Jayanta Mahapatra

(22 October 1928 - / Cuttack / India)

A Summer Poem - Poem by Jayanta Mahapatra

Over the soughing of the sombre wind
priests chant louder than ever;
the mouth of India opens.

Crocodiles move into deeper waters.

Mornings of heated middens
smoke under the sun.

The good wife
lies in my bed
through the long afternoon;
dreaming still, unexhausted
by the deep roar of funeral pyres.

[Note: midden = dunghill]


Comments about A Summer Poem by Jayanta Mahapatra

  • Bijay Kant Dubey (8/20/2016 12:27:00 AM)


    A Summer Poem is one of those summer-pertaining poetry pieces of Jayanta Mahapatra where he takes to the Indian country burning in sun and heat, the rural landscape and that of his personal reflection and musing; a country of temples, rituals, faith, beliefs on the one hand while on the other of hunger, depravity and scarcity of food and resources in the midst of plenty. When during the midday or late midday the hot wind continues howling the countryside, ruffling it all, even then the priests keep chanting the sacred mantras, the Sanskrit syllables doing marvels with incantation and rhythm of speech, the mouth of India opens. It is of the gods first and then of the mortals like us.
    It is also a fact that in the mud-built homes which in the maximum people cook food with cow-dung cakes, haystacks and dry leaves and are in the habit of taking food in the noontime or in the afternoon generally after the worship in the household Vishnu temple.
    A typical summer poem full of private and personal reflection and musing it is no doubt an imagistic poem, never written before. Indian summer one cannot feel it unless he lives in the country and feels it. How difficult is it to cook food with in a dingy, small, narrow space of the mud-built and straw-thatched houses of the country and that too with cow-dung cakes, haystacks and dry leaves and those too not available easily? Today we are able to eat and wear. Yesterday it was difficult to sustain and survive. People used to remain half-fed, hale-clothed and even had to resort to taking grassy things and leaves. To get rice gruel was a big thing.
    Mornings of heated middens, dunghills keep burning and smoking. The scene is one of heat, ash, smoke and burning.
    The crocodiles move into the deeper waters as such is the intensity of heat, the scorching sun, the earth burning and cracking, men reeling under the heat waves doing the rounds, perspiring and sweating, from heat and humidity.
    This is but the one side of the scene while on the other the good wife lies she by his side, taking a nap not, but a siesta through the long afternoon unmindful of the pyres burning far and the muffled sounds coming to intermittently.
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Poem Submitted: Friday, December 27, 2013



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