Treasure Island

Bijay Kant Dubey


A Reading of Modern Indian English Poetry


There were of course many good teachers of the English language
But they dared not use it
As for taking to be an alien language,
One can be a scholar of one’s own mother tongue,
Such a damaging view-point of then times
But bilingualism changed the equation,
Tourists and travelers,
Guides, visitors and settlers.

Had it been so, there would have been many good poets
Instead of the experiments of P.Lal
As many of them deserve it not,
The accolade and appraisal
Which they have already got it
And going by Gray’s Elegy and Auden’s The Unknown Citizen,
We cannot conform to it all.

Modern Indian English poetry cannot represent it all,
There is not at all a single work
To be prescribed for as read we In Memoriam,
Gray’s Elegy, Arnold’s The Scholar Gipsy
As the poems are there,
Not the standard texts to be perused,
Longer poems to engage us
Is the problem.

We read the history of Indian English poetry
But take not the pre-1947 period poets,
At least their texts can be seen and judged
What have they in totality,
Dusting the shelves of the racks
Of the library
And it is also a fact that Indian English poetry
Cannot have its lone existence
In the absence of the British and the Indian.

Secondly, when were we modern,
In the 1950’s, the ’60’s or the ’70’s,
We do not know if we were,
Leave the talks of Calcutta, Delhi, Bombay and Madras,
Talk of the towns developing,
Even spoken English was nowhere
Then what to say about
The beginning of modernism in Indian English poetry?

Even Indian English poetry was not Indian English,
Wavered it in between Indo-Anglican and Indo-Anglian,
Even some called it Indo-English, some Anglo-Indian,
Substandard, copious, imitative and derivative,
Not up to the mark,
Even in college texts read we not on a mass scale
Nissim, Parthasarathy, Kamala
Definitely not in the seventies,
Just from the late eighties we started reading and prescribing.

A handful of writers do not represent the whole of India,
The India which lives in villages,
Nondescript and dark and lonely hamlets and thorps,
Its poor population,
Poverty, scarcity, hard life and loneliness,
The mapping, cartography and demography,
The physical, geographical and natural beauties of the land,
As because they are the modern men,
The modern urban hollow men.

Submitted: Sunday, December 29, 2013

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