Pilgrimage to Ayodhya, A Journey Beyond

Review by Snehaprava Das

Pilgrimage to Ayodhya
Pradeep Biswal
Publisher: AABS Publishing House, Kolkata, India
Year: 2019, Price ₹ 299/- / $10, Pages-91)

Pilgrimage to Ayodhya, the recently published anthology of poet Pradeep Biswal, is an assortment of forty-two English poems of varied lengths. Pradeep Biswal, a popular name in the scenario of modern Odia poetry has also proved himself as an experienced writer of thought-provoking poems in English. His poems, as always, conceal a substratum of intriguing emotional patterns and a mystical evocativeness underneath the deceptively simple exterior. Picking up his subjects from diverse areas of experiences, the poet aims at presenting a fine synthesis of social realism and philosophical truth. Not stopping at just expressing his reflections on the changing scenario of socio politic as well as the cultural environment, the poet moves on to explore deeper levels of human behaviour and its amazing response to the complex issues pertaining to human existence.

Pradeep Biswal,
In The un-starry Night the poet makes an effort to romanticise a deep sense of loss and longing.
In the midnight’s parlour
Full of broken promises
Like the bitten wings of an airy bird
I still crave for your tender touch
The naked curves of your body
Someday somewhere else;

The mystique elements in INVITATION are obvious enough,
Please descend
The stairs of the sky;
Let all anxieties
Meet their dead end;

How Far I have Trudged describes a symbolic journey leading to a calm and peaceful closure of life. The poet, instead of any apprehending what awaits him at its end takes the journey with a positive spirit. He will keep on trudging, he declares, with an undeviating and a firm faith, till he reaches the finish line.
I know the rest of the journey
Straight to my end.
It’s not easy that easy to get me waylaid
Here there and everywhere.
The note of empathy is unmistakable in DO YOU KNOW where he says addressing his mysterious listener, who could be a friend or a neighbour or the entire human race for that matter, that everyone fights many battle and receives many wounds from it. Everyone cannot win or lose all the battles he fights but that does not prevent him from being a war veteran.
Like you I am a war veteran
I havewaged many battles
Won many lost a few.
There is no guarantee
You can win all
But losing a battle
Sometimes leads to win;
The calm confidence underlying the simple lines appears to reflect a Hemingway-like spirit, undaunted and indefatigable. A similar empathetic strain is discernible in the poem I KNOW IT WELL
I know it well
How many miles you have crossed
How many battles you have fought
How many swords you have crossed
How many wounds it
Has inflicted on you….
In Here I Am is we observe a fusion of the poet’s disturbing dilemma in the uncertain present time with a positive view of a future that holds many possibilities.

Snehaprava Das
Here I am
Crouching in the hollow
Of a Sal tree,
And the poet in me
Sandwiched between
The chirping of a fledgling
And a snake….
But this much
And all that I know,
There I am
Where another poet
Will come into the world;
The poet’s belief that love is a magic balm that can heal a wounded heart and repair a broken soul at any given time and space finds expression in moving lines like
You are too late in my life
I know you are from a distant shore
But still the sun has not set
When I hold your hands in mine
I get mesmerized…
Is it the magic of love?
Social realism tinted with a mild sarcasm sets the mood of poems like Bharat Barsh 1, Bharat Barsh 2, The Kunduli Girl, Metamorphosis, Nero isn’t Dead and a few others.
 In Monalisa’s Smile the poet tries to delve into the recess of human conscious and discover the dark, corroding truth hidden under that enigmatic smile.
I don’t know
What they felt about you
But I see
Shadows of deprivation
And shallow dreams
For ages
Turning into a volcano
And lurking behind
A synthetic smile…

 The Pilgrimage to Ayodhya is a metaphoric journey that the soul embarks upon to attain some kind of an illumination. The beatific smile on Ramlala’s face, according to the poet, has a transcendental effect. It can elevate the sprit to a state of sublime joy, lift it above the trivial conflicts that hinder its evolution.

Mr. Biswal with an expertise of a seasoned writer guides his readers smoothly to an exciting world of poetry through an effective interfacing of reality and imagination, myths and metaphors. He can add new dimensions and new meanings to things that appear ordinary and common place through skillful employing of right words and right images at right places.To go through the collection, will undoubtedly be an engaging experience for the poetry lovers.

Reviewer: Snehaprava Das, former Associate Prof. of English, has translated a number of Odia texts, both classic and contemporary, in English. Worth mentioning amongst them are the first novel in Odia Padmamali, Fakir Mohan Senapati's Prayaschitta, RamSankar Ray's Bibasini, Pundit Gopabandhu Das's Kara Kabita and Bandi ra Atmakatha. Her translated works are published by The Speaking Tiger Books, Kendriya Sahitya Akademi, Oxford University Press, Odisha Sahitya Akademi and BLACK EAGLE BOOKS (DUBLIN, United States of America)
Dr. Snehaprava Das also writes poems in English. She has four collections of English poems to her credit, (Dusk Diary, Alone, Songs of Solitude and Moods and Moments).

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