Book Review : Poems sizzling with social satire

Book Review : Poems sizzling with social satire

It is an agreed stark fact that our present day society is riven with untold iniquities and manifold destructive tendencies. And many are there who...

It is an agreed stark fact that our present day society is riven with untold iniquities and manifold destructive tendencies. And many are there who react � only the type of response differs, whereas some are passive, some vituperative and violent, some righteously indignant and coolly logical, a person � especially a sensitive poet - with a balance of mind and holistic perspective will always have a positive and mellowed perception. He would be gentle, subtle and sarcastic.

And such are the poems packed in the slim volume - Just Human - where the focus is turned on to the various facets of personal, social and political deficiencies and depravities, in a flowing language, evocative diction and unique style. MVS Sathyanarayana � 'Mahathi,' pseudonymously - has been into poetry for quite a long time, not only with perseverance but with steady and studious improvement in his poetic prowess, considering his earlier anthologies � Golden Lotus, Plastic Faces and Wheels � as well as a host of poems in various journals.

Dealing with human frailties, his poems highlight the need for a 'just' and 'human' touch in our attitude to life, to our fellow beings and even to the plant and animal life devoid of which we can't exist. He reflects on the people around us and on their ways in the daily life, with a persistent feeling and concern for the humble and lowly. He directs his barbs on our unconcern for and ungratefulness to the dumb animals like the cow and the bull that selflessly slog for and serve us. Sathya comes down on our opportunistic and hypocritical postures as well as the satanic proclivities, mindless violence and treacherous terrorism. Man's divisive selfishness is due to his fatal brain and licking of 'satanic toxins.' He rues how the "Caveman became a craving man / to the Creator's regret," and with that how the "Blossomed human intellect" has brokered "A broken earth" (Boundaries).

There is no dearth of wolves in the sheepskin and "Their words shower flowers / while their minds grind swords" (Living with the Enemy). Knowledge being infinite, if anyone is conceited to feel and proclaim that he is all-knowing, "They are just bonsais / at two feet from the floor" (You and Bonsais). For all his all-conquering knowledge and defiance, man continues to be clueless as to the ways of Nature though he prides himself on having enslaved her, whereas it is only the humbler forms of life like the ants and the rats that continue to thrive in the real sense of the word since they are endowed with the faculty of deciphering the language of nature and adaptively heeding her warnings and signs (Who Conquered the Nature).

book review

"A poet of deep social consciousness," known for his "tender humour" and "scathing and sarcastic commentary on social evils," his legal background coupled with his position in the government Salt Department has helped Sathya with empathy toward the less privileged with whom he has an opportunity to work in close proximity, as the blurb says. Out of the 47 poems in this book, 42 are in free verse whereas five are in metre � Rubaiyat, rondeau, terzanelle and Spenserian. And there are two short acrostics - "Hornpipes" and "Nuggets". Prosody is not something new or rare to Sathya. Though he started out with free verse and churned out a lot of it, he has with a gradually passion segued into the metrical mode, and used this acumen to translate Adi Sankara's Bhaja Govindam and the Sundara Kanda (of Ramayana) into a multi-metre poetry, the latter serialised in Sapthagiri, the TTD owned spiritual magazine.

It's no surprise then that there are poems like "Common Coxswains" standing out for their powerful expression, poignancy of theme, striking imagery, and lyrical grace� "The common coxswains in crowded little boats carrying their weights, their plights and half-fed entrails; craving for the �tag�re at flotilla afar in iridescent glitter; baroque and extravagant."

Which is why Vedam Venkataraman � a veteran English teacher and writer whose Telugu commentary on the Sanskrit classical fiction of Bana's Kadambari won a Sahitya Akademi prize in 1979 - praises Sathya's poems for the "felicity of phrase correctness of the English idiom," and further comments that "The poems are very lyrical as they should be and express deep feelings which have to find expression for a person with a poetic mind."

U Atreya Sarma

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