her bower                                                                        
of ever uplifting poetry
murmuring my melancholic note
to derive some joy in pain
for my grieving yet pining soul...                                                                      (p.53)

Silence between the lovers is disturbing to each other. There cannot be anyone who at one time or other in their life has not experienced the ups and downs in love and can very well relate to the emotional turmoil depicted in the poem.

Jha draws the image of ‘Silent Love’ in poem under the same title  quite subtly.  The speaker of the poem tries to break the ice with love-lorn words and   the beauty is that all those glee and bliss   stimulate in giving birth to poetry of high standards.  

Their love remains
in their wry smiles
to throbbing hearts;
they move on
ahead in life
with a repressed emotion
thinking of the best
to kiss their ways.                                                                               (p.54)

Similar to poem ‘Healing Power of Love’  same is  the subject matter in poem “Looking Into Your  Eyes’  conveyed in the lines “The world feels like a hotbed/Bedecked with thorns and flowers;/Sweet fragrance of your beauty/Wafts around me all blissful hours.”           (p. 58)

In ‘Down Memory Lane’ . the poet turns nostalgic of his motherland, which is portrayed as a motherly figure with its flora, fauna,  the native people, his mom, childhood friend, but he has concerns of it being turned into concrete jungles.  A good poet can never ignore social concerns and is supposed to raise his voice against them.

“Her mute gestures
Still call me back for a glance
At beauty of the lush courtyards
A natural landscape of serenity                                      
Of the motherly village     
Deserted long time back for livelihood...                                             (p.62)

Jha believes and emphasizes being honest and loyal in love, which can alone culminate in smooth union of body, mind and soul, and thus achieve the sublime objective in real love. 

Poem ‘My Valentine’ echoes sweet sensuousness, when the poet says:
‘My Valentine exists in me.     
Irrigating my sterile soul
I feel in her soothing embrace
Peace of heart, mind and soul….. ‘                                                          (p.66)

A visionary’s  voice is heard  in ‘Lovebirds on the Branch of Poetree’ when he  says that the birth of a poem is similar to the birth of a newborn baby when the love’s birds descend from the blue sky of emotions from the green pasture of romance when thoughts and feeling meet and mate on the bed of life.  Each creation is special to the poet which another creative soul can very well understand.   Such a positive approach on the part of the poet would always be rewarding.

“Revealed to be Concealed”  has a paradoxical title  and is one of the best poems in this collection in which the poet concludes:   ‘Everything is revealed/To be sealed and concealed’.                                                                                                                   (p.70)

‘Solitary Company’ is an intense poem with the craving of the love-ridden heart wanting to migrate to the world of eternity, deprivation of which gives  sort of pain.

With her in my heart,
in deep thoughts,
I feel like migrating
to the world of eternity
far beyond
the stark reality of life
terribly painful,
hard for me to bear it now…                                                                                           (p.76)

Jha in the poem titled ‘Voice is Heard More in Silence’ says in love poetry, silence becomes more articulate and speaks louder than words.                                  

For a meaning to come out
One’s silence is a must.

Meaning is dead in the noise
Nothing is understood                                                                        (p.78)

In poem ‘Soft Breezes Blow’ the poet states that even the thoughts of the beloved gives   delight, makes him feel cuddled, ecstatic and thrillingly enthralled, making the readers too appreciate  the power of love.
In the twilight of melancholy
Comes my earnest love  
With her loving thoughts
Invited by the soothing breeze,
And I am feeling cuddled,
Ecstatic and thrillingly enthralled...                                                                  (p.84)
 “Trust if you want to be Trusted’ carries a very realistic thought that ’One has to trust, to be     another’s trustworthy’.  The poet says that trust is a light in darkness or like a floating straw to swim across the sea and the breach of it leads to a quagmire of feelings which leads to frustrations.                                                                                                                               (p.89)
In poem “Celebration of Love”, Jha says love is to be celebrated each and every moment, not just to enjoy it madly for a day in a year in the name of Valentine.  He obviously hints at the recent trend of emulating the western trend of Valentine Day Celebrations.   Love is seen here as an element of four Purusharthas, which is entwined in  the cultural heritage of our country.
 Let’s rather celebrate it
Each and every moment
Throughout our life,
Feel the essence of Love
A rudimentary plinth 
Of the four ‘purusharthas’                                          (p.98)
Set as the goals of human life.’
Poems like “Happy Moments of Togetherness”, “Growing and Being” and “Life Just Floats On” all deal with the fulfillment of love, whereas in ‘Feeling Closer’, he  adds  another  dimension, ‘reason and thought’ to time and space.

Love as a subject is an infinite ocean.  Jha   in his verses articulates and celebrates love with creativity, passion and great expressions.    I believe that  one becomes closer to the supreme power through his creations, a divine urge, more so  when the subject is Love, which is closer to spirituality, the one who creates it becomes superior. The poet seems to talk about love as in a divine experience, which can stir up the minds and evoke intellectual as well as emotional responses from the readers.
Many of the poems in this collection depict a lover’s deep thirst and passion, to merge with his beloved and reach the realm of eternity.   Jha deals with various types of love viz., sensuous, romantic, imaginative, passionate physical, metaphysical and spiritual, all through with a sense of commitment, depth and beauty in a language convincing and a in voice of conviction.  He is an established poet who has already created a niche for himself in Indian English Poetry. I wish him great success in the years to come and this book of poems no doubt will be a valuable asset to the poetry lovers.

Authors bio: Pankajam, retired from BHEL as DM/Finance is a bilingual poet and novelist, writing in English and Malayalam, settled at Chennai, India .  She is one of the editors of the journal ‘Teesta Review-An International Journal of Poetry’.    She has authored eighteen books including ten books of poems and one of her book of poems has been translated into French.   Her articles, poems, book reviews and papers have been published widely in national and international journals/anthologies. Her poetry has been discussed in detail in the book ‘Femininity-Poetic Endeavours’   and  in another book ‘History of Indian Poetry in India, which is upcoming.   She is the recipient of many awards,  has participated in several literary events and presented her works.

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