Jayanta Mahapatra

(22 October 1928 - / Cuttack / India)

A Rain Of Rites - Poem by Jayanta Mahapatra

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Sometims a rain comes
slowly across the sky, that turns
upon its grey cloud, breaking away into light
before it reaches its objective.

The rain I have known and traded all this life
is thrown like kelp on the beach.
Like some shape of conscience I cannot look at,
a malignant purpose is a nun's eye.

Who was the last man on earth,
to whom the cold cloud brought the blood to his face? [?]
Numbly I climb to the mountain-tops of ours
where my own soul quivers on the edge of answers.

Which still, stale air sits on an angel's wings?
What holds my rain so it's hard to overcome?


Comments about A Rain Of Rites by Jayanta Mahapatra

  • Bijay Kant Dubey (8/18/2016 11:39:00 PM)


    A Rain of Rites is the title poem of the collection named so as well as included in the text, but the way he frolics with private and personal myth and reflection that he confuses us with his image and idea, what he means and what he takes for. A small poem of some sour stanzas, it is not about the rains, but the rites raining. The Oriya scene and sight is certainly the crux of the matter. Whatever happens it, the rites will not cease, come to a stop; the Vedic chants and Upanishadic will keep continuing even during the past midday. Under heat and scorching sun, it will keep going.
    Sometimes a rain comes slowly across the sky, turning upon grey clouds and breaking away into light. This is how he starts the poem, A Rain of Rites. Rains and rites keep confusing, but the reality is he has the least to dispense with the rains as these are not his concern, but the rites of Orissa, India, continuing on the sea beach, in the Jagannath temple and the people thronging. Flowers and petals offered to the deity. Some people are shaven-headed. The spectacle of the temple sight is the panorama of the poem which he transmutes so well.
    The rain he has known and traded all this life is thrown like kelp on the sea beach protecting from salty ingredients and adding to the greenery. Like some shape of conscience he cannot look at, a malignant purpose in the nun’s eye.
    Discussing the rites, not rains, he moves to the cloudburst, the bringing of first showers as well as the cold cloud brining this blood to face? Actually, absurdity takes over, the absurdity of life and living, why rains, why rites, why this cycle of rains and rites, rites and rains? Actually, the earth parches in the scorching sun and it vapourises to hanging cloudbursts, downpours, heavy showers, rumbling, colliding to thunders and rains dripping and dropping and the rains wetting and soaking in water for vegetation and life.
    Numbly he climbs the mountain-tops of his own where his own soul quivers on the edge of answers. Who is it who brought the cold clouds? Who is it who brought blood to human face? Where were rites then? Mark it, where there is a rock-built temple there was a hill thereon.
    Which still and stale air sits on an angel’s wings? What it holds his rain so hard to overcome? Who to answer his absurd questions? His rains the showers of logic and reasoning refreshing absurdity with his crosswords of puzzles and riddles.
    In Jayanta the crushed flowers of the temple courtyard too have the songs of their own to sing. To see the things in contrast and contradiction is the beauty of his poetry. In one poem his good wife sleeps and snores by his side, taking her summer midday siesta full of sweating and humidity while on the other the rites with the mantric chants are heard from the distant temples and the funeral pyres keep burning at a distance. Play and inter-play keep going in his poetry.
    The syllables of the rains and the blood of the rites, who to say about? What do these rains and rites mean really which but Jayanta knows it well and none the else. Something of Original Sin, something of temptation and fall has been inducted in. It will be better if we end the poem, A Rain of Rites with ‘Da, dyadhavam, damayata and datta; om shanthi shantih shantih’ as does he Eliot in The Waste Land.
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Poem Submitted: Friday, December 27, 2013



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