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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri




Majboor's Kashmiri Poetry

Dr. A. N. Dhar

Shri Arjan Dev Majboor is a notable Kashmiri poet, be­sides being a seasoned scholar and writer, who has a number of published materials- books and critical articles to his credit. Since his displacement from the valley of Kashmir (in the wake of the outbreak of turmoil there), he has been very productive as a writer. In recent years, he brought our two valuable volumes of his Kashmiri verse titled Padi Samyik (1993) and Teol (1995), of which the former earned him the "Best Book Award" from the J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages in 1994.
The publication of the Waves, (the volumes under review), bears testimony to Shri Majboor's serious concern as scholar-poet for the projection of Kashmiri literary works across the globe through their translation into English, which continues to be useful and important as an international language. The present volume is a laudable piece of work brought out specially to serve this desirable objective -enabling a wider readership from across this country and from abroad to have access to the "Culture content" of the original poems.
The slender volume is neatly printed, it has an attractive get-up, with a cover design and also drawings interspersed among the poems - done ably by Vijay Zutshi., a talented sculptor and artist. There are in all 24 lyrics in the volume - constituting a thoughtful collection of the pieces selected from the poet's large works in Kashmiri and rendered into English by Arvind Gigoo. The titles of the poems are eye-catching and appropriate e.g., The Topsy-turvy Tree, Snow-man, Chiselled Words, The Dance is On, Rootless, To the Swan, etc.
Having first gone through a fairly large number of Kashmiri poems, now available in the Waves in English translation I find that the translations capture both the essence and broad details of the original pieces. Happily the author of the poems and the translator don't miss-match; the two complement each other. The Waves, as a fine product. not only reflects the rich content of the original poems but also reproduces the free verse form of most Kashmiri lyrics To the Swan being perhaps the only poem which is not in the free verse form in its Kashmiri version Teol. However in the translation versions, the structure of lines has inevitably undergone some alterations. The verse flows with ease in the translations too and we immediately recognize in them the cultural content of the original poems.
Arjan Dev Majboor's deep rooted love of the beautiful valley of Kashmir, the land of his birth and domicile, naturally flows into expression in so many lyrics, some of them tinged with an element of nostalgia. This is true of the long lyric To The Swan that comes at the end of the volume Waves. In spite of the difficulties and hardships that the poet must have faced as a ‘displaced' Kashmiri, he expresses no bitterness and continues to see his cultural roots in the valley, looking at the same time forward to the revival and regeneration of what, in his views, has suffered only a temporary reversal. The theme of ‘exodus' finds adequate articulation in other poems too such as Rootless and Prison. The poet's hopes of revival and his aspirations also find expression in the poem titled The Coming Millennium.
There are several poems in which we find the poet's acute observations on life and Nature. Thus in the Portrait of a Child, - are presented with the contrast between ‘innocence' and ‘experience' in the lines that follow, almost re­minding us of William Blake:
The old don't remember purity
children don't know defilement.
Several other poems are focused on the present social scenario, especially on what obtains in the modern industrial towns - when alongside the economic boom, our time honoured and cher­ished values have nearly suffered a collapse. In the poem titled The Topsy-turvy Tree, we find satirical lines conveying the poet's veiled observations on the present urban culture, when people are facing problems such as scarcity of water, deforestation, pollution etc., accompanied by a general reversal of old values:
The tree said:
"Why need water
when all are mad?
flowers will bloom up in the sky,
a whirlpool will trap all,
it will rain acid,
beauty will be auctioned,
the wise will weep,
the ignorant will multiply,
greenery will disappear,
stones will cover the fields,
the lakes will become sand
moans will resound.
Even memory will end."
There are a few poems including Creation, Secret and A Juggler's Trick, that embody deep philosophical reflections on the meaning and mystery of life. I am particularly impressed by the poem titled Chiselled Words that is concerned with the poetic craft-touching upon the poet's preoccupation with the problem of language and meaning. It depicts the poet as a conscious crafts­man. operating as a non-conformist in the realm of language "wres­tling" with words to accommodate them to his purpose. In these lines the poet tells us how he remained engaged in the task of refin­ing language:
Once more
I chiselled words
embellished them.
Then I said:
"Words, I have given you life.
Come out of the prison afresh.
Old canons don't become you.
Likewise in the poem Sign the poet dwells on the evocative power of words. He conveys that the ‘signs' have to be read intuitively and not to be deciphered through logical analysis.
Most of the poems that make up the volume under review are finished products (as is equally true of the original pieces). Marked generally by an intellectual tone, they sound 'modern' to our ears. Many poems employ words (as phrasal clusters) that function as images and symbols - a fact that also accounts partly for their tautness and density of meaning. The poems reflect the poet's broad humanitarian outlook and his serious concern for the preservation of our age-old culture.
Arvind Gigoo deserves to be complimented for his flawless command of English and his fine craftsmanship and the author for his accomplishment as a creative writer.
is most welcome as a volume that is innovative in several respects. It is a lovable book and makes pleasant reading.

Arjan Dev Majboor



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